Lightning Arrester Types & Working

Hi friends, in this article, I am going to discuss the lightning arrester types and lightning arrester working principle. You will appreciate my effort, I hope so.

The lightning arresters are used to protect power system from high voltage surges. The function of the surge arrester is to allow the discharge of any dangerous over-voltage before it can do damage and then to restore the line to normal operation after the discharge.

 Lightning Arrester Types

The most commonly used lightning arrester types are as under:

  • Rod gap arrester
  • Expulsion type lightning arrester
  • Valve type lightning arrester
  • Metal oxide varistor lightning arrester

Lightning Arrester Working Principle

When a voltage surge traveling along the conductor reaches the point at which a lightning arrester is installed it breaks down the insulation of the arrester momentarily, allowing the voltage surge to discharge to ground.

As soon as the system voltage drops below the predetermined value, insulation between the conductor and ground is restored and further current flow to ground stops.

To perform this protective function satisfactorily, arresters must:

  • Not allow current to flow to the ground as long as the system voltage remains normal.
  • Provide a path to ground, when the system voltage rises to a predetermined valve above normal, to dissipate the energy from the surge without raising the voltage at which the circuit is operating.
  • Stop the flow of current to ground, as soon as the system voltage drops below the predetermined value, and restore the insulating qualities between the conductor and ground.
  • Not be damaged by the discharge and be capable of automatically repeating discharging process frequently when required.

The performance of any arrester is dependent on a good connection to ground. Arresters will not function without a proper ground; they are totally useless. The arrester should be placed as close as possible to the equipment, that is to be protected and leads connecting arresters to ground should be kept as short as possible.

Rod gap Lightning Arrester

It is the simplest type of lighting arrester. It consist two-rod electrodes, one of which is connected to the line and other to earth. The rods may be in the form of horn also. These are generally to used to protect the transformers.

lightning arrester types

Under normal operating conditions, the gap remains non-conducting. When a high voltage surge occurs, the gap sparks over and surge current is drained to earth. Such arresters suffer from the following disadvantages:

  • The operation is affected by climatic conditions.
  • After the surge is over, due to ionization of air, the arc in the gap is maintained even at the normal supply voltage.
  • Increased possibility of bird faults.

Due to the above disadvantages, the rod gap arresters are used only as a ‘back-up’ protection with main arrestors.

Expulsion Type Lightning Arrester

It consists of an arc extinguishing chamber in series with an air gap. The arc extinguishing chamber is in the form of fiber tube which interrupts the arc after discharging the surge by the generation of gasses.

When a voltage surge occurs that is sufficient to spark over the series gap and the gap in the fiber tube, discharge current flows to ground. The arc in the tube attacks some of the fiber of tube walls, releasing a large amount of a relatively cool, non-conducting gas.

The gas produced in fiber tube acts not only to extinguish the arc but also builds up high pressure and expelled through the lower electrode which is hollow. As the gas leaves the tube violently, it wipes out the ionized air around the arc. Due to this strong deionization effect, arc goes out at current zero instant and will not be re-established.

expulsion type lightning arrester

An expulsion type lightning arrester has a current rating in addition to the voltage rating. The maximum current rating must be equal to the short-circuit current available at the point of installation. These are generally used on towers for the protection of transmission lines.

Valve Type Lightning Arrester

It consists of an outer ceramic body containing a set of resistances (valves) and spark gaps in series. The resistances are made of a special silicon carbide ceramic.

It possesses the characteristic of being substantially an insulator at one voltage and then changing to an excellent conductor at a higher voltage; the transition is due to voltage changes only, not to heat as in other valve materials. High-voltage surges spark across the air gap and discharge current flows through the valve to ground.

Since the valve has a low resistance under high voltage and a high resistance at a normal voltage so as soon as system voltage becomes normal current flow stops. The arc gets extinguished and the arrester regains its original state.

The valve type arrestors are extensively used for the protection of generating stations, sub-stations, overhead lines, cables and rotating machinery.

lighting arrester types

They are rated for voltage only and are designated as 70%, 80%, and 100% arresters. The 80% arresters are suitable for solidly grounded systems. Whereas, 100% arresters are used on systems with isolated neutrals or those earthed through impedances.

The valve type arresters have been classified into the four types as under:

  • Secondary Type
  • Distribution Type
  • Line Type
  • Station Type

Secondary type lighting arresters are used with medium voltage apparatus, where the equipment is installed in farms and other lightning-prone areas.

Distribution type arresters are used on lines and substations up to 22 kV.

Line type arresters are normally used for voltages up to 66 kV though they can be used for higher voltages also.

Station type arresters provide the highest degree of protection and should be used where the cost of the protected equipment or the importance of service continuity justifies the extra investment on their account.

Metal Oxide Lightning Arrester

A metal oxide varistor (MOV) lightning arrester consists a series of metal oxide varistor blocks. These MOV blocks acts like a voltage-controlled switch.

When the applied voltage across the arrester increases above the rated voltage of the arrester, the MOV starts conducting and excessive energy is drained to the ground. This process continues until the system attains the normal voltage. As soon as the system voltage becomes normal the conduction stops.

The MOV arrester is the one of the most commonly used arrester for the protection of modern power system. They don’t have gaps. This “gap-less” design eliminates the generation of excessive heat during the operation of the arrester.

They give best performance as the surge voltage conduction starts and stops very quickly at a precise voltage level. This reduces the failure of the arrester and improves system reliability and protection.

When a metal oxide arrester is disconnected from an energized line, it may have a small amount of static charge. Therefore, as a safety precaution, it should be discharged properly by connecting to a ground for a while.

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© lightning arrester types and working principle.

4 thoughts on “Lightning Arrester Types & Working”

    1. Ajay Sharma

      Thank you for your feed back. I will try to explain some more on next update.

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