How does lightning protection in hydrostatic level sensors work

Many customer wonder why hydrostatic level sensors fail due to lightning strikes, even if they ordered a level sensor with integrated lightning protection. Understanding how the lightning protection works and how lightning strikes affect hydrostatic level sensors is important in resolving this confusion.
When submersible pressure sensors, a particular type of hydrostatic level sensors, were first installed into reservoirs and lakes to monitor level, the sensor would become burned or destroyed after a lightning storm or bad weather periods. This prompted much research into the effect of lightning storms on the instrumentation in reservoirs and the cabling to and from the website.
What lightning protection really means
The first thing to understand is that the result of a lightning strike is considerably different based on how near to the pressure sensor the lightning strikes in to the ground or installation. Lifetime is fair to state that no level sensor will survive a direct or very close nearby lightning strike, where usually the whole cabin including all installed electronics will undoubtedly be incinerated by direct hits.
However, more distant hits is only going to improve the Voltage differential by for example 1500 Volts. If a local lightning strike raises the electric potential of a reservoir, the level sensor may provide the shortest way for the raised voltage and current to earth. The energy will then dissipate into the ground via the level probe and therefore destroy or damage its electronics. This may equally be the case when overhead wires take a hit.
How does lightning protection in level sensors work?
However, sensors can be protected from these lightning strikes by installing or integrating a transient voltage protection in to the hydrostatic level sensor. Because of the short nature of the voltage pulse, a component may be suited to or integrated into the sensor that acts on rising differences in voltage potential. If Confess goes above say 50 Volts, this lightning protection can short-circuit the electronic circuit to ground, allowing a path to ground for the surge and protecting the electronics up to the utmost specified voltage potential.
The component would normally operate in a non-conductive state, but will undoubtedly be conductive for a voltage transient, allowing the voltage spike to flow harmlessly to ground. If the bond to earth isn’t good enough or no lightning protection is integrated within the hydrostatic level sensor, then the electronics will take the full level of energy of the voltage pulse and fail.Therefore the protection is only as good as the earth grounding supplied by the user.
In outdoor applications, where submersible pressure transmitters are generally used, WIKA provides an optionally integrated lightning protection inside the level sensors. The sensor electronics will then be protected from local power surges and transient high voltage. Lightning protection is really a combination of protection within the instrument and an excellent low impedance earth grounding.
Take a look at the profiles of WIKAs submersible pressure transmitters LH-20 and LH-10.
Please use our contact page if you need further assistance.
Please find further information on this topic on our information platform ?Hydrostatic level measurement?

Leave a Comment