Although often used as separate terms in the surge industry, Transients and Surges are the same phenomenon. Transients and Surges can be current, voltage, or both and can have peak values in excess of 10kA or 10kV. They are typically of very short duration (usually >10 µs & <1 ms), with a waveform that has a very rapid rise to the peak and then falls off at a much slower rate. Transients and Surges can be caused by external sources such as lightning or a short circuit, or from internal sources such as Contactor switching, Variable Speed Drives, Capacitor switching, etc.

Temporary over voltages (TOVs) are oscillatory phase-to-ground or phase-to-phase over voltages that can last as little as a few seconds or as long as several minutes. Sources of TOV’s include fault reclosing, load switching, ground impedance shifts,single-phase faults and ferroresonance effects to name a few. Due to their potentially high voltage and long duration, TOV’s can be very detrimental to MOV-based SPD’s. An extended TOV can cause permanent damage to an SPD and render the unit inoperable. Note that while UL 1449 (3rd Edition) ensures that the SPD will not create a safety hazard under these conditions, SPDs are not designed to protect against TOVs.