Surge Protection By Eaton

ErieTec sits down with Eaton’s Sam Hammers, Product Manager of the Eaton Surge Protection Team. Here to talk about Surge Protection and why it’s important to have it in your systems. 

What is Surge?

Surge can be categorized by two types: Impulse Surges and Impulse Ringing Transients.

impulse surges

Impulse Surges are fast, high durations of change of voltage, so that’s typically anywhere from 5 to 50 nanoseconds. These would be surges that you would equate to lighting strikes.

impulse ringing transients

Next, you have Impulse Ringing Transients. These are smaller, switching of polarity, things that are caused by nonlinear loads. This includes capacitor switching, LED lights, etc. 

How to tell if surge is affecting your equipment

The first thing you think of when lightning strikes, you get a surge, maybe a piece of equipment goes down, so you want to make sure that we have covered surge protection there, but you also have these ringing transients that you might not be aware of. As you operate, ramp up motors, use VFDs or use large industrial equipment, you end up putting strains on your system. You get these little ringing transients that start destroying your circuit boards without even noticing then you lose the lifespan of your equipment. So, a piece of panelboard that was supposed to hold all of your LED lighting, instead those lights can’t turn on after a couple months of use, you might not have motors starting up after two to three years, or you’ll start to see your equipment degrading over a period of time. If you do have a large impulse, you are susceptible to any piece of equipment being down for a longer period of time. 

How to tell if surges are impacting your equipment

First, you will start to notice a change throughout your system. Either the motors are not performing the way they are supposed to, your VFDs keeps shutting off, or you get system lockups. You will start to see a lot of different categorized events. NEMA categorizes the three types of events that occur – destructive, dissipative and disruptive. Within those three is what you start to notice, for example, one could be a lightning strike, you start to see things get blown up, charred or burned. That is how you know it is a surge.

The second, dissipative, is more of the smaller PLCs, for example, when you are not seeing your equipment operate properly, you are seeing your boards start to deteriorate. Then disruptive is when you get a lockup. If you start noticing that when trying to send an email or you are trying to send data to production or manufacturing is trying to review some type of function within your process and it is not working properly or completely locks up, your downtime is typically caused throughout a surge event.

Why Surge Protection?

We always look code first. Building any facility or upgrading while going through inspection, you have to be up to code. Back in 2017, a code required surge protection on industrial machinery with safety interlocks, it also required it on fire pumps, wind turbines, so huge increase in requirements. A big reason is really human safety. Using surge protection, you are not only making your system more safe but you are also making it more reliable. You are not going to have downtime, you are not going to have that fear of a piece of equipment failing and it might or might not work the next day. You have that sense of reliability that when you have a fire pump installed or when you have something critical to your operation and it is going to be meet its end-of-life manufacturers expected date.

What is Eaton’s offering?

Eaton has several options. First would be their flagship – the SPD series. The SPD series goes from 50 to 400 kA. It is a fairly large offering, so it can protect from 100 amp panel all the way up through 3000-4000 amps. These devices can be put it on a switchboard, switchgear, MPD or anything of that nature. Those are geared more towards your service entrances. That is Type 1. Type 2 is filtering, which our SPD series has filtering, that is just a different featured package. Those are reviewed under UL1283, so with that you end up protecting against small minute surges that you were originally getting – such as the PLCs locking up, printed circuit board, things like that.

Eaton also has some smaller applications as well, so the SPC, CVX or SP1 series. They all range from 50 kA to 100 kA. The SPC also goes up to 200. Those are some smaller offerings that can also help get you that surge protection and help reduce the effects of what these events can do on your system.

Within the last year, Eaton launched The SPD AEGIS DIN rail unit, which is a surge protector that provides modularity. Not only can you install this unit on a piece of DIN rail, but if you lose protection on your A phase, B phase, C phase or whatever you might have within your system, you can easily identify it with one of its flag indication, pull down on its release strap and then just pull one of its modules out and replace it. You do not have to go and reinstall a new surge protector or be worried about taking the downtime to exchange whatever is on the unit. It has finger-safe modules, so while the piece of equipment is still active, you can pull out a module, slide it back in and continue your operation. 

Eaton power xpert spd

Eaton also offers the Power Xpert SPD now. It is a great feature, because not only can you gauge the status of your MOVs, but you can gauge the status of your system, as well. For example, if you know that during a certain process you have a motor running at 1 p.m., motor B going at 2 p.m. and C going at 3 p.m., as those motors kick on you can review what type of surges they are throwing (i.e. low, medium, high). You can review what is going on there, identify and do your own case study to figure out what motor is going bad and how you can reduce that from occurring in your system or replace the motor before it fails and reduces production. 

Why choose eaton?
  1. Safety: Eaton uses TPMOVs (Thermally Protected Metal Oxide Varistor). Old surge protectors and some recen,t as well, use metal oxide varistor, which are a good way of mitigating surge, but they end up charring up the panel when they reach end of life, seeing a little flare up, they get to a state called thermal runaway. Thermal runaway can either become unsafe or you have to replace all the breakers in the panelboard or you have to figure out some way of cleaning the surge protectors that was supposed to help your system. What we use for the TPMOVs is when you do get to the end-of-life, they disconnect themselves and go offline. You do not even notice it. You just get a change in indication light from green to red, and that is how you know you need to replace the unit. There’s no charring or smoke, its really more of a safe failure.
  2. Eaton has more visibility. With the Power Xpert SPD feature, most competitors are not offering something as specific as Eaton’s. They might have power quality meters or they might have surge counters. They do not have what Eaton has, which is a better gain and understanding of the types of surge – that low, medium, high – what location is the surge, so if you have a 3-phase system, it is not just you have a surge, but you can identify you have a surge on your A, B or C phase. Then Eaton can also bundle that with filtering, as well, so visibility and that UL1283 filtering. Eaton can cover every range of surge you can get.

This was a brief overview of surge protection and what products Eaton has to offer. If you are experiencing any issues in your system or have any additional questions please contact your ErieTec representative.