Lightning protection

Every summer we get thunderstorms, with the accompanying lightning in Finland. It is expected that thunderstorms starts in few days. Varo! Torstaina salamoi article says that it is expected that next Thursday there will be (according to weather forecast) 5000-10000 lightning discharge events in Finland.

Lightning is a massive electrostatic discharge between electrically charged regions within clouds, or between a cloud and the Earth’s surface. The massive flow of electrical current occurring during the return stroke combined with the rate at which it occurs (measured in microseconds) causes problems to electrical systems near the lightning discharge event unless they are well protected.

You can protect against the effects of indirect hits (like energy induced to telephone and power lines). If there is no surge protection, the induced currents may destroy sensitive electronics such as communications equipment computer power supplies. You install surge protectors to defend against currents induced by nearby lightning in your wiring. This is protection against damage lightning can cause without actually striking your wiring, or your building. If lightning strikes a mile away from you, and hits the ground, or a tree: this lightning can still induce currents in unshielded underground and overhead power and data cables.

One effective way to protect equipment against lightning damage is disconnect them (power, phone line, antenna etc.) every time thunderstorm approaches. That works well, but there are cases where this is not practical. In case you don’t want to be disconnecting and reconnecting your equipment all the time, you might need to consider using suitable surge protectors so you don’t need to disconnect them all the time.

My earlier blog posting ADSL overvoltages and protection gives introduction to lightning protection, especially what comes to the equipment that are connected to telephone line, mains power and proper grounding. ePanorama surge documents has a collection of documents on surge protecting telephone line and mains power. Check also How to protect RS-232 serial connections. For Ethernet protection ideas check LAN/WAN Ethernet Overcurrent And Overvoltage Protection article.

It is also a good idea to also read my Groundloop related postings because those postings will cover many grounding related issues on electrical systems. Besides causing noise to systems, ground loops can make the system sensitive to nearby lighting damage (large loops can pick up huge currents when lighting hits nearby).

20 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ethernet Protection Design Guide
    http://www.techonline.com/electrical-engineers/education-training/tech-papers/4391140/Ethernet-Protection-Design-Guide-3

    Discover the considerations and selection criteria involved in choosing the most appropriate circuit protection components for Ethernet-equipped applications.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Elviira-storm lightning hit 28 000 times – 2000′s record

    On Thursday, Finland through a spate of Elvira, a storm brought about 28 000 earth hitting lightning during the day. YLE meteorologist Toni Hellis according to the number of the largest in the 2000s. Bureau of Meteorology has appointed yesterday’s storm Elviira Edwina yesterday’s storm.

    The worst thunderstorms hit the Finnish west and central parts.

    Source: http://yle.fi/uutiset/elviira-rajuilma_salamoi_28_000_kertaa_-_2000-luvun_ennatys/6709123

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Overvoltage protection is cheap protect against lightning.

    Flats and terraced houses in the most sensible way to protect yourself from damage due to lightning surge protector is to obtain. They are sold in regular supermarkets and at many hardware stores.

    Surge protector is connected to an electrical outlet, and then, it helps prevent the progression caused by lightning over voltage spike to devices such as a TV or computer.

    A surge protector does not guarantee full protection.
    - The only absolutely sure way is to take the plug out of the socket

    Overvoltage protection should drop the voltage level of less than 500 volts, so the device does not break down.
    - The price and quality go hand in hand in these products, or cheap may not be good. A lot of it comes from what comes through the surge. If lightning strikes in a straight line, which is rare, then the surge protector security may be insufficient

    Home insurance covers almost always damage caused by lightning.

    Source: http://www.iltalehti.fi/digi/2013062717198946_du.shtml

    Reply
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  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Surge protectors shield signal, data lines from multiple destructive currents
    http://www.cablinginstall.com/articles/2014/04/bourns-surge-protectors.html

    Bourns (Riverside, CA) has introduced a new surge protective device (SPD) optimized for signal and data line applications. Designated Bourns Model 1840, the new device is a heavy-duty, multi-stage protector (MSP) designed to safeguard sensitive electronic circuits and components from damaging surge voltages and currents.

    The Bourns Model 1840 supports working voltages of 5, 12 and 24 volts, and may be used directly with RS-232, RS-422, RS-423 and RS-485 standard EIA interfaces as well as with 4-20 mA and 50 mA instrumentation loops.

    According to Bourns, the new solid-state, third stage protection device works by intercepting the leading edge of a surge within a sub-nanosecond response time. Within micro-seconds thereafter, a primary stage, three-electrode common-chambered Gas Discharge Tube (GDT) activates and crowbars the majority of the surge energy to ground. The new model also utilizes Bourns TBU High-Speed Protector (HSP) technology as a key second stage.

