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Home » Special Report » Challenges and advancements in earthing and lightning protection systems

Challenges and advancements in earthing and lightning protection systems

July 3, 2024 5:00 pm

Challenges and advancements in earthing and lightning protection systems
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Advancements in earthing and lightning protection systems are crucial in addressing rising electrical risks in modern infrastructure, ensuring global safety and reliability against evolving hazards.

Spokesperson: Shaurya murarka Product Support- Engineer, Finder.

Effective earthing and lightning protection systems are critical to safeguarding modern infrastructure from electrical hazards. As technology advances, so do the challenges of ensuring robust protection against lightning strikes and voltage surges.

Earthing and lightning protection systems safeguard structures, equipment, and people from electrical hazards. The surge protection market is witnessing significant growth due to increased electronics usage and awareness of voltage fluctuation risks. However, ensuring their effectiveness comes with its own set of challenges. 

For example, most of us know that external lightning rods will be installed at the top of the installation, infrastructure, or building. However, a very few of us may also be conversant about the mandatory need for surge protection devices (SPDs) in low-voltage power supply systems, especially after installing external lightning rods. 

The selection of the installation points and the types of surge protection technology used in the low-voltage installation are primary concerns that can compromise the entire low-voltage (LV) power supply system and the equipment. 

Protection Concepts for the LV Power Supply:

A comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure robust protection measures across low-voltage power supplies in any installation. This includes:
Following the zone concept as per IEC standards, SPDs need to be installed at the Main DB, Sub DB, and sensitive equipment levels as per the Classification of Lightning Protection Zones (LPZ-1/2/3). 

Tailoring the SPD designs according to application requirements: Usually, the person who installs the SPD is not aware of or has not read the installation instructions of the SPD manufacturer, which results in the failure of the equipment that is expected to get protection from the SPD even after the installation. This is because long cables are used to connect SPDs and the backup fuses, which have to be installed separately.

Regular inspections and maintenance to address changing conditions: As every kind of SPD in the world is self-sacrificing, it is important to understand the end of life.

Trends and Prospects for Technology Adoption

The following innovations enhance SPD technology and mitigate possible human errors, according to the three points mentioned above:

Type I, II, and Class B+C SPDs can be used effectively where zone concepts cannot be implemented. However, it must be designed with replaceable modules and features like zero line-follow current and zero leakage protection.

The most notable advancement these days is the integration of surge protection devices with built-in backup fuses that provide many advantages, i.e., name a few:

Surge Protection Devices (SPDs) with built-in fuses do not need additional cable lengths, eliminating the risk of an increase in protection levels, which plays a crucial role in electrical systems. 

They safeguard against overloads caused by short circuits and ensure system integrity. 

By integrating SPD with the built-in fuse, we prevent the main fuse from tripping unnecessarily, ensuring continuous operation. 

Properly selected fuses enhance system reliability by effectively managing surge currents, which is critical for residential and industrial settings where varying short-circuit currents are expected. 

To provide long-term protection for the system, incorporating surge counters enhances proactive maintenance efforts by accurately counting surge events and assessing SPD performance over time. Surge counters enable us to make timely replacements or upgrades when necessary. 

In terms of regulatory frameworks

Adherence to industry standards and guidelines is paramount in prioritising safety and compliance in SPD deployment. Organisations such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) provide comprehensive standards for designing, testing, and installing SPDs, ensuring compatibility across different types of facilities. 

 Continuous advancements in surge protection technologies, guided by rigorous standards and proactive maintenance practices, promise enhanced safety and reliability in electrical systems worldwide.

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