04 Sep 2019 : Hioki Power Quality Analyzer PQ3198 For Lightning & Surge Protection System Effectiveness Monitoring

What Is Lightning & Surge Protection System? 

The primary effect of lightning is a direct lightning strike on a physical entity.  A Lightning Protection System (LPS) intercepts, conducts, and disperses the lightning strike to a building through a safe pathway [1] to earth – bypassing the building components and thus protecting them from damage. Figure 1.0 shows the components of a typical commercial LPS and their functions. 

Figure 1.0  Components of a Typical Lightning Protection System and their Functions

The secondary effect of lightning is a brief duration of sudden high voltage spikes called Transient Overvoltage. This lightning discharge lasted typically 200 microseconds and carries up to 200000 amps of electrical energy [2]. A Surge Protection System protects electrical systems and equipment from this transient overvoltage and also surge from load switching through Surge Protection Devices (SPD). Figure 2.0 shows various type of SPD.

Figure 2.0 Types of Surge Protection Devices (SPD)

The Importance of an Effective Surge Protection System 

The LPS is a passive system with air terminal located at the most probable lightning strike location on structures/ roof to capture lightning strike while the SPD is designed with specifically designated rating to limit transient voltages and divert surge currents coming into a circuit [3]. Therefore it is vital to monitor the effectiveness of SPD in reacting to any surge that might exceed the designated rating. The Transient Overvoltage from lightning causes catastrophic damage to electronic systems, which though not visible but still impacts our daily life as demonstrated in real-life cases reported below.

Hioki PQ3198 for SPD Effectiveness Monitoring

Transient overvoltage from lightning carries voltage up to 6000V within less than 1 millisecond duration to low-voltage consumer network [4] . Hence the failure of SPD to function to its designated rating during a lightning strike can lead to costly damages. Figure 3.0 shows an example of transient voltage spike event. 


Figure 3.0 Sample Graph Of Transient Voltage Phenomena

Hioki’s Power Quality Analyzer PQ3198 enables continuous data logging of voltage for power supply from mainboard (fitted with Surge Protection Device) to load. This monitoring will confirm the effectiveness of the SPD through the detection of transient voltage from a lightning strike. Figure 4.0 illustrates the mounting location of PQ3198 during the monitoring process.

Figure 4.0 Hioki PQ3198 Transient Voltage Monitoring Scheme

The Hioki PQ3198 has the following features highly suitable for the measurement of transient voltage caused by lightning:

There’s also built-in HTTP Remote server function to configure and monitor the instrument from a browser. This will allow the user to perform remote online monitoring and control. The FTP server function allows the user to download the PQA data remotely. The remote function is only available through a router and local data sim card connected to the PQ3198. For information on PQ3198, please download the product catalogue here: