whole house surge supression recommendations

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by beekerc, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. beekerc

    beekerc IT Consultant / Network Engineer

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Seattle
    don't know if it's allowed - if not, my apologies for asking.

    can anyone give me recommendation on whole-house surge supression units? what brands are good, which ones to avoid, what minimum specs to look for, etc.?

    also, while it wouldn't hurt, is it necessary to still use surge supression power strips in addition to a whole-house unit? Especially for computers and A/V equipment. i'm trying to hit a good balance between prudent/cost-effective and overkill.

    Thanks
    BeekerC
  2. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    I've never seen statistics on what you can expect without using a suppressor and what you can expect with using one. Without this info you cannot make an informed decision.

    But-

    Energy absoption:
    New York City power is "dirty", Florida has lightning strikes, so Florida's surge suppressors need to absorb a much higher amount of energy if they are to last as long as NYC's suppressors, and probably more often.
    Response time:
    The risetime of the incoming surge for a lightning strike is very fast compared to NYC's droops and overages.
    Your local Power Company may provide you with info on how dirty your power is, etc.

    If you get informed about this, from Internet research or whatever, the suppressor salesman probably would rather sell to someone else. Informed customers are trouble.

    If the equipment to be protected costs $2K and the likelihood of a damaging strike or surge within the next, say, 10 years is 15% then you shouldn't spend more than 0.15 x 2000 = $300 on a protector.
    Also, you may have homeowner's insurance on your stuff so this equation will be altered.

    Post specs on your candidate suppressors and we'll critique.
    :)
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2008
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    There are various ways to provide the protection, but a common one often include MOV devices. Repeated hits to electronics can act like a chipping hammer...eating away the semiconductor material and can eventually cause it to fail or change its operating characteristics. A high-voltage spike can literally poke holes in parts and can be catastrophic.

    Panamax makes some nice stuff.
  4. brownizs

    brownizs In the Trades

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Springfield, IL
    We have an Intermatic Panelgaurd on our main panel, then for outlets with electronics, have the highest rated Surge protector, especially on my wife's CPAC, and the Plasma. You can go triple protection, with Leviton's outlet surge unit also.
  5. beekerc

    beekerc IT Consultant / Network Engineer

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Seattle
    I live in Seattle and have no idea about the cleanliness of our power or the occurrences of surges/lightning strikes. I have looked at Intermatic, Surge Assure, Cuttler/Hammer (Eaton) and Leviton. I will post specifics on models and specs later, but if you have any comments by brand, that would be a good place for met to get started.
    Thanks
  6. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Similar issues discussed here. The models that I looked at only promised to protect motors, and that wasn't my problem. I did have a loose neutral at the main though, causing voltage fluctuations, and I have not had a problem since I tightened it.
  7. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,460
    Location:
    MD
    I should mention that motors, toasters, elec. water heaters, lamps and anything that heats or spins or pumps or lights without using electronic controls probably don't need protection.

    The first thing that the electrons see when they go into my computer are huge capacitors (it uses a switching power supply) so it probably doesn't need protection either. A lot of stuff nowadays uses switching power supplies, to save energy.

    If you use suppressors at the appliance they will be easier to troubleshoot and replace.


    On power quality, an informal survey of your neighbors might turn up some useful data, depending on how much money is riding on the use/don't use decision.
    -If they have suppressors and no trouble: this may/may not be due to the use of suppressors.
    -If they have suppressors and trouble: the suppressors may have failed and they maybe don't know it or the suppressors are ineffective against the type of power quality problems that they are having.
    -If they have no suppressors and no trouble: if this is true for 10 or more of your randomly selected neighbors I'd say this is statistically significant and you probably don't need suppressors.
    -If they have no suppressors and trouble: Which appliances failed? Was it due to lightning? Are they on the same pole transformer that you are on?
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Your power company may offer whole-house protection for an initial fee plus a monthly fee. If so, read the fine print very carefully.
  9. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Actually, it also depends on the expected time of loss and time value of money, but since the time value of money is essentially zero these days (but probably not for long), these considerations are moot.
  10. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    Another way to look at it is to install a quality surge protection system - spend $600 if needed, then you don't need to worry about it.

    Or buy high quality outlets/switches (commercial grade) which last much longer and not have daily problems with "giggling" plugs to get them to work.

    Or buy a $200 commercial grade lockset for your door and have it last a lifetime instead of having to replace cheap locksets every 6 years.

    It is nice to buy/install quality things and have them stand up to use year after year.
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