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D35 Metal Oxide Zinc Varistor Disc with KEMA Type Test Report
The Metal Oxide Film Resistor contains a ceramic mass of zinc oxide grains, in a matrix of other metal oxides (such as small amounts of bismuth, cobalt, manganese) sandwiched between two metal plates (the electrodes). The boundary between each grain and its neighbour forms a diode junction, which allows current to flow in only one direction.
The mass of randomly oriented grains is electrically equivalent to a network of back-to-back diode pairs, each pair in parallel with many other pairs. When a small or moderate voltage is applied across the electrodes, only a tiny current flows, caused by reverse leakage through the diode junctions. When a large voltage is applied, the diode junction breaks down due to a combination of thermionic emission and electron tunneling, and a large current flows. The result of this behaviour is a highly nonlinear current-voltage characteristic, in which the MOV has a high resistance at low voltages and a low resistance at high voltages.
A varistor remains non-conductive as a shunt-mode device during normal operation when the voltage across it remains well below its "clamping voltage", thus varistors are typically used for suppressing line voltage surges. However, a varistor may not be able to successfully limit a very large surge from an event like a lightningstrike where the energy involved is many orders of magnitude greater than it can handle. Follow-through current resulting from a strike may generate excessive current that completely destroys the varistor. Lesser surges still degrade it, however. Degradation is defined by manufacturer's life-expectancy charts that relate current, time and number of transient pulses. The main parameter affecting varistor life expectancy is its energy (Joule) rating. As the energy rating increases, its life expectancy typically increases exponentially, the number of transient pulses that it can accommodate increases and the "clamping voltage" it provides during each transient decreases. The probability of catastrophic failure can be reduced by increasing the rating, either by using a single varistor of higher rating or by connecting more devices in parallel. A varistor is typically deemed to be fully degraded when its "clamping voltage" has changed by 10%. In this condition it is not visibly damaged and it remains functional (no catastrophic failure).
The parameter of MOV:
Metal Oxide Film Resistor technical parameter