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The basics of surge protection

From the generation of surge voltages

right through to a comprehensive protection concept
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The basics of surge protection
We don't just want to support you with convincing solutions, but also
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on the topics of technology and electronics that applies to all of
us. In this brochure, you will gain an insight into the field of surge
protection. Discover the most important facts in a nutshell. Discover
what solutions there are for the diverse challenges facing this sector.
Or deepen your knowledge of the context and background; something
only the specialists know.
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At Phoenix Contact, particular The many years of experience in

emphasis is placed on development this area means Phoenix Contact
expertise and a high degree of excels, both in development and
manufacturing capability. All key manufacturing. The accredited
technologies, from full engineering, to in-house lightning and high-current
tool manufacturing, metal processing, laboratory, the most sophisticated in
and plastic production, right through the world, is just part of this. It lays
to electronics development and the foundation for precise, constantly
manufacturing are all available adjusted test procedures and basic
in-house. Since 1983, Phoenix Contact research tailored to the application –
has developed and manufactured surge and can therefore be implemented for
protective devices and today is the solutions using current findings from
technology leader in this area. The theory and practice.
company provides many innovative Essentially, products with the
solutions for every industry and highest quality levels and cutting-edge
application, among others, for technology.
• Power supply
• Measurement and control
• Data technology and
• Transceiver systems

Questions and answers
You probably have a great deal of questions – ranging from basic queries as
to how surge voltages even occur, to technical details about grid systems or
individual components of a surge protection concept, right through to the device
itself. Here you can refer to:

What is a surge voltage?

How does it occur? What makes up a consistent surge
Section 1, Page 6 protection concept?
Section 2.3 et seqq., Page 13

What damage can surge voltages

Section 1.5, Page 9 How can the quality of surge
protective devices be (officially)
Section 3.3, Page 18
How does surge protection work? Section 4, Page 22
Section 2.1, Page 10

In which applications is surge

What legal or standard requirements protection particularly important?
are there for surge protection? Section 6, Page 28
Section 2.2, Page 11

Explanation of terms Section 7, Page 56


1. Surge voltages 6
1.1 The phenomenon of surge voltage 6
1.2 Causes 7
1.3 Coupling types 8
1.4 Direction of action 8
1.5 Effects 9

2. Surge protection: what should be noted? 10

2.1 This is how surge protection works 10
2.2 Lightning and surge protection standards 11
2.3 Basic protective measures and equipment 13
2.4 Lightning protection zones 14
2.5 The protective circle principle 15

3. Classification and testing ofsurge protective devices 16

3.1 Requirements according to product standard IEC 61643 16
3.2 Key characteristics for surge protective devices 17
3.3 Maintenance and testing according to IEC 62305 18
3.4 Pulse and high-current testing technology 20

4. Quality features 22
4.1 CE declaration of conformity 22
4.2 Independent product certifications 23
4.3 Expertise in surge protection 24

5. The lightning monitoring system 26

5.1 Smart monitoring 26
5.2 Lightning current detection 27

6. Fields of application 28
6.1 Protection of AC systems 28
6.2 Protection of DC systems with linear voltage sources 40
6.3 Protection of photovoltaic systems 41
6.4 Protection of signal transmission circuits in MCR technology 46
6.5 Protection of signal transmission circuits in information technology 52
6.6 Protection of signal transmission circuits in telecommunications
technology 54
6.7 Protection of signal transmission circuits in transceiver systems 55

7. Glossary 56

8 References 59

The basics of surge protection | Surge voltages

1 Surge voltages
Various types of surge voltages occur in electrical plants and electronic systems. They are differentiated
mainly by their duration and power. Depending on the cause, a surge voltage can last a few hundred
microseconds, hours or even days. The amplitude can range from a few millivolts to some ten thousand
volts. The direct or indirect consequences of lightning strikes are one particular cause of surge voltages.
Here, during the surge voltage, high surge currents with amplitudes of up to some ten thousand amperes
can occur. In this case, the consequences are particularly serious. This is because the damaging effect first
of all depends on the power of the respective surge voltage pulse.

1.1 The phenomenon of surge voltage

Every electrical device has a specific kilovolts, steep voltage increases and of time, can become a heavy financial
dielectric strength. If the level of a differences are often the consequence. burden – especially in comparison to the
surge voltage exceeds this strength, Surge protection is the only thing cost of a lightning and surge protection
malfunctions or damage can occur. Surge that helps. Indeed, the operator of an concept.
voltages in the high or kilovolt range electrical system generally replaces the
are generally transient overvoltages material damage to the system with
of comparatively short duration. They corresponding protection. However, the
generally last from a few hundred difference in time between failure of the
microseconds to a few milliseconds. system to maintenance represents a risk
As the maximum amplitude of such in itself. This failure is often not covered
transients can amount to several by insurance and, within a short period

The basics of surge protection | Surge voltages

1.2 Causes

The typical duration and amplitude of

the surge voltage varies depending on
the cause.

Lightning strikes
It is above all lightning strikes (lightning
electromagnetic pulse, LEMP) that have
the greatest potential for damage among
all the causes of occurrence.They cause
transient overvoltages that can extend
across great distances and are often
associated with high-amplitude surge
currents. Even the indirect effects of
a lightning strike can lead to a surge
voltage of several kilovolts and result
in a surge current of tens of thousands Fig. 1: Lightning strikes have an extremely high potential for destruction
of amperes. In spite of the very brief
duration – a few hundred microseconds
to a few milliseconds – such an event circuits, very high currents can flow exchange leads to a brief surge voltage.
can lead to total failure or even the within a few milliseconds. These This presents a hazard, especially for
destruction of the affected installation. short- term current changes can lead to sensitive electronic components.
transient overvoltages.
Switching operations
Switching operations (switching Electrostatic discharges
electromagnetic pulse, SEMP) can Electrostatic discharges (ESD) occur
generate induced surge voltages that if bodies with different electrostatic
spread to supply lines. In the case potential approach each other and result
of large switch-on currents or short in a charge exchange.A sudden charge

Fig. 2: Electric motors with high power induce surge voltages due to high switch-on currents Fig. 3: Electrostatic discharges present a danger,
particularly to sensitive electronics

The basics of surge protection | Surge voltages

1.3 Coupling types

Surge voltages can reach a circuit in is located in this magnetic field, then
various ways. In reality, it is usually a according to the induction principle, a
case of an overlap between individual voltage difference occurs here due to
coupling types. the change in the magnetic field strength.

Galvanic coupling Capacitive coupling

Two circuits that are connected to each An electrical field occurs between two
other in an electrically conductive way points with different potentials.The
can directly and mutually influence each charge carriers of objects within this
other. A change in the voltage or current field are aligned according to the field
in a circuit generates a corresponding direction and strength, in line with the
reaction in another circuit. physical principle of influence. As such,
a potential difference also occurs within
Inductive coupling the object, in other words, a voltage
A rapidly rising flow of current through difference.
a conductor generates a magnetic field,
with quickly changing strengths around
the conductor.If another conductor

1.4 Direction of action

Common mode voltage Normal-mode voltage (symmetrical
(asymmetrical voltage) voltage, differential mode)
In the first instance, common mode surge In the first instance, the symmetrical
voltages present a hazard to objects that surge voltages present a hazard to
are located between active potentials objects that are located between two
(phases and neutral conductors) and the active potentials.
ground potential.

L/+ L/+
N/- N/-

Fig. 4: Common mode voltage Fig. 5: Normal-mode voltage

The basics of surge protection | Surge voltages

1.5 Effects

The German Insurance Association increase of approximately 20% become is not just a case of having effective
(GDV) regularly publishes statistics, apparent. Insurers consider one of the protection for fire and personnel, but
allowing conclusions to be drawn on causes to be that ever more sensitive also about excluding the possibility of
the total losses resulting from various electronic devices are finding their large financial risk.
causes. Following fires and storms, way into households. On average, an A further aspect that will underline
lightning strikes and surge voltages cause individual strike or damage from a surge the need for lightning and surge
the most damage. In 2012, their share of voltage amounted to €800 in 2013. This protection in the future is the increase
damage to all insured items totaled 18%. is the highest level since statistics began. of lightning strikes, as shown by
In other words, almost a fifth of insured For non-private systems, however, the statistics. Various studies have already
damage can be traced back to a surge consequences of a failure are generally shown that as part of global climate
voltage. much more serious, such as downtimes change, the frequency of storms is set
Device failure or defects caused by or data loss. The failure of a device or to increase. This development is thereby
surge voltages are more frequent than a machine that is used in a professional not only limited to regions which have
expected. According to statistics from environment often leads to costs that not displayed a high risk of strikes to
the GDV, surge voltages are in fact are many times higher than repairing the date, but extends to all regions on Earth.
the most frequent cause of damage. defective device.
These figures only apply to damage that For example, if a mobile
resulted in fire. communication mast fails, the cost for
Fig. 6 shows that the proportion of the operator can lie in the range of
damage caused by lightning and surge several euros per second. Calculated
voltages in 2013 has dropped by 20% over the course of a day, this
in comparison to the previous year. corresponds to damages of more than
The financial payments by insurance €100,000.
providers, however, fell by just 10%. If For this reason, a consistent surge
the values from the comparable year of protection concept is urgently required
2010 are taken as a basis, then a cost for industrial and business systems. It

340 million Insurance payments in euros

500,000 280 million

Number of damage cases





2006 2006 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Fig. 6: Number of damage cases caused by lightning strikes and surge voltages and level of insurance payments

2 Surge protection: what should be noted?
Effective surge protection is not just simply installed. It has to be individually coordinated –
to the system that is to be protected and the ambient conditions that are prevalent on site.
For this reason, the design and concept must be consistent. This means many details must
be taken into account, from considering the standards and stipulations right through to
classification according to lightning protection zone.

2.1 This is how surge protection works

Surge protection should ensure that The way in which the surge protection
surge voltages cannot cause damage to works can be easily explained by means
installations, equipment or end devices. of the equipment's power supply diagram
As such, surge protective devices (Fig. 7).
(SPDs) chiefly fulfil two tasks: As described in Section 1.4, a surge
• Limit the surge voltage in terms voltage can arise either between
of amplitude so that the dielectric the active conductors as normal-
strength of the device is not mode voltage (Fig. 8) or between
exceeded. active conductors and the protective
• Discharge the surge currents conductor or ground potential as
associated with surge voltages. common mode voltage (Fig. 9).

L/+ L/+ L/+

N/- N/- N/-


Fig. 7: Schematic power supply of a piece of Fig. 8: Effects of a surge voltage as normal-mode Fig. 9: Effects of a surge voltage as common
equipment voltage mode voltage

With this in mind, surge protective
devices are installed either in parallel L/+
to the equipment, between the active L/+
conductors themselves (Fig. 10) or N/-
between the active conductors and the N/-
protective conductor (Fig. 11).
A surge protective device functions in PE PE
the same way as a switch that turns
off the surge voltage for a brief time.
By doing so, a sort of short circuit
occurs; surge currents can flow to
ground or to the supply network. The Fig. 10: SPD between the active conductors Fig. 11: SPD between active conductors and the
voltage difference is thereby restricted protective conductor
(Fig. 12 and 13). This short circuit of
sorts only lasts for the duration of
the surge voltage event, typically a few
microseconds. The equipment to be L/+
protected is thereby safeguarded and
continues to work unaffected. N/-


Fig. 12: SPD between the active conductors in Fig. 13: SPD between active conductors and
the case of normal-mode voltage the protective conductor in the case of common
mode voltage

2.2 Lightning and surge protection standards

National and international standards • Protective measures against

provide a guide to establishing a lightning atmospheric influences or switching
and surge protection concept as well as operations: IEC 60364-4-44 [5]
the design of the individual protective deals with this. In comparison with
devices. A distinction is made between IEC 62305, it is based on a shortened
the following protective measures: risk analysis and uses this as the basis
• Protective measures against lightning for deriving corresponding measures.
strike events: lightning protection In addition to the standards mentioned,
standard IEC 62305 [1] [2] [3] [4] if applicable, other legal and
deals with this. A key component of country- specific stipulations are also to
this is an extensive risk assessment be considered.
regarding the requirement, scope,
and cost-effectiveness of a protection

The basics of surge protection | Surge protection: what should be noted?

2.2.1 Lightning protection cost for a lightning protection system that can be conducted away safely
according to IEC 62305 compare to the costs of potential depending on the lightning protection
damage without a protection system? level. This is described by means of
Part 1: Characteristics of lightning The cost evaluation is based on the Lightning Protection Levels I to IV.
outgoings for the planning, assembly, and
In Part 1 of this standard [1], the maintenance of the lightning protection
characteristic properties of lightning system.
strikes, the likelihood of occurrence, and
the potential for hazard are taken into Parts 3 and 4: Planning aids and
account. specifications
If the risk assessment determines that
Part 2: Risk analysis lightning protection is required and cost-
The risk analysis according to Part 2 of effective, then the type and scope of the
this standard [2] describes a process specific measures for protection can be
with which, first of all, the need for planned based on Parts 3 [3] and 4 [4]
lightning protection for a physical of this standard. The lightning protection
system is analyzed. Various sources of level determined by risk management is
damage, e.g., a direct lightning strike in decisive for determining the type and
the building, come into focus, as do the scope of the measures.
types of damage resulting from this: For physical structures that require an
• Impact on health or loss of life extremely high level of safety, almost all
• Loss of technical services for the strikes must be captured and conducted
public away safely. For systems where a higher
• Loss of irreplaceable objects of residual risk is acceptable, strikes with
cultural significance lower amplitudes are not captured.
• Financial losses Fig. 14 shows the lowest peak value of
The financial benefits are determined strikes that can still be captured safely as
as follows: how does the annual total well as the highest peak value of strikes

I 3 – 200 kA 99%
of lightning

II 5 – 150 kA 97 %

III 10 – 100 kA 91 %

16 – 100 kA 84 %

10 50 100 150 200

Fig. 14: Lightning Protection Levels

The basics of surge protection | Surge protection: what should be noted?

