Lightning Protectors In The Field
The general public may not understand the significance of lightning protectors and how they help to save CapEx and OpEx at industrial facilities. These are devices that are installed into the technical systems to protect the equipment downstream. The protection that is provided is in response to the associated electrical surge that follows a lightning strike. The concept of lightning protectors is that damage that is caused by lightning strikes to exposed structures and equipment in the field can be mitigated. At the strike point itself, it would be expected that significant amounts of damage would occur, and as a result operators in multiple industries continually seek cheaper components that will be exposed to the elements. Through the use of components which can be replaced at lesser expense, overall impact to the bottom line of the business grows more positive. More of an issue is the associated power surge that travels through the exposed structures and equipment, has and can have a direct impact on computerized, data processing components located either within that structure or elsewhere. If connected to the structure itself or other nearby equipment, nearly any component in the process is at risk. This sensitive equipment cannot withstand power surges of the level that are generated by lightning strikes and is at risk due to their inter-connectivity between equipment located closer to the strike point and further down the line. These pieces of equipment are generally connected through data exchange lines or power cables. These types of pathways allow the power surge to travel easily from the point of impact of the lightning strike to areas further away. An example of this weakness can be seen in cellular towers, which are natural attractants for lightning strikes due to the necessity of placement in unobstructed and high areas. This placement is necessary to provide a clear signal from cellular users on the ground to the tower, but this same placement ultimately creates the target for lightning strikes to the tower top. Within this portion of the cellular tower is the “remote radio head” or “RRH,” which acts as a transmitter, moving data from this receiver point to the “base band unit” of “BBU” located either in the middle or at the bottom of that tower. If the remote radio head is impacted by the lightning strike and power surge, it’s direct connection to the base station unit will almost assure unsafe levels of power to travel through both units after a lightning strike, if left unprotected. Lightning protectors installed within junction points as well as along the cables that provide connectivity between units create an ability to stop the flow of power beyond their point of install. This means that a power surge that impacts the remote radio head can be thwarted before it impacts the base station unit. At least some of the equipment involved in the process can be salvaged after a lightning strike, when in the past more of a total loss would occur. This provides an ability to conserve funds that would be spent on repair and maintenance, which can then be applied towards operational expenses or applied ot the bottom line.