Difference Between Lightning and Surge Arrester

What is Lightning Arrester and What is Surge Arrester?

Lightning ArresterIf you ask a question ''what is the difference between lightning arrester and surge arrester," answer will be vary  from man to man depending on his field of work or his experienced field. We can go some answer:

Lightning arrestor is to provide some degree of protection from Lightning induced problems. Surge arrestor is used to try to limit damaging surges, they can be against current surge, but more usually Voltage surges. . . Could be used on 5V supplies, 12V supplies, Mains 120V or other supply lines. . . Even used on Telephone lines. . . . It all depends on what you want to protect and from what ?

To know more about Lightning  Arrester and Surge Arrester you may visit full article on Surge Arrester Specification.

Lightning Arrestors are located at highest elevations of the protected premises and are aimed to direct the discharged currents of lightning strikes through intended circuit to the ground (rather than for instance through the steel structures of a building). Surge Arrestors are voltage limiting devices that are installed on power electric circuits to limit the induced voltages (resulting from, say, switching devices, ground faults, etc.) on power apparatus (mainly) to protect the insulations within withstand levels.

The term "lightning arrester" is no longer used in power transmission. "Surge arrester" is the term used. This is the terminology adopted and followed by IEC. All over-voltages, be it due to lightning or switching or sudden load shedding, is taken care of by a "Surge arrester" in a substation. However, a new terminology, "Line arrester", is being used nowadays for arresters used in LV /MV transmission / distribution lines.

Whenever any inductive load is switched OFF, it induces voltage surges called switching surges into the system (following the equation E = L di/dt). These surges could be harmful to voltage sensitive devices connected in the system. As the contactor coil is inductive, switching of contactors could create switching surges that could harm other equipment. Also, external switching surges could harm the contactor coil itself. A surge suppressor connected to an LV contractor protects the contactor from external surges and also protects the system from being affected by the surges generated due to contractor switching.

Typical Routine Test for Metal Oxide Lightning Arrester
Following routine tests should be conducted and recorded the measured test result as per required standards on all the arresters fitted with accessories, here as example considered 198kV 10kA 3 part arrester, each 66kV and reference standard IEC 60099-4 of 2006& IS 3070 (Part 3) of 1993:
  1. Measurement of power frequency reference voltage: All the arrester units should be tested for reference voltage at reference current of 3mA (crest). The reference voltages on each of arrester units must found greater than rated voltage of the arrester;
  2. Measurement of Partial Discharge Voltage: All the arrester should subjected to test. The measured value should be less than the specified value (here specified value 10pC);
  3. Measurement of Residual Voltage at Nominal Discharge Current: If possible, all arrester should be subjected to this test at nominal discharge current (here considered discharge current 10kA for 8/20 mic.sec wave). The measured value must be less than the maximum specified value (here specified value 650kVpeak);
  4. Seal Leak Test: If possible, all arrester should be subjected to seal leak test by differential pressure/ bubble method. The units must be passed the test without any leakage;
  5. Visual Examination and Dimensional Verification: All the arresters must visually examined and found free from any kind of visual defect. All dimensions should be within specified drawings, not exit tolerance limit;
  6. Functional Test on Surge Monitor: I) Test on Milli Ammeter- The selected surge monitors should connected in series with arrester and the MCOV must be applied. The applied voltage and leakage current passing through the arrester must be recorded in milli ammeter. ii)- Test on Surge Counter on Standard Impulse Current: Surge monitor must be connected in series with the arrester and surge current pulse of 100A & 10kA (8/20mic.sec wave shape) should pass through the arrester for three times each current and the counter recorded each of the given impulse.
To know more about Insulator and Bushing mounting click full article on INSULATORS AND BUSHINGS MOUNTING.

Difference between Lightning Arrester and Surge


Yahoo selected the best answer by vote is as- This is mainly a matter of semantics. Historically, the motivation for using arresters was to deal with lightning, so they were called 'lightning arresters'. But as system voltage increased, it became apparent that there could be switching-induced surges that were more damaging than lightning, so today, the preferred term is probably 'surge arrester'.

There is a technical distinction between a 'surge suppressor' and a 'surge arrester' that has to do with the energy dissipation capability built into the device. The device that most people plug computers into is a 'surge suppressor' and has a fairly low energy dissipation capability. It also has a voltage rating that is only slightly greater than the normal system voltage. A typical 'surge arrester' has a far greater energy dissipation capability, and the voltage rating is driven more by the surge voltage withstand capability of the insulation being protected than by the rated system voltage.


  1. Recently lots of people had died in Bangladesh and India by lightning & thunderstruck and broke any previous records. Some expert thinking this may case of huge increase of misplaned and unprotected electrical and telecommunication network, human-body getting excessive charged and dangerous discharging by opposite lighting charge. There urged some research on this new issued field.

  2. In rural area, the electrical power transmission line network is not properly earthed or grounded. Maximum earthing ate stolen or removed.

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