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Analog Angle

When Lightning Strikes, Will a Surge Protector Help?

Bill Schweber
SpatialKing
SpatialKing
10/1/2018 3:09:00 PM
User Rank
Newbie
Re: Pull the plugs
One engineer I worked with had his house hit by lightening.  It hit the bricks in the chimney.  No wires were fried but it did fry everything in the house, including light bulbs that were off, things that were unplugged, and even fried the motor in the fridge.   Folks talk about maybe getting hit but they neglect to mention where the hit occured or will occur.   The closer it is then the energy increases at an expontential rate.  

Clearly at some distance, good surge protectors will help, but at some point, they no longer matter.

 

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analog_john
analog_john
9/5/2018 2:19:05 PM
User Rank
Newbie
Isobar8ultra surge protector has "PROTECTION PRESENT" LED
Bill, thanks for the article. 

I've had good luck with Isobar surge protector power strips from Tripplite.  They are built like a tank, have a steel case, and are made in the USA.  We used them in the EE and Computer Science departments at Oregon Graduate Institute for 20 years without any equipment failure.  We had one leg ot the 3 phase power to the building fail.  It blew out about 10 Isobars, but they sacrificed themselves for the computer equipment all of which survived.  I use them at home where they have protected from many power line surges, though we don't get much lightning in Portland.

To the point of your article, the Isobar8ultra has LED diagnostic indicators that indicate LINE OK,  FAULT, PROTECTION PRESENT.  With the "PROTECTION PRESENT" LED you have some confidence that the MOVs are still intact, which was a major point of your article.

I have no affiliation with Tripplite other than being a satisfied customer for many years.

Google isobar8ultra for details.  Their web page says:

Tripp Lite will repair or replace any connected equipment damaged by surges, including direct lightning strikes, up to $50,000 for life.

John Hunt

Portland, OR

 

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DaveR1234
DaveR1234
9/5/2018 10:34:59 AM
User Rank
Newbie
Protection
My house was recently hit; the belief was that a transformer primary line fell on the secondary.  Two appliances and a number of wall warts and dimmer switches got fried;  house is still standing so it could have been a lot worse.  It got me thinking about what is the best way to protect all the electronic devices we have tied to the power lines.  I don't feel a MOV to ground can possibly be expected to absorb the energy of my particular surge or a lightening surge unless it is rated to trip the circuit breaker.  What does it take to trip a breaker?  Do MOVs and breakers have an I^2t rating?  MOVs appear to have a limited life; what happens when they reach end of life? Do they go short or open (neither is good)?

Maybe this is a good business opportunity. 

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Romano.Eduard
Romano.Eduard
9/3/2018 8:12:53 AM
User Rank
Newbie
Lighting Protection
The SAd device can be installed on some specific sections of overhead lines that are especially subject to direct lighting strikes and should as well be installed within the last 3 or 4 spans before substations.

You can read about solutions here https://www.streamer-electric.com/products/lightning-protection

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steve.taranovich
steve.taranovich
9/2/2018 4:28:29 PM
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Pull the plugs
Thanks Vince, for the added tips! 

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vbiancomano
vbiancomano
9/2/2018 2:48:59 PM
User Rank
Blogger
Pull the plugs
When it comes to lightning, my experience is that it's more risky to depend on surge protectors than not to use them at all. That is, surge protectors continue to provide the user with a false sense of security, because the surge energy of a future hit can be as large as one provided by a direct hit (from which very little survives), let alone a bolt that strikes down the street. In that sense, they're often a waste of money as a protection device for lightning, even IMO if high-capacity units are placed at the house's main breaker. With potentially high-risk storms, my solution is to unplug all devices and systems from the mains and shut down the house breaker as well. I also disconnect as many other leads as possible coming into the house (e.g., antennas) from any devices that are grounded, with the hope (not yet confirmed as right or wrong) that the theory of offering an open-circuit device to the lightning will discourage a charge to flow. Then again, do we consider the lightning a small-area constant-current source? There's always unknown elements.

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