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Transient Voltage Surge Protection for Electronics

Back in the days of vacuum tube electronics, transient voltage spikes weren’t much of an issue. The continuing process of large-scale integration (LSI) of microchips is another story altogether. Microchip manufacturing has advanced in light speed and now we have very large scale integration (VLSI) of microchips.

There was a time not too many years ago when a 5-megabyte disk drive would crush your foot, should you carelessly drop one. The Honeywell WEB-8000 JACE shown has the astonishing features a 1GHz processor with 1 GB RAM and 4 GB Flash storage. This amazing controller is so light that dropping it on your foot would probably go unnoticed.

VLSI means thousands of electronic ‘components’ separated by microns of insulation.

Image source: Electronics Tutorials

Conventional TVSS equipment serves well on the high, medium, and low-voltage power distribution. Common metal-oxide varistors (MOV) serve very well to suppress transient-voltage surges due to spikes coming into the building from the power lines and they work well down to the 120/208-volt distribution panels.

But not all spikes originate from outside the building. Electrical equipment like motors, electric duct heaters, and other devices can also develop damaging electrical spikes of sufficient magnitude to destroy VLSI microchips. Non-linear loads like variable-frequence drives (VFD), electronic ballasts and the collective switching regulator power supplies in other electronic equipment are major sources of transient damage due to proximity and damaging harmonics.

Sensitive electronics require high-speed tracking surge protection.

Reference drawing: Transient Voltage Surge Protection for Electronics

Our preference for TVSS protection at the electronics enclosure is the EDCO HSP-121-BT-1RU 3-stage hybrid power line protector. This TVSS device is available through several vendors. Here is a cut sheet on this device from PEMCO: HSP121-BT-1RU Cutsheet

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John White

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