2.2.2 Surge protection Likewise, structural systems with an • Industrial or business activities, e.g.,
according to explosion risk as well as structural hotels, banks, production systems,
IEC 60364-4-44 applications that could cause damage farms
to the environment (e.g., petrochemical In all other cases, a risk assessment
This standard [5] describes the systems or nuclear power plants) are must be carried out in line with the
conditions in which surge protective not included in the application of the international standard.
devices are to be used in low-voltage standard. For these processes, lightning
systems to protect the electrical strike standard IEC 62305 is to be used
installation against surge voltages. The exclusively.
area of application is thereby limited to Surge protective devices should be
surge voltages caused by atmospheric used if transient overvoltages could have
influences or as a consequence effects on the following:
of switching procedures that are • Human lives, e.g., safety systems,
transmitted by the power supply system. hospitals
Direct lightning strikes in a structural • Public and cultural institutions, e.g.,
system are not considered, only strikes loss of public services, IT centers,
in or in the vicinity of supply lines. museums

2.3 Basic protective measures and equipment

In order to consistently protect a Lightning Protection Level is the basis The location of the interception units
structural system from lightning strikes for this. This is derived from the risk on the building also has to be decided.
and surge voltages, various protective analysis. If there are no regulations or There are three methods of doing so:
measures or equipment that are tailored specifications for the external lightning • Rolling sphere method
to one another are required. A broad protection, a minimum of Lightning • Protective angle method
division can be made as follows: Protection Level III is recommended. • Mesh method
• External lightning protection
• Internal lightning protection
• Grounding and equipotential bonding
• Coordinated SPD system

2.3.1 External lightning


External lightning protection (Fig. 15)

aims to divert strikes which come near
to the object to be protected and to
transmit the lightning current from
the point where it hits to ground. As
such, no damage can be caused by
means of thermal, magnetic or electrical
effects. External lightning protection is
systematic: it consists of the air-terminal,
the arresters, and the grounding system.
Part 3 of standard IEC 62305 [3] is
crucial when it comes to planning and
erecting external lightning protection
systems. Identifying and determining the Fig. 15 External lightning protection, on the outside of a private residence, for example

The basics of surge protection | Surge protection: what should be noted?

2.3.2 Internal lightning 2.3.3 Grounding and • Incorporate all lines that cross
protection equipotential bonding between different zones into the local
equipotential bonding using suitable
The internal lightning protection The grounding system aims to distribute SPDs
system should prevent dangerous spark and discharge the captured lightning • Coordinate different types of
formation inside the system. Sparks can current to ground. Here, the type of SPDs: the devices must address
be caused by lightning current in the grounding system is more important each other selectively in order to
external lightning protection system than the grounding resistance. The prevent individual components from
or in other conductive parts of the lightning current is a very short pulse overloading
structural system. that behaves like a high-frequency • Use short supply lines for the parallel
The internal lightning protection current. Effective equipotential bonding connection of SPDs between active
system consists of equipotential bonding is also important. Equipotential bonding conductors and the equipotential
and the electrical insulation of external connects all electrically conductive parts bonding
lightning protection systems. with each other via conductors – • Lay protected and unprotected lines
Lightning protection equipotential active conductors are protected by separately
bonding is a combination of measures surge protective devices. By doing so, • Only ground equipment via the
that prevent potential differences. They it protects against all types of couplings. respective SPD (recommended)
mainly connect the lightning protection
system to metal installations, internal 2.3.4 Coordinated SPD system
systems, as well as electrical and
electronic systems within the system. A coordinated SPD system is
This occurs by means of equipotential understood to be a multi-level system
bonding lines, surge protective devices of surge protective devices that are
or isolating spark gaps. coordinated with each other.
To insulate the external lightning The following steps are recommended
protection system, a minimum distance in order to achieve a high-performance
between electrical lines and metal SPD system.
installations must be kept, referred to • Divide the structural system into
as the separation distance. lightning protection zones

2.4 Lightning protection zones

Deciding where to install surge LPZ 0A LPZ 1

protective devices within a structural Unprotected area outside a building Area inside the building which may
system is based on the lightning in which direct lightning strikes are a still be subjected to high-energy surge
protection zone concept explained possibility. Direct coupling of lightning voltages or surge currents and strong
in Part 4 of the lightning protection currents in lines, unattenuated magnetic electromagnetic fields.
standard IEC 62305 [4]. field of the lightning strike.
It divides structural systems into LPZ 2
lightning protection zones (LPZ), and LPZ 0B Area inside a building which may still
does so from outside to inside with Area outside the building that is be subjected to surge voltages or surge
decreasing lightning protection levels. In protected from direct lightning strikes by currents and electromagnetic fields that
external zones only resistant equipment means of an air-terminal. Unattenuated have already been significantly weakened.
can be used. However, in internal zones, magnetic field of the lightning strike,
sensitive equipment can also be used. only induced surge currents on lines.
The individual zones are characterized
and named as follows:

The basics of surge protection | Surge protection: what should be noted?

Area inside the building which may
only be subjected to extremely low
or hardly any surge voltages or surge
currents and very weak or non-existent
electromagnetic fields.

All lines that cross between zones

must use coordinated surge protective
devices (Fig. 16). Their power values
are based on the protection class to be
achieved, which is determined according
to legal specifications or by means of
the risk analysis. When it comes to
selecting surge protective devices, use
the standard as a basis, assuming that
50% of the lightning current will be
discharged to ground. The other 50%
of the lightning current is directed to
the electrical installation via the main
equipotential bonding and from there
must be conducted away from the SPD

Fig. 16: Lightning protection zone concept

2.5 The protective circle principle

A clear depiction of the lightning The protective circle must

protection zone concept is shown by the include all electrical and
protective circle in Fig. 17. An imaginary electronic transmission lines
circle should be drawn around the in the following areas:
object to be protected. Surge protective • Power supply
devices should be installed at all points • Measurement and control
where cables intersect this circle. The technology
area within the protective circle is • Information technology
therefore protected in such a way that • Transceiver systems
conducted surge voltage couplings are
Fig. 17: Protective circle

The basics of surge protection | Classification and testing of surge protective devices

3 Classification and testing of surge

protective devices
Surge protective devices must provide defined protective functions and performance
parameters in order to be suitable for use in corresponding protection concepts. As
such, they are developed, tested, and classified according to their own international
series of product standards. Yet even during use at a later stage, proper operation and
therefore adherence to the protective function must be checked at regular intervals,
as is also required of other safety-related components in electrical installations and
electronic systems.

3.1 Requirements according to product standard IEC 61643

Surge protective devices/SPDs are power systems – Requirements and

generally classified according to test methods for surge protective
performance values, depending on the devices to be used in photovoltaic
protection class and location of use, and installations [8]
following product standard IEC 61643. In future, this series will be extended by
In contains definitions of terms, general the following:
requirements, and testing procedures for • IEC 61643-41: Surge protective
surge protective devices. The standard devices connected to low-voltage
distinguishes between: DC systems – Requirements and test
• IEC 61643-11: Surge protective methods
devices connected to low-voltage
power systems – Requirements and
test methods [6]
• IEC 61643-21: Surge protective
devices connected to
telecommunications and signaling
networks – Performance Fig. 18: IEC 61643 –
requirements and testing methods [7] the product standard
• IEC 61643-31: Surge protective for surge protective
devices connected to low-voltage

The basics of surge protection | Classification and testing of surge protective devices

3.2 Key characteristics for surge protective devices

Nominal voltage (UN) Maximum continuous voltage (Uc) Nominal discharge current (In)
The nominal value of the voltage of the Maximum r.m.s. value of the voltage that Peak value of the current flowing
current or signal circuit based on the use can continuously be applied to the mode through the SPD with pulse shape
envisaged for the SPDs. of protection of the SPDs. (8/20 μs).
The nominal voltage stated for an The maximum continuous voltage The pulse shape (8/20 μs) of a surge
SPD corresponds to the system voltage must be at least 10% higher than the current is characteristic of the effects of
of the typical SPD installation site for value of the nominal voltage. In systems an indirect lightning strike or switching
a standard three-phase system, e.g., with greater voltage deviations, SPDs operation. The value of the nominal
230/400 V AC. Lower system voltages must be used where a greater difference discharge current is used for a variety of
can also be protected by the SPD. In the is exhibited between Uc and Un. tests on an SPD, including those used to
event of higher system voltages, it must determine the voltage protection level.
be decided on a case-to-case basis as Voltage protection level (Up) Depending on the Lightning Protection
to whether the SPD can be used and if Maximum voltage that can occur on Level assigned to a lightning protection
there are restrictions to observe. the connection terminal blocks of the system, the SPDs must have minimum
SPDs while loaded with a pulse of values that correspond to this value.
Nominal load current (IL) specific voltage steepness and load with
Maximum r.m.s. value of the nominal a discharge surge current of specified Off-load voltage (UOC)
current, which allows a connected ohmic amplitude and wave form. Off-load voltage of the hybrid generator
load to flow to one of the protected This value characterizes the surge at the terminal points of the SPD.
outputs of the SPD. voltage protective effect of the A hybrid generator creates a
This maximum value is specified by SPDs. In the event of a surge voltage combined surge; e.g., in off-load, it
the parts carrying operational current phenomenon within the performance supplies a voltage pulse with a defined
within the SPDs; these must be able parameters of the SPD, the voltage is pulse shape, generally (1.2/50 μs), and
to withstand the continuous thermal safely limited to a maximum of this value in a short circuit, a current pulse with a
current load. at the protected connections of the SPD. defined pulse shape, generally (8/20 μs).
The combined surge is characteristic
Short-circuit withstand capability Pulse discharge current (Iimp) of the effects of an induced surge
(ISCCR) Peak value of the current flowing voltage. Depending on the protection
Maximum uninfluenced short-circuit through the SPD with pulse shape class assigned to a lightning protection
current of the electrical network, for (10/350 μs). system, the SPDs must have minimum
which the SPD is rated in conjunction The pulse shape (10/350 μs) of a values that correspond to this value.
with the upstream overcurrent surge current is characteristic of the
protective device. effects of a direct lightning strike.
The short-circuit withstand capability The value of the pulse discharge
indicates up to which prospective current is used for special SPD tests
short-circuit current the SPD can be to demonstrate carrying capacity with
used at the installation location. The regard to high-energy lightning currents.
corresponding tests to determine this Depending on the Lightning Protection
value are carried out in connection with Level assigned to a lightning protection
the upstream overcurrent protective system, the SPDs must have minimum
device (or overcurrent protective device, values that correspond to this value.
OCPD). In the event that the special
surge protective devices for photovoltaic
systems correspond to the value ISCPV,
this is the maximum direct current
short-circuit current of a system up to
which the the SPD may be used.

The basics of surge protection | Classification and testing of surge protective devices

Normative surge current pulses steep. Consequently, the voltage-limiting manufacturer. This pulse shape contains
The voltage-limiting function of the SPDs function of the SPD must be applied at several times the electrical load in
is tested using surge currents with a very short notice. comparison to the (8/20 μs) pulse shape,
pulse shape of (8/20 μs) (Fig. 19), i.e., SPDs that are designed to protect at the same amplitude. It therefore
with a rise time of 8 μs and a decay time against direct lightning currents are places a considerably higher load on the
to half value of 20 μs. This particularly additionally loaded with surge currents SPD in terms of energy.
dynamic pulse shape also provides with a pulse shape of (10/350 μs)
information regarding the response (Fig. 20).
behavior of the SPD. The voltage rise The maximum amplitude is based on the
associated with this surge current is very pulse discharge current specified by the

100 100
I 90 I
(%) (%)



10 10
0 0
8 10 350
20 t (µs) t (µs)

Fig. 19: Course of a (8/20 μs) pulse Fig. 20: Course of a (10/350 μs) pulse

3.3 Maintenance and testing according to IEC 62305

To achieve high system availability, systems – internal and external a lightning protection expert. Inspecting
system operators must regularly lightning protection – is required as the SPDs is also part of this. The
inspect and maintain their electrical part of lightning protection standard standard also demands that maintenance
systems (Table 1). This is stipulated by IEC 62305- 3 [3], also in Appendix E.7. is properly documented. The three
legislators, supervisory authorities or Specialist knowledge is required in following points are particularly
professional associations based on the order to carry out professional testing important to note:
respective system type. Regular testing of lightning protection systems. For this
and maintenance of lightning protection reason, this test must be carried out by

Visual check Comprehensive testing Comprehensive testing in critical

Lightning Protection Level
(years) (years) situations (years)

I and II 1 2 1
III and IV 2 4 1

Table 1: Testing intervals according to IEC 62305

The basics of surge protection | Classification and testing of surge protective devices

• “Comprehensive testing in critical Advantages values is stored in a failsafe manner and

situations” relates to structural The intelligent test device with a can be saved on a USB stick via a USB
systems that contain sensitive systems modular design is equipped with an interface. It can be further processed
or systems with a higher number of operating screen, a barcode scanner, using standard Office software (MS
personnel. and a programmable logic controller as Word, MS Excel, etc.).
• Explosion-protected, structural well as a current-limiting, high-voltage
systems should undergo a visual check power supply unit that can be controlled
every 6 months. The electrical test of remotely. Thanks to the use of test
the installations should be carried out adapters, the CHECKMASTER 2 can
once a year. easily be adjusted to different surge
• For systems with strict requirements protection devices. These test adapters
in terms of safety technology, for are easy to swap without tools and
example, the legislator can prescribe there is no need to switch off the test
a comprehensive check. This can be device.
necessary if there has been a lightning The CHECKMASTER 2 not only
strike within a certain radius of the detects defective surge protective CHECKMASTER 2
respective system. devices. It is also able to detect The CHECKMASTER 2 enables
previously damaged surge protective convenient, fully-automated testing
3.3.1 Electrical test devices, where the electrical parameters of pluggable surge protective
are at the limit of the defined tolerance devices. Surge protective devices
At this point the question arises as to range. that are defective or already exhibit
what exactly should be covered by a In order to also be able to check damage are safely detected and can
comprehensive test. A visual check alone surge protective devices that will be be preventatively replaced. All test
often cannot reliably provide an idea of developed in the future, software results are documented in line with
the functional efficiency of an SPD. An updates can be carried out via USB standards.
electrical test, however, can clearly show stick. These are available for component
the performance capacity of the SPD. databases, the firmware, and operating
When carrying out the electrical test languages.
of SPDs, the test voltage is selected The test record with test results,
in such a way as to make the SPD installation locations, and alphanumerical
conductive. The measurement results
are then compared to reference values
and evaluated.

