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Surge voltage, what it is?

In a circuit, a surge is typically defined as a brief wave of current, voltage, or power. The voltage of a power supply is typically 220 Vac, but occasionally it can climb quickly to hundreds or even thousands of volts, generating a surge with a “spike”-shaped waveform. Surges may be brought on by lightning strikes, equipment short circuits, toppled utility poles, and the operation of high-power motors in the grid. Even while the surge only lasts for a few microseconds, it is long enough to harm electrical machinery like street lights.

Various surge types and their effects

Both in nature and in daily life, there are surges. Typical surge voltage duration and magnitude vary from source to source. We’ve divided up the origins of surges below.

Many types of surges

  1. Lightning strikes: Minefields or thunderstorms are frequent occurrences. Because they are located in very open areas, street lights are frequently directly struck by lightning, which has the highest potential for harm of all surges. They frequently create high-amplitude inrush currents and transient overvoltages that can travel over long distances. Even the indirect impacts of lightning strikes can result in surge currents and voltages of tens of thousands of amps and thousands of volts. Possibly though they last only a few hundred microseconds to a few milliseconds, such events have the potential to break installed equipment or even cause equipment failure (including burning, etc).
  2. These surges, which are present in the electrical grid and have an impact on the light fixtures via the power line, are brought on by equipment switching. For instance, surges in the circuit are frequently caused by the daily switching of lighting or the starting and stopping of major equipment. Induced surge voltages may be formed as a result of these switching activities and may spread throughout the supply lines. Very high currents can flow within milliseconds in the case of huge switching currents or short circuits, and these brief fluctuations in current can result in transient overvoltages.
  3. Induced surges: On occasion, electrical sparks are produced by metal equipment within a building while a thundercloud approaches but does not directly strike it. People refer to these phenomena of lightning not directly striking but only perceiving its energy as an “induced surge.” Induced surge is often referred to as induced overvoltage or lightning induction. It is separated into electrostatic induced surge and electromagnetic induced surge based on the generation mechanism. Because the charge on the ground object and the cloud layer are different when the electrocumulus cloud is close to the ground, electrostatic voltage (also known as induced voltage) is created. This discharge then damages the power supply system. Electrical equipment, outdoor luminaires (such as sports lights and street lights), and the power supply system are all affected by the electromagnetic induced surge that results from the tremendous impact of lightning current that creates a fast changing strong magnetic field when lightning discharges.


The two basic categories of surge threats are cumulative and catastrophic.

  • Catastrophic Hazard: Equipment is fully destroyed or has a significantly shortened lifespan if a surge voltage surpasses its ability to withstand it. The insulation voltage of a motor is typically 2 times the standard working voltage plus roughly 1000V, making a 220V motor’s insulation voltage 1500V in most cases. Insulation is continuously hit by power surges, which leads to insulation failure and equipment or bulb failure.
  • Threats from cumulative minor surges include equipment failures, shorter lifespans, and performance deterioration of semiconductor devices. These effects can eventually result in equipment and lighting failures.
Why you need a surge protective device for your luminaire

What distinguishes a common mode surge from a differential mode surge?

Objects situated between the active potential (phase and neutral conductors) and ground potential are at risk from common mode surge voltages. Typically, they are neutral to the ground or line to the earth.

Objects situated between two active potentials are at risk from differential mode surge voltages. They often go from line to line or from line to neutral.

LED drivers are more vulnerable to surges than magnetic ballasts because of their more complicated electrical construction. The LED driver should use a unique surge protection circuit made of a MOV (metal oxide varistor) and a GDT, especially when used outdoors (gas discharge tube). As was mentioned in the previous section, surges typically occur in one of two ways: either through rapid switching between heavy and light loads or on-and-off operation close to a high-power machine, known as differential mode surge, or through lightning, which causes the ground voltage level to fluctuate significantly and causes a surge between the line or neutral point and the ground, known as common mode surge.

How do surge protectors work?

Surge protection should guarantee that the transient voltage won’t harm any terminal equipment, facilities, or equipment. In order to prevent the device’s dielectric strength from being exceeded, a surge protection device (SPD) primarily completes two tasks: minimizing the magnitude of the surge voltage, the surge voltage-related discharge inrush current.

Surge voltages can develop between active conductors as differential-mode voltages or between active conductors and the protective conductor or ground potential as common-mode voltages, as was mentioned in the preceding section. Surge protection devices can be fitted between active conductors that are parallel to the equipment or between active conductors and protective conductors in light of this.

The surge protection device’s resistance will drop quickly when the power line voltage rises abnormally, steering the surge away from the power line of the protected equipment. When the surge is over, it will automatically reset to a high impedance state. A surge can be compared to a flood, and an SPD to a floodgate. The gates are locked during regular times, but when floodwaters are spotted, they open immediately to redirect the water. The equipment is safeguarded because the bulbs and equipment are short-circuited throughout this process, which typically lasts for a few microseconds. Additionally, the short-duration circuit is brief and has little impact on the machinery or lamps. The two primary designs of lightning protection modules operate as shown here.

