Selection of Surge Protective Device (SPD)- (Part 1)
- A device which diverts or limits surge current is called Surge protective devices (SPD).
- SPD protect electrical equipment against over voltages caused by lightning or Switching. It is wired in parallel to the equipment which is needed to be protected.
- Once the surge voltage exceeds SPD’s rating it starts to conduct energy directly to the electrical grounding system. An SPD has a very low resistance during this time and give low resistance path the energy to ground. Once the surge is over it gives high resistance path to current.
- SPD is previously known as Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors (TVS) or Secondary Surge Arresters.
- Underwriter laboratories ,UL 1449 Listed SPDs are now designated as either Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 and intended for use on AC power systems rated Less than 1000vrms
- SPD is used to limit transient over voltages of atmospheric or Switching Surge and gives path to the excessive current to earth hence limit the overvoltage to a value that is not hazardous for the electrical installation.
Causes of Surges:
- (1) External Surge:
- lightning strikes : Direct Stroke , Indirect Stroke
- (2) Internal Surge:
- Switching Surge:
- Switching on/off of inductive loads.
- Tripped circuit breakers and fuses.
- Short circuits.
- Malfunctions caused by the power company.
- Insulation Failures:
- Arcing Ground:
- Ignition and interruption to electric arc.
Difference between Surge arrestor (Lighting Arrestor) and Surge Suppressor:
- Surge arresters and Surge Suppressor both are used to protect equipment from surges. But, there is confusion between the application of surge arrestors / Lighting arrestor and surge suppressors.
- The main differences between a lightning arrester and a surge arrester are its fault clearing time and it’s position
- Both are doing the same job, but still both are not same.
Lighting Arrestor / Surge Arrestor:
- Surge Arresters are widely also known Lightning arresters.
- Surge arresters are devices installed on Over head lines, substations etc to avoid a Lighting surge and other Surges of an additional current/ voltage/charge due to various faults occurring.
- In the past year when nonlinear / solid-state devices (computers, PLC and drives) were not used. The Electrical Load is mostly Linear Load. Utility companies and end users were concerned with how to protect electrical distribution systems from lightning surges to ensure that voltage surges did not exceed the basic insulation level (BIL) of the conductor wires, transformers and other equipment.
- Hence Surge arrestors / Lighting arrestors were developed for use in low, medium and high voltage applications at various points in the transmission and distribution system.
- Surge Arrestor provide low resistance path between the phase conductor and ground. LA did not concern with the loads if it cleared within a few cycles.
- Arrestors are still used in the electrical industry primarily along the transmission lines and upstream of a facility’s service entrance.
- Arrestors are available in various classes depending upon their withstand capability (e.g., station vs. distribution class). At the service entrance location on low voltage systems (600V and below), Lightning arrestors were designed to protect the electrical distribution system and not the sensitive solid-state equipment.
- Economically, surge arresters are better than surge Different surge arresters are available based on their withstanding capability. The main problem with them is that they are designed for protecting large electrical distribution systems from lightning surges, and not for sensitive solid state equipment.
- Applications: The surge arrester is best to protect insulation of transformers, panel boards, and wirings. However, it doesn’t work well for solid state components.
Surge Suppressor / Surge Protector (called TVSS):
- In today’s we mostly use solid-state (nonlinear) loads like electronic equipment, drives, PLCs, computers, electronic ballasts, telecommunication equipment. Non Linear is about 70% of utility loads. The solid-state components will be damaged by the surges.
- Using Surge suppressors at the service entrance and key branch panels, the surge will be effectively reduced to under 100V.
- If a TVSS and lightning arrestor are both used at a service entrance switchboard, the TVSS will “turn on” earlier and shunt most of the surge current. Many water-treatment plants, telecommunication facilities, hospitals, schools and heavy industrial plants utilize TVSSs instead of surge arrestors to provide protection against the effects of lightning, utility switching, switching electric motors.
- Applications: They are used in water treatment plants, hospitals, schools, and telecommunication facilities.