test device

The CHECKMASTER 2 (Fig. 21) is a

portable, robust, and safe to operate
high-voltage testing device from
Phoenix Contact for pluggable surge
protective devices. It carries out an
automatic, electrical test of pluggable

Fig. 21: CHECKMASTER 2 high-voltage test device

The basics of surge protection | Classification and testing of surge protective devices

3.4 Pulse and high-current testing technology

Surge protective devices are more

effective the more precisely they are
tailored to the requirements and
peculiarities of your area of application.
The development of surge protective
devices therefore demands laboratory iImpulse Ip
simulation of the operating conditions –
or more specifically, the electrical Surge
50 Hz U MV

conditions, as well as the surge voltage generator
Power supply system

Realistic simulation of surge voltage

For the test-based technical certification
of high-performance SPDs of all types,
high-performance low-voltage power Fig. 23: Three-phase 50 Hz high-current testing system for simulating different low-voltage power
supply systems must be simulated. supply systems
This simulation is coupled to a surge
current generator in order to create
transient surge voltage events. It is only protective device is subjected to surge Simulation of lightning surge
with a test arrangement of this type current pulses, while it is simultaneously
that the performance of the protective connected to a specifically parameterized Surge current generators (Fig. 26) are
devices can be determined, as well as power supply system. The basic structure key components of the high-current
their interactions with different power of such a testing system, which generally laboratory: they help to determine the
supply systems. The IEC 61643-11 [6] consists of surge current generator, surge discharge capacity, test components
standard describes a testing procedure protective device, and line-frequency for external lightning protection, and
in this context which is referred to as power supply system, is depicted in also demonstrate the function of
a work test. During this test, the surge Fig. 23. comprehensive surge voltage protection

Fig. 22: Resistance and inductance on the high- and low-voltage side of the Fig. 24: Testing stations of the high-current testing system
testing transformer

The basics of surge protection | Classification and testing of surge protective devices

Fig. 25: Fully automated testing system for determining the overload and Fig. 26: Lightning surge current generator
failure behavior of surge protective devices according to IEC 61643-11 [6]

concepts. They simulate lightning surge of quality assurance, as well as the

currents with amplitudes of up to independence and impartiality of
100 kA and switching surge currents the testing criteria. The essential
with amplitudes of 200 kA and above. requirements in terms of expertise for
The pulse shapes used in this context testing and calibration laboratories are
are specified as (10/350 μs) pulses and described in DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025.
are described in IEC 62305-1 [1]. The implementation and adherence
to the standards may, for example, be
Fully automated testing checked and confirmed by the German
The requirements placed on surge Accreditation Body, DAkkS.
protective devices in line with
IEC 61643-11 [6] demand tests (Fig. 25)
that assess overload and failure behavior.
A key test that simulates aging of the
surge protective device as a result of Laboratory operation at the highest level
increasing leakage currents is the test • Every surge voltage event can be • Testing results that are easy
of thermal stability. This test can take simulated. Phoenix Contact can to reproduce, efficient testing
several hours. Similar time-intensive and simulate all low-voltage power operation. The Phoenix Contact
resource-intensive testing sequences are supply systems with realistic laboratory is automated to a high
defined in IEC 61643-21 [7] for SPDs for characteristics – using its in-house, degree and is therefore suitable
use in signal transmission circuits. three-phase 50 Hz high-current for ongoing quality monitoring.
testing system. It generates • Demonstrably the highest,
Accreditation according to maximum short-circuit currents independently verified quality.
DIN EN  ISO/IEC 17025 Phoenix Contact's pulse
of up to 50,000 A. Furthermore,
It is not only the technical equipment the testing parameters can be very and high- current laboratory
is accredited according to
of the testing laboratory that counts: finely graduated and adjusted – the
it is also the technical expertise of ideal basis for developing tailor-made
the employees, the effectiveness of surge voltage protection systems.
the management system in terms

The basics of surge protection | Quality features

4 Quality features
The quality and performance of surge protective devices are hard for a customer to
assess. Correct functioning can only be tested in suitable laboratories. Besides the
external appearance and haptics, only the technical data provided by the manufacturer
can provide any guidance. Even more important is a reliable statement from the
manufacturer regarding the performance of the SPD and the execution of the tests
specified in the respective product standard from series IEC 61643.

4.1 CE declaration of conformity

An initial statement of quality is the CE evaluation of the product by a third

declaration of conformity. It documents party. The CE mark only means that the
the fact that the product complies with manufacturer has confirmed adherence
the 2014/35/EU low-voltage directive to the relevant regulations with regard
issued by the European Union. For surge to their product. If non-adherence to
protective devices, fulfilling product the relevant regulations or misuse of
standards from the EN 61643 series, the CE marking is proven, legal steps
which are based on IEC 61643, is a can be initiated that may even result in
prerequisite. prohibition of market launch under the
Please note: the CE conformity European Union's supervision.
assessment and declaration is issued
by the manufacturer. It is therefore
by no means a seal of approval by
an independent institute or other
attestation of an examination or
Official CE logo to
mark products

The basics of surge protection | Quality features

4.2 Independent product certifications

A true mark of quality is a product and therefore also the confirmation of for the European Economic Area. It
certification from an independent performance specifications is becoming is the same as the CE declaration of
testing institute. These can also confirm increasingly important. conformity and can also be extended on
fulfillment of the respective product this basis.
standard. Furthermore, they can also KEMA, VDE, ÖVE, and more
document additional characteristics This seal, issued by independent testing GL, ATEX, IECEX, and more
of the products, such as resistance to institutes, confirms that the current These approvals verify the behavior
the effects of shocks and vibrations or version of the respective product of the products in specific ambient
safety requirements of specific domestic standard from the IEC 61643 series is conditions.
markets. fulfilled. GL certifies the products' resistance
The regulatory requirements to external influences in the maritime
placed on SPDs sometimes require UL, CSA, EAC, and more environment as well as at sea, e.g.,
highly complex tests that only a few These approvals are examples of the shocks, vibrations, humidity or salt
testing laboratories in the world are requirements of specific domestic concentration levels.
fully capable of carrying out. For ever markets. ATEX and IECEx in turn confirm the
more manufacturers and providers of What's more, in their own standards, products' suitability for use in potentially
SPDs, specifically in the lower pricing UL and CSA place safety requirements explosive areas, such as those that
segment, the specifications regarding on the products for the North American frequently arise in the process industry.
the performance of the devices are markets or areas influenced by American
also to be taken into account. As such, markets. In contrast, EAC is rather an
the independent certification of SPDs administrative approval of the products

Independently verified quality

Phoenix Contact furnishes a
large part of its surge protection
product range with independent
certifications. By doing so,
compliance with standards and
maximum product quality is
documented for the user.

Fig. 27: Product certifications by independent testing institutes

The basics of surge protection | Quality features

4.3 Expertise in surge protection

Application know-how • Develop and master innovative basic Measures to ensure quality are critical
The further development of electrical technologies and should be carried out in series
systems and system technology always • Structure development processes manufacturing as part of routine
leads to new technologies, and as a • Develop new protection concepts testing. For surge protective devices,
consequence of this, to completely as well as devices with tailor-made destructive testing that records the
innovative technical solutions that place properties product characteristics right to the
very specific requirements on surge performance limit and beyond can
protection. One example is the system Testing and certification be useful. In this way, any possible
technology that is used for renewable Testing systems that simulate real deviations in manufacturing processes
energies (photovoltaics and wind conditions are essential in order to and consequently in product quality can
power). For this reason it is important develop surge protection concepts and be detected at an early stage.
to really understand the system to be devices. This also applies to technical
protected and its environment, in order laboratory trials.
to develop tailor-made surge protective
devices. Manufacturing and quality
Research and development Manufacturing surge protective devices
The basis for ongoing development is suitable for the market with the highest
intensive commitment to fundamental quality levels demands that many aspects
research and technological development. relating to processes and procedures
The following tasks are part of this: are taken into account during the
• Determine the precise requirements development phase of these products.
placed on surge protective devices This requires early interlinking of
(protection objectives) product development activities with
• Make new, appropriate materials process and procedure development.
available for applications

Fig. 28: Practical application Fig. 29: Development shaped by research

The basics of surge protection | Quality features

Fig. 30: Quality assurance in the production process Fig. 31: Realistic testing conditions

A partner with experience and expertise

Benefit from many advantages with • Close interlinking of product,
Phoenix Contact as your solution procedure, and process
provider in the field of surge development makes it possible
protection: to implement all manufacturing
• Basic research and technological aspects that are required in order
development in-house, which open to guarantee products at the
up technologies and materials for highest quality level from the word
surge protection in a targeted way go, when the product is created.
and make them usable. • Standardized quality tests that are
• Product development as part of a carried out as automated routine
network, driven by collaborations testing alongside the manufacturing
with technology developers and process or batch-based tests within
universities as well as active the scope of a destructive sample
involvement in relevant national test, ensuring products with the
and international prizes and highest level of safety and quality.
working groups.
• Operation of an in-house pulse and
high-current laboratory accredited
by ISO/IEC 17025, which makes
it possible to fully qualify surge
protective devices in accordance
with all current standards in
the area of lightning and surge

The basics of surge protection | The lightning monitoring system

5 The lightning monitoring system

Lightning strikes cause devastating damage to buildings and systems. They are a
particular hazard for exposed structures such as offshore wind parks, radio masts,
leisure facilities or high buildings. It is practically impossible for employees to
continuously monitor exposed or large-scale systems, which means that damage is
detected too late.

The LM-S lightning monitoring system can detect and analyze lightning strikes in real
time. It provides information online about the intensity of the strike based on the
typical lightning parameters. By consolidating the system operating parameters and
the measuring data, the system provides a better basis for making decisions regarding
control and maintenance.

5.1 Smart monitoring

Lightning strikes can cause devastating destruction to the system is often only
damage to buildings and systems. They monitored once consequential damage
can result in extensive destruction that has occurred.
can also have consequential damage. As a result, smart monitoring
The damage is dependent on the systems are used more and more.
power and location of the strike. But They constantly monitor the different
the design of the lightning and surge functions in a system. They immediately
protection concept has a bearing on the report results to a central control
extent of the damage. unit. This helps the system to react
Systems that are particularly at risk immediately to errors and thereby to
of lightning strikes are those in exposed prevent consequential damage as well as
locations or with a large surface area, long downtimes.
e.g., wind turbine generators, power
plants, industrial operations covering
a large area, and rail systems. In such
systems, complete lightning protection
is generally very difficult, or even
impossible, to implement. Damage or

Fig. 32: The lightning monitoring system

The basics of surge protection | The lightning monitoring system

5.2 Lightning current detection

The LM-S lightning monitoring system If lightning strikes are measured in wind
(Fig. 32) has the option of lightning turbines or buildings, conclusions can
current detection: if a strike hits the be drawn at any time from the relation
lightning interception rod, a magnetic between the lightning parameters and
field is created around the protective the destruction associated with this.
device that carries the lightning current. Furthermore, the evaluation enables
The LM-S uses the Faraday effect to conclusions to be drawn about the
measure this current. As such, the light efficiency of the lightning protection
is polarized in the measuring path of system.
the sensor. The magnetic field resulting Lightning information systems are
from the lightning strike makes the also used to collect information on
previously polarized light measurable lightning strikes for claims settlement.
(Fig. 33). The system transmits the These systems can locate a lightning
light signal from the sensor via fiber strike with a precision of up to 200 m.
optics to the evaluation unit. The Whether and at what point the lightning
characteristics of the lightning events – strikes a building or system can only be
maximum amplitude, lightning current determined with a lightning monitoring
slope, specific energy, and charge – are system – such as the LM-S.
detected and stored along with the date Fig. 33: Operating principle, Faraday effect
and time of the lightning strike.

LM-S lightning monitoring

The lightning monitoring system
detects lightning strikes in the
lightning protection system of a
building or system. All measured
data can be accessed remotely
via various interfaces such as
the integrated web interface or
Modbus. The measured variables of
the pulse current are:
• Amplitude Ipeak
• Gradient di/dt
• Load Q
• Specific energy W/R

Fig. 34: Burj Khalifa, LM-S application

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6 Fields of application
The IEC 61643 product standard divides applications where surge protective devices
are used into low-voltage systems, telecommunications and signal processing networks,
as well as photovoltaic installations. In general, all areas have very different individual
system prerequisites. Correspondingly, all the solutions or steps involved can vary
greatly. It is worth examining these applications in closer detail.

6.1 Protecting AC systems

6.1.1 SPD types and

Zone transition SPD type Designation
LPZ 0A LPZ 1 Type 1 Lightning current arrester
The lightning protection zone concept LPZ 0B LPZ 1 Type 2 Surge protective device
provides coordinated surge protective
LPZ 1 LPZ 2 Type 2 Surge protective device
devices for all lines that cross between
LPZ 2 LPZ 3 Type 3 Device protection
zones. Their power values are based on
the protection class to be achieved. Table 2: Lightning protection zone transition and corresponding SPD type
Depending on the zone transition,
different types are therefore required
(refer to Table 2). The requirements for Feed point of the In the vicinity of the feed Devices and
individual SPD types are defined in the electrical system, e.g., main point of the electrical system, electrical consumables
distribution system e.g., sub-distributions
product standard for surge protective
devices, IEC  61643-11 [6]. overvoltage category overvoltage category overvoltage category
A multi-level protection concept can
be derived from this (Fig. 35).



