So far, the nVent Railway Electrical Protection blog series has thus far covered nVent ERICO direct strike lightning protection, and grounding and bonding. These products represent solutions for four of the six nVent ERICO Six Point Plan of Protection tenants, which establishes best practice electrical protection by providing an approach to 1) capture lightning strike energy, 2) convey this energy to the ground, 3) dissipate energy into the grounding systems, and 4) bond all points together. The final part of the nVent ERICO Six Point Plan of Protection is focused on surge protection, with tenants 5) Protect incoming AC power feeders, and 6) Protect low voltage wayside signaling equipment as well as data/telecommunication circuits. Surge protection devices (SPDs) prevent damaging voltages from penetrating critical railway signaling equipment and infrastructure. The following explains some of the conditions that lead to voltage surges, and how SPDs play a critical role in safe, reliable railway operations.
Throughout this series, we’ve discussed how the complex nature of railway signaling systems paired with the challenging conditions rail networks operate in expose sensitive electronics and equipment to potential electrical damage. There are many types of situations that can lead to electrical damage. Transients, or momentary bursts of extremely high voltage, are responsible for many types of catastrophic electrical damage that can put equipment and systems out of commission. In rail, lightning strikes are a leading cause of transient events, however, transients can also occur during normal on/off switching of inductive load devices (i.e. Signal or track conditions due to equipment failures or maintenance activities). Another type of undesirable condition that can lead to electrical damage is a temporary overvoltage (TOV), where an overvoltage is inflicted onto electrical equipment for a longer duration of time (a condition that can last from seconds to minutes). TOVs are the result of power distribution faults that can happen in high vibration environments where a critical connection can come loose, or occur due to a fault in the utility transformer that powers the network. In addition, transients and TOVs, electrical damage can be inflicted to the rail network from nearby structures, such as power lines, that can induce potentially damaging voltages on track circuits and other critical wayside equipment. Electrical damage can wreak havoc on operations characterized by extensive costly downtimes and cascading disruptions to service throughout the network.
To ensure safe, reliable railway operations, sensitive railway signaling and communication components throughout the network are equipped with surge protection devices (SPDs) that limit transient voltages and divert stray current. nVent ERICO offers surge protection devices specifically designed for railway applications, including SPDs that protect track circuits, wayside equipment power, as well as signal data and telecom systems. Damage-causing electrical events differ, which is why we offer traditional SPD technology designed to neutralize transients, as well as proprietary nVent ERICO TD (transient discriminating) technology designed to protect critical equipment during TOV conditions.
Since our inception as the Electric Railway Improvement Company in 1903, nVent ERICO has been an essential supplier partner to the rail industry, specializing in solutions that connect and protect critical railway electrical systems and infrastructure. As with other nVent ERICO products, our line of rail SPDs are recognized for outstanding quality and performance. Some of the major characteristics of our SPD product line include:
- High maximum surge ratings that protect during the most extreme conditions
- Modern features such as visual status indication and safe failure modes
- Advanced engineering, with hybrid surge suppression technology and optional mounting methods (DIN rail/ four post block)
- Compliance with rail industry standards, including the following as applicable AREMA® , ARR, ANSI®/IEEE®, UL and RoHS
nVent ERICO is committed to meeting the current and future surge protection needs of the rail industry, and as next-generation rail technology ushers in increasing sensitive electronics, we will design SPD products that protect these mission-critical systems and equipment.
With a comprehensive line of grounding and bonding products, and the coordinated approach of the nVent ERICO Six Point Plan of protection, nVent ERICO is an industry leader in railway electrical protection that provides essential safety for rail workers and the public.
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