What is Power Surge? Causes, Effects, Protection

Power Surge Definition

The occurrence of unwanted voltage greater than the system acceptance voltage can be called a Power Surge. Power surge involves short duration high fluctuating voltage or current or power in an electrical power system. 

We can understand it with an example. Generally, our utility supply voltage for domestic use is 230V for India and 120V for the United States. And assume here the acceptance voltage for India is up to 300V and 170V for the United States. So when the system voltage is lower than the acceptance voltage there is no issue. But when the system voltage increases beyond the acceptance voltage due to any internal or external fault then it can be called a power surge. The power surge is also known as transient voltage, spike voltage, etc.

Power Surge

Power surges not only seen in domestic or home electrical systems but also is seen in industrial systems, electrical power transmission, and distribution systems. Although for different places the power surge happens in different modes, causes, and creates different effects.

Power Surge Causes

There are some important reasons behind the power surge. The reasons can be divided into two categories for a particular system or circuit.
  1. Internal Causes
  2. External Causes

Internal Causes of Power Surge

When the system voltage increases due to the internal faults and activities of that system or circuit itself then it can be categorized as internal causes. Some common internal causes are,
  1. Faulty Wiring
  2. Frequent Load Switching
  3. Equipment Failure
  4. Feedback from Energy storage devices
  5. Switching
  6. Electrical Overload
  7. Short Circuit
  8. Electrostatic Discharge(ESD)
According to engineering experts, almost 70% of the power surges in a domestic system happen due to internal faults only. Internal faults mostly affect the system itself and sometimes it affects the external system also.

External Causes of Power Surge

When the system voltage is affected or increases due to the external faults of that system can be categorized under the external causes. Some important external causes are,
  1. Lightning
  2. External switching
  3. Accidental shorting, breaking, of power lines
  4. Failure in external devices such as distribution transformers, circuit breakers, etc
  5. Power grid failure
  6. Fault in power generation
  7. Forcibly Sudden increase in voltage
  8. Power Outage
External causes can harm your whole system whereas internal causes mostly affect a particular place or device.

Types of Power Surge

Power Surges can be classified according to their waveform shape, duration, and magnitude. For example, the transient voltage, Impulsive Surge, and spike voltage are the power surges but they little bit different. Some power surge oscillating types, some of them are the non-oscillating type or instant types. Some power surge is very high in magnitude but last for a very low duration whereas some power surge last for a long duration but are low in magnitude or voltage level. An oscillating Surge may have 6000 volts and last 50 microseconds whereas an impulsive surge lasts only 5 nanoseconds and have an infinity voltage level.

Power Surge Effects

The common effects of a power surge are,
  1. Excessive Current Flow - Too much electricity flow can potentially harm your devices.
  2. Insulation failure - Surges can break protective layers of insulation and make electricity dangerous.
  3. Blow Fuse - Power Surges can cause fuses to blow out cutting off power.
  4. Power loss - Surges can cause temporary or permanent loss of electricity.
  5. Data Loss - Surges can clean up your computer's or other programmable device's data.
  6. Equipment Damage - Your valuable gadgets and equipment can get hurt from surges
  7. Heat Generation - Surges can make electrical devices and systems too hot which causes damage.
  8. Produce ARC causes the fire - Sparks from surges can start fires.
  9. System Unbalance - Surges can unbalance the electrical systems.

Power Surge Protection

There are so many protective devices available in the market that can give protection against Power Surge. For example, the low-expensive power strips come with an inbuilt surge protector. So any device connected to this power strip will be protected from the power surge. Power strips are useful for end devices they cannot protect the whole system. For the whole system protection, SPD or Surge Protection Device can be used.

Remember that these surge protectors can't absorve the surge they divert the surge into another conductive path such as to the ground.

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What is Power Surge? Causes, Effects, Protection What is Power Surge? Causes, Effects, Protection Reviewed by Author on August 18, 2022 Rating: 5
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