SPD type 1 or SPD type 2 or SPD type 2 or

SPD type 2 SPD type 3 SPD type 3

Fig. 35: Multi-level protection concept

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

The multi-level functionality limits the Nominal voltage of the Conductor-neutral Rated
lightning protection level from zone power supply system conductor voltage surge voltage
to zone. The amplitudes and specific (mains) according to derived from the total
energies of the surge voltages or surge IEC 60038 nominal AC voltage Overvoltage category
currents to be expected gradually or nominal DC
Three- Single- voltage
decrease. The voltage value to which I II III IV
phase phase
the individual SPDs must limit the
surge voltages also decreases. This is
achieved by correspondingly low voltage 50 330 500 800 1500
protection levels: their upper limits 100 500 800 1500 2500
are based on the dielectric strength 120 – 240 150 800 1500 2500 4000
of the equipment to be protected in
the immediate vicinity. The dielectric 300 1500 2500 4000 6000
strength is specified according to
400/690 600 2500 4000 6000 8000
IEC 60664-1 [9] in the overvoltage
categories I to IV (Table 3). 1000 1000 4000 6000 8000 12,000
Table 3: Overvoltage categories based on the nominal voltage
6.1.2 Type 1: lightning current
lower the energy input to be managed.
Type 1 surge protective devices must With regard to the abrupt change of
fulfil the highest requirements in terms impedance, and therefore also the
of amplitude and specific energy from voltage difference across the spark gap,
surge voltages or surge currents, as they the non-linear characteristic is referred
are supposed to protect from direct to as voltage-switching. A significant
lightning strikes. In the typical installation advantage that arises from the low
environment of the main distribution, residual voltage is the low load on the Fig. 36: Equivalent circuit of an enclosed spark
the demand placed on the short-circuit equipment to be protected as a result gap
withstand capability is often very high. of voltages above the specified nominal
In order to be able to meet these voltage or maximum continuous voltage.
requirements, powerful technology is For the comparatively long duration of the dielectric strength of the air alone.
required, e.g., spark gap technology. lightning currents, the residual voltage Even if the installation environment
of a spark gap is very low, in the range of type 1 SPDs does not generally
Spark gap technology of the maximum continuous voltage require it, the voltage protection level
The operating principle of a spark gap of the device to be protected. Type 1 of modern, triggered spark gaps is often
is initially very simple: two electrodes SPDs with voltage-limiting components at the level of the lowest overvoltage
are placed at a specific distance from are often several hundred volts over category I (based on the nominal voltage
each other and create an insulating state this – a significantly greater load for the of the system).
(Fig. 36). If there is a voltage present protected equipment.
between the two electrodes that causes Modern spark gaps are generally
the dielectric strength of the air (approx. encapsulated in robust, enclosed steel
3 kV/mm) in this space to exceed the housings, so that during the discharge
surge voltage, then an electric arc is process, no ionized gases generated
formed. In comparison to the insulating by the electric arc can escape into the
state with an impedance in the giga-ohm environment. Furthermore, spark gaps
range, the impedance of the electric arc are often triggered:
is extremely low and so, therefore, is the They have additional wiring to support
voltage drop across the spark gap. the through-ignition of the spark gap.
This characteristic is ideal for This limits the voltage protection level
discharging lightning currents: the lower to a very low level – significantly lower
the residual voltage of the spark gap, the than the voltage that results based on

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Sequential current extinguishing

capacity Spark gap technology without
20 kA
2000 V (8/20 µs) line follow current
A special characteristic for spark gaps
is the sequential current extinguishing 1500 V 15 kA For maximum system availability,
capacity, Ifi. If a spark gap is ignited by limiting the line follow currents is
1000 V 10 kA
means of a surge voltage, it represents essential:
a kind of short circuit that drives 500 V 5 kA • Upstream overcurrent
the current for the connected mains 0V 0 kA
protective devices do not trip
network. The spark gap must therefore • The installation is not loaded by
be in the position to interrupt the mains high current flows
0 µs 10 µs 20 µs
current of its own accord, after the • The service life of the spark gap
discharge process, without triggering the Fig. 37: Typical residual voltage curve of a is increased
upstream overcurrent protective device. triggered spark gap when loaded with a For the first time, Phoenix Contact
The sequential current extinguishing (8/20 μs) pulse has been able to develop and
capacity indicates up to which offer a spark gap on the market
prospective short-circuit current this is that is completely free of line
guaranteed at the installation location. energy input as low as possible and follow currents, featuring Safe
Modern spark gaps must be able to do increase the robustness. In the case Energy Control technology
two things: of sequential currents, however, the (refer to 6.1.10).
• Discharge large amounts of energy impedance must be as high as possible in
from brief lightning currents order to ensure fast elimination.
• Independently eliminate sequential In order to withstand high lightning
currents from powerful supply current amplitudes of up to 50 kA
networks on supply networks with possible
short- circuit currents up to 100 kA,
In the case of lightning currents, in the today's spark gaps are therefore often
best case, the impedance of the spark complex constructions and consist of
gap is very low, in order to keep the many individual functional parts (Fig. 38).

Insulation caps, resistant to high High-performance copper

temperatures and pressure wolfram electrodes

Enclosed Electric-arc-cooling
steel housing insulating parts

Fig. 38: Individual components of a modern, enclosed spark gap

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.1.3 Type 2: surge protective varistors as type 1 SPDs for Lightning

device Protection Level I. Despite this, this
concept has serious shortcomings:
Type 2 surge protective devices are if the characteristics of the varistors
generally installed in sub-distributions or connected in parallel do not match
machine control cabinets. These SPDs precisely, a requirement that is very
must be able to discharge induced surge hard to meet, the individual paths are
voltages from indirect lightning strikes placed under differing loads during the Fig. 39: Equivalent circuit diagram of a varistor
or switching operations but not handle procedure. Correspondingly, they age
direct lightning strikes. As such, the very differently. Over time, the uneven
energy input is significantly reduced. In loads become ever greater. This finally
any case, induced surge voltages caused leads to varistor overload.
by switching operations are often very
dynamic. Here, a discharge technology
with fast response behavior stands up to
the test, e.g., varistor technology.

Varistor technology
Varistors (variable resistor or
V 2000
metal oxide varistor, MOV) (Fig. 39) are
semiconductor components made from 1000
metal oxide ceramics. They exhibit a
non-linear current-voltage characteristic 800

curve (Fig. 40). In low voltage ranges,

the impedance of a varistor is very high,
however in higher voltage ranges the 400
impedance drops away rapidly, so that
very high currents can be discharged 200

without any problems. 100

For this reason, the characteristics 10 ­5 10 ­4 10 ­3 10 ­2 10 ­1 10 ­0 101 102 103 10 4 A 105
of varistors are referred to as i
voltage- limiting. With a typical response
time in the lower nanosecond range, Fig. 40: Voltage-current characteristic curve of a varistor with 320 V AC rated voltage
varistors are very well suited even
to limiting particularly dynamic surge
voltage phenomena.

Varistors that carry lightning

2000 V 20 kA (8/20 µs)
High-performance varistor ceramics can 1500 V 15 kA
even exhibit a pulse discharge capacity
of up to 12.5 kA (10/350 μs), which 1000 V 10 kA

means that they are also suitable as a

500 V 5 kA
type 1 SPD for environments with low
protection levels.
0V 0 kA
For a higher pulse discharge capacity of
25 kA to 50 kA (10/350 μs), generally,
multiple varistors must be used in a 0 µs 10 µs 20 µs 30 µs
parallel connection. Surge protection
manufacturers who have no spark Fig 41: Residual voltage of a varistor with 350 V AC rated voltage under a load of 25 kA (8/20 μs)
gap technology therefore often use

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.1.4 Type 3: device protection 6.1.5 Coordinating In the direction of the external
different SPD types protection zones, the coordination
Type 3 surge protective devices are between type 2 SPDs and upstream type
generally installed right in front of the The lightning protection zone concept 1 SPDs must once again be ensured.
terminal device to be protected. Due to provides coordinated surge protective As the possibility of direct lightning
differing installation environments, type devices for all lines that cross between strikes or partial lightning strikes must
3 SPDs are available in a very wide range zones. Their power values are based on be considered here, which can only
of designs. For example: in addition to the protection class to be achieved. be borne by type 1 SPDs, selective
standard DIN rail mounting, there are Depending on the zone transition, addressing of the SPDs is particularly
devices for installation in sockets or for different types are therefore required important otherwise the type 2 SPDs
direct mounting on a PCB of the end (refer to Table 2). The requirements for could be overloaded.
device. individual SPD types are defined in the As the technologies used for type 1
Technologically speaking, type 3 SPDs product standard for surge protective SPDs are very different, there are no
are most similar to type 2, which are devices, IEC 61643-11 [6]. general conditions for coordination.
based on varistors, but the requirements A multi-level protection concept can Type 1 SPDs based on spark gaps
in terms of nominal discharge capacity in be derived from this (Fig. 42). provide a clear advantage in this area.
comparison to type 2 are even lower. Starting from the internal protection Their comparatively low residual voltage
Often it is sensible to link the zones, a type 3 SPD and an upstream of just a few hundred volts throughout
protection of the power supply to type 2 SPD are to be coordinated. It most of the duration of the lightning
the protection of other interfaces must be ensured that type 3 SPDs are current ensures the current flow is
in the terminal device, such as data not overloaded in terms of energy. Since almost completely transitioned.
communication lines. There are surge voltages of a lower amplitude are
combined devices for this purpose. They expected in this area of the protection
take on the surge protection for all zone concept, selective addressing is
corresponding (supply) lines. already guaranteed by a Uc of the type 3
SPD, which is greater than or equivalent
to the type 2 SPD.


Type 1 UV1 UV2 UV3




Type 2



Type 2/3

Fig. 42: Multi-level protection concept with a range of consecutive SPD types

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.1.6 Grid systems according to IT system

IEC 60364 In this grid system, the neutral point of L1
the transformer supplying the energy L2
The design of a surge protection is not grounded, or only grounded L3
concept for AC systems depends, among via a high impedance. The parts of N
other things, on the existing grid system. the electrical system are connected PE
These systems can vary depending to a local grounding system that is
on the design of the grounding of the separated from the grounded point of
transformer providing the supply, the the transformer. If a neutral conductor
consumer system, and their connection is also routed from the neutral point of Fig. 43: TN-S system
to one another. the transformer supplying the energy,
The directive for erecting low-voltage this is routed separately from the local
power supply systems, IEC 60364-1 [10] protective conductor. A three-phase
lists the following system configurations: power supply consists of four or five
conductors: L1, L2, L3, if appropriate,
TN-S system L1
N, and local PE (Fig. 46).
In this grid system, one point – usually One peculiarity of the IT system is
the neutral point – of the transformer that an insulation fault to ground may
supplying the energy is usually directly occur for a limited period of time. The
grounded. The neutral conductor (N) ground fault in the phase must merely
and protective conductor (PE) are be detected by insulation monitoring
routed to the consumer system in and reported, so that it can be promptly
separate conductors. A three-phase rectified. Only in the event of a second Fig. 44: TN-C system
power supply consists of five conductors: ground fault would this lead to a short
L1, L2, L3, N, and PE (Fig. 43). circuit between two phases and the
relevant surge protection equipment
TN-C system would trip. Surge protective devices L1
In this grid system, the neutral point of for use in IT systems must therefore L2
the transformer supplying the energy be able to withstand the phase-to- L3
is directly grounded. The neutral phase voltage of the system as well as N
conductor and protective conductor are the tolerance. This is ensured by the PE
routed to the consumer system in one normative requirement that only SPDs
conductor (PEN). A three-phase power with a maximum continuous voltage of
supply consists of four conductors: L1, at least the phase-to-phase voltage plus
L2, L3, and PEN (Fig. 44). tolerance may be used between the
phase and PE in IT systems. Fig. 45: TT system
TT system
In this grid system, the grounded point
of the transformer is routed to the
system solely as a neutral conductor.
The parts of the electrical system are
connected to a local grounding system
that is separated from the grounded
point of the transformer. The neutral PE
conductor and the local protective
conductor are routed to the consumer
system in separate conductors. A
three- phase power supply consists of
five conductors: L1, L2, L3, N, and local Fig. 46: IT system
PE (Fig. 45).

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.1.7 American grid systems system first of all. A three-phase L1 L2 L3 N

power supply consists of four or five
Other grid systems are used, especially conductors: L1, L2, L3, if appropriate,




in the Northern and Central American N, and GND (Fig. 48).
regions. The most important are:
• Wye system Split-phase system
• Delta system This widely used two-phase system
• Split-phase system is grounded by means of a center tap
between the two phases and a neutral
Wye system conductor is routed from there. A PE
These systems correspond to the two- phase power supply consists of
TN systems; the neutral point of four conductors: L1, L2, N, and GND Fig. 50: CT1 connection scheme or 4+0 circuit
the supplying transformer is directly (Fig. 49).
grounded and from there, the protective
conductor (grounding conductor, GND) 6.1.8 Connection scheme
is routed to the consumer system. L1 L2 L3 N
Insulated wye systems do also exist, but Surge protective devices are part of the
there are comparably few. A possible equipotential bonding of a structural



neutral conductor is generally first of system. In the event of a surge voltage,
all tapped within the consumer system. they connect the active conductor
This then corresponds to a TN-C-S in electrical installations with the
system. A three-phase power supply grounding.

consists of four or five conductors: Depending on the grid system of the
L1, L2, L3, if appropriate, N, and GND consumer system, different SPDs can
(Fig. 47). be used. They are combined in various PE
connection schemes (CT), to establish
Delta system this connection. In the installation Fig. 51: CT2 connection scheme or 3+1 circuit
These systems have no direct equivalent directive for surge protection,
according to IEC. Grounding either takes IEC 60364-5-53 [11], the following types
place via one of the phases (corner- are specified:
grounded) or via a center tap between • CT1 connection scheme: a number of active conductors (Fig. 50).
two phases (high-leg). The GND is combination of SPDs that have a • CT2 connection scheme: a
routed from the respective grounding mode of protection between each combination of SPDs that have
point to the consumer system. Insulated active conductor (outer conductor a mode of protection between
delta systems do also exist, but there and neutral conductor, if present) each outer conductor and neutral
are comparably few. and PE conductor. This connection conductor and a mode of protection
The neutral conductor is, if required, scheme is often designated as a x+0 between the neutral conductor and
also usually tapped within the consumer circuit, whereby x represents the the PE conductor. This connection

L2 N
L2 L3 L2
L3 N

Fig. 47: Wye system Fig. 48: High-leg and corner-grounded delta Fig. 49: Split-phase system

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

scheme is often designated as a x+1 6.1.9 Connection and In the case of branch wiring, the SPD
circuit, whereby x represents the overcurrent protection can or must be protected depending on
number of outer conductors (Fig. 51). of SPDs the nominal value of the F1 upstream
The possible uses of this connection overcurrent protective device, with a
scheme in the individual grid systems are If transient overvoltages occur, an second additional overcurrent protective
listed in Table 4. inductive voltage drop can result on the device, F2, with a lower nominal value.
electrical conductors. This additional This wiring enables use in systems
voltage drop in the connecting cables with nominal currents of any strength,
can weaken the protective effect, provided the prospective short-circuit
particularly when connecting surge current on the SPD installation location
protection in parallel to the equipment does not exceed its short-circuit
to be protected. With this in mind, the withstand capability.
SPD connecting cables are always laid The V-wiring, however, can only
as short as possible with the largest be used up to a nominal value of the
possible bending radii. upstream overcurrent protective device
CT2 connection scheme SPDs can essentially be connected in
Phoenix Contact mainly provides two different ways:
SPDs with the CT2 connection • Branch wiring (stub wiring), refer to
scheme for TN and TT systems. Fig. 52
The advantages of this connection • V-wiring (V-shaped wiring), refer to a
type are: Fig. 53
• Can be used universally in all In both cases, the total of the cable
countries worldwide lengths a, b, and c, must not exceed
• Lower voltage protection level 0.5 m. In the case of the V-wiring, this is
between outer and neutral particularly easy to ensure, as here only

conductor length c is of relevance. As such, even
• No leakage current to the the overall protection level (consisting of c
protective conductor due to the voltage protection level of the SPDs
the use of spark gaps between and voltage drop over the connecting
the neutral and protective cables) can be minimized as much as
conductor possible.

