Protecting against electrical spikes and surges

It’s so important to realise that our electrical supply from Eskom, often distributed by the local municipalities, is not always “clean”. There are two problems we all need to accept may happen from time to time: electrical spikes, or surges in voltage, and polarity reversal. Both of these can have a catastrophic effect on electronics.

 

Polarity reversal is less common than electrical spikes but certainly happens, and when it does it can cause major damage to equipment designed to receive a particular polarity. Our view is that polarity reversal should not damage Neon Flex, neither 12V nor 220V.

 

Electrical spikes or surges are where a short burst of higher-than-normal voltage is delivered by Eskom or a municipality. Instead of being supplied between 220V and 230V AC – an accepted voltage range which most high voltage electrical items should be able to safely tolerate – you are supplied much more. Many electrical goods are not protected against power surges, for various reasons, whilst some are well-protected. Good power supplies, such as Meanwell power supplies, have over-voltage and under-current protection where the power supply will cut out if too much voltage is supplied, or too little current available, to prevent damage to the power supply and downstream electronics. If you had 12V Neon Flex connected to one of these power supplies, your Neon Flex would be protected from an electrical surge. 220V Neon Flex receives its power directly from the 220V mains, operating internally at 220V DC – with a small rectifier converting 220V AC to 220V DC. If the electricity supply surges to say 270V that entire voltage is transferred to the Neon Flex circuitry, which cannot handle more than around 225V to 230V.

 

Some insurance companies will cover damage by electrical surges or polarity reversal, and victims of such damage can lodge claims with Eskom for the damage, however it seems prudent to try protect against this rather than deal with the damage, in particular when one considers a large Neon Flex installation which may need to be re-installed. The cost and hassle factor might be high.

 

At LUMUL we strongly recommend customers purchase and install a power conditioner when installing 220V Neon Flex. There are various types of power conditioners available, electrical or servo switching, so it is important to ensure you install a power conditioner which can extremely quickly stop a spike over 225V / 230V. The best type of power conditioner will be a UPS, since it quite physically separates the input voltage from the output voltage via a battery and will always ensure a stable, constant clean voltage.

Generally 220V Neon Flex won’t draw much current – a 100m length will draw at most 6.5A which most consumer-grade power conditioners could safely handle.