Behavioral studies of surge protection components

Teik Hua Kuan, Kuew Wai Chew, Kein Huat Chua


In our daily life, almost all the items we used, being a computer, television, cooking apparatus, lift or vehicle we drive consist of some kind of electrical or electronics component inside. The operation of this device could be severely affected by lightning activity or electrical switching events, as there are more than 2000 thunderstorms in progress at any time resulting in 100 lightning flashes to ground per second. In practice, any device as long as it consists of an electrical component and is using electricity will subject to surge damages induced from the lightning or switching of heavy load. For consumer product applications, the equipment supplier advised the user to add a Surge Protection Device at the power distribution panel to protect equipment failure due to the lightning and surges. For the industrial product application, in addition to the protection at the power supply, the control or system engineers are advised to include additional Surge Protection Device to its critical control loop to prevent damage subsequently cause plant shutdown. There are many questions raised on the Surge Protection Device. How can this small device protect the equipment from large energy release by the lightning? What is inside the device? How does it work? This paper provides comprehensive detail in revealing the science and engineering behind the Surge Protection Device, its individual component characteristic and how does it work. The technical information presented is limited to surge protection on equipment; surge protection for building structure will not be discussed here.


Gas discharge tube; Lightning protection; Metal oxide varistor; Surge avalanche diode; Surge protection component; Thyristor surge protection


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