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Why do the red lighted switches on surge suppressors eventually begin flashing?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by John Doe, Nov 22, 2003.

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  1. John Doe

    John Doe Guest

    I have a Tripp-Lite top of the line surge suppressor.
    http://www.tripplite.com/products/product.cfm?productID=111

    The lighted switch is near the upper left of the device shown in this
    picture.
    http://www.tripplite.com/shared/img/products/small/ISOBAR8ULTRA.jpg

    My dad had a power switching device under his monitor which had the same
    symptom, some of the red lighted switches begin flashing/flickering after
    years of use.

    I find difficult to believe that Tripp-Lite would use a cheap part. The
    other parts are very impressive. For example, the outlets are modular
    parts, not just pieces of metal stuck inside the plastic housing. My guess
    is those red lighted switches are difficult to design for long life. Maybe
    having something to do with the fact they are run off of AC line?

    Whatever the problem, I am curious what is going on with them. Why do they
    begin flashing?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. hamilton

    hamilton Guest

    Oh John,

    You are making me feel real OLD.

    For the young in the forum.

    The light is a NEON gas lamp.


    After years of service the neon gas in the lamp does not fully
    illuminate.
    The flickering is the partial ionization of the neon gas.

    This is normal, and yes its very, very cheap.
     
  3. Ban

    Ban Guest

    John Doe wrote:
    || I have a Tripp-Lite top of the line surge suppressor.
    || http://www.tripplite.com/products/product.cfm?productID=111
    ||
    || The lighted switch is near the upper left of the device shown in this
    || picture.
    || http://www.tripplite.com/shared/img/products/small/ISOBAR8ULTRA.jpg
    ||
    || My dad had a power switching device under his monitor which had the
    || same symptom, some of the red lighted switches begin
    || flashing/flickering after years of use.
    ||
    || I find difficult to believe that Tripp-Lite would use a cheap part.
    || The other parts are very impressive. For example, the outlets are
    || modular parts, not just pieces of metal stuck inside the plastic
    || housing. My guess is those red lighted switches are difficult to
    || design for long life. Maybe having something to do with the fact
    || they are run off of AC line?
    ||
    || Whatever the problem, I am curious what is going on with them. Why
    || do they begin flashing?
    ||
    || Thanks in advance.

    Eventually the overvoltage transient suppressors(MOV) are worn out by
    absorbing too many surges and have to be replaced by a service tech. I
    imagine you are not too familiar with soldering electric parts, are you.
    I copied the relevant passage from the manual.

    ciao Ban
    The red "Fault" LED lights after

    continued use of your Isobar.

    Your Isobar may have been damaged

    by a surge.

    Have a qualified electrician examine your

    outlet to determine if a fault has developed.

    If no fault exists, contact Tripp Lite for

    service.
     
  4. N. Thornton

    N. Thornton Guest

    A foolish way to spend ones hard earned.

    Neons do this. Neons are cheap parts. Surge suppressors are money
    wasted in 99% of cases.


    Regards, NT
     
  5. Paul Mathews

    Paul Mathews Guest

    The threshold voltage for neon lamps increases over their lifetime.
    They are somewhat photo sensitive and temperature sensitive, so the
    flickering can depend on those factors as well. Tripplite shaves cost
    where they can, just like most other successful manufacturers.
    Paul Mathews
     
  6. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Agree on that.

    But what's the neon failure mechanism? I'd suspect the neon augers its
    way into the surface of the electrodes, and is also maybe trapped on
    the glass by sputtered electrode molecules. Seals may leak, too.
    Anybody know?

    I've seen a lot of very old outdoor HV neon signs that still work
    fine.

    John
     
  7. John Doe

    John Doe Guest

    (N. Thornton) wrote
    I am sure you can baffle me with bullshit if you can't dazzle me with
    brilliance, so I wont argue the subject with you.

