External Transients
Instantaneously Damaging

Power Lines can cause External Transient Voltage

External transients are considered Impulse type surges. These events can be very severe and can be instantaneously damaging.

These types of surges originate outside a given commercial facility or home. This type of surge activity accounts for about 20% of transient voltage related electronic and electrical damage.

These surges typically come in on unprotected power, data, telephone and metal conduit lines of commercial facilities, business's and homes.

These surge events can range from several thousand to tens of thousands of volts and amperes in the form of grid switches and system faults. They can reach hundreds of thousands of volts and amperes or more in the form of lightning strikes.

External Transients Big 3

The Big 3 represent the largest, most powerful surge events a facility, business, home or other structure may encounter:

1) Lightning Strikes

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2) Utility Grid Switching

Utility grid switching is a major power quality issue that can cause powerful external transients.

Power generating utilities break the distribution of power into grids.

The electric companies distribute power to each grid in a steady stream at all possible times, regardless of fluctuations in demand.

Unfortunately, this can cause problems for customers.

Each customer's power needs are constantly changing, thus constantly changing the overall grid needs.

Instead of adjusting the power generating equipment output for each changing power demand situation, the electric companies adjust by switching the supply of power from one grid to another grid.

When the grid supply is switched, very large surges are created. These surges can reach as high as 25,000 Volts.

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3) Power System Faults

Power System Faults are essentially a sudden disruption in a normal electrical system or grid caused by a short or open circuit.

Shorts or open circuits can occur in power distribution equipment like transformers, transmission lines and generators. These faults can be very destructive.

Typical causes of power system faults:

  • Lightning
  • Falling Debris Across Power Lines
  • Vehicles/objects Striking Power Poles
  • Wind and Ice
  • Natural Disasters
  • Over-voltages
  • Mechanical Damage
  • Fire
  • Suicidal Squirrels
  • Human Error

The resulting voltage surges from system faults can be in the tens of thousands of volts and amperes. At these excessive levels, unprotected electronics and electrical equipment are at risk of serious damage.

External Transients Conclusion

If a facility, business or home is on the receiving end of one of these powerful surge events, things will become very expensive, very quickly. However, these damaging events can be prevented or at the very least mitigated.

Don't take chances with external transients. It only takes one hit. Take preventative measures.

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