Fig. 52: Branch wiring

Connection scheme
Grid system at
the SPD installation location

TN system

Only downstream of a

TT system residual current protective

IT system with routed neutral

IT system without routed

neutral conductor NA

Table 4: Connection schemes and grid systems Fig. 53: V-wiring

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

F1 or a nominal current of the system protective conductor for type 1 upstream overcurrent protective
that does not exceed the continuous SPDs: min. 16 mm2 devices.
current capacity of the connecting cables – Connection cross section of the • The final overcurrent protective
and the connection terminal blocks of main grounding busbar or the device before the SPD must not
the SPD. protective conductor for type 2 exceed the maximum nominal
As part of the electrical installation, SPDs: min. 6 mm2 value of the upstream overcurrent
corresponding legal or regulatory • Over a specific nominal value of the protective device as specified by the
requirements are to be fulfilled for the upstream overcurrent protection, the SPD manufacturer.
connection and overcurrent protection minimum cross section is determined • The upstream overcurrent protective
of surge protective devices that by the connecting cables' need for device should, as far as possible, be
principally aim to ensure the operational short-circuit withstand capability able to bear the required amplitudes
reliability of the system. Furthermore, • If the SPD connecting cables of lightning and surge currents,
for correct functioning of the surge carry operating current, then the depending on the Lightning Protection
protection, specific conditions are to continuous current load can be used Level. In particular with regard
be taken into account with regard to to determine the minimum cross to high-energy lightning currents,
connection and fuse protection. section as of a certain current value under- dimensioned fuses can pose
The requirements are based on a risk, as they can be destroyed in a
various parts of IEC 60364 for creating Overcurrent protection very short time due to high-energy
low-voltage systems: on the one When designing the overcurrent inputs.
hand, Part 5, Section 53, Main Section protection of SPDs, the various elements Adhering to the selectivity is therefore
534 [11], regarding the selection and must first be prioritized: the top priority. In the simple case
setup of surge protective devices, and • Priority of the system supply: that the two overcurrent protective
on the other, Part 4, Section 43 [12], Branch wiring with separate F2 devices to be taken into account are gG
regarding protective measures against overcurrent protective device in the fuses, then a nominal value of 1250 A
overcurrent, as well as the product branch applies, which must be F2 × 1.6 ≤ F1.
standard for surge protective devices, • Priority of the system surge If one or both of the overcurrent
IEC 61643-11 [6]. protection: V-wiring or branch wiring protective devices is a circuit breaker,
without separate F2 overcurrent then their tripping characteristics must
Connection cross sections protective device be compared with each other or with
If these requirements are combined, this In the first case, the separate F2 the fuse characteristics and, if applicable,
results in the following conditions for overcurrent protection equipment tailored to each other, so that the
dimensioning the connecting cables of ensures that in the event of the failure curves are not affected (Fig. 54 and 55).
SPDs (based on PVC-insulated copper of the SPD (e.g., a short circuit), the F1 In areas with short-circuit currents,
cables): upstream overcurrent protective device they must have a sufficient time interval,
• The minimum cross sections for does not trigger and that the supply to so that the respective downstream
the SPD connecting cables first of the equipment to be protected is not overcurrent protective device can
all result from the requirements for interrupted. In this case, however, the address the other and switch off.
installing surge protective devices, equipment is no longer protected from A similar scenario applies in the
depending on the active conductor subsequent overvoltage events. event that a circuit breaker should
connection or the main grounding In the second case, the F1 upstream represent the overcurrent protection
busbar/the protective conductor overcurrent protective device takes on for the SPD as F1, without a separate
(PE(N)) as well as the type of the the overcurrent protection in the event F2 overcurrent protective device.
SPD: that the SPD fails. The failure of the Then, the switching- off characteristics
– Connection cross section of the supply is hereby accepted, so that no of the switch must be compared with
active conductor for type 1 SPDs: damage can be caused by subsequent the characteristics of the maximum
min. 6 mm2 overvoltage events. overcurrent protection specified for
– Connection cross section of the When dimensioning the overcurrent the SPD by the manufacturer. This
active conductor for type 2 SPDs: protection, the following points should must not be exceeded in the range for
min.  2.5 mm2 be kept in mind: short- circuit currents.
– Connection cross section of the • Selectivity of the respective
main grounding busbar or the overcurrent protective device to

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Fuse breaker
1h Circuit breaker 1h Fuse
Trigger Trigger
time 10 min time 10 min

1 min 1 min

10 s 10 s

1s 1s

100 ms 100 ms

10 ms 10 ms

1 ms 1 ms
1 ms 1k 10 k 100 k 100 1k 10 k 100 k
Current (A) Current (A)

Fig. 54: Switching-off characteristics of a circuit breaker (F1) and a selective Fig. 55: Switching-off characteristics of a circuit breaker (F1) that is suitable
gG fuse (F2) as an upstream overcurrent protective device for an SPD with a maximum
backup fuse of 315 A gG

SPDs with integrated overcurrent level protection concepts to be easily

protection implemented: protection concepts with
Products that already contain Safe Energy Control technology (SEC)
corresponding fuses, such as the combine maximum performance with
FLASHTRAB SEC HYBRID, represent a a long service life, so that electrical
particularly straightforward solution for fittings are always safely protected and
overcurrent protection of SPDs. maintenance costs are reduced. Installing
SPDs with SEC technology is easy, cost-
6.1.10 Safe Energy Control effective, and space-saving. The individual
technology (SEC) SPD types can be found in the product
ranges as shown in Table 5.
Phoenix Contact provides SPDs which
are perfectly matched with other items
from the range and that allow multi-


Thanks to the integrated fuse, no

external protection elements are Type 1 FLASHTRAB SEC
required, and space and costs are
reduced. The protective effect is Type 2 VALVETRAB SEC
increased, as the voltage difference
resulting from the fuse is already Type 3 PLUGTRAB SEC
contained in the voltage protection
level of the SPD. The short Table 5: Product ranges with
connecting cables required for Safe Energy Control technology
SPDs are easy to set up (Fig. 56).
Fig. 56: FLT-SEC-H-T1-1C-264/25-FM

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Impact-free and durable type 1 spark gap and type 2 varistor the voltage level of the supply, there are
A consistent surge protection concept arrester in a confined space. All products various SPD types and circuit versions.
requires a powerful type 1 lightning in the SEC portfolio are pluggable, If, for example, it is a three- phase
current arrester. Conventional making maintenance a great deal easier. 230/400 V AC TN-C system, the
type 1 line follow currents load the FLT-SEC-P-T1-3C-350/25-FM is ideal
installation with high line follow 6.1.11 Multi-level protection (Fig. 58).
currents that can lead the upstream concepts Alternatively, the protective device
overcurrent protection to trigger. combination of FLASHTRAB SEC T1+T2
The SEC technology lightning current Thanks to the SPDs from the SEC range, (Fig. 59) can also be used here. This
arresters are the first to feature multi-level protection concepts can be directly coordinated combination of a
spark gap technology with no line very easily put together for standard type 1 SPD on a spark-gap basis and a
follow current. The avoidance of line installations. Parameters such as the type 2 SPD on a varistor basis provides
follow currents benefits the entire maximum continuous voltage, voltage many advantages when used directly in
installation. This means that not only protection level, and discharge current, the main distribution.
the protected equipment, but the entire are ideally tailored to one another. In the further sub-distributions of
supply, including the SPD, are placed the production system, for machine
under minimal load by the discharge Industrial production system with halls and office rooms, the protective
external lightning protection
process. Maximum system availability is zone transition is provided by 1   2,
guaranteed because the fuse protection thanks to a type 2 SPD from the
upstream is not triggered. The protective zone transition 0A 1 VALVETRAB SEC product range.
is provided by a type 1 SPD from the A supply as a TN-C system, as
Backup-fuse-free solution for every FLASHTRAB product range at the point assumed in this example, is generally
application where the supply lines enter the building already converted into a TN-S
The powerful lightning current arresters in the area of the low-voltage main system in the main distribution, so
and surge protective devices with Safe supply. Depending on the grid system, that the remaining installation is
Energy Control technology provide the connection type to be selected, and implemented with separately laid
a solution without separate arrester
backup fuse for all common applications.
For applications where protecting the
installation is the top priority, type 1 and
type 2 SPDs can be used for main fuse
ratings of 315 A gG without separate
11 12

overcurrent protection. For applications PLUGTRAB

T3-230-P N/PE-350-P T2-350-P T2-350-P T2-350-P

beyond this scope, products are available

with integrated surge-proof fuse, such
type 3 SPDs from the PLUGTRAB SEC T3 T2
product range can be operated in branch
wiring without any kind of backup fuse,
which is also thanks to the integrated
surge-proof fuses.

Compact and consistent pluggable


the SEC range offers the most compact

type 1 spark gap for this nominal PEN

voltage, with the VALVETRAB SEC T1

the narrowest type 2 SPD, and with
the FLASHTRAB SEC T1+T2, the only
directly coordinated combination of Fig. 57: Multi-level protection concept based on the example of an industrial production system

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

neutral and protective conductors. voltage, the PLT-SEC-T3-230-FM can

The VAL- SEC- T2-3S-350-FM is then then be used (Fig. 61).
offered as a type 2 SPD (Fig. 60). In the
machine control cabinets and in offices,
the 2   3 protective zone transition is
provided by means of type 3 SPDs from
the PLUGTRAB SEC range, directly
upstream of sensitive end devices. For an
end device operated with 230 V nominal

The type 1 SPDs from the availability, as upstream overcurrent
FLASHTRAB SEC family all use protection systems are not triggered
the spark gap technology that is as part of the discharge process.
free of line follow currents. They
thereby guarantee maximum system
Fig. 58: FLT-SEC-P-T1-3C-350/25-FM

The unique SPD combination on the • Varistor arrester to limit dynamic
market, FLASHTRAB SEC T1+T2, surge voltages
optimally protects sensitive equipment • Optimum energy distribution
by means of: between the protective levels
• Powerful spark gap to discharge
direct lightning currents Fig 59: FLT-SEC-T1+T2-3C-350/25-FM

The VALVETRAB SEC T2 impresses up to 315 A gG. It is also possible to
above all due to the powerful, internal operate it at the location installation
thermal disconnect device, in addition with prospective short-circuit
to the narrow design – just 12 mm currents up to 50 kA.
per pole. The SPD can therefore be
used without a further backup fuse Fig. 60: VAL-SEC-T2-3S-350-FM

The PLUGTRAB SEC T3 has enables connection in branch wiring
integrated surge-current resistant without separate backup fuse,
fuses. As such, it can be used with irrespective of the nominal current
end devices operated with both and the protection of the circuit.
alternating current and direct current.
The integrated overcurrent protection Fig. 61: PLT-SEC-T3-230-FM

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.2 Protection of DC systems with linear voltage sources

The operating behavior of different Selecting surge protective devices • Nominal voltage of the DC power
direct current systems with linear source Selecting SPDs for direct current source(s)
characteristics can vary greatly from one systems is generally significantly more • Number, type, and operating behavior
to another. It is therefore impossible to complex than for alternating current of the DC power source(s)
easily select surge protective devices power supply systems. • Maximum and minimum prospective
without precise knowledge of the In the case of AC power supply short-circuit current at the SPD
respective systems. This particularly systems, there is often only one power installation location
applies to systems with limited or low source; for DC systems, however, there
short-circuit currents. are often multiple power sources with Protective circuits for grounded
and non-grounded DC systems
Direct current power supply systems different operating behaviors. This
with linear source characteristics are particularly applies to battery-operated The preferred circuits for SPDs in DC
mainly used for: DC systems. systems conform to the CT1 connection
• Loads with low direct current power In the majority of AC systems, the type (refer to Fig. 50) and are either
supply, e.g., programmable logic minimum short-circuit current is high designed with one or two poles.
controllers or telecommunication enough to cause upstream overcurrent A 2+0 circuit is also required for
systems protective devices to trigger in a few grounded TN systems if the installation
• Mobile loads, e.g, fork-lift trucks or milliseconds. In the case of DC systems location of the SPDs is far away from
onboard power systems with limited or low short-circuit the system's grounding point (Fig. 64).
• Battery storage in UPS systems currents, however, it is very important
• Computer centers that even minimal prospective short-
• Rail vehicles circuit currents at the SPD installation
Typical power sources of direct current site are detected, in order to meet basic
power supply systems with linear source safety requirements.
characteristics are: Significant design criteria for the
• Controlled and non-controlled selection of SPDs and corresponding
rectifiers with or without smoothing overcurrent protective devices in DC
• Regulated power supply units systems are:
• Charging power supply units
• Battery sets