    Currents exceeding 300 mA through the protector will cause the TBU HSP to quickly transition into high impedance, isolating any harmful voltages and/or currents from damaging the protected equipment. The GDT protector remains in the crowbar state until the surge has passed and line voltages return to safe levels.

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lightning strike becomes EMP weapon
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4435969/Lightning-strike-becomes-EMP-weapon-

    A next-door neighbor corroborated the strike story, although I haven’t yet been able to find where the bolt hit in order to accurately assess its proximity. Nonetheless, I considered myself lucky that it hadn’t scored a bullseye on my property, and assumed I’d dodged damage.

    That was until I realized that I couldn’t get online. Eventually, I discovered that not one but two multiport GbE switches (a LG-Ericsson ES-1105G and a D-Link GO-SW-8GE), both located in the southeast quadrant of the residence, no longer would power up. And I later realized, after several successive days’ worth of unsuccessful television program recordings

    A power surge might tidily explain the switches’ failures, but it doesn’t account quite as neatly for the TV tuner’s offline-but-otherwise-still-alive status.

    The culprit, I suspect after a bit of pondering, is a two-fold combination; the failed gear’s locations in the residence, coupled with their Ethernet interconnect. As the lightning bolt headed to the ground in the open space behind my house, it radiated an abundance of broad-spectrum electronic interference; in effect, it was an EMP weapon delivered by Mother Nature. The several dozen feet of Ethernet cable connecting the two switches to each other, and connecting one of them to the router (which bafflingly seems to have survived unscathed), acted as an antenna for receiving that EMP. And, zap.

    This scenario might plausibly explain what happened to the switches

    Teardown: Gigabit Ethernet switch shut down by lightning strike
    http://www.edn.com/design/power-management/4435971/Teardown–Gigabit-Ethernet-switch-shut-down-by-lightning-strike

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lightning strike becomes EMP weapon
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4435969/Lightning-strike-becomes-EMP-weapon-

    A next-door neighbor corroborated the strike story, although I haven’t yet been able to find where the bolt hit in order to accurately assess its proximity. Nonetheless, I considered myself lucky that it hadn’t scored a bullseye on my property, and assumed I’d dodged damage.

    That was until I realized that I couldn’t get online. Eventually, I discovered that not one but two multiport GbE switches (a LG-Ericsson ES-1105G and a D-Link GO-SW-8GE), both located in the southeast quadrant of the residence, no longer would power up. And I later realized, after several successive days’ worth of unsuccessful television program recordings

    A power surge might tidily explain the switches’ failures, but it doesn’t account quite as neatly for the TV tuner’s offline-but-otherwise-still-alive status.

    The culprit, I suspect after a bit of pondering, is a two-fold combination; the failed gear’s locations in the residence, coupled with their Ethernet interconnect. As the lightning bolt headed to the ground in the open space behind my house, it radiated an abundance of broad-spectrum electronic interference; in effect, it was an EMP weapon delivered by Mother Nature. The several dozen feet of Ethernet cable connecting the two switches to each other, and connecting one of them to the router (which bafflingly seems to have survived unscathed), acted as an antenna for receiving that EMP. And, zap.

    This scenario might plausibly explain what happened to the switches

    Teardown: Gigabit Ethernet switch shut down by lightning strike
    http://www.edn.com/design/power-management/4435971/Teardown–Gigabit-Ethernet-switch-shut-down-by-lightning-strike

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    THREE vans and FIVE people: that’s what Telstra needs to fix one fault
    Surprise: lightning and copper don’t mix
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/19/how_many_telstra_vans_does_it_take_to_restore_one_service/

    The impact of weather on Telstra’s ailing copper network has hit the headlines, with some parts of Canberra told they’ll suffer outages well into February.

    The Fairfax Media reports that storms in early December led to 700 faults in the ACT and another 900 being logged in surrounding areas.

    Just seven months after being connected to the Internet of Trees, I once again had the chance to see at close hand the impact of a decent lightning strike on Telstra’s copper infrastructure.

    It starts with the tree that was struck, which is about ten metres from the nearest Telstra pit. The tree itself is now shorter by about 15 metres.

    Even after around 75 metres, the current in the copper still packed enough punch to destroy the RJ45 that terminated the last twisted pair in the bundle.

    Because the cable run is more than 25 years old, record-keeping created a challenge for the Telstra techs

    Crack Telstra Cabling SquadTM goes all Tarzan to restore internet
    No conduit? No worries! We’ll build an Internet of Trees!
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/06/09/laying_cables_telstrastyle/

    Some time ago, this Vulture South hack had a not-uncommon experience: loss of broadband during a storm.

    Telstra, to its credit, despatched a Crack Telstra Cabling SquadTM to perform the unenviable task of burying a new cable, unless an alternative could be found.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google Loses Data: Who Says Lightning Never Strikes Twice?
    http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1327474&

    oogle experienced high read/write error rates and a small data loss at its Google Compute Engine data center in Ghislain, Belgium, Aug. 13-17 following a storm that delivered four lightning strikes on or near the data center.

