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Lightning season is upon is (if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, anyway) and, as is sadly often the case, electronic devices will be taking a beating and by extension, so will our bank balances.  Replacing lightning-damaged equipment not only takes a considerable monetary toll (especially since vis major or so-called “acts of God” are not covered by most warrantees), but comes at a great cost to our convenience as well.  Gate motors may not be exempt, but there are some ways of minimising the chance of a lightning strike or at least minimising the damage that ensues.

 

1.       Proper earthing

 

This is arguably the most important point to consider with regards to lightning protection.  If you’ve ever taken a high school science class, you should know that electricity always takes the shortest route to ground, and an unprotected gate motor may well provide a lightning bolt with the ground it seeks.   Therefore, it is of paramount importance that you connect your gate motor to a suitable earth point, such as the track that the gate runs on.  Earthing can further be improved by installing an “earth spike”, which is essentially just a metal rod, next to the motor.  It is far more likely that lightning will strike this rod, as the rod provides it with a more stable earth.

 

2.       Surge limiters

 

There are some very effective products on the market that can be connected to a gate motor’s power supply and provide it with a means of “clamping” the excessive voltages induced by lightning and power surges.  Of course, these surge arresters will not prevent lightning from ever hitting your gate motor but it should at least minimise the amount of damage that it causes to the electronics.

 

3.       Built-in lightning protection

 

Gate automation companies are well-aware of the risk that lightning poses to electronic equipment, and as such much attention is given to the design and integration of onboard lightning protection.  Nowadays, most gate motors come standard with gas arresters and other surge-limiting components to minimise the damage caused by lightning strikes.  Again, the idea here is not to prevent lightning from targeting the motor (the person who invents such a means will be an instant millionaire!) but rather to protect the most vital components.

 

4.       Take preventative action

 

If the weatherman reports that a storm is on the way, it is always wise to unplug sensitive electronic devices.  This may cause some short-term inconvenience, but will save you a lot of heartache (not to mention cash) in the long run.