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Thread: Do you have a whole house surge protector?

  1. #16
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    A whole house surge protector is an inexpensive first line of defense in case of, well, surges in power. Nothing will stop a direct lightening hit. Second line of defense is surge protectors or UPS at critical components.
    NOW you tell me...

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    A lightning strike can be a million Joules. How do you decide how big is big enough? I'm pretty sure my system would get fried in a direct hit.
    I don’t think anyone is trying to protect from a “direct hit.” But, many times a strike that is a little ways away can be easily attenuated, when it would fry unprotected equipment. I’ve definitely lost a few items over the years that I suspect went bad during thunderstorms, but nothing since I’ve put in the whole-house surge suppressor, and have never lost anything on a UPS. Most electronics end up on 6-port surge protectors anyway, just because they tend to be clustered with other electronic items, and I need the extra receptacles to run everything.
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  3. #18
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    When we replaced our refrigerator I installed an surge protector outlet to protect the computerized controller. Under $20 and as easy as replacing an outlet. I would not have bothered unless we were pulling the fridge anyway. No room for a extension cord type protector. I also did one for the tv wall mount outlet.
    BillD

  4. #19
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    This reminded me that a couple of years ago, a surge took out my garage door opener (and only that). The repairman stronlgly suggested putting an outlet surge protector on that as he said they were pretty sensitive. He'd been working on those (replacing circuit board) all week. I'd have never thought of that on my own.
    Hobbyist

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Calow View Post
    This reminded me that a couple of years ago, a surge took out my garage door opener (and only that). The repairman stronlgly suggested putting an outlet surge protector on that as he said they were pretty sensitive. He'd been working on those (replacing circuit board) all week. I'd have never thought of that on my own.
    This is even more important for those of us that have "connected" door opener systems...they are computers. The surge units are not going to help with a major hit, but as Jason mentioned, they will help with a lot of the smaller ones. Those occur more often than many folks realize.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #21
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    I have Siemen's breaker-style surge suppressors in both my panels. In 19 years I've had to replace one of them. They were about $130 when I had to replace one.

    I've never lost anything to surge and never had a lightning strike near enough to cause damage, but I've lost a couple of Tivo DVR units when the power went out. Undervoltage is a real problem for electronics, as they then try to draw more current to use the same power. I try to keep all of my sensitive equipment on line-interactive UPS units (I prefer APC). The line-interactive units monitor the incoming voltage and correct it up to line level, going on battery as needed. I might try out on of the double-conversion units for my expensive computer, which runs the equipment off the battery at all times, effectively isolating it from the line voltage. They are more expensive but it is the best protection for sensitive/expensive electronics. The voltage output is also a true sine wave, so it is good for high-end audio components.

  7. #22
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    I live in a rural area and we experience routine power surges. One of my kilns uses PLC's that cost around $500.00 each. I used to have to replace at least one a year due to power surges.

    After installing a "whole house surge arrestor" on my primary load center, PLC lifespan improved dramatically. Now I'm getting 5 - 6 years of life out of them.

    However, it does not seem to help protect my Pioneer mini-split (the Mitsubishi has not had problems). I'm losing a board on the Pioneer at least once a year after a power surge.

    YMMV.

  8. #23
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    Living in the lightning capital of the US, we fear lightning all summer. My son's apartment complex got hit 2 weeks ago, and they are still waiting for replacement parts for the elevator, the entry gates, and the fire alarms that went off constantly for 5 hours the other night.

    We had a direct hit about 20 years ago. Fried $52K worth of electronics. All had UPS/surge suppressors. Nothing stops the damage from a direct hit (and we think ours likely entered the house via the cable system, not AC, then fried a number of not plugged in devices through the network cables).

    I actually was seriously considering a lightning protection system (emits ionic particles, I think, so that your neighbor's house gets fried instead of yours.) When all my home theater components got fried, I went into Best Buy to look for replacements. They couldn't show me anything, because they were hit by lightning the night before, and that fried lots of things. The salesman seemed confused, as they had installed an expensive lightning protection system on the store, and it hadn't work. That pretty well killed the thought of me buying one...

    I gave up using UPS units on everything. The yearly cost of batteries got absurd, and UPS batteries that used to last 5 years, then 3 years, then 2 years, then yearly replacement. I used to put dates on all the UPS batteries. Amazing how they are crap now.

    So, long response, but sure, why not put on a whole house surge suppressor. But don't expect them to protect you if you have a direct hit. Probably help with surges, though. And don't forget the cable entry too.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 08-06-2022 at 10:54 AM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  9. #24
    I have one for my shop, but haven't installed it yet. I'm inclined to put it in as we've had two surges in the recent past. One blew a power strip (TVS diode) and tripped several breakers. It wasn't lightning. The other incident blew a TVS diode board in our garage door opener. After replacing the board (~$11.00) it's worked fine since. I'm a firm believer in them.

  10. #25
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    Alan, there is a new breed of UPS units that use lithium-ion batteries, which tend to last much longer in use.

    I've had APC units for a long time and replace batteries every 3 to 4 years, whenever the unit tells me it needs one. One of my units is about 10 years old now and is on its third or fourth battery. The next time it fails, I'll likely replace it with a li-on model, but as it is a 2U rackmount 1500VA unit, it will be rather expensive to replace.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Meyer View Post
    Alan, there is a new breed of UPS units that use lithium-ion batteries, which tend to last much longer in use.
    Derek:

    Who makes them?
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  12. #27
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    I second Roger's advice that nothing protects against a lightning strike. In a bad electrical storm I unplug the expensive machines in my shop. Can't say that we have ever had a big electrical surge here, the only time we suffered any damage was a lightning strike.

  13. #28
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    Never seen one on a house in California but I hear back east lightening rods are no longer used on houses. Theory of a lightening rod is it draws off the charge before it gets hig h enough voltage to arc to ground, so no actual strikes.
    BilLD

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lightstone View Post
    Derek:

    Who makes them?
    APC and Eaton make some, but they look like they are targetted for network server/equipment applications. There is a company called Vertiv that makes a like of Li-on UPS units, the PSI5 series. They look to have a smaller unit that can be used for desktop applications. I have no experience with this company.

    Derek

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Meyer View Post
    APC and Eaton make some, but they look like they are targeted for network server/equipment applications. There is a company called Vertiv that makes a like of Li-on UPS units, the PSI5 series. They look to have a smaller unit that can be used for desktop applications. I have no experience with this company.

    Derek
    My guess is pretty pricey. I'd personally rather hook it up to my Tesla, but that's a whole other story...

    Actually, just looked some up on APC's website. Yes, rack mounted, so really designed for servers.

    To cover my computer's power requirements, the cheapest unit they sell would cost $3K, and provide backup power for only 3 minutes. A big no for that one.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 08-16-2022 at 8:28 PM.
    - Its not that Im so smart, its just that I stay with problems longer. Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

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