In the INFOgraphic, 2013 Surge Protection Damage Survey, sponsored by National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), a survey questionnaire was administered to Maintenance and Facilities Managers in order to gather data on surge damage that has occurred at their properties.
“Many people don’t recognize the symptoms and impacts of electrical surges until it’s too late. Beyond rare, catastrophic events like lightning strikes, electrical surges are affecting the performance and lifespan of everything from sensitive computer equipment to common industrial, commercial and residential equipment,” stated Paul Molitor NEMA Senior Industry Director for Smart Grid Initiatives. “For this reason a survey was commissioned to ascertain the frequency and impact of electrical surges. We are proud to have Zpryme present those results as part of the NEMA 2013 U.S. Surge Protection Damage Survey.”
Notable Survey Findings
Ninety‐six percent of respondents reported using wall‐mounted or cord connected surge protectors at their facilities. The vast majority—more than 83%—of wall‐mounted or cord connected surge equipment is used to protect computers and related equipment. Protection of equipment that is not computer related is still significant, but is a considerably less common practice than protecting computers.
Fifty‐eight percent of those using wall‐mounted or cord connected surge protection are satisfied or very satisfied with the adequacy of their existing equipment. However, suppliers have room for improvement, as more than one third of those responding (36%) expressed rather tepid endorsement of the current set up by reporting that they were “somewhat satisfied.”
Nearly 51% of survey respondents indicated having and using surge protection other than wall‐mounted or cord connected. Having penetrated a slight majority of this market is notable, yet a significant opportunity exists for the industry to raise usage and awareness among the more than 49% of facilities/property/maintenance managers who do not have permanently connected surge protectors or similar equipment.
A strong majority of the respondents whose businesses made use of permanently connected surge protection equipment were pleased with it. Seventy‐one percent of respondents indicated being either “satisfied” or “very satisfied,” while a little over a quarter of respondents were only “somewhat satisfied.”
Choosing from a list of potential effects of a power surge, 47% of respondents reported experiencing an unexplained process interruption. Other frequently noted effects included premature field failure of electrical or electronic equipment (27%) and lockup of computer or in dust real process systems (24%).
Equipment damage due to voltage surges was a relatively rare occurrence among survey respondents. Most (57%) reported having no incidents in which equipment was damaged from voltage surges in the past three years. 31% reported one or two instances of equipment damage during that time. Fortunately, the equipment damage caused by voltage surges was relatively inexpensive for most respondents. The cost of repairing or replacing damaged equipment was less than $10,000 in 72% of the cases reported. The same cannot be said of the amount of downtime resulting from surge damage. All who experienced surge damage reported at least some downtime.
Nearly a third of respondents indicated downtime of 6 to 12 hours, and approximately 20% indicated having equipment out of commission for more than 48 hours. Although 22% reported no lost production as a result of the surge, 16% reported losses of between $10,000 and $50,000. A plurality (22%) indicated lost production in the range of $1,000 ‐ $5,000.
When asked whether their businesses had experienced damaged to or loss of function in life safety equipment because of voltage surges, the most frequent response (38%) was that no such equipment was affected. Equipment that was damaged or lost included security systems (34%), the fire alarm systems (25%), emergency lighting (25%), and ground fault circuit interrupter’s (22%). Thankfully, 97% of respondents who had experienced damage because of the voltage surge reported no injuries or loss of life associated with those events. One respondent (3% of the reporting sample) reported an injury because of a voltage surge incident.
Twelve percent of respondents who experienced equipment damage from surge events he elected not to purchase surge protection afterwards. The remaining 88% of respondents bought surge protection within six months or less of the event. In fact, 66% of those responding to this question purchased surge equipment immediately after a surge incident.