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single phase vs three phase surge diverters

Single-Phase vs Three-Phase Surge Diverters: Understanding the Key Differences

Having trouble deciding which phase surge diverter to configure to your electrical system? Before placing surge diverters on your electrical system, you must learn about the separate phases, such as single-phase and three-phase. Once you have a clear understanding between single and three-phase surge diverters, you can then reduce the unexpected consequences caused by several surge factors like power outages, lightning strikes, switching on/off electrical equipment, faulty wiring and many more. 

If you are not sure which phase surge diverter to use for different electrical devices or systems, you have come to the right place, here, we will be discussing the differences between single-phase and three-phase surge diverters and their other aspects. Before we begin, you should understand the use of a Surge diverter for protection.  


Understanding the Surge Diverter    

Surge diverters, also known as lightning arresters, are designed to protect electrical systems against damage caused by voltage surges.  

Voltage surges or spikes is a sudden increase in voltage lasting less than three nanoseconds occurring when there is electrical overload or blackouts. 80% of surges are generated internally, weakening sensitive circuities, and 20% of surges generated externally are more devastating. The damages to electrical systems are caused by such voltage surges, and surge diverters adjust the voltage by absorbing excess voltage and redirecting it away from the device’s sensitive components.  

Surge diverter devices consist of a Gas Discharge Tube (GDT) and Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV), which works as a voltage-sensitive switch. Once the voltage level exceeds, this device gets activated and helps to redirect the excess voltage to the ground and protect from voltage surges.  


What are the benefits of Surge Protective Devices (SPD)?  

  • SPD helps to reduce energy costs by making sure that unused equipment is not consuming power.  
  • SPD reduces the replacement cost of expensive equipment by lowering the possibility of fire development by voltage surge 
  • Even during unexpected electrical problems, SPD will secure your electrical system preventing any disruption to your work. 
  • SPD ensures to keep functionality and reliability of the devices by restricting the surge flow. 


What is a Single-Phase Surge Diverter? 

Single-phase devices are commonly used in residential and commercial buildings to power lighting, appliances, and other low-power electrical devices. In this phase, AC (alternating current) takes a sinusoidal wave shape where in the positive cycle, the voltage of supply reaches 90 degrees and 270 degrees during the negative cycle. They are designed to protect a single electrical system having a maximum voltage of 240V. It is a power system that requires two wires named: 

  • The phase.  
  • The neutral wire.  

You can find three ways of configuration for a single phase:  

  • Plug-in configuration:  Specific devices are protected under this installation method. 
  • Hardwire configuration: This method secures all devices connected directly to the electrical system. 
  • Whole house configuration: This setup protects the entire electrical system by installing a surge diverter at the main panel. 


How does it work? 

You can simply understand that a single-phase surge diverter works by limiting the voltage and directing the excess voltage to the ground. But there are some working principles, such as: 

  • In normal use, single-phase surge protection works as an open circuit that supports the isolation between the active conductors and the ground. 
  • In an overvoltage condition, the surge diverter is a closed circuit. To keep the overvoltage below what is dangerous for the electrical equipment. 
  • Once the overvoltage has been discharged, the surge diverter returns to its initial open circuit state. 


PROS of Single-Phase Surge Diverter 

  • Can be used for all small loads in houses.  
  • They help avoid costly installation charges.  
  • Helps to lower energy costs by limiting the amount of energy drawn.  
CONS of Single-Phase Surge Diverter 

  • Can not be used for multiple-phase systems.  
  • Regular maintenance and replacement are needed. 
  • Wrong installation reduces its effectiveness. 



What is a Three-Phase Surge Diverter?  

Three-phase surge diverters are designed to protect the larger commercial and industrial electrical systems that use three-phase power. They are used for heavy machinery and large-scale equipment that requires high power loads. They have good power quality and a maximum voltage of 415V to protect against high, severe voltage spikes. It is a power system that requires four wires named: 

  • A three-conductor wire and  
  • Neutral wire, which is optional.  

Note: Three interconnected phases provide a smoother power supply than a single-phase diverter. 

Delta and Wye are two ways to configure 3phase protection devices.  

  • Delta configuration: This configuration is used for industrial plants having 3phase transmission as it is ungrounded without neutral. In this setup, it can handle more loads than other configurations. 
  • Wye configuration: It is extended from common neutral, commonly used for commercial users. 


PROS of Three-Phase Surge Diverter 

  • Utilizing more power with lower operating costs.  
  • They have three-phase networking, ensuring power supply is maintained if one network fails.  
  • It provides balanced protection across all three phases.  
CONS of Three-Phase Surge Diverter 

  • It may reduce protection for lower voltage devices. 
  • It is complex and costly to install.  
  • It may not be effective in reducing voltage surge for a single phase.  


Once you have enough information and understand the benefits and drawbacks of two different surge protectors, you can make use of strengths and get around weaknesses to prevent undesirable outcomes. 


How can you set up surge protectors? 

Now that you have cleared the differences between single vs three-phase power, you need to follow a few steps to install it in the electrical system. Here are a few points that you need to think about before installing your surge diverters.  

  • First, figure out the proper location, which depends on the specific needs of the equipment being protected and the type of surge diverter installed.  
  • Do not forget to turn off the power to the device where the surge diverter will be installed.  
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to connect the surge protection device to wires or terminals.  
  • Once you have installed the device, turn on the power to check if the device is functioning properly.  
  • Lastly, consult a licensed electrician or professional if you need to configure your device to the main panel.  

In addition, you need to know that there are also differences in the design and installation of single and three-phase surge protectors. Single-phase surge diverters are typically installed in a distribution board or next to the specific equipment they are intended to protect. On the other hand, three-phase surge protectors are installed at the main service entrance of the building so that they can protect all connected electrical equipment.  


What can you do to avoid Surge Diverter failure? 

Installation of a top-notched surge diverter is the primary method to avoid surge diverter failure and protect all your equipment. You need to check the surge diverter often and replace it if found any damage. You can also prevent surge diverter failure by avoiding any location where the device may get damaged physically. So, if you are looking for high-quality surge diverters that can last longer, you can contact us and get reliable and specialized client services. 

Summing up, selecting surge protective devices that meet the safety standards and are proper for the specific application is important. Now you will not have a problem in choosing a type of surge diverter to install, but if you are seeking professional assistance, you can reach out and get amongst one of the best products and services from Antipodes Power Solutions.  


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