Voltage Surge is an abnormal conditions on the Electrical Power System, characterized by voltage spikes. These usually refers to acute to extreme high voltages that is experienced by the power equipment.

Voltage surges could be transients or sustained. Whichever is the case, this could do harm to the electrical equipment or even your household appliances. Frequent transient surges and sustained over voltages is typically not good and should be kept minimal if not totally prevented. This will damage the insulation of such, and could result in electric flashover, which could not only do harm on the equipment but to lives as well.

Voltage Surges Causes

Common causes of voltage surges are; lightning and switching. Switching surges can be produced by the repeated igniting and extinguishing of electric arcs. Such voltage surges are obtained, for example, in disconnecting unloaded lines or by the grounding through an arc of one of the phases of a three-phase system with an insulated neutral conductor.

Lightning surges are voltage surges that are associated with lightning discharges either directly into the current-carrying parts of electric equipment (direct-strike surges) or into the ground adjacent to the equipment (induced surges). In a direct strike all of the lightning current passes into the ground through the struck object.

Voltage surge protection and suppression is one of the main engineering field of specialty in Electrical Engineering. One of the most important aspect in fact is called, insulation coordination.

For more on voltage surges and how to protect your equipment from it, you may refer to these articles:

Voltage Surge Effect on Motors
Damage from Voltage Surge 
Specifications of Voltage Surge Supressor
Transient Surge Protection for Low Voltage

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