Surge Protection: A Small Investment That Can Save You Thousands

What is Surge Protection?

Surge protection is one of those terms we’ve heard throughout our lives. From cheap wall surge adapters, the very common outlet strip with surge protection, to higher priced outlet strips that promise to protect your valuable electronics from the evils of a power surge caused by lightning storms or voltage fluctuations.

To better understand what a surge is and how it affects electronic or electrical devices, let’s take a look at the definition provided by the NEMA Surge Protection Institute:

Surge or Transients: “Brief” overvoltage spikes or disturbances on a power waveform that can
damage, degrade, or destroy electronic equipment within any home, commercial building, industrial, or manufacturing facility. Transients can reach amplitudes of tens of thousands of volts. Surges are generally measured in milliseconds.

Basically, a surge is an overvoltage spike that passes quickly through an electric circuit. In best case scenarios, that spike of overvoltage will only cause a minor hiccup on your electronics; you may not even notice it. However, if the surge is very high, an unprotected circuit can be rendered useless; overvoltage spikes may and can cause serious damage to electronic components that are not designed to withstand such excessive voltage. The surge can be so excessive that a common household surge protector can be destroyed and may even cause a fire.

What Causes a Power Surge?

There are several possible causes for a power surge. The two most common ones are:

  • A power surge that may occur when power is restored after a power outage
  • Power surges caused by appliances or machinery when they start and stop

Here are some additional potential power surge causes:

  • Wires arcing because they have become damaged or exposed for various reasons
  • Improperly grounded systems
  • A lightning strike, which can cause a huge amount of overcurrent, will surely destroy any unprotected appliance, computer or electrical device. The potential for fire is always a concern.

How Can I Protect My Devices/System?

As you can see from the possible causes listed above, some of these can be prevented by regular inspections and routine maintenance. However, the best insurance is to protect a system from inevitable failures.

There are various alternatives for preventing damage to devices, equipment and systems from power surges. You can use an outlet strip with surge protection for devices that plug into an outlet but be aware that these are not your safest option and they are definitely not intended for industrial use. You can use industrial surge protectors designed for more rugged and extreme use, but these are more expensive. Cost factors depend on the voltage, current and capacity requirements of your specific system but provide better protection. There are also models designed for one specific piece of equipment and other models that will protect a branch panel or can be used for either.

You can research different alternatives available, but many recommend Mersen STXR series because these devices use their very own patented technology called TPMOV®️, which stands for “Thermally Protected Metal Oxide Varistor”. This is the leading technology that provides the additional protection needed in the event of a varistor failure by completely eliminating any current flow; this results in the best protection possible for devices and systems. The MOV or Metal Oxide Varistor portion of the technology is used widely in the industry. MOVs are key components in electrical protection devices. The Varistor name is derived from “variable resistor”; when the voltage in a circuit exceeds a certain threshold, the resistance of the varistor drops sharply to direct excess current outside the circuit and protect equipment and devices from voltage surge. However, under repeated power surges, a varistor deteriorates until it eventually fails and causes a serious malfunction. ALL varistors have a limited lifespan. This is where the “Thermally Protected” portion of Mersen’s technology adds extra protection, by preventing a total meltdown if the varistor fails.

How Does the TPMOV®️ technology work?

Here’s the quick version of how it works:

  1. Current flows through the element “a” on one side of the varistor
  2. Current flows through the element “b” on
    the opposite side of the varistor
  3. When there is an overvoltage, the varistor pulls excess current away from the circuit to protect the end device
  4. The thermal element shown in the graphic
    is designed to warp when overheated

Normally when a varistor deteriorates to the point of failure, it will overheat to extreme temperatures, causing smoke and possibly igniting to cause a fire. Mersen’s TPMOV technology prevents this extreme failure by completely blocking current flow to the varistor upon failure. How does it do this?

  1. The failed varistor overheats
  2. This heat causes the thermal element
    to warp, which releases the arc shield
  3. The springs force the arc shield to slide upward, which blocks the current flow to the varistor
  4. This prevents any possible continued
    varistor overheating and eliminates any possible smoke or fire

Advantages of Mersen STXR Series Surge Protection Devices

Mersen STXR series surge protectors provide the best solution for most equipment protection needs. Here’s a list of advantages for these SPDs:

  • The cost of the SPD is a fraction of the cost to replace your equipment
  • Compact design allows for easy installation
  • It’s a parallel device not required to carry full system current
  • Manage overvoltage
  • Automatically disconnect themselves from the system preventing smoke or fires
  • NEMA 4X enclosure ratings for indoor/outdoor use
  • Ideal protection for any level of the power system: feeder, branch and/or individual equipment
  • Meets UL1449 4th Edition Type 1 requirements
  • Patented TPMOV®️ technology makes them one of the safest SPDs available
  • Five-year warranty
  • Designed for industrial use but at a starting price of under $100 (as of June 2018), it can also be ideal for whole residential home protection
  • 200kA SCCR (the best in the industry)
  • Can be used for Line-Neutral, Line-Ground, Line-Line, or Neutral-Ground applications

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