For most consumers surge protection is an afterthought that is only considered as a way of protecting their home computer equipment in the event of a large scale power surge. In many cases, this is a very rare occasion that may never be noticed more than some flickering lights, but in some areas these power surges will have a degrading effect on computers if they are allowed to run continually. Some communities have power grids that will have more common surge issues that may not be enough to completely trip the breakers in a home, or cut off the power flow through a surge strip. But even these minor fluctuations in flow can have the effect of shortening the life span of circuit driven equipment. In many people’s minds, the investment into expensive surge protection devices to keep a component safe that will ultimately be replaced within only a few years does not justify the added costs. While this economic decision does make sense, the situation cannot be compared to industrial installations when considering whether to add surge protection, and in these cases it is not only necessary but it may be critical.
Industrial installations such as cell towers or wind turbines are especially vulnerable to power surges because of the fact that exposed locations position equipment in harm’s way of inclement weather, including lightning strikes. While all the typical surge dangers that face any consumer attached to a grid remain valid, the threat of a lightning strike in an industrial installation is magnified. This is because of the physical location of many of the installations themselves, and their being positioned in remote areas and comprised of structures that attract lightning. Often they are the tallest in the vicinity, or may be made from a material that is an attractant. Generally these structures serve a purpose that requires them to be directly connected to sensitive equipment, either through copper power or data transfer cables. It is this connection that makes surge protection equipment and devices so crucial, as a lightning strike to the exposed structures allows a massive surge of electricity to move to all attached components. This creates damage at the strike point as well as everywhere downstream, unless an effective method of cutoff or diversion is positioned in between. The surge protection devices that are utilized in these installations are tasked with not only protecting equipment that may cost millions of dollars, but essentially the systems that we rely upon are reliant upon them as well. When we use our cellular phones, we need to connect to a system of interconnected towers and equipment. When a lightning strike renders that tower non-functional, then we cannot connect to the network we need for communication. When a windfarm that creates green energy for our consumption is damaged by a lightning strike and taken offline, it is not producing during the times when a free fuel source is available. All of these examples illustrate why industrial surge protection devices must be taken seriously and how their installation is critical to our modern world.