Size of Surge Protection Device (SPD) does not depend on Panel Size:
- The kA rating of an SPD (surge rating) is one of the most misleading terms. We normally use 50KA SPD to protect 50KA panel.
- The kA rating of the surge arresters has nothing to do with the fault current rating of electrical distribution board. We can fit a 40kA surge arrester in a domestic board with a fault current rating of less than 5kA
- When a surge enters a panel, it does not know the size of the panel. So It is totally miscalculation for use 50KA SPD for 50KA Panel
- There is a normal Practice that larger panels need larger SPD, but surges are indifferent to panel size.
- The largest surge that can enter a building’s wiring is 10kA, as explained in the IEEE C62.41 standard. So why would we need a SPD rated for 100KA or 200kA.
Selection of Surge Protective Device (SPD)- (Part 2)
Size of Surge Protection Device (SPD) depends upon Location of Panel:
- Panel location within the electrical system is more important than the panel’s size.
- The location of the panel within the facility is much more important. IEEE C62.41.2 defines the types of expected surges within a facility as:
- Category C: Service Entrance, more severe environment: 10kV, 10kA surge
- Category B: Downstream more than 30feet from category C, less severe environment: 6kV, 3kA surge
- Category A: Further downstream, more than 60 feet from category C, least severe environment: 6kV, 0.5kA surge
- When selecting the appropriate kA rating for an SPD.
- Category C: 100kA to 200kA per phase
- Category B: 50kA to 100kA per phase
- Category A: 50kA to 100kA per phase
Large Size of Surge Protection Device (SPD) does not give better Protection:
- Most SPDs use a metal oxide varistor (MOV) as the main limiting device. If an MOV is rated for 10kA and having a 10kA surge, it would use 100% of its capacity. The surge will degrade the MOV a little bit.
- Now if we use 20KA SPD so this SPD has two 10kA MOVs in parallel. The MOVs will equally split the 10kA surge, so each would take 5kA. In this case, each MOV have only used 50% of their capacity which degrades the MOV much less than 10KA SPD
- Again It is totally misleading that two parallel path (in 20KA SPD) absorb surge faster or better than single path SPD (like 10KA SPD) of same rating.
- The main purpose of having MOVs in parallel is to increase the longevity or Life of the SPD.
- Again, It is need to clear that it is subjective and at some point we are only adding cost by incorporating more MOV’s and receiving little benefit.
- Larger kA ratings are for redundancy & longer life only.
SPD can not give 100% Protection against All Types of electrical disturbance
- There is a misconception about SPDs is that they are designed to protect against all Electrical problems.
- SPD is not designed to protect against excessive voltage at the fundamental power frequency. It is design to give protection against surges (by direct lighting or voltage surges in line at remote location).
- SPD can not give Protection against Poor Power Quality (Harmonics)
- Some SPDs contain filtering to remove high frequency noise (50 kHz to 250 kHz), But SPD cannot filter harmonic loads (3rd through 50th harmonic equals180 to 3000 Hz).
- SPD can not give Protection against Under Voltage.
- SPD can not give protection against under voltage problems.
- SPD can not give Protection against direct lighting Strikes.
- An SPD can not prevent damage caused by a direct lightning strike. A direct lightning strike causes induced surges on the power line that are reduced by the SPD But SPD can not Protect against Lighting Strikes near SPD Location.
- SPD can not give protection against temporary overvoltage.
- Temporary overvoltage is caused by a severe fault in the utility power or due to problems with the ground (poor or nonexistent N-G bond).
- Temporary overvoltage occurs when the Voltage exceeds the nominal voltage for a short duration (millisecond to a few minutes).
- If the voltage exceeds 25% of the nominal system voltage, the SPD and other loads may become damaged.
Selection of Surge Protection device (SPD):
- The Size, performance and specification of SPD depend on following characteristics
Current characteristic of SPD
- I:Surge Current Rating (KA),
- In: Nominal Discharge Current (In),
- Imax: Maximum discharge Current (Imax)
- Short Circuit Current Rating (SCCR).
Voltage characteristic of SPD
- Uc: Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage (MCOV),
- Up: Voltage Protection Rating (VPR) or surge voltage rating (SVR) or Clamping Voltage.