F1 F1
L+ L+
F1 F1
L+ L- L-

F2 F2 F2 F2 F2




Fig. 62: 1+0 circuit for grounded TN systems at Fig. 63: 2+0 circuit for IT systems Fig. 64: 2+0 circuit for grounded TN systems
the grounding point that are far away from the grounding point

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.3 Protection of photovoltaic systems

The increasing number and variety typical behavior of the photovoltaic The combination of switching and
of versions of photovoltaic systems system are carried out. This is because, limiting components in series and parallel
presents a new challenge in terms of under almost all operating conditions, arrangements is also taken into account.
safety and reliability. This applies to all the panels of a photovoltaic generator Table 6 provides the required values for
photovoltaic systems, such as rooftop provide an almost constant current that the discharge capacity of voltage-limiting
systems on single-family dwellings, off- is at the same time close to the short- and combined SPDs that are switched in
grid systems or free-standing systems. circuit current of the system. series in structural systems.
Photovoltaic systems are often Voltage-limiting components or
subjected to tough weather conditions, CLC/TS 50539-12 installation combined SPDs can thereby function as
such as the effects of lightning, due to directive varistors or varistors and gas-filled surge
their exposed location. In order for In addition to the product standard, protective devices in series connection
the systems to be able to continue to there is also the CLC/TS 50539-12 [13] (Fig. 65).
operate safely and profitably, installing installation directive. This provides
lightning and surge protection is key information for the installation of
recommended. Thanks to special photovoltaic systems in the field. The
standards and installation directives, it directive differentiates between free-
is possible to optimally plan and install standing systems and structural systems
photovoltaic systems. (rooftop systems).
In the installation directive, there is a
IEC 61643-31 – requirements and differentiation between voltage-switching
test methods for surge protective and voltage-limiting components.
devices in photovoltaic systems
Thanks to the IEC 61643-31 [8] product
standard, it is possible to qualify lightning
and surge protective devices according
to their operating behavior and thereby
guarantee the quality and safety of
these products. The standard describes
testing procedures for SPDs for use in
photovoltaic systems and takes into
MOV MOV + GDT in series
account the peculiarities of the DC
voltage and its properties. Among other
things, special tests that replicate the Fig. 65: Examples of voltage-limiting components or combined SPDs in series connection

Number of external protective devices

LPL Current 2 ≥4
(10/350) Per prot. mode Itotal Per prot. mode Itotal
I8/20 I10/350 I8/20 I10/350 I8/20 I10/350 I8/20 I10/350
I or unknown 200 kA 17 kA 10 kA 34 kA 20 kA 10 kA 5 kA 20 kA 10 kA
II 150 kA 12.5 kA 7.5 kA 25 kA 15 kA 7.5 kA 3.75 kA 15 kA 7.5 kA
III or IV 100 kA 8.5 kA 5 kA 17 kA 10 kA 5 kA 2.5 kA 10 kA 5 kA

Table 6: Values for I10/350 and I8/20 for voltage-limiting and combined SPDs
(voltage-switching and limiting components in series)

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Number of external protective devices

LPL Current 2 ≥4
(10/350) Per prot. mode Per prot. mode
Itotal Itotal
I10/350 I10/350

I or unknown 200 kA 25 kA 50 kA 12.5 kA 25 kA

II 150 kA 18.5 kA 37.5 kA 9 kA 18 kA

III or IV 100 kA 12.5 kA 25 kA 6.25 kA 12.5 kA

Table 7: Values for I10/350 and I8/20 for voltage-switching and combined SPDs
(voltage-switching and limiting components in parallel)

If voltage-switching SPDs or components

are used in parallel to voltage-limiting
components, then the surge current
will be divided very unevenly. For this
reason, other values are to be used
(refer to Table 7).
Voltage-limiting components or Parallel MOVs MOV + GDT parallel
combined SPDs can function as
varistors or varistors and gas-filled surge Fig. 66: Examples of voltage-limiting components or combined SPDs in parallel connection
protective devices in parallel connection
(Fig. 66).

+/­ +/­ Advantages of the Y-circuit

Phoenix Contact provides all surge voltages, voltage-limiting components
protective devices for photovoltaic offer the advantage of a low voltage
applications based on voltage- limiting protection level compared with
components in series. The circuit voltage-switching components.
consists of three varistors in a
so-called Y-circuit. In the event of
failure, e.g., the short circuit of a
varistor, a second varistor connected
in series ensures that the current flow
can be safely interrupted. In addition
to a fast reaction time to surge


Fig. 67: Y-circuit consisting of three varistors

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Choosing protective devices Furthermore, CLC/TS 50539-12 exceed a length of 10 meters on the DC

To select a suitable lightning and describes the installation of SPDs side and on the AC side between the
surge protective device, the following depending on the line lengths between inverter and the equipotential bonding
information is required: the devices to be protected and the point, then a type 1 SPD is required.
• The Lightning Protection Level to be equipotential bonding point.
applied Depending on whether an external
• The number of external protective lightning protection system is available or
devices on the building not, the required protective components
The majority of photovoltaic installations should be selected on the AC side. If the
are designed for Lightning Protection building or the free-standing system has
Levels III or IV. In the event that the no external lightning protection system,
risk analysis of the photovoltaic system then the inverter or string combiner
in question results in a higher Lightning box should be protected with a type
Protection Level, the lightning and 2 SPD. Provided the lines between the
surge protective devices should be photovoltaic panels and the inverter
chosen with a higher discharge capacity. exceed a length of more than 10 meters
From experience, the majority of new on the DC side, a coupled surge voltage
constructions or existing buildings that can lead to the dielectric strength of the
are more than 10 meters wide are photovoltaic panel being exceeded due
equipped with at least four protective to oscillation effects, thereby leading to
devices. Corresponding values for the damage of the panel. In this case, placing
minimum requirements for lightning and another type 2 SPD directly on the panel
surge protective devices can be taken is recommended. However, if an external
from Tables 6 and 7. lightning protection system is available,
For free-standing systems, Table then a type 1 SPD should be installed
8 applies, which covers Lightning on the building entry or in the string
Protection Levels III and IV. This table combiner box and a type 2 SPD should
once again differentiates between be installed on the AC side, upstream
switching and limiting components in of the inverter. If the lines between the
series and parallel. photovoltaic panels and the inverter

SPDs, connected on the DC side Iimp in kA (10/350), In in kA (8/20)

limiting or combined SPDs switching and combined SPDs

Maximum (voltage-switching and limiting (voltage-switching and limiting
LPL Current components in series) components in parallel)
I10/350 I8/20 I10/350

Per Per Per

mode of Itotal mode of Itotal mode of Itotal
protection protection protection

III or IV 150 kA 5 kA 10 kA 15 kA 30 kA 10 kA 20 kA

Table 8: Values for I10/350 and I8/20 for SPDs to protect a photovoltaic free-standing power system with several grounding points and a meshed grounding

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Building installation the external lightning air-terminal. units, comprehensive protection is just
Across the world, many photovoltaic Connect module frames to the as important and should be taken into
systems are installed; among them, separate ground potential. account at the planning stage. Here,
numerous rooftop systems (Fig. 68). During installation it is important that slight surge voltages can couple in and
Often when it comes to rooftop the existing system is not disturbed damage the inverter or evaluation unit.
installation, it is a case of integration and that it is sufficiently protected from
into the existing electrical building external influences. This relates to the Free-standing systems
system. The following specifications must entire installation, from the module Today, large free-standing systems
be observed here: right through to the inverter on the DC (Fig. 69) are mainly used as a source
• Do not route the photovoltaic lines side and of course from the inverter of income. To reduce system costs,
in parallel or close to the lightning to the main connection on the AC increasing the system availability and
conductor of the external lightning side. In order to enable lightning and minimizing the failure quota is important.
protection system. surge protection, photovoltaic systems To this end, all components must be
• Avoid the effects of lightning on the are connected to the equipotential carefully selected and correctly installed.
protective conductor by means of bonding strips in the main distribution. As such, surge protective equipment
a galvanic connection in which the As a consequence of this, the lightning that has been developed according
lightning surge protective devices are effects can enter via the DC and AC to the valid product standard,
installed upstream of the device to be side in the non-protected state. For this IEC 61643- 31 [8] for SPDs for use in
protected. reason it is crucial that the entire system photovoltaic installations, should be
• Observe the separation distances is considered and devices at risk are installed.
between the module frame and protected. For data and communication For the majority of constellations, a
type 2 SPD that is directly installed at
the DC input of the inverter is sufficient.
For effective protection, the data and
communication lines of the inverter
must also be protected in addition to
the DC and AC side.

Protective devices for systems

of all types
Regardless of whether it is for
rooftop systems on single-family
dwellings, off-grid systems or
free- standing systems – for the safe
operation of a photovoltaic system,
a lightning and surge protection
concept must be created as early as
the planning stage. Phoenix Contact
provides powerful SPDs for all areas
of application.

Fig. 68: Rooftop system on a single-family dwelling

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Fig. 69: Free-standing system with external lightning protection system

New design for system voltages up with a smaller cross section, and thereby cost- effective and efficient. However,
to 1500 V DC achieve cost savings in terms of cabling. this is only possible if all the components
In times in which solar subsidies are In total, the balance of system (BOS) are designed for these voltages.
being drastically reduced, it is essential costs can be reduced through fewer
to minimize system costs accordingly string combiner boxes and lower cabling
to ensure an acceptable return. Thanks expenses. Inverter manufacturers also
to an increased voltage of up to 1500 benefit from this. With a system voltage
V DC, this is perfectly feasible. Due to of 1500 V, the inverter performance
the associated lower string currents, in can be increased by up to 20%. This
practice this means customers use lines makes the photovoltaic system more

To keep pace with this trend, the What's more, the new product range
new surge protective devices of completely fulfils the product standard
the VAL- MB product range were requirements and the installation
developed for voltages up to directive for Lightning Protection
1500 V DC and with a total discharge Levels III and IV.
capacity of 12.5 kA ITotal (10/350 μs).

Fig. 70: VAL-MB-T2 1500DC-PV/2+V-FM

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.4 Protection of signal transmission circuits in MCR technology

Interference-free transmission of signals

plays a central role in the field of
measurement, control, and regulation
technology (MCR technology). Error-free
operation of building services
management, manufacturing or process LPZ 1
technology necessarily demands a LPZ 2 LPZ 3

high level of availability of the signals


transmitted. However, these are exposed D1
to an increasingly active electrical
environment. This particularly applies to
weak measured values that are delivered
by sensors. If the measured values are
low voltages or electric currents that
must be securely transmitted, carefully
conditioned or evaluated, then there is
an increase in the electromagnetic and Fig. 71: Lightning protection zones and classification of protective devices for MCR and IT systems
high-frequency interference they are according to IEC 61643 22 [7]
exposed to.
Reasons for this are:
• An increasing number of electrically level, surge protective devices with is not usually separated at every zone
operated components in all combined protective circuits or with transition, helping to reduce installation
performance classes, especially individual components are used. These work. Multiple protection levels are
motors operated via frequency are installed directly upstream of the generally combined in one MCR surge
inverters and other actuators. signal inputs to be protected. The protective device. As a practical solution,
• The increasing miniaturization and circuits of the surge protective devices this protective module can be installed
packing density of device components. to be used are adapted to the various upstream of the device to be protected
• A growing volume of wireless signal types. (e.g., controller input)
communication and control
equipment. Divisions within the standard
• Digital systems that work with ever The requirements and assignment to
higher transmission frequencies. protective zones are described in detail
Insufficient attention given to the in standards IEC 61643-21 [7] and
above disturbance variables, incorrect IEC 61643-22 [16]. The performance of
adjustments or lack of planning can protective modules for MCR technology
all affect interference-free signal is described by IEC categories D1, C2,
transmission. and C1. (Fig. 71) Zone transition 0A 1 1 2 2 3
Surge voltages that are influenced Table 9 explains the correlations
by the effects of lightning can also have between lightning zone transitions and
a negative impact on the functioning the IEC category of the MCR protective Corresponds to
SPD type D1 C2 C3
and availability of electronic modules in devices in comparison to the power
measurement and control technology. supply protective devices. IEC-61643-21
Damage caused by surge voltages in In contrast to installing SPDs for
Corresponds to
MCR technology systems can, however, power supply systems, a surge protective SPD type 1 2 3
be effectively prevented by using device does not have to be installed IEC-61643-11
tailor-made surge protective devices. at every zone transition in the case of
Depending on the potential for risk MCR signals (refer to IEC 61643-22). In Table 9: Lightning protection zone transitions and
and the requirements of the protection practice, the signal cabling from the field corresponding SPD types

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Choosing surge protective devices insulated from the ground potential voltage protection level.
Selecting surge protective devices for for interference immunity. A frequently The special functioning of the
MCR technology depends on several encountered application of this type protective circuit with decoupling
factors. The product required is is the 4 ... 20 mA current loop for resistors is described in detail below.
primarily determined by the type of transmitting measured values. In cases where the decoupling
signal circuit to be protected. To ensure insulation in the application resistors in the common mode paths
Typical signal transmissions are: does not fail going forward, the are damaging, it makes sense to choose
• Binary signals surge protective devices are designed a circuit version without decoupling.
• Analog loops accordingly. Gas-filled surge protective This may be the case with the Pt 100
• Temperature measurements (two-, devices (gas discharge tubes, GDT) have two-conductor measuring circuits.
three-, and four-terminal sensing) a corresponding insulation behavior.
• Multi-polar binary signals When operated, they guarantee
insulation between the signal wires and
Other factors involved in selection are: the ground potential. In the event that
• Signal voltage of the signal to be a surge voltage is applied, the GDT
transmitted effectively discharges the transients to
• Surge withstand capability of the end ground and limits the voltage so that
device interface to be protected the dielectric strength of the end device
• Transmission frequency of the signal is not exceeded. The typical dielectric
strength of the end device is 1.5 kV. Surge protection for all signal
6.4.1 How the In addition to protecting the dielectric
circuits work strength, the protection between the The huge variety of different signal
signal wires and thereby the electric types, field buses, and interfaces
Basic circuits strength is particularly important in the requires a tailor-made product
In measurement and control technology, area of MCR surge protection. The end and a wide product range. When
there are different applications and types devices are often much more sensitive choosing the right MCR SPD,
of signal. Various protective circuits are to potential differences of this nature, the STOP-IT (Selection Tool
therefore available that are specially as sensitive semiconductor components of Protection for Information
optimized for the application. First of in the terminal device are directly Technology) selection guide is
all, a distinction is made between signal affected. Often, the corresponding invaluable. It is available online on
types that are designed as a closed electric strength of the devices is below the Phoenix Contact website.
circle (loop) and signals with a common 100 V. The protection stage affected in
reference potential or a shared return the surge protective device implements
conductor. a fast-responding suppressor diode
The stand-alone closed circles (loops) (transient voltage suppressor diode,
are often designed so that they are TVS diode), with a correspondingly high

