Getting Started with Surge Protection

Getting Started with Surge ProtectionEvery commercial, industrial and residential facility relies on electrical and electronic equipment to perform their everyday functions. Learning how to properly protect these systems is essential to equipment reliability and longevity.

A common misconception about power surges is that electrical and electronic devices are only at risk during extreme weather and lightning storms, but power surges happen all the time without warning – and usually without us even noticing! According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, lightning strikes account for just two percent of all surge damage. That means that 98 percent of the damage is done by the hundreds of power surges that are mostly unnoticed every day.

These surges can be the result of something as simple as your air conditioner cycling on or off, or someone using a welder in a neighboring building. They could also be caused by something much farther away - for example, when electrical power plants are connected and disconnected from the grid, which happens frequently as power needs change during the course of a day. They can be caused by equipment failures, and by human error during maintenance and repair activities.

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How to Protect Electronics from an Aging Power Grid

Aging Power InfrastructureA recent federal initiative to improve America's aging infrastructure offers a glimmer of hope for a national electrical grid that a University of Pennsylvania lecturer once described as "a third-world electricity system."1 More than 3,100 electrical energy providers serve nearly 150 million customers in the contiguous 48 states.2 The grid switching required to meet shifts in demand makes the entire system vulnerable to electrical power disruptions, surges, and spikes.

Because much of the electrical distribution system is outdoors, environmental disruptions also play a role. These include direct and indirect lightning activity, wind-induced contacts with trees and vegetation, and downed poles from car accidents or rockslides. For example, in 2003, an unexpected contact between a distribution line and a tree resulted in a total blackout of Southeastern Canada and eight Northeastern states.3 Fortunately most disruptions aren't nearly as severe.



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Protect PoE Devices from Power Surges and Other Disruptions

Outdoor PoE CamerasPower over Ethernet (PoE) has made installing equipment in remote locations convenient and affordable. One single Ethernet cable can deliver both DC power and data to low power PoE-enabled equipment, including IP security cameras, network access points and switches, and building access controls.

PoE was originally developed for IP phone systems and delivered only 7W of power. Over time, the technology has improved and can now accommodate up to 90 watts / 57 volts. PoE eliminates the need for additional (and more dangerous) A/C power wire runs to end-point devices.

Outdoor PoE devices are exposed to weather-related surges

While most Ethernet cable is relegated for indoor use, more and more outdoor systems are utilizing PoE due to its ease of installation and operation. The downside is this exposes PoE devices to the risk of power surges or spikes caused by weather conditions, including lightning strikes and other disruptions.

Like any electronic system, PoE devices and their internal components operate within specific current and voltage ratings. Excess current or voltage can damage delicate internal components.


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Fire Protection and Prevention Innovations

Fire Alarm PanelFire safety technology has certainly evolved over the last 125 years since the first automatic fire alarm system was patented and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was launched. While innovation in the fire industry can be slow and sometimes plodding, it seems that external forces more than technology advancement has driven the development of new solutions and products. With the spiderweb of varying state fire codes and regulations, evolving infrastructures and construction mandates featuring a growing emphasis on LEED compliant and green building certification programs, innovative fire protection technology has had to adapt to the growing complexities of the world.

Innovative Smart Technologies Emerge

As “smart” technologies expand across the Internet of Things (IoT) landscape, advanced smart devices are transforming the way security and fire safety professionals approach building design and fire suppression and prevention methods. Smart devices transcend the abilities of simple connected devices, which simply share data directly with other devices on the network. The smart devices take connectivity well beyond enabling them to run myriad sensors, microprocessors, APIs, software and storage options across an embedded operating system.

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The Importance of Whole-House Protection

Whole House Surge ProtectionBusiness is booming for installers of residential electronic systems like burglar alarms, video security systems, audio/video systems, HVAC and data networks. The market for these technologies is growing in both dollar volume and sophistication.

Still, for installation contractors, your competent and efficient work may not be enough to be successful anymore. Building a lasting and respected business depends on consistently delighting customers – and few things ruin customer satisfaction faster or more completely than callbacks for malfunctioning or nonfunctioning systems.

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