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Lightning protection Power company side

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AE4ML

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This past Tuesday I took a hit at a tower site during some severe storms. The surge that took out three repeaters and a UPS. This wasn't from the antennas but via the AC power lines. I'm looking for suggestions based on what other have found that work well for building protection.

Thank you

Mike AE4ML
 

12dbsinad

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Mar 15, 2010
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This past Tuesday I took a hit at a tower site during some severe storms. The surge that took out three repeaters and a UPS. This wasn't from the antennas but via the AC power lines. I'm looking for suggestions based on what other have found that work well for building protection.

Thank you

Mike AE4ML
It depends on how much you want to spend. The really expensive units are hard wired into the panel, usually seen inside cell buildings. The AC surge strip style protectors are usually just a bunch of MOV's, but they are better than nothing.

What type of tower site is this? Is the rest of the system well grounded? Make sure any equipment cabinets, racks, and even the repeaters themselves are all bonded together to the ground ring, and of course the feedline.

I have seen many systems saved that are run via a 12v battery bank system versus repeaters run directly off of 110V. Usually (depending on the quality of the battery charger) it will take out the charger, but better than taking out everything.
 

AE4ML

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Lighning protection AC lines

Thank you,
I have been thinking along the same lines for the past week. I have ordered one replacement power supply and receiver so far. I think my next purchase will be a charger and two good batteries to start. Along with an AC surge suppressor for the building.

Thank you all that have responded to my message.

Mike AE4ML


It depends on how much you want to spend. The really expensive units are hard wired into the panel, usually seen inside cell buildings. The AC surge strip style protectors are usually just a bunch of MOV's, but they are better than nothing.

What type of tower site is this? Is the rest of the system well grounded? Make sure any equipment cabinets, racks, and even the repeaters themselves are all bonded together to the ground ring, and of course the feedline.

I have seen many systems saved that are run via a 12v battery bank system versus repeaters run directly off of 110V. Usually (depending on the quality of the battery charger) it will take out the charger, but better than taking out everything.
 

freddaniel

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Messages
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Location
Newport Beach, CA
If you are the facility owner, the best protection is a really good ground system as described above. Also, using 90-260 VAC auto-ranging power supplies will have fewer failures. Ferro-resonant power supplies will not fail, but will blow fuses, requiring a trip to the site. Some people use inline power filters and /or surge protectors that will pass 120 VAC, but not higher voltage or higher frequency the 60 Hz.

If you simply rent space, I suggest you protect yourself by encapsulating all your equipment in a cabinet and create a single location on the cabinet for all coax, power, and data to enter the cabinet. I placed a copper plate behind this entrance area, and installed lightning arrestors on the feedlines and used a small aluminum box to house a large AC surge protector and mounted a commercial RFI filter for AC on the box to feed power into the cabinet via a computer power cord. Any data or phone lines should pass through another aluminum box with small value low-wattage resistors in series and zener diodes for clamping. The copper plate should be bonded to the cabinet rails to complete the protection.

The idea is to offer a better alternate path for any lighting or surge, rather than through your radios & power supplies. Using this method, I have never had to replace anything other than power cords, fuses, series resistors, and a lightning protector, which can be inventoried at the site. It also works better if the Heliax connects directly to the lightning arrestor, rather than through a jumper cable. A significant portion of the lightning appears to be high-frequency, and the reactance of the outer braid of the jumper will fail to ground all the energy on the Heliax jacket, and therefore the energy transfers to the center pin of the lightning arrestor, and destroys the flash tube. Why take the chance?

Remember, any braided ground straps are poor protection. Use only wide copper strap or large CMA copper cables for grounding. Never make sharp bends in ground cables or straps, as that adds reactance that will limit the effectiveness of the ground to lightning.

Pray...
 

pgnsucks

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I was a utility lineman for many years along with seeing a lot of damage.

Often from the utility side when a customer took it upon themselves to provide better grounding then us the results were quite bad for them. I was taught electricity is basically lazy and follows the path of least resistance.

If the customer provided a better ground then the power company grounding system. Well then whomever provided that ground suffered the brunt of the damage even saving our equipment.

Also depending upon the proximity of the strike everyone suffers.

I found lighting protection to be a double-edged sword. Again one can only do so much and two, not to give fault current a better path to ground through your own system. Allow the utility to do that part. However we did keep our system ground in pretty good shape YMMV.

Just some thoughts of a retired lineman.
 

jim202

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Mar 7, 2002
Messages
2,669
Location
New Orleans region
Bottom line here is that you really need to have a power line surge protector installed right at the breaker panel. Need to have a low resistance ground tied to the surge protector.

There are a number of surge protector companies on the market today. Some are good and some are junk. The cost is not always an indication of how good the protection the surge protection device is.

Having come from the cellular world building cell sites, you can harden a facility to survive a lightning strike. The secret is to bond everything together and have surge protectors on all lines coming in. This means coax cables, telephone lines and power feeds. You do need to have a low resistance ground system for the facility. This low resistance ground system, means something on the order of 5 ohms or lower. This is not always that easy to obtain, depending on the type of soil you have. If it's sandy, your screwed. If it's wet clay, you have a good chance of a low resistance ground with little work.

I will say that even with a wet clay soil, you could be in a situation where the soil can't dissipate a lightning strike charge without running out some radials from your main grounding system. Found this out the hard way at a site in Louisiana about 40 miles north of New Orleans. After installing a couple of radials and more ground rods, the site took what ever mother Nature could throw at it.
 

freddaniel

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May 6, 2011
Messages
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Location
Newport Beach, CA
All good points. The worst case of lightning damage I have seen was a TV station with their tower on one side of the metal building and the utility power panel on the other side. The 12 KV primary power coming to the site is underground with a steel spiral to protect the insulation while it was plowed into the ground. The spiral was connected to the utility ground. When the lightning hit, the engineer-in-charge was awakened by bolts of lightning crossing the room, again and again. It was a religious station, but the engineer quit the next day, after working with the power utility to restore power and replace all things burnt. There was even a Tek scope on a cart in the center of the room unplugged that was also damaged beyond repair.

As a communication site facility developer, I now place the utility service panel as close to the tower as possible and use a large buss between them. This has helped bleed-off excess lightning energy to the utility ground. I also use the standard ground system, with the objective of reaching less than 2 ohms ground resistance. Sometime requiring the use of "coke breeze" to improve the ground conductivity.
 
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