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What is TVSS and How Does It Protect Your Electrical Equipment?

A photograph of an electrician rewiring an outlet

You may have heard the term “TVSS” used by some when referring to a residential, commercial or industrial electrical system. TVSS stands for Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor and simply put, it is a type of switch that is incredibly fast that protects your electrical system, equipment, machinery and electronic devices from power surges originating from power lines. The TVSS has been around for many years and has been improved significantly over the years in order to provide even better protection to sensitive electrical equipment.

What does a TVSS do and how does it work?

A TVSS consists of a voltage-sensitive switch that is capable of automatically switching if it senses a transient, also known as a power spike or power surge. This switch is designed to interrupt the power from the power line to the electric service in the event of a transient in order to prevent the transient from causing damage to the electric service and the equipment plugged into it.

What causes a transient?

There are a number of elements that can cause transients including:

  • Lightning Strikes – When lightning directly strikes a power line or a structure, it generates an extremely powerful surge of electricity that can cause significant damage to electrical systems and equipment. Direct lightning strikes are rare, consisting of only 2% of all power surges. While no device can guarantee total protection from a direct lightning strike, there is one type of TVSS known as the “lightning arrester,” which provides the most protection possible in the case of these powerful surges.
  • Power System Issues – One of the most common causes of externally generated transients are local electric utilities. Some of the most common issues include downed power lines, equipment malfunctions, crossed power lines and faulty wiring by the electric utility.
  • Internally Generated Surges – Transients can also be generated within a facility. High powered electrical systems such as air conditioners, high power motors and electric arc welding systems can cause power surges as they cycle on and off. While not as powerful as a lightning strike, these transients can degrade electric systems over a long period of time.

How do transients damage electrical equipment?

When an electrical system experiences a transient, it travels through the wiring and into the equipment plugged into the electric system. This causes the equipment’s wiring and components to be exposed to a surge of power many times greater than it was designed to handle. The excess power causes the wiring, circuitry and electronic components within the device to heat up and burn, much like the filament in a light bulb.

Many of today’s electronic devices such as tablets, computers, cell phones, printers and computer networks are extremely sensitive to power surges due to the complex computer chips they rely on to function. Some electronic devices are so sensitive that even a discharge of static electricity can damage them, requiring the use of static electricity dissipation devices to prevent harming the electronic components.

Want to learn more about TVSS? The experienced, professional, licensed and insured electricians at Done are here to answer your questions. We can inspect the electric system of your business and recommend a TVSS to meet your needs. At Done our purpose is making your business’s electric service as safe and reliable as possible. One call to Done and you can rest assured that your business is protected.

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