Protection From Lightning On The Industrial Level

Industrial installations are very much like the components that you have within your home, only on a significantly higher level of both cost and electrical consumption. These components are also more robust than anything that you would see in a residential area, in every capacity.  Because of the increased demands on these types of components, efforts are made to create the toughest equipment possible. One thing that is surprising about many industrial systems is that they utilize components that are easily damaged through excess electricity. You can make the shell as tough as you want, but the equipment can still be damaged through electricity moving along the lines that connect it to other equipment in the system. What this means is that even though steps are taken to create as much shielding from the elements as possible, there is a certain amount of damage that is expected to happen to these pieces of equipment simply due to power surges. The electricity that flows within industrial areas is significantly higher than in residential. The utilization of larger equipment for processes requires it to be so. This also requires that the typical power lines that connect equipment to the power grid are able to handle substantially higher loads. The issues happen when power surges occur beyond the levels that are expected, and out of the range that the internal circuitry of this equipment can handle.

 

One of the main causes of power surges within these industrial complexes that are exposed to the elements is lightning strikes.  Because of the physical makeup of many industrial areas, lightning is attracted to striking the exposed components within the systems.  If it is a cellular tower, wind turbine or a solar panel field, the fact that these pieces of equipment act as natural attractants for lightning creates the issues with equipment damage downstream. These exposed areas must be connected directly to more equipment used in the communications or electricity generation process through power cables and data lines, creating a direct highway for electrical surges to travel on. When the lightning hits the cell tower, the damage that occurs at the cell tower itself is minimal in comparison to the damage that occurs downstream. The power surge will flow along the power lines and overwhelm any piece of equipment connected further down the chain. All of these components are potentially damaged due to the lightning strike even if it was not anywhere near these pieces of equipment. The only way to effectively thwart the damage that happens downstream is through the installation of lightning protection systems at critical points. The lightning strike itself can be diverted away from that connected equipment through the use of lightning rods and overhead shields. Surge protection devices installed in the system, between the components along the power lines or within the structures that equipment attaches to, can divert the expected lightning damage caused by surges after a lightning strike. The excess power that is produced by the lightning and flowing along the power lines is either diverted away or cut off completely, protecting everything beyond it. The best surge protection equipment is able to react and reset itself to the pre-strike state after a short duration high intensity lightning strike.

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