- TOV: Temporary Over Voltage.
(1) Surge Current Ratings (I):
- The peak surge current ratings of SPD are generally based on the sum of Line-neutral and Line-ground current.
- A peak ampere rating per phase. (I.e. L-N 100 kA, L-G 100 kA provides 200 kA/phase).
- Other Specification like MCOV, VPR, In and SCCR that have clearly defined test criteria, but for Surge Current there is no specified Test Criteria or industry-standard hence different SPD manufacturers to create their own definitions of peak ampere surge current ratings.
- Please note that selection of Higher Surge Current Ratings don’t always gives Better Protection but it is provide loner life.
- IEEE Clearly states that “The selection of a surge current rating for an SPD should be matched to the expected surge environment and the expected or desired useful life of the device.”
- Selection of Surge Rating for an SPD depends on The location of the SPD within the electrical distribution & environmental surroundings condition of Site.
- Following surge current ratings based on SPD location within the electrical distribution.
|Surge current ratings based on SPD location|
|Service Entrance Locations||240 kA|
|Distribution Locations||120KA to 160 kA|
|Branch Locations||50KA to 120 kA|
(2) Nominal discharge current rating (In):
- The Nominal Discharge Current is the peak value of surge current conducted through the SPD. It has 8/20μs Impulse current Waveform .The SPD must function after 15 applied surges.
- Nominal discharge Current shows durability of SPD. The highest nominal discharge current rating is 20kA.
- Example : calculate In for Maximum peak current(Surge Current): I=200 kA (the maximum level of natural lightning where 5% of strikes are bigger than 100 kA)
- Assume that for perfect current sharing 50 % to ground and 50 % to the electrical network
- Network configuration is 3 Phases + Neutral (n=4)
In = Surge Current X Current path to Ground (%) / No of Path =200 x 0.5 / 4 = 25 kA
- The Nominal discharge current values, with a 8/20μs wave shape as per UL 1449 are
- Type 1 SPD (In)= 10KA or 20 kA
- Type 2 SPD (In)= 3KA ,5KA,10KA or 20 kA
- The Nominal discharge current value as per IEEE C62.41 is 200A to 10KA.
- The Nominal discharge current value as per NFPA is 20KA
(3) Maximum discharge current (lmax):
- The maximum surge current between any one phase and neutral that the SPD can withstand for a single strike of 8/20µs or 10/350μs current is called Maximum discharge current of SPD.
- This is the maximum value of a surge current that can be diverted by the surge protective device.
- current surges have two different wave shapes
- Lightning currents is a long wave shape (10/350μs) which represents direct lightning strike.
- Short wave shape (8/20 μs) which represents a indirect strike;
- lmax is the maximum value of a short wave shape current and limp is the value of a long wave shape current; the value lmax or limp has to be adapted to the expected value of the possible lightning currents.
- Imax > In
(4) Short circuit current rating (SCCR):
- Maximum symmetrical fault current, at rated voltage, that the SPD can withstand without sustaining damage is called SCCR of SPD.
- Every electrical system has an available short circuit current. This is the amount of current that can be delivered by the system at a particular point in a short circuit situation.
- SCCR shoes that Measure of how much current the electrical utility can supply during a fault condition.
- SCCR is not a surge rating but it is the maximum allowable current a SPD can interrupt in the event of a failure.
- NEC Article 285.6 says that the SPD to be installed where the available fault current is less than the SCCR rating of the SPD unit.
|Typical available short circuit currents|
|Load||short circuit currents of SPD|
|Residential||5KA to 10kA|
|Small commercial||14KA to 42kA|
|Large commercial/industrial||42kA to 65kA|
|Large industrial/utility/downtown in large cities||100kA to 200kA|
|At a sub panel||120kA to 160kA provides good protection and life|
|Point of use SPDs||80kA to 100kA perform well|
(5) Calculating Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage (MCOV or Uc):
- When Surge Protector are installed to protect systems from lightning or switching surges, it should be installed between the phase and earth. Hence MCOV of the installed arrester must be equal or higher to the continuous voltage between the phase and earth.