    Does anyone in here have links to reliable sources which
    substantiate/refute N. Thornton's sensational claim? If his claim is true,
    I am sure there are many which would enjoy taking pot shots at an allegedly
    useless device which is so popular. It's very good tasting bait IMO. The
    effectiveness or not of surge suppressors would be easy to prove in a
    laboratory.
     
  8. (in <[email protected]>) about 'Why do the
    red lighted switches on surge suppressors eventually begin flashing?',
    One 'W T' posts at tedious length about this on this NG from item to
    time. The point is, in brief, that most surges are *common-mode* - both
    hot and neutral surge together with respect to ground, and the surge
    limiter can only zap such surges if it has a VERY low-impedance
    connection to ground. I don't know which sort of surge suppressor you
    have, but unless it has a connection to true ground that is a THICK wire
    less than about 1 m long, it won't be very effective.
     
  9. John Doe

    John Doe Guest

     
  10. (in <[email protected]>) about 'Why do the
    red lighted switches on surge suppressors eventually begin flashing?',
    The URL didn't work earlier, but it does now. It says '12 ft cord'. Ends
    message. It CAN'T deal properly with common-mode surges.
     
  11. N. Thornton

    N. Thornton Guest

    Sensational :) Its just another product.


    Popular tenets of business:

    Products are sold to get your money. Half the products in the shops
    are as useful as rubbish. Some shops seem to sell nothing but. But as
    long as you can be made to believe there is a good reason to give them
    your money they'll profit. Junk product sales bring in billions per
    year. I didnt realise that could be viewed as sensational.

    read this ng. But products generate profit, profit for manufacturer,
    retailer, advertiser, and review magazines that rely on advertisers.
    And everyone wants money. So you work out the motives involved.
    not sure I understand
    yes it is, mostly they have no path to ground and thus offer no
    protection to common mode surges. Distant lightning strikes cause
    common mode surges. Computer power supplies already have significant
    surge protection built in. Simple.

    Are you someone who can do something with this sort of info?


    Regards, NT
     
  12. John Doe

    John Doe Guest

    (N. Thornton) wrote
    I am reading this thread and I don't see any links to laboratory tests
    which provide evidence of your claim surge supressors are a waste of money.
    My research turns up the opposite.
    But you have no idea where your proof might be.
     
  13. John Doe

    John Doe Guest

    So you cannot point to any laboratory tests, let alone anything done by
    reliable sources, which substantiates the sensational claim a Tripp-Lite
    top of the line surge suppressor (the one I pointed you to) is a waste of
    money.
     
  14. Tim Shoppa

    Tim Shoppa Guest

    Don't blame marketing when it succeeds... blame the truth-tellers for not
    being convincing enough. Read that as "not good enough salesmanship".

    It's one thing to completely redo a home's ground system and entrance
    panel (I've been working on mine over the past month, now with two dozen
    ground rods in a radial configuration and all the associated Cadwelds to
    bond everything together, and a combination of gas discharge tubes and
    Sidactors on all RF & telecom lines) and another to sell a $50 trinket with
    50 cents of MOV's inside.

    Tim.
     
  15. Dave Holford

    Dave Holford Guest


    I have only seen them marketed to, and used in, consumer applications.

    The readership of this newsgroup should be able to determine if they are
    marketed to, and used in, professional installations; in which case one
    would assume there is some validity to the advertising.

    I am not sure if they are really useful gadgets or should be classed
    with 'oxygen free speaker cables' and 'magnetic water softeners'.

    Some definitive data would be welcome.

    Dave
     
  16. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    Neon lights use low pressure Neon. Threshold (trigger)
    voltage determined by a combination that includes gas
    pressure, contents (purity) of the gas, electrode material,
    temperature, external excitation (ie external light), and
    electrode separation distance. Voltage must be high enough to
    convert neon gas into plasma. Plasma is a low impedance
    conductor - meaning current now become the relavent
    parameter. While in a conductive (plasma) state, the amount
    of current determines how electrodes vaporize; contaminate the
    gas. This contamination causes neon gas 'threshold voltage'
    to increase.

