Just like our electrical appliances and computers at home that need surge protectors in case of lightning or electrical storms so do outdoor LED luminaires.
The arrival of LEDs in the outdoor lighting market opened the door to new opportunities for highly efficient lighting solutions. LEDs have made it possible to light our streets, parking lots, urban areas and public parks more efficiently with a much longer lifespan. It has allowed manufacturers to develop and create lighting products that provide high performance like never before.
LED luminaires are built with sensitive electronic components that need to be protected against electrical noise, sometime called electromagnetic interference (EMI). Because these outdoor LED luminaires are installed outside in harsh electrical outdoor environments these sensitive electronic components need to be protected to avoid early failure.
In the past, old lamp technology consisted of robust core and coil ballast and high discharge lamps that were not affected by this phenomenon.
What are we protecting our LED luminaires from?
It is important to protect our LED luminaires from high energy electrical discharges that are transmitted to the luminaire itself or into the electrical grid network. The high energy electrical discharges consist of electrical noise created by other electrical devices that are connected on the same electrical network like HID ballast, or industrial equipment-like motors. A discharge can also be created by electrical flashes, lightning striking nearby electrical networks or buildings and transferring high electrical energy to the luminaires. Depending on where the luminaires are connected on the electrical distribution grid or depending on the geographical location (ie: Tampa Bay known as the lightning city) equipment might be at high risk of failure if there is no surge protector.
How do surge protectors work?
Our SPDs (surge protection devices) consist of well-designed assemblies of electronic components, including Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV). Connected at the very first stage of the luminaire’s power input, the SP1 will get the hit first and react rapidly. It detects the abnormal voltage and starts conducting current in order to capture the high energy surge. This is known as “clamping action”. It will bring the voltage back to typical normal level and redirect the high energy surge away from the sensitive components, to the SPD. Since the surge is not redirected to the ground, MOVs inside the SPD made up of a ceramic mass of zinc oxide grain packed between 2 metal plates will start digging and eliminating the surge energy. The higher the rating in energy (Kjoules) for the SPD, the more energy it will be able to take and the longer it will last over time.