Earthing And Lightning Protection


The importance of electronic systems protection

We are using electronic systems in almost every walk of our lives. Whether it is the PCs or the building management systems in the office or the automated petrol pumps and the barcode scanners at the neighbourhood supermarkets, electronic systems are omni-present.

This rapid pace of technological development, more so the continuous emphasis on miniaturization has led to a scenario where highly lightning vulnerable systems have become critical to our society’s functioning.

With the proliferation of the electronic systems, the risk potential to such systems and the implications of damage to them, have also multiplied drastically. Most of the electronic equipments are at risk these days, such as:

  • • Computers
  • • Data communication networks
  • • Building management systems
  • • PABX telephone exchanges
  • • CCTV equipment
  • • Fire and burglar alarms
  • • Telecom base stations
  • • Uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs)
  • • Programmable logic controllers (PLCs)
  • • Plant sensors
  • • Telemetry and data acquisition equipment

Any damage to such systems could bring industries, commercial establishments or government organizations to a crippling halt. The crucial nature of electronics systems protection, also referred to as Surge Protection has, thus, now been specified in various standards such as BS EN/IEC and BS 7671.

Indeed, BS EN/IECee 62305 requires integrated structural and surge protection. Effectively, structural lightning protection is no longer viewed as separate from the protection of electronics systems.

Transient overvoltage’s

The main risk to internal systems is through transient overvolatges - large. Very brief and potentially destructive increases in voltage within the electrical system.

Transient overvoltage’s

As after-effects of the lightning strikes (between the clouds or on ground) from a kilometer or further away from lightning energy reflected on to above or under the ground power, data and signal lines. The electrical switching of large inductive loads (such as motors, transformers and electrical drives), or capacitive loads (such as power factor correction)

Devastating effects

Transient over-voltages can reach magnitudes of up to 6000 volts in a well-insulated 230/400 V power distribution system, over eight times the levels tolerated by most electronic systems.

Despite lasting barely thousandths of millionth fractions of a second, such surges can devastate unprotected modern electronic systems.

Such surges can cause damages such as:

  • • They can disrupt system operations by causing data loss, data and software corruption and unexplained crashes
  • • Degradation of equipment components and circuitry, reducing equipment lifetime and repeated system failures
  • • Destroying components, circuit boards and I/O cards
  • • Costly and unnecessary system downtime

Protection benefits

Effective transient overvoltage protection can prevent:

  • • Loss or destruction of data
  • • Damage to electronic equipment
  • • High costs of repair for remote or unmanned installations.
  • • Damage to systems might lead to costly losses due to sales loss, production loss, damage to ongoing work.
  • • Loss or damage to essential facilities such as fire alarm, security systems, building management systems etc.
  • • The hazards caused by sudden plant instability after losing control.
  • • Risk of fire and electric shocks.

It is possible to achieve effective protection by installing a coordinated set of Furse surge protection devices 9SPDs), covering incoming/outgoing mains and data lines and protecting sensitive and critical electronic systems from unforeseen damage.