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The South American climate and resistors

28 January 2019

Often known as the continent of extremes, South America’s geographic variations include the snow-capped Andes, savannah-style grasslands and the mighty Amazon and Orinoco river deltas. Here, Stewart Wittering, marketing director for South America at power resistor manufacturer, Cressall Resistors, explains how the South-American geography and climate affects the resistor market.

South America’s extreme geography has resulted in the formation of isolated communities, which means that power distribution can be piecemeal, a notable difference from the National Grid of the UK and the Synchronous Grid of Continental Europe.

Remote conditions

The power needs of remote communities can have indirect effects on the resistor market. Geographical constraints on electrical distribution have resulted in a de facto reliance on localised generation and battery technology in some places. In the event of an earth fault, resistors can limit current flow and thereby the risk of damage to equipment.

It is essential that backup battery systems work properly when called into action. Portable Load Units can be used to test the capacity of standby batteries and the output of generators by simulating the working load. As standby systems are often installed at remote locations, test equipment must be easily transportable. Because Cressall’s load units were originally developed for use in the field by telecoms, rail and offshore companies, they are easy to handle and can be operated by one person.


From the hot and wet climate of the Amazon basin through to the snow-capped Andes and the deserts of Chile, the continent’s climate varies greatly in accordance with its geography, ocean currents and winds.

These challenging environments demonstrate the importance of equipment being designed appropriately. Enclosures must protect contents from external elements, including wind, rain and sea mist, yet allow sufficient ventilation to dissipate the heat generated during operation.

In order to achieve trouble-free operation, engineers must ensure enclosures are designed to avoid high levels of humidity and contamination as these can reduce insulation resistance.

Natural disasters are relatively common in Latin America. This means that equipment needs to be resilient to earthquake tremors. Originally developed for use in rail traction and on board ships, Cressall’s resistors are robust and can withstand high levels of shock and vibration.

Wind power

With Latin America expected to commission more than 47 GW of new wind power capability by 2026, this renewable source is a popular choice. With a relatively low population density and energy needs in remote areas, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Columbia offer an ideal scenario to harness wind energy.

Multiple types of resistor are used in wind power generation, including dynamic braking resistors (DBRs) and crowbar resistors. DBRs control the over-speeding of turbines from gusting winds and crowbar resistors can prevent damage to the power electronics of the turbine by short-circuting the rotor windings in the event of a grid disturbance.

Scattered communities

While the region’s scattered communities pose challenges to power distribution, scattered international businessespresent a new set of problems. Mainland South America is split across three time zones, ranging from GMT-3 in eastern Brazil and Argentina, GMT-4 in Chile and Western Brazil and GMT-5 in Peru and Colombia.

With the potential for up to a six-hour time difference between a local buyer seeking support from an international resistor manufacturer, it is important that a manufacturer’s support team is experienced in communicating with customers several time zones away.

Cressall’s multilingual team is familiar with working across a global market. Other perceived problems, such as logistical coordination, are not an issue as it often exports on a global basis.

The continent of extremes has unique climates and challenging geography, with a continuous demand for industrial resistors. Operators and engineers must ensure their resistor manufacturer is familiar with the continent and its challenges. 

For more information, please contact:

Martin Nicholls
Cressall Resistors
Evington Valley Road
Tel:  +44 (0)1162733633
Email: Martin.Nicholls@cressall.com
Web:  www.cressall.com
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