Effects of Transient Voltage

Transient activity is believed to account for 80% of all electrically-related downtime.

Lightning accounts for at least 5% of insurance claims and costs an average of $13,000 per
occurrence.  Effective transient voltage suppression equipment can double or triple the life of electrical and electronic equipment.  A systems approach to transient voltage surge suppression can result in dramatic performance in terms of return-on-investment.

Transient Voltage Surge Suppression is the most immediately apparent, and the most cost-effective means of improving your power quality.

Electronic Equipment

Electronic devices may operate erratically.  Equipment could lock up or produce garbled results.  These types of disruptions may be difficult to diagnose because improper specification and installation of transient voltage surge suppression equipment can actually INCREASE the incidents of failure as described above.

Electronic devices may operate at decreased efficiency.  Damage is not readily seen and can result in early failure of affected devices.  Unusually high frequency of failures in electronic power supplies are the most common symptom.

Integrated circuits (sometimes called “electronic chips”) may fail immediately or fail prematurely.  Most of the time this type of failure is attributed to “age of the equipment”.  Modern electronic devices provided clean, filtered power should outlast the mechanical devices they control.


Motors will run at higher temperatures when transient voltages are present.  Transients can interrupt the normal timing of the motor and result in “micro-jogging”.  This type of disruption produces motor vibration, noise, and excessive heat.  Motor winding insulation is degraded and eventually fails.  Motors can become degraded by transient activity to the point that they produce transients continually which accelerates the failure of other equipment that is commonly connected in the facility’s electrical distribution system.

Transients produce hysteresis losses in motors that increase the amount of current necessary to operate the motor.  Transients can cause early failures of electronic motor drives and controls.


Transient activity causes early failure of all types of lights.  Fluorescent systems suffer early failure of ballasts, reduced operating efficiencies, and early bulb failures.  One of the most common indicators of transient activity is the premature appearance of black “rings” at the ends of the tubes.  Transients which are of sufficient magnitude will cause a sputtering of the anodes–when these sputters deposit on the insides of the tube, the result is the black “ends” commonly seen.  Incandescent lights fail because of premature filament failures.  The same hysteresis losses produced in motors are reproduced in transformers.  The results of these losses include hotter operating temperatures, and increased current draws.  Do you want to see a graphic illustration of the results of transient activity on fluorescent tubes?  Look at the ends of your tubes…..see those dark rings?  Effective transient suppression will eliminate those rings and make your bulbs last 4 to 6 times longer.

Electrical Distribution Equipment

The facility’s electrical distribution system is also affected by transient activity.  Transients degrade the contacting surfaces of switches, disconnects, and circuit breakers.  Intense transient activity can produce “nuisance tripping” of breakers by heating the breaker and “fooling” it into reacting to a non-existent current demand.  Electrical transformers are forced to operate inefficiently because of the hysteresis losses produced by transients and can run hotter than normal.

How quickly and how much damage is done is related to two factors…how much equipment is in the facility that produces transient activity, and how active this equipment is.

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