- On three phase systems, the line to ground voltage is equal to the phase to phase voltage divided by 1.73
- For example: on a 440kV transmission system, the nominal system phase to phase voltage is 440kV therefore the line to earth voltage would be 440/1.73=254kV. Since all systems have some regulation error. If the regulation is 10%, then the line to ground voltage could be 254x 1.10 = 280kV. The MCOV or Uc or an arrester for this system at a minimum should be 280kV.
|120V system||150V MCOV|
|240V system||320V MCOV|
|480V system||550V MCOV|
- Selecting SPD with too low of a voltage rating will result in SPD failure
- Selecting SPD with too high of a voltage rating will result in reduced protection
(6) Calculating Line to Ground Voltage:
- The maximum rms voltage that can be applied to each mode of the SPD is called MCOV
- When a three phase power system have a fault between one of the Phase to earth, the Voltage of two healthy phases to ground increase. Since Arrestor is mostly connect between Phase and Earth hence Voltage across LA terminals also Increase.
- This increase in voltage will remain across the arrester until a system breaker operates and breaks or interrupts the fault. This is a very significant event in the life of an arrester and must be accounted for during the voltage rating selection of an arrester.
- There are some rules of thumb and graphs that can be used, but these are quit crude and difficult at best to use. Annex C of IEEE standard C62.22 and Annex A of IEC 60099-5 cover this subject.
- For distribution systems where the system and transformer impedances are relatively unknown, a worst case scenario is used for each type of system. The voltage rise during a fault in these cases is determined by multiplying the line to ground voltage by
|Type of System||Ground Fault Factor|
|Solidly Grounded 4 wire systems||1.25|
|Uni-grounded 3 wire systems||1.4|
|Impedance grounded systems||1.73|
|Isolated Ground Systems and Delta Systems||1.73|
- For example: In a 440kV multi-grounded system, the maximum continuous line to ground voltage = Phase to Phase Voltage /1.73 =440/1.73=254kV. The voltage during a ground fault on the un faulted phases can reach 254 x 1.25 or = 318kV rms. This is the voltage an arrester will see across its terminals for as long as the fault exists.
(7) Voltage protection level ( UP at In):
- This is the maximum voltage across the terminals of the SPD when it is active. This voltage is reached when the current flowing in the SPD is equal to Nominal discharge current (In).
- The voltage protection level must be below the overvoltage withstand capability of the loads.
- In the event of lightning strokes, the voltage across the terminals of the SPD generally remains less than Up.
- While diverting the surge current to the ground Voltage Protection Level (Up) must not exceed the voltage withstand value of the equipment connected downstream.
- Suppressed Voltage Rating (SVR) was part of an earlier version of UL 1449 Edition and is no longer used in the UL 1449 standard. The SVR was replaced by VPR.
(8) Temporary Over Voltage (TOV):
- It is used to describe temporary Surge which can arise as a fault of faults within medium & Low voltage.
- UTov=1.45X Uo, where Uo= Nominal Line to earth Voltage.
- For 230/440V System UTov=1.45X230 = 333.33Volt
Selection of Surge Protective Device (SPD)- (Part 3)
Type of SPD:
Type 1 SPD:
- Protection for : Transient Over voltages due to Direct Lightning Strokes
- Location : It is installed at any location between the secondary of the utility service transformer and the service entrance primary disconnection
- It is installed in the main electrical switchboard when the building is equipped with a lightning protection system.
- It protects against external surges caused by lightning or utility capacitor bank switching.
- These devices to discharging a very high lightning current from earth to the power distribution system.
- Current ratings: 10Ka to 35Ka – 10/350µs wave form.
- Required Dedicated Fuse / Circuit Breaker for SPD : No
- Risk Factor : Very strong risk Area
Type 2 SPD:
- Protection for : Transient Over voltages due to Switching and Indirect Lightning Stroke.
- Location: It is installed in the main distribution switchboard.
- It is designed to discharge the currents generated by indirect lightning strokes and causing induced or conducted overvoltage on the power distribution network.
