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Old 11-04-2012, 12:17 PM   #1
walt1122
 
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


Hi all, hope someone can give me some assistance with a problem we are having with our front gate system. We are a small Sub-division with a set of gates to limit the number of visitors and sightseers. The gate system worked well for 3 or 4 years without a hitch but in the last few years it has had problems. The control board is easily fried by a power surge or lightening strike. The company GTO ( gates that open) have looked at the boards and just say "possible lightening strike" is the most likely cause and charge us for a new board and that's it. Power to the board is 12v from transformer at 120v power/surge suppressor power strip. I'm told it is 3000 joules but can not confirm Can't find the maker "Prime" on WEB. Control board has auto type 25A fuse. The 120v is grounded at meter fed to small breaker box about 20 feet away from control board via underground conduit. This also has a phone line to allow access to system and to call residents from key pad directory. This key pad has blown out once as well.
But the control board for the gate is the primary concern @ 350 a pop it is getting pretty expensive. The GTO company has on their WEB site a recommendations to add additional grounding to the swinging gates, the arms and stanchions that hold them up. I have tried to drive 8 foot rods down but ground it solid Tennessee sandstone at 3 feet everywhere I pound.

Any ideas where I should focus my resources?

I say bury the bare grounding wire laterally but others think that a more sensitive surge protector is the answer.

any and all suggestions would be appreciated.

thanks

Walt

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Old 11-04-2012, 12:21 PM   #2
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


A surge protector is only as good as the electrical system.

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Old 11-04-2012, 01:01 PM   #3
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


Yes do as the manufacturer suggests. Lightning can get into the system from the power supply as well as into other wiring "via the air".

A nearby lightning strike can "induce voltage" in wires run above ground [other than the 120 volt power wires]... sensor loops in the pavement, wires run on a gate or fence, a metal gate, etc.

The idea to protect these is to "electrically shield" these things. And that sounds like what the manufacturer is having you do.

You can also get "shielded wire" like to run to a keypad or sensors on a gate. Or running wire in metal conduit which is grounded can also help to shield wire runs.

So far as surge protection, get one of those $80 computer surge protectors sold at office supply stores. The best kind which come with a zillion dollar guarantee.

And you can get a "whole house surge protector" which mounts in the main electrical panel.

Good to have both! Whole house plus the surge protector at the gate.

So far as driving the ground rod, some areas which are all rock will have horizontal ground rods. Might ask at your local electrical inspector's office what is done for your local area. (If no one here knows.)

Or a local electrician may know how to drive that rod in - have special tools or a "king kong guy" who can do it!

Here is some reading on this...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shielded_cable

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/arti...387874,00.html
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:51 PM   #4
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


You might consider using a double conversion/online ups for the gate. That type of ups is basically always powering the gate and the incoming ac power is just used to charge the batteries. What that setup, any power sugre or strike, save for a direct strike, shouldnt effect the control board. You would also have the benefit of the gate working during brief power outages.
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Old 11-04-2012, 02:31 PM   #5
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


thanks guys, Billy Bob I will look into a better surge suppression system. I'm not sure I can get everything protected with conduit especially underground. That is why I was thinking that by grounding as suggested in the company Web site I would be giving the lightening a path to ground and it might not want to go through the circuit board to find a path to ground. I didn't think I would need a licensed electrician since I wasn't touching any 120 v just 12 volt stuff.

thanks again

Walt
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Old 11-04-2012, 02:37 PM   #6
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


The phone line is probably part of the problem. The 12V transformer provides some degree of isolation between the gate controller and the power system. That transformer, combined with a surge protector and decent grounding, should have already prevented most problems - except that the phone connection provides a completely unprotected path for induced surges to damage the equipment. I would focus on the phone line issue.
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:09 PM   #7
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


To add to what mpoulton stated, do not just connect the telephone wiring to the telephone connectors on the surge strips. Use real gas discharge protectors. Emerson Network Power is the best in the business, when it comes to good protectors http://emersonnetworkpower.com/en-US...s/default.aspx
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:51 AM   #8
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Driveway gate control board lightening issues


Quote:
Originally Posted by walt1122 View Post
I didn't think I would need a licensed electrician since I wasn't touching any 120 v just 12 volt stuff.
Right. I was just suggesting hiring an electrician to drive the ground rod only. These guys do this stuff all the time, so they might have a few tricks for your area.

Also you do not need to "shield" wire which is underground. The ground cover acts as a "shield" to lightning. Just be concerned about wire which is run above ground like along a fence/gate. Best if that is in conduit or shielded wire is used.

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