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A surge protector (or surge suppressor) is an appliance designed to protect electrical devices from voltage spikes. A surge protector attempts to limit the voltage supplied to an electric device by either blocking or by shorting to ground any unwanted voltages above a safe threshold.

A surge protection device (SPD) is typically installed in power distribution panels, data processing and communications systems, and heavy-duty industrial systems. Scaled-down versions of these devices are sometimes installed in residential service entrance electrical panels, to protect equipment in a household from similar hazards.

Transient (surge) voltages and currents may originate internally from or externally to a facility. A transient surge is a pulse of high energy that can originate from natural sources (e.g.  a lightning strike) or be produced by other equipment (for example the discharge of stored energy in inductive  and capacitive loads). These transients are capable of causing significant damage to equipment and electronics when the transient voltage exceeds their voltage withstand.

Transients normally flow into equipment via the electrical power supply but other paths are common, including:

  • Telephone and Data-com lines,
  • Measurement and control lines,
  • DC power buses and
  • Neutral and ground lines.

To protect against these surges designers recommend the installation of an SPD device that connects to all points of potential voltage threat and limit this voltage to a level below the equipment "withstand" voltage. The SPD absorbs or diverts energy present in the surge, holding the "let through" over-voltage down to a safe level. A SPD is a low-cost protection device that will help to reduce downtime or production losses. It helps to extend lighting equipment life expectancy. The SPD will help in reducing motor stress and overheating and is a constant protection of data processing and digital equipment.

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