Protection of Electronic Circuits
by Ronald B. Standler, Ph.D.
This 434-page book was originally published by Wiley-Interscience
in April 1989,
with an international standard book number (ISBN) = 0-471-61121-2.
In late 2000, Wiley let this book go out-of-print.
In December 2002, Dover Publications republished this book
in a paperback edition,
with an international standard book number (ISBN) = 0-486-42552-5.
Table of Contents
Contents of this book
Who is the intended audience?
Contents of this book
Transient overvoltages, also called surges, are a type of electrical
overstress that is conducted on wires.
Overvoltages can damage computers, modems, electronic equipment,
and even electrical motors.
Such surges are commonly caused by lighting or
switching reactive loads. Surges are transient events: they
typically have a duration of less than 0.001 seconds,
never more than a few milliseconds.
In the absence of protective devices that limit the voltage,
the magnitude of the peak surge voltage is usually understood as at least
twice the normal system voltage.
This book describes:
This book does not include discussion of the special problems of either:
telephone circuits, three-phase ac power, shielding from
transient electromagnetic fields, grounding techniques, or electrostatic
- various threats waveforms:
A number of readers have found particularly useful the frequency
spectra (pp. 104-107) of standard surge test waveforms
that are specified only in the time domain.
- the origin of surges from lightning,
surges from switching off inductive loads,
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from nuclear weapons,
- the propagation of surges along cables, which modifies the surge waveform, and
- surge test waveforms that are mentioned in engineering standards (e.g.,
the 8/20 µs surge current waveform, the
1.2/50 µs surge voltage waveform,
and other standard test waveforms).
- the properties of nonlinear surge-protective components (e.g., gas tubes,
spark gaps, varistors, avalanche diodes, forward-biased diodes, thyristors, etc.),
as well as how to connect these components to minimize effects of parasitic inductance.
Low-pass filters, optical isolators, and isolation transformers are also mentioned.
- application of these surge-protective components to:
- protect operational amplifiers connected to analog data lines,
- protect digital data transmitters and receivers connected to digital data lines,
- protect dc power supplies, and
- protect electronic equipment from surges carried on single-phase ac supply mains,
at either 120 or 240 V rms.
- validating protection measures, including laboratory techniques and
safety in a high-voltage laboratory.
This book contains references to 260 different articles in archival technical
journals, government reports, patents, books, and engineering standards.
At numerous places in the book, there is a brief mention of the historical
evolution of surge-protective technology or standard overstress test waveforms,
so that the reader understands why certain practices were adopted.
There is also a seven-page glossary that has precise definitions
of specialized terms used in surge protection technology, to make
the book useful to a wider audience.
Who is the intended audience?
This book was written for electrical engineers who either:
Information from both industrial, military, and consumer applications
- design electronic circuits,
- test electronic components, equipment, or systems for performance
during overvoltages, or
- use electronic equipment or systems in adverse environments,
such as exposure to direct lightning strikes or switching surges.
While a complete understanding of everything in the book requires
an understanding of calculus, differential equations, and physics,
most of the applications information should be useful to
people with an education in neither electrical engineering nor physics,
but who have an understanding of electronic circuits.
While this book was written for self-study, it has been used as a textbook
for classes at University of Queensland (Australia), and
Uppsala University (Sweden), among other universities.
When information in another place is required, the text refers to a chapter
number, so one does not need to read the entire book in order to
solve a practical problem.
The chapter number is printed at the top of every other page,
for convenience in finding information.
Dover's suggested retail price is US$ 26.95.
This book can be purchased online directly from
The book can also be ordered through any bookstore.
When Wiley discontinued selling this book,
Wiley's retail price was US$ 145.
(Wiley's high price probably contributed to declining sales,
as it was too expensive for students, and many engineers in industry
are reluctant to pay so much for a book, even though that price was much less
than the value of their time to discover what they could have quickly
learned from reading this book.)
The approach in this book is to work from fundamental principles
and the physics of the situation, and to discuss explicitly general
design strategies and the philosophy of protection.
This presentation is still valid. There have been only a few really novel
surge-protective components introduced since 1988 and the basic design
strategies are still the same now as described in this book.
I finished writing this book in June 1988, when I was an Associate
Professor of Electrical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.
Two years later, the simultaneous end of the cold war and a recession
annihilated all financial support for my research programs.
(The U.S. Army and a local electric utility had supported
my research in the late 1980s at the rate of US$ 250,000/year.
In June 1990, this rate went to zero and stayed
at zero for the next five years, before I abandoned research in
electrical engineering and switched careers to law.)
The same dramatic change in funding for scientific and engineering research
also affected my colleagues, so the rate of production of new engineering
knowledge in the USA slowed dramatically in the 1990s,
compared to the 1970-89 era.
The costs of reunification of Germany during the 1990s diverted money
there away from research in universities, affecting my colleagues in
Germany. So, there have been surprisingly few new developments in
the area of this book since 1990.
If I were to revise this book now, I would add:
- fire and explosion hazards of surge-protective devices,
including both surge suppressors and surge arresters.
I have posted an essay on this topic
that gives a sketch of the new information on this topic
that has appeared since 1988, with citations to published archival literature.
- more on coordination of surge arresters and surge suppressors,
mostly from published papers in the early 1990s.
- the invention in Germany of a lightning current arrester that can
safely conduct direct lightning strikes to earth.
- new engineering standards in surge-protective devices from the
International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
- updated list of surge-protective components
and test equipment
- equation for the 10/350 μs surge test waveform
Copyright and Permissions
On 14 May 2001, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., the original publisher
of this book, assigned the copyright to me personally.
Dover Publications has a license to reprint, duplicate, publish,
distribute, and sell this book.
Any requests for permission to reproduce one or more figures or
to copy long quotations should be sent in writing to me
at my address.
this document is at http://www.rbs2.com/peco.htm
first posted 13 Nov 2001, this version 16 Jan 2008.
Go to my essay on the protection of
small computer systems from surges and other power disturbances
on the ac supply mains. That essay begins with a list of
my brief credentials
in protecting electronic circuits from overvoltages.
return to my homepage