Signal Signal

Ground Ground

Fig. 72: Basic circuit for insulated signal circuits Fig. 73: Basic circuit for insulated signal circuits (without coupling resistors)

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

where the resistors can falsify the

measuring result. Even in the event of Unprotected ΔU Protected
actuator circuits with higher nominal
currents, this type of protective circuit Decoupling resistor
is used. Transient
Surge voltage US
Applications with common reference UG

potential require another protective

Gas-filled surge ΔU Suppressor diode
circuit, as the sensitive semiconductor arrester
components in the end devices can also for
Field Decoupling resistor
be damaged by transient overvoltages protected
between the signal wires and the Strike voltage UG=2xΔU+US
reference potential. For this reason, in
such cases the TVS diodes are switched Fig. 76: Two-stage protective circuit
between each wire and the reference
potential. In cases where the reference
potential is grounded, the surge protective device (Fig. 76). Due to the operating voltage of the application.
protective device can be used, as shown low response voltage, the suppressor The products are designed in such a
in Fig. 74. In the majority of cases, a diode is initially low-resistance. It results way that not only an individual transient,
direct connection between the common in a compensating current across the but many overvoltage events can be
reference potential (e.g., ground) and coupling resistors and the diode. Due mastered. The testing and maintenance
the ground potential is not permitted to the voltage drop on the diode and intervals can be set up accordingly for
or desired. To nevertheless be able resistors, a voltage arises that reaches the systems. Depending on the risk
to provide protection to insulate the the level of the strike voltage of the gas- assessment, in practice, SPDs tests are
system from the ground potential, circuit filled surge protective device. As soon carried out every one to four years.
versions with additional gas-filled surge as this also becomes low-resistance,
protective devices are a logical choice it discharges the power of the surge
(Fig. 75). voltage.
The circuit is designed in such a
How the coupling elements work way that the gas-filled surge protective
Coupling elements increase the device is fully activated before the diode
performance of the protective circuit if reaches the performance limit. Once the
a particularly large pulse between two transient is no longer present, the short-
signal wires has to be limited. The surge circuit current is extinguished, as the
voltage from the field side is applied arc burn voltage of the gas-filled surge
to the unprotected side of the surge protective device is higher than the

Signal 1

Signal 1

Signal 2

Signal 2




Fig. 74: Basic circuit for applications with common reference potential, Fig. 75: Basic circuit for applications with common reference potential,
directly grounded indirectly grounded

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.4.2 Function-monitored device series. Here the signal is also

protection displayed visually and made available via
a floating contact as a remote warning Thanks to this system, the user
The PLUGTRAB PT-IQ protective signal. Via this floating contact, the knows the status of their system
device system (Fig. 77) is an especially status of the SPDs can be forwarded via at any time, regardless of location.
convenient solution. The SPDs monitor the various transmission media (bus or The devices are available with
themselves, thanks to an intelligent wireless systems). screw terminal blocks or with
monitoring system. They report the a Push-in connection. Another
respective function status. For this version is suitable for use in Ex i
purpose there are LED indicators on circuits.
the protective plug in green, yellow, and
red. Yellow indicates that the protective
device is reaching the end of its service
life. Yellow means that the protective
function is still fully guaranteed. This
early warning indicator enables the
replacement to be planned at an early
stage. A replacement is recommended
and must be carried out when the red
LED lights up at the latest.
A pluggable signal and supply bus runs
along the DIN rail, thereby minimizing
wiring effort. The protective modules
receive the supply voltage from this
and report their status to the central
controller at the start of the protective Fig. 77: PT-IQ protective device system with function status display

Fig. 78: Coupled surge voltages on signal lines in a sewage works

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.4.3 Protection in the field and

Field Control center
the control center

In most cases, transient overvoltages
arise on signal lines due to indirect
couplings. Systems that are particularly

at risk are those that are very extensive
and those that have high numbers of
lines laid through the free-standing area
(LPZ 0) (strong meshing) (Fig. 78).
Be aware that the hazards must be
made clear at both end points of the Fig. 79: Surge protection in the field and the control center
lines. It is therefore recommended
that the surge protection is taken into
account both in the field as well as in applies to surge protective devices that such applications, take note of the
the control center (Fig. 79). are used in these types of application. corresponding approval.
Systems often contain signal circuits
Today's requirements with Ex i protection (intrinsic safety) Zone 0
The surge protection products that according to IEC/EN 60079-11. A circuit Area in which a hazardous explosive gas
are mounted on a DIN rail often, is described as intrinsically safe if the atmosphere is present for continuous,
in line with today's state-of-the-art current and voltage are limited to such frequent or long periods. These
technology, have an installed, galvanic an extent that no spark or thermal conditions are usually present inside
conductive base contact that is designed effect can cause a potentially explosive containers, pipelines, apparatus, and
to discharge the transients to ground. atmosphere to ignite. No special tanks.
This means that the connection to the authorization (e.g., fire certificate)
equipotential bonding on the DIN rail is required for the maintenance of Zone 1
can be made to ground. For installation intrinsically safe circuits. The cables Area in which a hazardous explosive
in the field, special designs are available of the intrinsically safe circuits can be gas atmosphere is to be expected only
that can be directly attached to the short circuited or interrupted without occasionally during normal operation.
threaded screws on the measuring having to de-energize the system. On This includes the immediate area
transducers or actuators. The protective top of this, the equipment may be surrounding zone 0, as well as areas
circuits are enclosed in a stable metal installed in EX zone 0, depending on close to filling and emptying equipment.
housing and have an IP protection class the respective protection level. If surge
which enables direct use in open areas. protective devices are to be used in
In this case, the discharge to ground
takes place via the local equipotential
bonding connection on the field device.
Certified protective devices
for potentially explosive areas
6.4.4 Surge protection
in explosion-proof areas With the PLUGTRAB,
Explosive atmospheres can frequently product ranges, Phoenix Contact
occur in the chemical and petrochemical provides solutions that have ATEX
industries due to industrial processes. approval according to directive
They are caused, for example, by gases, 94/9/EC and that can be installed
fumes or vapors. Explosive atmospheres in intrinsically safe circuits up to
are also likely to occur in mills, silos, and Zone 1.
sugar and fodder factories due to the
dust present there. Therefore, electrical
devices in potentially explosive areas are Fig. 80: Surge protection for direct mounting on
subject to special directives. This also field devices, SURGETRAB

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Zone 2
Area in which a hazardous, explosive
gas atmosphere is not expected during
normal operation; however if it does Zone 2
occur, it is only for a short time.
Zone 2 includes areas that are used
exclusively for storage, areas around pipe
connections that can be disconnected, Zone 1
and generally the intermediate area
surrounding Zone 1.

6.4.5 Lightning protection

Zone 0
equipotential bonding for
A long service life is vital for the cost-
effective operation of pipelines. Active
corrosion protection systems are used
to protect against rust. These require
the metal pipes to be insulated against Fig. 81: Zone division based on the example of a liquid tank with fill level sensor
ground potential for operation.
In order to protect the pipe insulation
(coating) and the insulating flanges
against damage caused by surge voltages,
isolating spark gaps are used (Fig. 83).
If a surge voltage occurs, for example
due to a lightning strike, the isolating
spark gap becomes low-resistance. The
lightning current is discharged to ground
via a specific route, thereby ensuring
lightning protection equipotential

Fig. 82: Typical area of application: gas compression station Fig. 83: Installation example based on an
insulated flange

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.5 Protection of signal transmission circuits in information technology

Communication via data networks is gas- filled surge protective devices. Where to Cat. 6 and Cat. 7, and in the future
a part of daily life in all areas of the required by the circuit technology, ohmic will work according to Cat. 8.1 or
company. resistors decouple the two protection Cat. 8.2.
The interfaces operate with low signal stages. Protective devices with RJ45
levels at high frequencies. This makes connection, where all eight signal paths
them particularly sensitive to surge 6.5.1 Ethernet and token ring are protected, are universally suited to
voltages and can lead to the destruction interface the Ethernet, Profinet, and token ring
of electronic components in IT systems. interfaces.
In addition to protection that is tailored The architecture or structure of a
to these systems, SPDs must also exhibit network installation and the type of Power over Ethernet (PoE)
high-quality signal transmission behavior, data transfer between the terminals in Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a process
as otherwise malfunctions are to be the data network are referred to as the in which the auxiliary energy for the
expected in the data transmission. This topology. connected devices is also transmitted via
aspect is becoming ever more important In local networks, they have been the Ethernet data cable.
in the face of constantly increasing data tried and tested as bus, ring, and star The auxiliary power is either applied
transmission rates. To this end, when topologies that can also be combined. to the unused wire pair (mode b, Fig.
developing new SPDs for IT systems, To transmit information in data networks, 86) or is supplied between the signal
the focus is on implementing high-quality twisted pair or fiber optics are used. wire pairs as phantom power (mode A,
signal transmission behavior. It is Fig. 85). In line with IEEE 802.3af, a
evaluated based on the ISO/IEC 11801 Data transmission requirements maximum power of 13.5 W can be
or EN 50173 standards. Ethernet and token ring interfaces transmitted using this procedure. The
Furthermore, in this area of have been used for years. Ethernet following IEEE 802.3at standard already
application, a wide range of connection systems have prevailed, however, due to enables 25.5 W with PoE. POE++ is
technology is encountered. For their transmission speed and compact being debated, with which even higher
this reason the protective devices connectors. The transmission behavior transmission capacities will be able to be
must correspond to the electrical of the Ethernet system is defined in achieved.
specifications and also be adapted to standard IEEE 802.3. The transmission
the interfaces to be protected. The SPD speed is up to 10 Gbps. 6.5.2 Serial interfaces
versions often differ only in their design The transmission speed (Table 5.1.1a)
and connection technology. is defined according to the power Serial interfaces are used to exchange
The protective circuits usually categories (Cat. 5 - Cat. 7). data between computers and peripheral
combine fast-responding, low-capacitive New systems with a higher devices. In the event of serial data
suppressor diodes with powerful, transmission frequency work according transmission, the bits are transmitted

1 2 3 6 OUT 4 5 7 8
The DT-LAN-CAT.6+ protective
device optimally protects sensitive
equipment, as quickly reacting
protective components are used
for the data cabling as well as for
the PoE system.

1 2 3 6 IN 4 5 7 8

Fig. 84: DT-LAN-Cat.6+ - SPD for information technology

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

Area of application Category Mbps Cable Connection

100 Base TX LAN, structured RJ45, pair: 1-2, 3-6, or

5 100 2 - 4-pair twisted pair
(Fast Ethernet) building cabling 4-5, 7-8

1000Base T LAN, structured RJ45, pair:

5e, 6 1000 4-pair twisted pair
(GIGABIT Ethernet) building cabling 1-2, 3-6, + 4-5, 7-8

10 GBase T LAN, structured RJ45, pair:

6a 10,000 4-pair twisted pair
(GIGABIT Ethernet) building cabling 1-2, 3-6, + 4-5, 7-8

10 GBase T LAN, structured RJ45, pair:

7 10,000 4-pair twisted pair
(GIGABIT Ethernet) building cabling 1-2, 3-6, + 4-5, 7-8

Table 10: Transmission speed vs. performance categories

receive signal are each transmitted via a
66 pair of signal wires. In addition, a ground
7 is routed as a reference potential, so
50 V 50 V that defined voltage conditions prevail at
up to 57 V 8
up to 57
(30 W) V (30 W)
4 the connected interfaces.
1 5
TTY interface
2 The TTY interface works serially and
symmetrically via two signal wire pairs.
Fig. 85: Transmission of auxiliary power by means Fig. 86: Transmission of auxiliary power by means When a signal voltage of up to 24 V
of phantom supply (mode A) of phantom supply (mode B) occurs, a current signal is analyzed.
Here, 10 – 30 mA is the logical 1 and
0 – 1 mA the logical 0. Standard data
over a cable (in series), one after the D-SUB attachment plugs for DIN transmission rates are 9.6 kbps or
other. Particularly common are: rail mounting or DIN rail modules with 19.2 kbps.
screw terminal blocks are frequently
RS-485 and PROFIBUS interfaces used as protective devices.
The RS-485 serial interface is used on
the Intel bitbus and is closely related V.24 interface
to the RS-422. This symmetrical data The V.24 or RS-232 serial interface
transmission generally functions via a works with an asymmetrical signal
pair of signal wires. Versions with two transmission. One transmit and one
pairs of signal wires and a ground are receive signal each have a common
also used. reference potential (ground). In
In older systems, the signal voltage of addition, up to five control signals can
this interface amounts to ground -7 V be transmitted. This yields a maximum
and +12 V. In newer systems, a version of eight active signals including ground.
with TTL level, e.g., +/- 5 V is used. Connection is usually via D-SUB 25,
The PROFIBUS interface is a further D-SUB 9 or screw terminal blocks.
development of the RS-485 interface.
It uses the physical characteristics of V.11 interface
the RS-485, but with transmission rates The V.11 or RS-422 serial interface
of up to 12 Mbps. These interfaces are works on the basis of symmetrical signal
used for other applications in the time transmission. The transmission path
and machine data acquisition device field. can be up to 1000 m. The transmit and