    As that threshold voltage increases, then neon lamp does and
    does not trigger. That would be the flashing observed. Life
    expectancy of a neon lamp is extended by limiting the current
    through that neon lamp while in plasma state - the series
    resistor. But reducing this current also lowers the light
    output. And so we have the tradeoff between light output and
    life expectancy.

    Typically NE-2 glow lamps were installed for a life
    expectancy of 100,000 hours. However some manufacturers may
    need more light output or have that device 'appear' to require
    replacement earlier. So they would use a smaller series
    resistor that shortens life expectancy of that NE-2 neon glow
    lamp. Concept found in books on plasma physics and better
    understood when vacuum tubes were popular.
     
  17. w_tom

    w_tom Guest

    Start with http://tinyurl.com/l3m9 .

    In the meantime - what research? Of course that research
    lists numbers? It discusses various types of transients -
    especially common mode or longitudinal mode - which are the
    destructive type of surge?
     
  18. John Doe

    John Doe Guest

    After some more research, I figure the off-topic troll is motivated by
    either the fact some do not know buildings in the United States are
    shielded from common mode transients, or this is a game.

    Whatever. I can understand why there is no support for the arguments
    anywhere on the Internet. If you still disagree, maybe you can find a
    publisher interested in obscure ideas.

    Sometimes I wonder if American scientists hang out on Usenet.
     
  19. (in <Xns943BB[email protected]>) about 'Why do the
    red lighted switches on surge suppressors eventually begin flashing?',
    Go back through the group archives and look for the extensive
    explanations given by W Thom. Briefly, if you can understand something
    rather simple, the MOVs in the device attenuate differential-mode surges
    by applying a low impedance between the supply lines. This works,
    because the connections are very short and have low resistance and
    inductance.

    However, to attenuate common-mode surges, which are far more prevalent
    than differential-mode surges, the MOVs need to be between the lines and
    ground. There may well be such MOVs in your device. BUT the 'ground' is
    at least 12 feet of wire from even the ground in your wall-socket, and
    that is another stretch of wire from the ground reference of the surge.
    Just that 12 ft of wire has about 6 uH of inductance, as well as some
    resistance. This represents a large impedance at the high frequencies
    present in the surge and *seriously* compromises the attenuating effect
    of the MOVs. The impedance of the wiring from the wall socket to
    wherever the ground of the surge source is represents a further
    impedance limiting the attenuation.

    There IS a situation where differential-mode surges may have little or
    no effect on the equipment served by the surge-limiting device. But in
    general, you can't be sure that you have that situation (basically, that
    there is NO other path to ground whatsoever from anywhere in the total
    equipment set-up other than the power cord connected to the surge
    limiter). If you DO have it, then when the surge occurs, all the
    equipment, including all exposed metal parts, carries the full surge
    voltage relative to ground, so be sure you are not touching it when a
    surge occurs.

    Whether your device is a waste of money or not is for YOU to decide. I
    make no such assertion. You may consider that the insurance scheme
    associated with it is worth having even if there are doubts about some
    aspects of its performance.

    I wonder whether any manufacturer of these devices has put products
    through the European EMC common-mode surge test (IEC 61000-4-5, Figure 6
    [1]) and is prepared to publish the results, including the length of the
    cable used.

    [1] You need the latest version; the original had the artworks for
    Figures 6 and 7 swapped over.
     
  20. (in <[email protected]>) about 'Why do the
    red lighted switches on surge suppressors eventually begin flashing?',

    What is 'off-topic' about it? It's a natural development from your
    original post.
    For me, it's absolutely not a troll.
    Really? How do they do that? Why then does the US version of IEC
    61000-4-5 call for a more severe test (lower source resistance) for
    *equipment* than the International Standard? If the equipment is never
    exposed to surges, there is no justification for any test at all.
     
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