Mitigating the Risk of Lightning

Mitigating the Risk of Lightning


Video length: 4:23 3 minute read


Hello, I’m Bobby Mason, CEO, SPOC Automation. I’m here today for my Two-Minute Drive to talk to you a little bit about surge and transient voltage protection.

Now, it happens to be National Lightning Awareness Week, and with that, we have hundreds of people each year injured; we average 30 fatalities a year, due to lightning. We need to correct that, and awareness is key.

So, please do yourself a favor, do your teammates a favor at your organization — go indoors when there are lightning storms. Sixty-four percent of those fatalities happened outside in open areas. Guess what? One hundred percent of your equipment is out there in those open areas. So, we need to protect that equipment in a staged approach. And this is what we highly recommend.

The first stage is to have your electrical contractor install lightning arresters at the pole. Stage two, you need secondary surge suppression at the automation equipment; we happen to install that on every single drive we manufacture. If you do not buy our equipment, if you use another manufacturer’s equipment, you need to specify with that manufacturer that you want secondary surge suppression on your drive equipment. I even recommend that you install it or retrofit it into your field equipment that’s existing. It’s a very inexpensive insurance policy.

Stage three is something called a line reactor and that goes between your incoming power and the variable speed drive. It sits in the middle. It physically looks like a transformer, but it is not a transformer. It acts like the bumper on your car; that bumper absorbs the impact. Well, that line reactor absorbs a lot of the transient voltages and spikes on your power side before it gets into the electronics of the drive.

The fourth stage would be the interposing relay. It’s been around a long time. It’s a great device and it goes between the automation equipment in your drive and the field devices, the digital inputs from your beam switches, from pressure switches, from all those different instrumentation points on your process. You want that interposing relay in the middle between the field devices and the boards of your drive.

Because if you don’t have this (interposing relay), you get this (burned up boards). While this (holds up interposing relay) is a fifteen-to-twenty-dollar device, this is a twelve hundred to fifteen-hundred-dollar device (board). Cheapest insurance policy you’ve ever had.

We’ve put over 65,000 units out in the field. We’ve learned some things. We adhere to the highest of engineering principles and practices and we try to make our equipment as robust as humanly possible. Lightning can still take things out.

So, we developed a product called DriveShield that will protect you even if you have a lightning strike. It’s an extended warranty product, offered in a 3-year, 6-year, and 10-year configuration, and it will cover you for lightning and voltage anomalies.

If you’d like more information about that, please visit our website. Contact our aftermarket team or our sales team.

I hope you found this information beneficial. I really hope that you will take lightning awareness seriously, as well as, taking a staged approach to protecting your valuable equipment and processes for your surge protection.

If there’s anything we can do to assist, please let us know. Thank you for your time. Please be safe.

Contact our team

Email (844) 776-2833

A variable frequency drive should only be worked on by QEP certified professionals and only following all corporate, local, state and national regulations.