- It protects against residual lightning energy, motor driven surges and other internally generated surges.
- Current ratings: 5Ka to 200 Ka – 8/20µs wave form.
- Required Dedicated Fuse / Circuit Breaker for SPD : May or May Not
- Risk Factor : Common risk Area
Type 3 SPD:
- Protection for: Sensitive Loads.
- It is installed as a supplement to Type 2 devices and to reduce the overvoltage at the terminals of sensitive equipment.
- Their current discharge capacity is very limited. As a consequence they cannot be used alone.
- Installed at minimum conductor length of 10 meters (30 feet) from the electrical service panel to the point of utilization
- Provides point-of-use protection, easily replaceable and it provides the last line of defense against a lightning strike.
- Risk Factor : Very strong & common risk Area
Connection of SPD in Distribution Box.
- In common mode: Phase to earth or neutral to earth
- In differential mode: Phase to phase or phase to neutral
Factors effect on SPD Performance:
(1) Location of Surge Protection Device:
- Lightning protection should be installed on a overall viewpoint of Protection.
- For large industrial plants, data centers, hospitals, a risk assessment method must be used to guide in choosing optimal distance.
- In other cases like housing, offices, buildings Where there is not or less sensitive industrial risks, we may adopt following principle to select SPD.Type 2 surge protective device should be installed in the electrical installation’s incoming Main switchboard.
- If the distance between that surge protective device and the equipment to be protected is more than 30 meters, than additional surge protective device (Type 2 or Type 3) should be installed near the equipment.
- When the building is equipped with a lightning protection system, a Type 1 surge protective device must be installed at the incoming Main Switch Board. There exist surge protective devices combining Type 1 and Type 2 in the same enclosure.
- The Lightning rods have to be located on the highest points of the structure, taking into account the location of the grounding, and that the path of the down conductors are as short and straight as possible .
(2) Size of Down Conductor:
- Lightning is a phenomenon that generates a high frequency voltage. The length of the cables must be taken into account in cases of high frequency.
- The down conductors may be tapes, stranded wire or solid round.
- The minimum cross section must be
- 1 meter of cable crossed by a lightning current generates an overvoltage of 1,000V.
- Mandatory in Standard IEC 60364-5-534:
- L (length of cables) < 50cm,
- Cable cross-section of Cable (S) < 16mm² (Type 1).
- Cable cross-section of Cable (S) < 4mm²(Type 2).
(3) Placement of Down Conductor
- Down conductor will be placed on the outside of the structure.
- When it is impossible to make a down conductor on the outside, conductors can be introduced in a non-flammable insulating pipe, with a minimum section of 2000 mm2, for this purpose.
- The down conductors on the inside decrease the effectiveness of lightning protection, increase the risk of over voltages penetration of and difficult the verification and maintenance of installation.
(4) Number of Down Conductor
- At least one down conductor for every lightning rod. A minimum of two down conductor when,
- (1) The horizontal Projection length of the conductor exceeds its vertical projection length.
- (2) The height of the structure is greater than 28 meter.
- Equi potential bonding will be made between the conductors at ground level and every 20 meters.
- According to UNE 21186:
- (1) Each lightning rod shall be grounded by two down conductor.
- (2) It will be necessary 4 down conductors on buildings higher than 60 meters.
- (3) It should be placed whenever possible in the 4 corners of the building.
(5) Path of Down Conductor
- The down conductor routes will the shortest path, straight and direct to grounding.
- We should avoiding elevations above 40 cm with slope equal to or greater than 45°.
- The radii of curves shall not be less than 20 cm and direction changes less than 90°.
- The route will be chosen so as to avoid proximity to electrical conduits, telephone, data and its crossing with them.
- In any case, when we can not avoid an intersection conduits must be placed inside a metallic shield that extended 1 m to each side of the crossing, and the shield should bind to the down conductor.
(6) Safety Distance:
- According CTE SU8:
- Safety distance (m) = 0.1 x L
- L = vertical distance from the point where it is considered the proximity to the grounding of the metal mass
- Safety distance to outdoor gas pipelines ≥ 5 m.
