Power Surge Protection and Use of a Surge Arrester

In electrical safety, surge arresters and surge absorbers are two distinct types of devices that protect against voltage surges, particularly those caused by lightning strikes. While their goals are similar, they employ different mechanisms to achieve their purposes.

Surge Arrester: Barrier against Lightning Currents

A surge arrester acts as a barrier, safeguarding electrical systems from the damaging effects of lightning-induced currents. When a high-voltage pulse is encountered, the surge arrester temporarily loses its insulating properties and begins to conduct the voltage, containing it within safe limits. Surge arresters are commonly employed in protecting large-scale electrical equipment operating at medium to high voltage levels.

Surge Absorber: Energy Absorption

In contrast to surge arresters, surge absorbers are designed to absorb excess energy beyond the capabilities of the surge arrester. When the surge arrester reaches capacity, the surge absorber steps in to dissipate the surplus energy. This is accomplished by spreading the voltage across a network of resistors, known as bank resistors. The absorber allows the voltage to be dissipated as heat, protecting the system from potential damage.

Surge Suppressors: Domestic and Consumer Electronics Protection

Apart from surge arresters and absorbers, another type of electrical safety device known as a surge suppressor serves a similar purpose. Surge suppressors perform functions akin to surge arresters but are primarily used for safeguarding domestic and consumer electronic equipment. These devices are designed to mitigate voltage surges caused by various factors, such as power fluctuations, switching operations, or lightning strikes in the vicinity.

This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Swartz Engineering. For nearly half a century, Swartz Engineering has been at the forefront of industry safety. They are a family-owned company specializing in power distribution for the electrical industry. They are the leading manufacturer of Surge Arrestors. The SWARTZ® Current Transducer is a high-performance, a solid-state unit specifically developed to meet requirements for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCA- DA) systems.