Lightning

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Lightning

Postby FarmerJohn » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:00 pm

I got hit by a storm on Monday. I'm guessing lightening hit the overhead cables.

It blew up the A/C in a spectacular fashion and less spectacularly it damaged the inverter/charger that was wired to import from grid and was powering my fridge [*]. So fun times with insurance claims now - possibly around $5000.

Oddly the A/C was turned off at the DB at the time as is standard when I am not in residence, since it draws 90W for the compressor heater otherwise - so I guess the hit was on the neutral side.

It seems my efforts to build in resilience did not work.I lost all my fridge and freezer food because of this (I was away at the time and didn't get back for three days after).

It seems likely to me that the damage was delivered by the cables from the power-pole to the distribution board on the house.

How feasible is it to get a lightening arrester (sp?) installed on the DB ?

I know nothing can save you from a direct strike, but an indirectly delivered one should be stoppable right?

If it is worthwhile - that is to say the risk reduction is substantial then I would be prepared to spend around $800 on this?

How useful are surge suppressors in this situation for internal appliances ?

[*] Bonus points: The inverter is a 24v Victron Multiplus 5kva. It is essentially wired as a UPS for the house. It does this well, except it appears when hit by lightning. When you turn it on, the temperature light flashes twice then it goes solid. This combination is not referenced in the manual. Does anyone know what it means or how I can find out?
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Re: Lightning

Postby Privatteer » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:20 pm

https://www.clipsal.com/Trade/Products/Switchboards-Circuit-Protection/Residential/Overvoltage-Protection

Can't remember how much they cost, but not that expensive. Take about a hour to wire up on a standard board.
Personally I would install one over wasting money on so called surge boards.
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Re: Lightning

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:31 pm

I have Clipsal surge arrestors (970RM) on the switchboard in the power shed and at the house, and have had lightning hit the house roof and trees near the house with no electrical issues so far. It has blown up the input board on my data logger a couple of times, and damaged my Davis weather station once, as neither has any sort of surge protection.

In your case it wont necessarily have been via the neutral, the gap in the swith on the active is insignificant compared to how long lightning strikes are. It could also be induced high voltage in the cables damage just from lightning close by.

In any case I still leave my computer and other appliances not in use unplugged when I'm away, and unplug when there is a lot of nearby lightning when at home.
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Re: Lightning

Postby FarmerJohn » Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:23 pm

Thanks these look really promising - I'll be calling a sparky tomorrow for a quote.

I wonder why it isn't a standard practice for rural situations where you are often at the end of long power-lines and pretty much each property has its own transformer.
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Re: Lightning

Postby Helipos » Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:28 am

We use these on our communication sites in WA, they seem to handle the lightning pretty good, but probably cost a packet.

http://www.novaris.com.au/Surge_Filters/SGF_-_MSB_Protection.shtml
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Re: Lightning

Postby FarmerJohn » Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:24 am

Electrician just left.

Have now got installed 2x Clipsal 970RM overvoltage arrestors which I sourced from eBay from a mining surplus outlet (they were new!) at $60 each (retail they seem to be over $100 each). Cost $185 for the sparkies time, so in the end I spent $305.00.

I needed two as there are two clusters of switches each in separate enclosures inside the main db - one is grid only, and the other is grid or generator via a changeover switch.

It would have needed a new enclosure to get everything done with one unit so this was the settled compromise and probably more robust in the long run.

I think I will leave it at that. It is not a perfect solution - but I can do the rest later if I change my mind.

For the perfect solution, the cost of a full on lightning current arrestor and decoupling unit was over $400 at trade prices, then add on mains filters (per circuit!) and the cost with installation would be well over a $1000.

I was told I cannot have the Lightning Current Arrestor installed on the power-pole next to the meter, which seems like a mean rule, but I don't understand many of the Australian wiring restrictions. If I could do that it would save me getting a thing called a decoupling unit because the distance from the pole to my DB is sufficient to provide the necessary inductance between the LCA and the 970RM

Anyway thanks for your help (again!)
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Re: Lightning

Postby Tracker » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:51 pm

The other thought, is to buy a number of power point double adapters with surge arrestors..

There is a practical belief that having a distributed arresting capacity, helps to quench induced surge..

I too, have heavy quench capacity at the power board but also the plug-pack ones distributed at distant power points..
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Re: Lightning

Postby station240 » Sat Feb 13, 2016 11:00 am

FarmerJohn wrote:Oddly the A/C was turned off at the DB at the time as is standard when I am not in residence, since it draws 90W for the compressor heater otherwise - so I guess the hit was on the neutral side.

[*] Bonus points: The inverter is a 24v Victron Multiplus 5kva. It is essentially wired as a UPS for the house. It does this well, except it appears when hit by lightning. When you turn it on, the temperature light flashes twice then it goes solid. This combination is not referenced in the manual. Does anyone know what it means or how I can find out?


Likely the neutral got hit, but lightning doesn't care about small airgaps like switches.

The temp sensor is usually fixed to power mosfets/IGBTs in inverters, so this could be a sign the sensor is faulty or no longer in existence. Which then leads to the question of what happened to the devices it monitors.
Have you tried contacting https://www.victronenergy.com/contact to ask them what it means ?
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Re: Lightning

Postby FarmerJohn » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:54 pm

As its an insurance claim I sent it off to a service center who will contact Victron about it.

Victron don't want to talk to end users it seems - understandable.

Anyway the service people I have spoken too have NFI what is causing it, and I saw one question out there on the internet asked by someone and it was not answered - so it is something that can happen.

Most are recommending complete replacement if possible - and if I can do that under insurance I will - from what I read even things that survive lightning can be weakened or have the life shortened and subsequently fail in odd ways.

Living on mains grid at the moment :(
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