Standards for testing surge protection devices

There are three test standards for surge protection devices: UL1449, IEC 61643-12, and EN 61643-12 (both for Europe) (USA). Surge protection devices are often categorized based on performance values, according to the level of protection and area of usage, and in accordance with the applicable product standards. In EN61643-12 and IEC 61643-12, words are defined together with general standards and test procedures for surge protective equipment. Similarly, there are rules for this for UL1449 as well. Here, we go over the surge test content covered by IEC 61643-12.

Residual current

When performing this test, the SPD must be connected in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and the voltage setting must be changed to the reference test voltage (U REF ).

Voltage limiting measurement

The following three tests are part of it. Voltage waveforms of 1.2/50 s, 8/20 s, and 10/350 s.

  • Tested residual voltage for TYPE 1 SPD and TYPE 2 SPD under an 8/20-second current wave
  • Sparkover voltage for Type 1 SPD and Type 2 SPD with switching components: front-of-wave 1.2/50 s
  • For TYPE 3 SPD, voltage can be limited using a combination wave (a wave that combines 1.2/50 voltage wave and 8/20 current wave).
Test of operating duties

When the SPD is energized by the AC mains at the maximum continuous operating voltage Uc during this test, the operating conditions of the SPD are mimicked by applying a predetermined number of predetermined pulses to the SPD.

Disconnectors and the safety capabilities of SPDs under stress

These tests cover thermal stability, short-circuit current behavior, and additional testing for the failure mode simulation of the SPD.

Practical surge protection device provided by Yibai LED Lighting

Useful surge protection apparatus

On the market, there are many different SPD producers. Therefore, extra consideration should be given to the following factors when selecting a surge protection system.

  • A good surge protection device should undergo testing in accordance with the specifications of UL 1449 or IEC 61643-12.
  • Since SPDs are frequently concealed in difficult-to-reach locations, such as inside of lamps, it is impossible to tell if they have been harmed by lightning strikes. In the event of a problem, the lights can be unplugged from the circuit so that electricians can fix it. This solution is provided by Yibai LED Lighting upon request.
  • A SPD with a higher IP rating ought to be chosen if there is humidity or dust present. Alternately, high-quality IP luminaires are promised for the luminaires.
  • The protective class (Class I or Class II) of the luminaire must be considered by the SPD. Class I and Class II solutions are provided by Yibai LED Lighting.
  • The protection of the control unit, such as DALI, second (control) phase, 1-10v or DMX, might be taken into consideration in addition to the 230v power supply’s protection. For these luminaires, an SPD that combines AC and control is excellent since it typically offers greater coordinated protection than two different SPDs.
Yibai LED Lighting Solution

Outdoor LED lighting fixtures require surge protectors just like our home’s appliances and PCs do in the event of lightning or storms. Electronic noise must be avoided because LED bulbs use delicate electronic components (Surge). However, because these outdoor LED bulbs are positioned in challenging outside electrical conditions, it is necessary to preserve these delicate electronic components to prevent early failures. Various surge Class I and Class II, 10KV and 20KV, with various specifications are available from Yibai LED Lighting to fulfill your project’s needs. The Yibai LED Lighting surge is being tested concurrently by TUV, and the test standard is IEC 61643. For you to verify, we can give you the surge certificate and report so you may use our SPD with confidence.

Yibai LED Floodlight with SPD

Our baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, football fields, and other outdoor spaces all enjoy fantastic nighttime lighting thanks to LED floodlights. A court typically has several high-wattage floodlights, so these lamps are also susceptible to anomalous voltage as these court lights are frequently at high exterior heights (high poles) (surge and induced voltage). To better safeguard your lighting system, Yibai LED lighting floodlights and stadium lights frequently have surge protectors installed. The stadium can provide players and spectators with a positive experience if failures are reduced. Additionally, it helps lower the stadium’s maintenance costs, making it a wise choice for service providers.

Yibai LED Street Light with SPD

Our streets, parking lots, cities, and parks may now be lit more effectively and with long-lasting LED lights. Surge protection devices are included in Yibai LED Lighting’s street and garden lights, giving them an unheard-ofly high level of lighting performance. Our LED luminaires are shielded from strong energy discharges thanks to them. We are unable to comprehend the huge failure risk that a luminaire may have on a power distribution network that is impacted by lightning strikes or heavy machinery turning on and off without surge protectors.


I hope that after reading this post, you have a basic grasp of how surges happen, how they are classified, how surge protection devices work, and how surge protectors safeguard LED lighting. The advantages of LED technology make it quite common among many forms of lighting. However, since replacing or installing new LED lighting entails a considerable cost, we must carefully consider what level of protection is needed. To prevent harm to LED power supply and LED modules, we think surge protection devices are crucial. Depending on your goals, you can install surge protection devices in series or parallel. We hope that this post has provided you with some tips for selecting surge-protected outdoor lighting (including street lights, flood lights, and stadium lights). For further information, get in touch with us via [email protected]

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