Raycap News

What are Lightning Protectors?

Lightning protectors are devices that are installed into technical systems to protect downstream equipment from the associated electrical surges that follow a lightning strike.  The concept is to prevent an electrical surge from traveling through power lines that connect an exposed unit and the computerized, data processing equipment and additional mechanisms that control that unit.  As an example, a cell tower would serve as the “end unit,” being completely exposed to the elements and isolated by its natural design.  In order to provide the best communication options for cellular customers, the tower must be positioned in an unobstructed area, essentially being the tallest structure within a specific range of distance.  Because of this placement combined with the fact that the majority of the tower is made from metal, it is a natural attractant for lightning strikes during inclement weather.  More than likely this tower will have “remote radio heads” or RRHs, positioned respectively at the top of a tower and towards the middle or bottom, and a base band unit or “BBU” at the bottom shelter. The RRH units connect to the power and data lines running down and through the tower itself.  A strike to the tower framework will create an electrical surge which moves from the framework into the power lines.  A strike to the RRH will create a surge the travels down the lines to the base station unit.  The concept of RRH surge protection involves stopping the surge from damaging cell tower equipment that has not been directly struck and damaged by the lightning itself.  This means that if the strike is to the framework of the tower, strategically positioned surge protection devices can potentially salvage and prevent damage to the RRH and the base station unit.  If the strike is to the tower top and the RRH is damaged, the surge protector or SPD positioned on the connecting lines can prevent damage to the base station unit.  These “lightning protection” devices are specifically designed elements which interrupt the electrical flow from device to device, while allowing for a normal flow of a regulated amount to happen.

Raycap’s Strikesorb SPDs are technologically more advanced than most others, in that they do not need resetting or replacement after they have performed the function of interrupting electrical flow.  During a storm, it is common for lightning to strike several times to the same area, essentially knocking the system offline with the first strike.  Until the SPD is reset or replaced by a maintenance crew, the service that would be being provided to customers is interrupted, creating both irritations and potential danger for those people who are affected.  Cellular companies rely on the fact that the customer base experiences as little interruption of service as possible in order to continue in business, and as a result the installation of Raycap devices which keep systems online for longer periods of time than traditional SPDs are good for building the business of the provider.  Lightning protection is not only necessary to protect equipment, it is also necessary to maintain good customer experiences.