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.6 Protection of signal transmission circuits in telecommunications

Telecommunication end devices the three-electrode gas discharge Analog telecommunications
are today an inherent part of office tubes are equipped with thermal
electronics. Today, unrestricted protection. Common interfaces in Today, analog telecommunication is only
operational availability of modern, fast telecommunications are: found in simple telephone connections.
communication systems is an absolute Protective devices for this should have
necessity, especially in the business xDSL interface nominal voltages of 180 V. Generally,
sector. The specific use of suitable DSL interfaces (digital subscriber DSL protective devices (Fig. 87) can also
surge protective devices can prevent line) provide Internet connections be used for analog telecommunication.
the sudden and unforeseen failure with speeds of 1 Mbps (ADSL) up to
of important telecommunications 100 Mbps (VDSL). The transmission
equipment. Suitable protective devices frequency is between 2.2 MHz and
for DSL data transmission and for analog 17.7 MHz. The nominal voltage for the
signal interfaces are available. protective circuit on suitable protective
The protective circuit is mainly devices depends on whether a DC
made up of a combination of Trisil supply is also transmitted. Typical
diodes and powerful, gas-filled surge nominal voltage values for applications
protective devices. The gas-filled surge are:
protective devices are designed as • Without power supply: < 24 V DC
three-electrode gas discharge tubes. • With power supply: ≥ 110 V DC
The central electrode provides common When compared internationally, the
mode voltage protection on the transmission frequency in the DSL range
ground. Where required by the circuit can vary by some 100 kHz depending on
technology, ohmic resistors decouple the the region. For this reason, their cut-off
two protection stages. frequency should be taken into account
To protect against voltages from the when selecting a protective device.
power supply network (power cross)

RJ 45

RJ 12
RJ 45
RJ 11
RJ 12

RJ 11


The DT-TELE-RJ45 protective

Aa 2 3 4 2 3 4 Aa
 device protects fast VDSL

connections with its very low
Ab 3 4 5 3 4 5 Ab attenuation. Thanks to the
unprotected protected
universal connection technology
Ba 1 2 3 1 2 3 Ba
 (RJ45, RJ12, RJ11, and pluggable

screw connection) the product is
Bb 4 5 6 4 5 6 Bb ideal for any application.

Fig 87: DT-TELE-RJ45 - SPD for telecommunications systems

The basics of surge protection | Areas of application

6.7 Protection of signal transmission circuits in transceiver systems

Transceiver systems are generally advantage in this technology is achieving to sport and leisure facilities. The
considered to be particularly susceptible a very good (low) voltage protection permanent availability of this monitoring
to surge voltages. level, as the protective device functions equipment requires suitable surge
Antenna cables which extend beyond as a short circuit in the frequency range protective devices. As a general rule,
the building and are generally particularly of surge voltages. However, it must be coaxial attachment plugs are used as
long, as well as the antennas themselves, taken into account that the cable that is protective devices, with BNC or TNC
are directly exposed to atmospheric connected to the Lambda/4-protective connectors.
discharges. For this reason, cables device cannot use a DC power supply.
with a coaxial structure and therefore Relatively wide bandwidth signals Radio link and mobile phone
favorable EMC properties are used. The (e.g., 0.8 – 2.25 GHz) can be transmitted
shield of the antenna cable can be either by means of HF-optimized Lambda/4 Radio link technology enables wireless
grounded or floating, depending on the protective devices. Fig. 88 shows a transmission of data. The radio waves
system conditions. However, the risk of typical design of a protective device with produced are transmitted in multiplex
surge voltage coupling in antenna cables Lambda/4 technology. mode using panel antennas with a carrier
is not completely eliminated. Surge The most common applications for SPDs frequency of between 1 and 40 GHz.
voltages can even reach the sensitive in telecommunications are: Common types of antennas are parabolic
interfaces of transceiver systems via this reflectors, shell antennas, and horn
cable path. Antenna connection of television antennas. The nominal frequencies of
and radio receivers
The high frequencies of wireless useful signals in this range are between
transmission require the use of The protective devices for radio and 0.8 GHz and 2.7 GHz. N, SMA or 7/16
protective devices with low self- television devices are generally mounted connectors are used as the connection
capacitance or low insertion loss with between the antenna wall connection technology for the protective devices.
good impedance matching. Nevertheless, and the outgoing antenna cable. For
a good level of protection is required satellite receivers, there are multi-
with high discharge capacity. For this channel protective devices for wall
reason, most protective devices are mounting. Broadband cable and antenna
equipped with powerful gas-filled surge connections generally have TV and RF
protective devices or with the Lambda/4 connectors according to DIN 45 325.
technology. The Lambda/4 technology Satellite receivers are connected via F
uses a short circuit between the inner connectors.
conductor and the shield. The length
of the cable between the short circuit Video communication
and the inner conductor matches The applications in video communication
the frequency that is allowed to pass extend from monitoring buildings,
through without attenuation. A great public areas, and institutes right through

Using the CN-LAMBDA/4-2.25
protective device, the widest
range of transmission systems
can be actively protected in the
λ/4 GHz range. This is achieved by
means of a broadband LAMBDA/4

Fig. 88: CN-LAMBDA/4 - protective device with Lambda/4 technology

The basics of surge protection | Glossary

7 Glossary

ATEX current parameter values with regard Nominal discharge current (In)
ATEX is a widely used synonym for the to probability, whereby the largest and Peak value of the current flowing
ATEX directive issued by the European smallest measured values in the event through the SPD with pulse shape
Union. The ATEX designation is derived of naturally occurring strikes cannot be (8/20 μs). The pulse shape (8/20 μs) of
from the French abbreviation for exceeded and the strikes can be safely a surge current is characteristic of the
“atmosphères explosibles”. discharged. Lightning Protection Level effects of an indirect lightning strike or
I thereby corresponds to the highest switching operation. The value of the
Binary signals measured values and the greatest nominal discharge current is used for
By binary signals, we mean digital signals probability of capturing a strike. The a variety of tests on an SPD, including
that only take on the state of “high” or values decrease accordingly, down to those used to determine the voltage
“low”. Generally, these signals relate to a Lightning Protection Level IV. protection level. Depending on the
common reference potential or a shared Lightning Protection Level assigned
return conductor. Lightning protection system to a lightning protection system, the
System consisting of interception rods, SPDs must have minimum values that
Dielectric strength protective devices, and grounding system correspond to this value.
Insulation strength of the electrical externally, as well as equipotential
circuits of a piece of equipment when bonding system and coordinated SPD Nominal load current (IL)
compared to withstand and surge system within the structural system Maximum r.m.s. value of the nominal
voltages with amplitudes above the to protect against damage caused by current, which allows a connected ohmic
maximum continuous voltage. surge voltages and surge currents from load to flow to one of the protected
lightning strikes. outputs of the SPD. This maximum
EMC value is specified by the parts carrying
EMC stands for electromagnetic Lightning protection zone operational current within the SPDs;
compatibility, the capacity of an A zone in which the electromagnetic these must be able to withstand the
apparatus, plant or system to work environment is determined with regard continuous thermal current load.
satisfactorily in an electromagnetic to risk of lightning. All the (supply) lines
environment, without causing that cross zone limits must be included Nominal voltage (UN)
electromagnetic interference itself that in the lightning protection equipotential The nominal value of the voltage of the
would be unacceptable for the apparatus, bonding by means of corresponding current or signal circuit based on the
plants or system in this setting. SPDs. The zone limits of a lightning zone use envisaged for the SPDs. The nominal
are not necessarily physical limits (e.g., voltage stated for an SPD corresponds
Gas discharge tube, GDT walls, floor or ceiling). to the system voltage of the typical SPD
Gas-filled surge protective device installation site for a standard three-
Lightning protection zone, LPZ phase system, e.g., 230/400 V AC. Lower
Insertion loss Lightning protection zone system voltages can also be protected by
The attenuation value is defined as the the SPD. In the event of higher system
ratio of voltages that occur immediately Maximum continuous voltage (Uc) voltages, it must be decided on a case-
before and after the insertion point of Maximum r.m.s. value of the voltage that to-case basis as to whether the SPD can
the protective device to be tested. The can continuously be applied to the mode be used and if there are restrictions to
result is expressed in decibels. of protection of the SPDs. The maximum observe.
continuous voltage must be at least 10%
Lightning Protection Level higher than the value of the nominal Off-load voltage (UOC)
A regulatory division of lightning voltage. In systems with greater voltage Off-load voltage of the hybrid generator
protection systems into classes I to IV, fluctuations, SPDs with a greater difference at the terminal points of the SPD. A
which are based on a set of lightning between UC and UN must be used. hybrid generator creates a combined

The basics of surge protection | Glossary

surge; e.g., in off-load, it supplies a capacity indicates the prospective r.m.s. TVS
voltage pulse with a defined pulse shape, value of the short-circuit current at TVS stands for Transient Voltage
generally (1.2/50 μs), and in a short the installation location of a voltage- Supressor.
circuit, a current pulse with a defined switching SPD, up to which the SPD Overvoltage categoryDivision of
pulse shape, generally (8/20 μs). The once again transitions into a high ohmic equipment into categories I to IV
combined surge is characteristic of the state if the maximum Uc continuous depending on their surge voltage
effects of an induced surge voltage. voltage is being independently applied resistance. Overvoltage category
Depending on the protection class due to a surge current, without I corresponds to the lowest value
assigned to a lightning protection system, triggering an upstream overcurrent and consists of particularly sensitive
the SPDs must have minimum values that protective device. (end) devices. These values increase
correspond to this value. accordingly, up to overvoltage category
Short-circuit withstand capability IV. The values for the individual
Overcurrent protective device, (ISCCR) categories also depend on the voltage
OCPD Maximum uninfluenced short-circuit level of the power supply system.
Overcurrent protective device current of the electrical network, for
which the SPD is rated in conjunction Voltage protection level (Up)
Power over Ethernet, PoE with the upstream overcurrent Maximum voltage that can occur on the
Power over Ethernet is a process in protective device. The short-circuit connection terminal blocks of the SPD
which the auxiliary energy for the withstand capability indicates up to while loaded with a pulse of specific
connected devices is also transmitted via which prospective short-circuit current voltage steepness and a discharge surge
the Ethernet data cable. the SPD can be used at the installation current of specified amplitude and wave
location. The corresponding tests form. This value characterizes the surge
Pulse discharge current (Iimp) to determine this value are carried voltage protective effect of the SPD. In
Peak value of the current flowing out in connection with the upstream the event of a surge voltage phenomenon
through the SPD with pulse shape overcurrent protective device. In the within the performance parameters of
(10/350 μs). The pulse shape (10/350 event that the special surge protective the SPDs, the voltage is safely limited to
μs) of a surge current is characteristic devices for PV systems correspond to a maximum of this value at the protected
of the effects of a direct lightning the value ISCPV, this is the max. direct connections of the SPD.
strike. The value of the pulse discharge current short-circuit current of a system
current is used for special SPD tests up to which the the SPD may be used.
to demonstrate carrying capacity with
regard to high-energy lightning currents. Surge current
According to the Lightning Protection A pulse-shaped current that is
Level assigned to a lightning protection characterized by a significant rise in
system, the SPDs must have minimum current within a short period of time.
values that correspond to this value. Typical pulse shapes are (8/20 μs), with
which the voltage-limiting behavior of
Safe Energy Control technology, SPDs can be checked, and (10/350 μs),
SEC technology
with which the lightning current capacity
Technology for SPDs for protecting the of the SPDs can be tested.
power supply. SPDs with SEC technology
are characterized by the following: Surge protective device, SPD
• Impact-free and durable Surge protective device
• Backup-fuse-free solution for every
application Surge voltage
• Compact and consistent pluggable A pulse-shaped voltage that is characterized
design by a significant rise in voltage within a
short period of time. A typical pulse shape
Sequential current extinguishing is (1.2/50 μs). The response behavior of
capacity (Ifi) SPDs or the surge voltage resistance of
The sequential current extinguishing equipment can also be tested with this.

The basics of surge protection | Glossary

The basics of surge protection | References

8 References

[1] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-1 - Lightning protection -

Part 1: General principles. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
[2] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-2 - Lightning protection -
Part 2: Risk management. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
[3] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-3 - Lightning protection -
Part 3: Physical damage to structures and life hazard. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
[4] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 62305-4 - Lightning protection -
Part 4: Protection against lightning. Electrical and electronic systems within structures. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH,
[5] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 60364-4-44 - Low-voltage electrical installations -
Part 4-44: Protection for safety - Protection against voltage disturbances and electromagnetic disturbances.
s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2007.
[6] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61643-11 - Surge protective devices connected to low-voltage
power systems - requirements and test methods. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2011.
[7] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61643-21 - Surge protective devices connected to
telecommunications and signaling networks  - Performance requirements and testing methods. s.l. : VDE Verlag
GmbH, 2000.
[8] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61643-31 - Low-voltage surge protective devices – requirements
and tests for surge protective devices to be used in photovoltaic installations. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2015.
[9] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 60664-1 - Insulation coordination for equipment within low-voltage
systems - Part 1: Principles, requirements, and tests. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2007.
[10] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 60364-1 - Low-voltage electrical installations -
Part 1: Fundamental principles, assessment of general characteristics, definitions. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2005.
[11] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 60364-5-53 - Electrical installations of buildings -
Part 5: Selection and erection of electrical equipment;
Section 53: Switchgear and control. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2002.
[12] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 60364-4-43 - Low-voltage electrical installations -
Part 4-43: Protection for safety - Protection against overcurrent. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2008.
[13] European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization. CLC/TS 50539-12 - Low-voltage surge protective devices
connected to photovoltaic installations - Selection and application principles. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2013.
[14] Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG. TRABTECH surge protection - user manual for specialist electrical planners.
[15] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61643-12 - Surge protective devices connected to low-voltage
power systems - Selection and application principles. s.l. : VDE Verlag GmbH, 2010.
[16] International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC 61643-22 - Low-voltage surge protective devices - Surge protective
devices connected to telecommunications and signaling - Selection and application principles. s.l. : VDE Verlag
GmbH, 2007.

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