This does not happen to me! So called accidents created by lightning or switching surges are actually very common. Statistically, the percentage of damage caused by lightning on computing equipment is far from being rare. Numerous studies, articles and industry serving publications provide us insight into the financial consequeces of these events that result in equipment desctruction and downtime.
The consequences from these disturbances are not always visible or immediate. The weakening of a component by a surge can severly reduce life of the equipment or cause an unexpected breakdown. The user does not always make the connection between the actual cause for the failure because it is not always recognizable or, for that matter, recognized for what it is.
Without specific component level knowledge related to the electrical withstand of critical equipment, a wrong diagnosis is quite easy. This makes for potentially treating the wrong symptoms and never truly solving the problem.
The consequences from ligthning strikes on installations are very exhaustively addressed in international standards. In most standards, the use surge protectors is mandatory. This is especially the case for installations that incorporate a lightning protection system or LPS.
Overvoltages have many types of effects on electronic equipment, we call them the 3D's:
- Voltage breakdown of semiconductor junctions
- Destruction of bonding components
- Destruction of PCB traces or contacts
- Destruction of triacs/thyristors by dV/dt.
Disruption (Interference with operation)
- Downed links
- Hard resets
- Random operation of latches, thyristors, and triacs
- Memory corruption or erasure
- Program errors or crashes
- Data and transmission errors
Degradation (Premature ageing)
Components exposed to overvoltages have a shorter life.