Power Surge Protection Device 101

Why is a power surge protection device necessary? Well, if you are getting tired of power surges damaging your sensitive electrical equipment, then these devices are just what you need. 

Let’s be real for a moment: With automation solutions only on the rise, power surge problems won’t go away anytime soon, so how can you protect your equipment from failure? 



In this episode of the Power Grid Podcast, Brian Branigan goes over what a power surge protection device is, why it is important, and how and where to install it to protect your valuable electrical gear. 



Power Surge Protection Device_ type 1 surge protective device



Surge Protection Devices: The Rise of this New Technology

When Brian started in the electrical repair field more than 20 years ago, surge protection devices were not a common thing.  The first time Brian made a sale on a surge suppression unit was back in the late ’90s during a routine call to a water plant. 

He found that the existing surge suppression unit had failed, and the indicator lights weren’t working. Back then, surge protection devices (SPDs) were a new thing, and the regulatory framework was not nearly as good as it is today. 

The National Electrical Code (NEC) and other regulatory bodies offered limited guidelines, leaving much to the discretion of the installers and facility managers.

The Source of Power Surges

However, with the passing of time, power surges were more regulated and understood; now, we have a lot of regulatory systems and laws that dictate how to manage power surges. 

So, to properly understand how to use a power surge protection dive and power surge suppressor, we need to know where those surges originate.  Contrary to popular belief, the majority of power surges originate within your own facility, not from external factors like lightning strikes.

It’s estimated that up to 80% of power surges are produced internally by the equipment we rely on to operate our businesses—motors, pumps, air compressors, chargers, and more. 



The Power Grid podcast Power Surge Protection Device



The consequences of unprotected surges can be severe and far-reaching, including:

  • Premature Equipment Failure: Sudden surges can cause immediate breakdowns of sensitive machinery.
  • Cumulative Equipment Damage: Over time, minor surges can degrade internal components, leading to a reduced lifespan.
  • Data Loss: Critical business information stored on computers and servers can be corrupted or wiped out.
  • System Resets: Surges can disrupt operational software and require time-consuming restarts or reprogramming.
  • Operational Shutdown: In the worst cases, surges may force a complete halt of business activities.
  • Costly Repairs and Replacements: The financial burden of replacing damaged equipment or repairing complex machinery can be substantial.
  • LED Lighting Disruption: now more than ever, modern LED lighting systems can fall victim to voltage spikes or even be the cause of these surges. 

Implementing surge suppression will help protect your operations since it acts as a shield, securing your equipment against unexpected voltage and contributing to overall system resilience.



How and Where to Apply Surge Suppression Equipment

So, how does sure suppression work? While surge suppressors cannot eliminate voltage spikes entirely, they play an essential role in managing these surges and minimizing their impact.

The best way to implement the supervision device is by a cascading method. Starting at the service entrance, the initial point where power enters your facility, protection should extend to distribution systems and onward to individual circuit points and all the way to the ports. 

Additionally, all ports have some sort of surge suppression system since this metal equipment degreed over time with each surge. 

Type of Surge Suppression

Surge suppression equipment is categorized based on the location and type of protection it offers:

  • Type 1 surge protective device: These surge suppressors are designed to handle large surges, typically originating from the utility side of the service entrance.
  • Type 2 surge protective device: These devices are installed downstream from the service entrance and are not part of the utility infrastructure, offering protection at a more localized level.


Mounting Distance

When installing surge suppressors, it’s vital to mount them as close as possible to avoid any leaks.

By minimizing the lead length—the distance between the suppressor and the point it protects—you reduce the resistance and improve the effectiveness of the surge suppression. 

By adhering to these guidelines and selecting the appropriate surge suppression devices for each application within your facility, you can achieve a proper defense against electrical surges. 


The National Electrical Code (NEC)

So, after installing any type of power surge protection device, knowing the NEC regulation is essential to stay compliant with the law. 

The National Electrical Code (NEC) has significantly evolved to address the growing concerns over power surges and their potential to cause harm to electrical equipment and jeopardize user safety.

As stipulated by the 2020 NEC, surge protective devices (SPDs) are mandated in several key areas to ensure a higher level of protection for both people and equipment:

  • Elevators & Escalators: Elevators within buildings are now safeguarded against electrical surges, helping to prevent sudden malfunctions or downtime.
  • Fire Pumps: Given their crucial role in emergency situations, protecting fire pumps from electrical transients ensures that they operate when needed most.
  • Equipment Machinery: Industrial and commercial equipment can represent a significant investment; thus, securing such machinery from voltage spikes is essential for operational continuity.
  • Residential Dwelling Units: Homes are now required to have either Type 1 or Type 2 SPDs as part of their electrical service panels to protect appliances and electronic devices from surge damage.


Type 2 surge protective device

Start Implementing Your Power Surge Protection Device Now

power surges are bound to happen, so get ahead of the damage and get power surge protection devices to protect your investments!

Maintaining safe operations and protecting the well-being of those within your facilities is a priority. 

At  Power Protection Products, we can help you make informed decisions about quality surge suppression solutions tailored to the unique demands of your operation.

Plan a free site survey and plan your power quality analysis for your facility today!