    Data centers, like other commercial buildings, can be protected from lightning, and Google offered no details as to how its persistent-state disk equipment had been affected by the strikes, other than to say they caused power supply lapses. Emergency power kicked in as planned, but in some cases the battery backup to the disk systems did not perform as expected.
    Sponsor video, mouseover for sound

    According to a summary of the incident by the Google cloud operations team posted to its Google Cloud Status page: “Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain.”

    The Cloud Status summary doesn’t say whether the repeated strikes led to multiple failures of the power supply to the disks.

    The summary also did not say the data center was struck four times, as a BBC report on the incident noted. Rather, Google said only that there were “four successive strikes on the electrical systems of a European data center.”

    Google Loses Data: Who Says Lightning Never Strikes Twice?
    http://www.informationweek.com/cloud/cloud-storage/google-loses-data-who-says-lightning-never-strikes-twice-/d/d-id/1321836

    In a four-strike incident, power to Google Compute Cloud disks in Ghislain, Belgium, gets interupted and data writes are lost.

    Google experienced high read/write error rates and a small data loss at its Google Compute Engine data center in Ghislain, Belgium, Aug. 13-17 following a storm that delivered four lightning strikes on or near the data center.

    According to a summary of the incident by the Google cloud operations team posted to its Google Cloud Status page: “Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain.”

    The Cloud Status summary doesn’t say whether the repeated strikes led to multiple failures of the power supply to the disks.

    In Google’s situation, its summary report said: “In almost all cases the data was successfully committed to stable storage, although manual intervention was required in order to restore the systems to their normal serving state. However, in a very few cases, recent writes were unrecoverable, leading to permanent data loss on the Persistent Disk.”

    Any loss of data is a serious incident for a cloud service provider, and they take extraordinary measures to prevent it. Data sets are routinely copied three times, so that a hardware failure will still leave two intact copies. But the power interruption in Ghislain caused some data writes to disk to be lost, and it was those write incidents that created the lost data.

    As a way of minimizing the loss, the Google summary cited a statistic that represented the amount of persistent disk space that had been affected out of the total available in Ghislain — “less than 0.000001%.” That was a meaningless figure to those customers who happened to be doing frequent read/writes with their systems at the time. A more meaningful figure would have been simply the total amount of data lost in kilobytes, megabytes, or terabytes or the percentage of writes lost.

    Google loses data as lightning strikes
    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33989384

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google loses data as lightning strikes
    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33989384

    Google says data has been wiped from discs at one of its data centres in Belgium – after it was struck by lightning four times.

    Some people have permanently lost access to their files as a result.

    A number of disks damaged following the lightning strikes did, however, later became accessible.

    Generally, data centres require more lightning protection than most other buildings.

    While four successive strikes might sound highly unlikely, lightning does not need to repeatedly strike a building in exactly the same spot to cause additional damage.

    Justin Gale, project manager for the lightning protection service Orion, said lightning could strike power or telecommunications cables connected to a building at a distance and still cause disruptions.

    “The cabling alone can be struck anything up to a kilometre away, bring [the shock] back to the data centre and fuse everything that’s in it,” he said.

    In an online statement, Google said that data on just 0.000001% of disk space was permanently affected.

    “Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain,” it said.

    The company added it would continue to upgrade hardware and improve its response procedures to make future losses less likely.

    Google Compute Engine Incident #15056
    https://status.cloud.google.com/incident/compute/15056#5719570367119360

    Google Compute Engine Persistent Disk issue in europe-west1-b

    From Thursday 13 August 2015 to Monday 17 August 2015, errors occurred on a small proportion of Google Compute Engine persistent disks in the europe-west1-b zone. The affected disks sporadically returned I/O errors to their attached GCE instances, and also typically returned errors for management operations such as snapshot creation. In a very small fraction of cases (less than 0.000001% of PD space in europe-west1-b), there was permanent data loss.

    ROOT CAUSE:

    At 09:19 PDT on Thursday 13 August 2015, four successive lightning strikes on the local utilities grid that powers our European datacenter caused a brief loss of power to storage systems which host disk capacity for GCE instances in the europe-west1-b zone. Although automatic auxiliary systems restored power quickly, and the storage systems are designed with battery backup, some recently written data was located on storage systems which were more susceptible to power failure from extended or repeated battery drain. In almost all cases the data was successfully committed to stable storage, although manual intervention was required in order to restore the systems to their normal serving state. However, in a very few cases, recent writes were unrecoverable, leading to permanent data loss on the Persistent Disk.

    This outage is wholly Google’s responsibility.

