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15 Sep, 2023 31 Views Author: Cherry Shen

Assessing Surge Impulse Generator Resilience With Lightning Surge Test

Surge Impulse Generators are devices specifically designed to simulate lightning strikes and are widely used in testing and research of electrical equipment. They are capable of producing high-energy lightning waveforms and can assess the reliability of electrical equipment in lightning environments.

SG61000-5_Surge Generator

SG61000-5_Surge Generator

The application of Surge Impulse Generator can be traced back to the early 20th century. At that time, the resistance of electrical equipment to lightning was very low, making them susceptible to damage from lightning strikes. In order to improve the resistance of electrical equipment to lightning, scientists began studying lightning surge testing techniques and invented surge generators.

The basic principle of Surge Impulse Generator is to charge a capacitor and then discharge it through a switch to generate high-energy current pulses. This process is similar to the formation of lightning. Lightning is formed as a result of charge separation between positive charges in the clouds and negative charges on the ground. When positive charges accumulate to a certain extent, a discharge occurs, creating a current pulse. Surge generators simulate this process by discharging to generate high-energy current pulses for testing electrical equipment.


In lightning surge test, the main role of surge impulse generator is to produce simulated lightning current waveforms. According to international standards, surge impulse generator should be able to generate specific lightning surge waveforms, such as double exponential waves, impulse waves, etc. These waveforms have specific energy distribution and time characteristics that accurately simulate real lightning surges.

The development of Surge Impulse Generator has gone through multiple stages. The earliest Surge Impulse Generators were based on the principle of capacitor discharge, storing energy in capacitors and discharging through switches. These generators had advantages such as high energy and controllable waveforms, but had issues such as large size, heavy weight, and voltage fluctuations.

With the advancement of technology, Surge Impulse Generator based on emiconductor switches have been gradually introduced. These generators use emi conductor devices as switches and have advantages such as fast response and stable output voltage. Additionally, Surge Impulse Generator based on magnetic compression principles have been developed, using magnetic compression mechanisms to store energy during the capacitor charging process. These generators have features such as high energy and adjustable waveforms.

The application of Surge Impulse Generator involves multiple fields. In the power industry, they are widely used in testing the lightning resistance of power equipment. Due to the vulnerability of power equipment to lightning strikes, it is important to conduct lightning surge test to ensure the normal operation of power systems. Surge Impulse Generator can simulate real lightning surges and assess the resistance of power equipment to lightning.

In the communication industry, Surge Impulse Generator also have significant applications. With the increasing intelligence and networking of communication equipment, the requirements for lightning protection are also higher. Communication equipment often needs to work in harsh weather conditions such as thunderstorms. Therefore, it is crucial to test and evaluate the lightning resistance of communication equipment. Surge Impulse Generator can simulate lightning surges and conduct impact tests on communication equipment to ensure its stable operation in lightning environments.

Additionally, Surge Impulse Generators are also applied in fields such as aerospace, aviation, and transportation. In the aerospace field, spacecraft often face strong electromagnetic radiation and lightning strikes. Conducting lightning surge test on spacecraft can evaluate their reliability in extreme environments. In aviation, aircraft frequently fly in lightning-active skies, and testing the lightning resistance of aircraft ensures their safety performance. In the transportation field, vehicles such as high-speed trains and subways also need to withstand lightning strikes. Surge Impulse Generator can conduct impact testing on transportation vehicles to ensure their reliability in lightning environments.

The application of Surge Impulse Generator also presents challenges and demands. Firstly, precise waveform control and energy adjustment are required. Different lightning surge waveforms and energy levels have different impacts on electrical equipment, so it is necessary to precisely control the output of Surge Impulse Generator and adjust them based on specific requirements. Secondly, stability and reliability of Surge Impulse Generator need to be improved. In long-duration lightning surge test, the stability and reliability of generators are critical for accurate and repeatable test results. Lastly, there is a need to track and study new lightning surge waveforms and characteristics.

With technological advancements, the characteristics and waveforms of lightning may change, and new lightning surge waveforms may have new effects on electrical equipment. Therefore, continuous tracking and research of new lightning surge characteristics are needed, and corresponding improvements and adjustments need to be made accordingly.

In conclusion, the application and development of Surge Impulse Generator in lightning surge testing are of great significance. They are important tools for evaluating the resistance of electrical equipment to lightning in a lightning environment and key technologies for improving the lightning resistance of power systems, communication equipment, and other fields. With ongoing technological advancements, Surge Impulse Generator will continue to be improved and developed to meet the evolving demands of lightning surge test.

Precautions when using a surge impulse generator:
1. When using an oscilloscope, it is recommended to use an isolation transformer for power supply to prevent the surge voltage from lightning strikes from affecting the power supply of the oscilloscope. The surge voltage from lightning strikes is generally set at 8%.
2. Ensure that the grounding of the surge generator is reliable.
3. It is recommended to use an isolation transformer for power supply to the differential probe to eliminate interference from external sources on the testing tool.
4. It is recommended to use an isolation transformer for power supply to the Equipment Under Test (EUT), or use an air switch with a larger leakage protection.
5. Laboratory safety is of paramount importance when conducting the tests. The surge generator involves high voltage and high current experiments, and has a certain degree of danger. Avoid touching the wiring during testing. Do not touch any connection lines when the surge impulse generator triggers a discharge. In case of emergency, press the emergency stop button to automatically discharge the high voltage.

The SG61000-5 is an automatic surge generator (also called lightning surge immunity test, combination wave generator, surge current generator/surge voltage generator, combined surge voltage and current generator) . 

Surge testers

Figure: Surge generator

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