Safeguard Your Site From Surges
Now that electronic equipment such as drives, PLCs, computers, electronic ballasts and telecommunication equipment consume around 70 percent of utility loads, protecting these electronic devices from random voltage surges and transients has become a lot more important. The solutions developed to protect old linear loads no longer apply to the dramatically increasing solid-state non-linear loads of modern-day complex electronic equipment which is faster, smaller and more efficient.
End-users have gained a lot from the faster speed, greater performance and lower cost of these microprocessor-driven devices but there are significant downside risks in their vulnerability to the effects of transients, spikes and surges.
Fortunately the electrical industry can protect all this equipment from this frequently unseen damage, says Aaron Gillon, YHI Power Systems’ senior sales engineer, and there is no better time to upgrade sites than during a switchboard upgrade.
YHI supplies a range of Eaton surge protection equipment for all low voltage installations in New Zealand and can help electricians and engineers select the right units to protect every application.
Gillon says the internationally recognised standards for surge and lightning protection provide a reliable method to assess a site and determine the best product solutions and locations from the supply point of entry all the way to vulnerable equipment.
He says specific solutions are not complex and can be as simple as installing a single device on a switchboard or panel with nothing to do other than wire it in. There is little to learn but the benefits are huge.
“If a surge has enough energy it can damage or destroy electrical equipment or even the electrical infrastructure itself, so installing the right level of protection at the right locations is vital for the safeguarding of a site.
“Eaton surge protectors will deliver as high a level of protection as you need at a fraction of the cost of replacing the equipment each unit is designed to protect. From a new install or maintenance perspective, it is the best investment you can make to keep plant and electrical facilities operating continuously and to avoid the high direct and indirect costs of surge and transient induced failures.”
Gillon describes surges and transients as random short bursts of excess electrical energy. He says typically 80 percent are generated from internal sources such as load switching, motors starting up or air conditioning switching on. The other 20 percent come from external sources such as lightning strikes and power company switching.
“Most electrical systems are impacted by some level of transients and we can help you seriously reduce the amount of harmful energy that flows into an installation.”
To protect electrical equipment from power surges and voltage spikes, YHI Power Systems supplies ranges of individually-tested Eaton protection components for each of the three categories or classes defined in international standards for particular locations in the electrical system, starting at the point of entry.
Gillon says it’s cheaper and easier to divert any incoming excess energy at the point of entry and stop it before it gets into the system.
For this Category C location, YHI Power Systems supplies the Eaton (Class II) 3 phase SPDSG series of shunt surge diverters which effectively clamp the incoming lines to neutral or earth, protecting switchboards, contactors, transformers and motors from extreme voltage burnouts. Properly installed, these diverters can limit surges to below 2000 V.
For main loads such as computers, communications systems and test equipment or electrical noise generating loads such as variable speed motor drives or high-frequency welders that need to have surge potentials limited to under 1000 V, an Eaton SPD3200 or SPDI surge/ power filter should be used.
The DIN-mount SPDI series covers surge ratings from 60 kA to 150 kA, costs between $300 to $500 and is also suitable for residential installations.
Gillon says the SPD3200 is the most popular commercial and industrial surge diverter in the Eaton range adding only around $2500 to the cost of a main board. Replacing a SPDi module after a serious hit costs only $300 to restore full protection after its done its job.
“But if you want the highest level of protection, the premium Eaton PPFI model will take care of all risks at the point of entry as well providing a measure of sub-circuit Category B protection on the secondary side of the filter.”
Eaton Quickmov surge diverters can also be used in these locations for protection of Quicklag and DIN panelboards.
For DC solar panel arrays with grid interactive inverters Gillon recommends Cat C/Class II, DC shunt surge diverters in the PVD40 series.
Once you get past the main board, submains and short final sub-circuits require a Class II/Category B solution with surge diversion and filtering usually one step below the protection level applied to the point of entry.
“If you need to protect up to six devices, a surge filter from the Eaton ESF range is the ideal solution for complete site protection in a compact footprint. Install an ESF filter as close as possible to the equipment you want to protect against surge issues generated downstream of the main board, and especially where you cannot install a UPS.
“The ESFi filter can also be used for single-phase loads, but the most economical solution for device level protection up to 32 A is the Eaton DSFI.”
Gillon says from main board coarse filtering, through distribution board medium filtering to point-of-use fine filtering (Class III/Category A), Eaton offers a variety of protection options right down to simple filters for plug-in UPS systems, servers, POS systems and any sensitive electronic device.
He says there is a lot of installed sites with legacy systems that need regular checking to replace devices that have been damaged because they have done their job.
“For contracting electricians this is easy maintenance work of high value to customers. It doesn’t matter what brand of single or multi-phase diverter is installed on a board, replacing it with an Eaton SPDI device will restore protection.
“The advantage of switching to Eaton is the certainty of knowing every device is operational because all units have an LED indicator light and installations with a BMS can receive alerts when the surge protection devices take a fatal hit and need replacing.”
Gillon says many sites do not know how vulnerable they are to surges and costly downtime and damage to equipment.
“YHI Power Systems can help you protect their sites with Eaton products that offer high quality, advanced performance at a competitive price.”