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ZAP! You Didn't See the Lights Blink

When speaking to customers over many years they've often exclaimed, "we didn't see the lights blink!" Some folks don't even know that their power is synchronized. Too late and too bad, power line influences don't mean that you will see the lights blinks. That is a myth.We were having a week of rain and thunderstorms and yes, we get interesting calls for help and it's not always the customer doing something loopy. It's a sad fact that many sites we visit lack adequate protection and proper installation and grounding practices. One thing I have noticed recently is that the insurance industry is wising up--now they ask appropriate questions whenever there is a claim for lightning or power damage.

Do you have TVSS (transient voltage surge suppression) installed? If so, where? What are the manufacturers and model numbers of the devices? How do you know you have power damage? These icebreakers will get you in or out of trouble and hopefully your manufacturer will live up to the claim for damage because that is what insurance companies are looking for. The questions are designed qualifiers. Then, you'd better read up on UL Listed vs. UL Compliant because there's a huge difference. Sadly, there's still a gap because the installation of the devices and where they are placed will reveal whether or not your gear is protected. Long ago, I mentioned we pulled our TVSS unit out because it was UL1449 listed but first generation and as we learned from the folks at Citel Protection, there were issues with that first generation gear.

Tessco offers some really good application briefs on protecting power in the Tower & Rooftop Sites. In an old bulletin from the ASHI they cite the expense of surge and lightning damage totaling 5% of all insurance claims, and commercial losses are greater.

A growing threat to businesses isn't just lightning, however. For years, we've been warned of the growing threat from our electrical infrastructure and its inability to keep up with demand. Then, don't be fooled into thinking that because you have a windmill or solar panel that you don't need TVSS, grounding and protection because you still do need them.

Another source of destroying forces of bad power isn't the utility but the customer's own premise gear. Anything with a power supply, motor or compressor has the potential to disrupt your sensitive gear. It's not enough to have dedicated circuits for your equipment, but you are better served by implementing whole panel protection.

Thinking that the blinking lights indicate power destruction is errant--we had beautiful weather when our customer lost dial tone. Power line influence occurrences are a 24x7 threat even when the lights are steadily on.