What is the need for isolation in electrical equipment?

Isolation in electrical equipment, also known as power supply isolation, is primarily concerned with providing a means of separation between two circuits. While still enabling a power transfer from both electric components, electronic isolation prevents the transfer of alternating current and direct current to other parts of a system where it’s not wanted. By separating two sections of a power supply, isolation creates a barrier in which electrical components are kept safe in the event of an electrical irregularity.

Using these isolation techniques for electrical equipment helps protect the area from electrical fires as well as people from situations involving electrical shocks. Aside from protecting against fires, isolation in electrical equipment is also helpful in preventing damage done to equipment via lightning strikes and surges, shifting voltage levels, keeping ground loops in control, and most importantly protecting operators from high voltages.

There are three different standard methods to choose from when talking about implementing an isolation system. Those are as follows:

  • Transformers are so common that they can be seen everywhere. This type of electrical equipment uses isolation via a magnetic coupling that goes from the primary side to the secondary winding.
  • A physical route for isolation can be seen through any non-conductive pathway used between conductor surfaces. They can be anything from a simple gap, using a dielectric medium, or even just insulation.
  • Optocouplers are much more complex than the previous two options. An air gap serves as the isolation measure and the incoming signal is transferred by an IR LED and phototransistor. This high voltage isolation method is still able to provide enough protection to equipment.

Using this safety measure for electrical equipment will keep things running smoothly by preventing breakdowns in the first place.


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