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Devices fall victim to lightning strike, again
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4440938/Devices-fall-victim-to-lightning-strike–again?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_review_20151211&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_review_20151211&elq=bd7234d9123f430f9310d77b079ebb5f&elqCampaignId=26073&elqaid=29722&elqat=1&elqTrackId=91861cb23d324ca58834a980a05699ec

    I can’t believe it’s happened again. Last October, I told you about a nearby lightning strike that took out the digital board in my plasma TV in mid-August, along with two GbE switches and a CableCARD tuner (I ended up fixing the TV, and tearing down the latter three devices). Well, this October, pretty much the exact same thing happened. Although I didn’t see the bolt itself, therefore where it hit, the deafening crack of the accompanying thunder directly overhead was impossible to miss. And although the residence’s abundance of electronics at first seemed to have survived unscathed (my laptop remained on and online via the router-sourced 5 GHz Wi-Fi beacon, for example), I relatively quickly realized the delusion of my initial over-optimistic diagnosis.

    Lightning strike becomes EMP weapon
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4435969/Lightning-strike-becomes-EMP-weapon-

    One of the perks (generally speaking, as you’ll soon see) of living in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is the multi-sensory experience of the thunderstorms that churn through them nearly every summer afternoon. About a week ago, I returned home one evening to find an excited friend awaiting me, who’d seen and heard a lightning bolt hit only a few dozen yards (he claimed) away from my home’s southeast corner.

    Nonetheless, I considered myself lucky that it hadn’t scored a bullseye on my property, and assumed I’d dodged damage.

    That was until I realized that I couldn’t get online. Eventually, I discovered that not one but two multiport GbE switches (a LG-Ericsson ES-1105G and a D-Link GO-SW-8GE), both located in the southeast quadrant of the residence, no longer would power up. And I later realized, after several successive days’ worth of unsuccessful television program recordings, that a seemingly otherwise functional (judging by front panel LED illumination, although one of them was now red, not green) SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime CableCARD TV tuner would no longer go online, either.

    A power surge might tidily explain the switches’ failures, but it doesn’t account quite as neatly for the TV tuner’s offline-but-otherwise-still-alive status. All three devices, along with others (both powered on and off at the time) were connected to premises power through high quality surge protectors, in some cases also in combination with UPS backup batteries. And the remainder of the gear seemed (fingers crossed) to survive the near miss unscathed. Why, then, did these particular products expire?

    The culprit, I suspect after a bit of pondering, is a two-fold combination; the failed gear’s locations in the residence, coupled with their Ethernet interconnect. As the lightning bolt headed to the ground in the open space behind my house, it radiated an abundance of broad-spectrum electronic interference; in effect, it was an EMP weapon delivered by Mother Nature. The several dozen feet of Ethernet cable connecting the two switches to each other, and connecting one of them to the router (which bafflingly seems to have survived unscathed), acted as an antenna for receiving that EMP. And, zap.

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Analyzing the demise of a network adapter
    http://www.edn.com/electronics-blogs/brians-brain/4441501/Analyzing-the-demise-of-a-network-adapter?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20160302&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_today_20160302&elqTrackId=1a8afcb8badc44c580e77eda7b4fcfd5&elq=ac839723036b4856b36e1de97c4385ca&elqaid=31129&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=27211

    A recent teardown dissected one of this year’s victims, a MoCA network adapter.

    You’ll note that in last year’s teardown, I was unable to find any visible damage that would point to a particular failure mechanism. Symptomatically, I instead suggested that the Ethernet controller might have gotten zapped, the result of a coiled strand of Cat5e that acted as an antenna. This time around, however, the breakdown point was immediately evident:

    That’s the Realtek RTL8211CL single-port Ethernet controller. And, in case it’s not already evident to you, the package isn’t supposed to have a hole blown out of it ;-) The damage is reminiscent of another 2014 lightning-strike victim, a D-Link GO-SW-8GE eight-port GbE switch, whose Ethernet controller IC suffered similar indignity

    This commonality is causing me to potentially reconsider the root cause of the HDHomeRun Prime’s demise this time. I’d previously suspected that the EMP coupled to the hardware via coax cable running around the residence exterior, since the coax-connected MoCA adapter had also died. But I’m now once again suspecting that the strand of Ethernet cable running between the HDHomeRun Prime and an eight-port GbE switch was the culprit, which would also explain why the switch was rendered “confused” (only temporarily in this particular case, thankfully).

    Reply
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pre-exploded surge protection strip. What the heck???
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnJml7Rz3sQ

    On a plus note I get to talk about MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) surge suppressors and then explain why it was probably just as well it went on fire in the factory anyway.

    Reply
  18. tomi says:

    WordPress works pretty well when you remember several things:
    - remember to keep the system updated (quickly when some security issues come up)
    - remember to have backups and plan to restore them (in case something bad happens)
    - check carefully what kind of extensions to add (many times security problems are in extensions..)

    Those advices will pretty much apply to other blogging platforms as well..

    Reply

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