Power surge

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by confusion, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. confusion

    confusion New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    We had a power surge due to the power company working on a line outside our house. The power went off and when it came back on it kicked off four circuit breakers. This was the first time in 28 years living here that the breakers have kicked off following a power outage. We have a Fios power box that burned out in the basement, a microwave oven which was on its own line, two surge protector power strips in a bedroom on its own line, a lcd tv with a Fios top box and a x-box360, plus three hdmi cords in another bedroom with its own line. The refrigerator and washer and some lights were off when the breaker went off, but when I switched the breakers back on they turned on with no visible ill effects. I’m going through my home owners insurance to try and get something back, but I want to see about not having a repeat performance. The lcd tv, Fios top box and x-box weren’t on a surge protector, but would one really have stopped the surge? What I mean is, how about one plugged into another? Two, inline. I don’t have room in my electric panel for the surge breakers, and I’m not sure that I care for the power meter device the power company puts on. Any ideas?
  2. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,305
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Welcome to Terry's Forums confusion,

    Surge protectors do work, for surges but not lightning.

    Hopefully your power provider will absorb the cost of your losses. But could be hard to prove.

    Most appliances have MOV protection built in, and may just blow the fuse in the device, you can replace it and it works again.

    Not sure about what you say when you say "the three hdmi cords" what they have to do with it, other than maybe power went thru them connections, and burnt things up ?

    The power surge protectors are rated with Clamp Voltage, and I use as low a voltage as possible for most household devices.

    Sounds like the power company may be at fault, they should not have sent that much Voltage down your line.

    Good Luck on your project.


    DonL


    I would go to the power company first, Your Insurance Company will just go after them, then may raise your rates.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,128
    Location:
    New England
    A good example of why I'm an advocate of whole-house surge suppression. Hopefully, nothing connected to a surge suppressor was damaged, but keep in mind, that on some designs, the suppressor itself may have sacrificed itself...verify that it's 'okay' indicator is still on, if not, replace it (maybe for free if you contact the company).

    When it comes to surge suppressors, three things to keep in mind: total energy it can disipate (more is better), the clamping voltage (too low, and they can wear out soon), and response time (faster is better - in the single nanosecond range is good). Another thing is the modes it protects. The best ones do: hot-neutral, neutral-ground, and hot-ground suppression (three separate circuits).
  4. confusion

    confusion New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    I've looked at belkin, monster power, apc and tripp lite, as possible brands of surge protectors to buy. Is any one better than the rest? As for clamping voltage, is it just a measure of how many hits the unit can take before it fails? Like 12 small hits or 4 large hits. If you get one with too low a voltage it can wear out quickly. What if you go with too high a voltage? Is there a whole house surge protector that doesn't include having the power company attach some devise to the meter outside the house, or adding a double breaker to the breaker box? Is there something that would go next to the breaker box and get wired to it? Thanks for your help.
  5. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,540
    Location:
    North Carolina
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,128
    Location:
    New England
    Don't think you can legally do anything before the meter.

    The ones I've seen (other than the ones dedicated to a particular piece of equipment, either wired or as a box), are wired into the panel. The wires to it need to be protected, thus the reason why you need breakers for it. Since nearly all modern homes are wired with 220 service, you need a breaker on each leg. The things generally have four wires: two hots, a neutral and a ground. The two hots go to a double (220vac) breaker to ensure you get both legs protected. While it will work stacked onto an existing breaker, the installation instructions of the ones I've seen say dedicated breakers and thus may not pass inspection if not done that way. Now, assuming the breaker you installed it on was rated for more than one wire (not all are), functionally, it would work, but again, if the instructions say separate breakers, it is not to code.

    Most of the components in a surge suppressor should be rated to survive for a fairly long time. If their maximums are not exceeded, a very long time. But, the more hits they take, eventually, they'll break down. Most of the decent ones have some sort of monitoring circuit that indicates it is working. On the one I have, there is an LED for each leg that should be always lit. If one or both of them goes out, the thing has failed. My panel is in the garage, and it is right by the driver's door so I see it each time I get in or out of the car. Kind of handy.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011
  7. confusion

    confusion New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    I'm slowly getting the idea of surge suppressors, much due to this site. I think the breaker type, like the Sieman's circuit breaker and secondary surge arrester, seems like a good idea. Between that and a good suppressor at each devise, I'll feel a little more comfortable. Thanks again for your help.
  8. Bobelectric

    Bobelectric Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    38
    Location:
    Eighty Four,Pa. 15330
    I never saw the reason was lightning????
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,128
    Location:
    New England
    Most surge suppression can't do much for a direct (near) lightning strike. But, the levels get attenuated the further away it is, and so, thus do have an effect. The better surge suppressors come with a fairly high buck insurance policy. I've never tried to collect, since I've been lucky and not had a failure.
  10. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,793
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Possibly when they first restored power, the neutral was poorly or not connected at all. That would put devices in your home fed by breakers on one phase of your service panel in series with devices fed by breakers on the other phase, and the higher wattage device will cause the lower wattage devices to receive up to possibly double the normal 115 volts they are rated at. for instance, a refrigerator winding up in series with a TV will most like cause the TV to be destroyed. A surge protector with the correct voltage rated parts MAY protect the device, but many suppressors are rated at over 300 volts and are for short duration spikes. And then again, the surge protector will need its own circuit breaker that will kill power to the device plugged into it. Once the MOV or varistor or whatever in a surge protector gives up its one life to protect against a surge, it is toast and does no more good against evil.
    I have a whole house suppressor at my panel, and hope one day it will protect my stuff, but I don't think it will if the neutral gets lost.
  11. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,305
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    That is exactly what I thought BobL.

    They should have hooked the neutral up first, but sounds like they hooked it up last.

    I think the power company may have been at fault.

    Around here they would pay for damages, Not the insurance company.


    Have a Great day.


    DonL
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2011
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