- According to UNE 21186:
- Safety distance for 1 no of down conductor (m) = 0.16 x L
- Safety distance for 2 No of down conductors (m) = 0.08 x L
- Safety distance for 4 No of down conductors (m) = 0.04 x L
- L = length of the down conductor from the point where it is considered the separation distance to the point where is located the nearest equipotential point.
- There will be 1 grounding system for each down conductor.
(8) Lighting Counter:
- The lightning counter must be installed over the more direct down conductor, above the joint control, and in all cases, about 2 meters above the ground.
(9) Size of Surge Protection Device:
- A type 2 surge protective device depends mainly on the exposure zone (moderate, medium, high).
- Type-2 SPD has discharge capacity (Imax) of 20 kA, 40 kA, 65 kA (8/20 µs).
- Type 1 SPD has minimum discharge capacity (Imax) of 12.5 kA (10/350).
- Higher values may be required by the risk assessment when it’s required.
- For residential or light commercial locations: a surge current rating of 20 kA to 70 kA (8/20 µs) per phase should be sufficient. Installations in
- For high-lightning areas: SPDs with higher surge current ratings of 40 kA to 120 kA, to provide a longer service life and higher reliability.
Selection of Surge Protective Device (SPD)- (Part 4)
Typical System Voltage & MCOV rating (As per IEEE):
|Typical IEEE System Voltages|
|Normal (Line to Line) Voltage (KV rms)||Maximum ( Line to Line ) Voltage (KV rms)||Maximum (Line to Ground) Voltage (KV rms)||Min MCOV|
|kV rms||kV rms||kV rms||kV rms|
Typical System Voltage & MCOV rating (As per IEC):
|Typical IEC System Voltages|
|Normal (Line to Line) Voltage (KV rms)||Maximum ( Line to Line ) Voltage (KV rms)||Maximum (Line to Ground) Voltage (KV rms)||Minimum Uc|
|kV rms||kV rms||kV rms||kV rms|
SPD and Fuse / CB co-ordination chart:
|Fuse/CB co-ordination chart|
|Incoming feeder fuse rating (A)||Incoming feeder CB Rating (A)||SPD fuse rating (A)||SPD CB rating (A)|
Sample Specifications of SPD for 277/480V Supply System
- Voltage :277/480V 3Ø WYE, 480V 3Ø Delta
- Frequency: 50/60Hz
- Surge Technology: 40mm MOV
- Nominal Discharge Rating (IN):20kA
- Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage (MCOV): 320V
- Maximum Surge Current, Per Mode (Per Phase) : 200kA (400kA
- Voltage Protection Rating (VPR) (Clamping) : 800V(L-N)/700V(L-L)
- Short Circuit Current Rating (SCCR): 10kA
- Connection Type: Parallel Connection
Reason for Failure of SPD :
Most SPDs will last for many years. The things that cause sudden failure are
- External supply faults such as overvoltage -faulty transformer, MV lines
- Local supply faults -broken or ungrounded neutral.
- Wrongly-selected SPD voltage.
- A surge in excess of the SPD’s rating.
Classes’ of surge arrestors according to impulse current:
1 = Test impulse current for lightning current arresters
2 = Test impulse current for surge arresters
- There are 3 x main categories of lightning surge arresters.
- Class 1/A – (10/350) lightning current arresters, which can withstand direct lightning
- Class 2/B – (8/20) surge arresters, to protect against induced surge currents
- Class 3/C – (8/20) surge arresters, to protect against induced surge currents
Meaning of 20kA (8/20μS) impulse current.
- In 8/20μ The first value (8) is the rise time (from 10% to 90% of peak). The second value (20) is the duration for the test transient to decrease to half its peak value.
Standard for SPD:
- Underwriter laboratories—UL 1449 (3rd Edition 2009)
- IEEE C62.45 (2002)
- NECT National Electrical Code Articles 245, 680 and 800.
- NFPAT 780 Lightning protection code recommendations for the use of surge protection devices at a facility service entrance.
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