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surge arrester[′sərj ə‚res·tər]
A protective device designed primarily for connection between a conductor of an electrical system and ground to limit the magnitude of transient overvoltages on equipment. A lightning arrester is really a voltage-surge arrester.
The valve arrester consists of disks of zinc oxide material that exhibit low resistance at high voltage and high resistance at low voltage. By selecting an appropriate configuration of disk material, the arrester will conduct a low current of a few milliamperes at normal system voltage. During conditions of lightning or switching surge overvoltages, the surge current is limited by the circuit; and for the magnitudes of current that can be delivered to the arrester location, the resulting voltage will be limited to controlled values, and to safe levels as well, when insulation levels of equipment are coordinated with the surge arrester protective characteristics.
A typical surge arrester consists of disks of zinc oxide material sized in cross-sectional area to provide desired energy discharge capability, and in axial length proportional to the voltage capability. The disks are then placed in porcelain enclosures to provide physical support and heat removal, and sealed for isolation from contamination in the electrical environment. See Lightning and surge protection