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I've been reading Henry Ott's Electromagnetic Compatibility Engineering and one of the chapters is about contact protection.

Looking at the various protection mechanisms to prevent or minimize arcing from inductive loads, it seem that the components used break galvanic isolation and instead you have capacitive isolation instead (such an RCD network across the contact).

Is there a way to achieve true electrical isolation (galvanic) and to protect the contacts ? It seems that its an either or situation (have one but not the other).

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It's possible to put a snubber, MOV or bipolar TVS across the load (or wires going to the load) rather than across the contact.

That preserves the galvanic barrier provided by the contacts, such as it is.

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