Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

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Fallible
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Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Fallible » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:49 am

The surge protector for my Mac desktop failed to protect it during a lightning storm and an apparent power surge knocked out the Mac (big repair bill) and hi-speed modem. (I should probably note that it happened while I was gone for several days so I can't be certain it was the lightning, although a neighbor told me about the storm and said it had knocked out the computer of another neighbor just a block away - and he, too, had a surge protector!)

I've never had this happen with surge protectors and this one is about four years old. Should I get a new one? What kind? (This one I think is from Apple.) Should I just unplug the computer during a storm? Shouldn't these protectors protect for all or most conditions? Do they wear out? If I unplug the computer every time there's a storm, is that good for it?

Thanks.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by sport » Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:59 am

When I bought my surge suppressor years ago, it came with an "insurance policy" that would pay for any damage caused by surges up to a large amount ($50,000?). You may want to check to see if your suppressor has such a guarantee.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by prudent » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:04 am

Surge protectors die a little each time they do their job, and if you have enough power surges they will lose the ability to protect. Better ones have an LED that goes out when the unit is no longer effective. Cheap surge protectors are cheap for a reason, generally don't have an indicator light, and are not going to stand up to a series of power surges.

Consider a whole-house surge suppressor instead.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by N1CKV » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:18 am

the best protection is from an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). By using a UPS your computer would actually be running off of the batteries inside the UPS, the batteries are constantly charged from the wall socket. This creates a buffer that is unmatched by consumer grade "Surge Protectors".
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Rob5TCP » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:22 am

Various surges have different capacity on how many joules that can handle (dissipate). The better ones will have a fuse that needs to be reset of it
takes a large hit. The cheap ones, as mentioned, will end up being an extension cord after enough hits.
A close lightning strike will go through most surge protectors.
My UPS (APC - I buy them reconditioned at about 1/3 the cost) have indicator lights telling me if everything is ok. They check for outlet
not grounded, also for over/under voltage.
For added protection I plug those into good quality surge protectors (which are far less expensive).
I have never had problems due to surges.
If you live in an area like lightning alley in Florida, you need the best surge protectors you can get.
Hint - when going away for a few days, I always disconnect my computers and my surges from the outlet.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Mudpuppy » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:25 am

Most people aren't looking for the correct thing when they buy a surge protector. They look at the joules rating on the front of the box. What you really should be looking for is the clamping voltage and response time. The clamping voltage says how high it'll let the voltage get before the surge protection circuitry cuts off the power. If it lets a 500V spike get through before kicking in, that's enough to fry some electronics. The lowest UL rated clamping voltage is 330V and it pays to pay extra for a protector with this clamping voltage rating. The response time is fairly self-explanatory; it should be around a nanosecond (or less) to provide the most protection.

You also should make sure the rated surge amps are 500amps or higher, but that should be the case for anything with a low clamping voltage and response time. Now here's a homework assignment. Try finding the clamping voltage and response time of some common surge protectors sold at big box stores.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by nisiprius » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:42 pm

We had a whole house surge protector installed. At least, we paid an electrician to install one and there's a box in the basement that says that's what it is. Cost about $500 IIRC, something like that. It's made by Intermatic. It just occurred to me to go look at it. It has a legend that says it's working if the green LEDs are shining, and a legend that says protection is reduced if the red LED is shining. The two green LEDs are shining.

I have no idea whether it actually works.

We regularly get thunderstorms, but not monumentally severe ones. Once we heard a really loud thunderclap and an intense bluish-white flash and noticed a dark mark in our driveway the day afterwards. We've never had any electrical stuff burn out in a thunderstorm before we put the protector in and we've never had any electrical stuff burn out after, so who knows? One of my computers is on an APC battery backup. Two aren't and my wife's isn't. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by jebmke » Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:46 pm

nisiprius wrote:We had a whole house surge protector installed. At least, we paid an electrician to install one and there's a box in the basement that says that's what it is. Cost about $500 IIRC, something like that. It's made by Intermatic. It just occurred to me to go look at it. It has a legend that says it's working if the green LEDs are shining, and a legend that says protection is reduced if the red LED is shining. The two green LEDs are shining.

I have no idea whether it actually works.

We regularly get thunderstorms, but not monumentally severe ones. Once we heard a really loud thunderclap and an intense bluish-white flash and noticed a dark mark in our driveway the day afterwards. We've never had any electrical stuff burn out in a thunderstorm before we put the protector in and we've never had any electrical stuff burn out after, so who knows? One of my computers is on an APC battery backup. Two aren't and my wife's isn't. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...
Green LEDs are comforting. :P But I agree, short of blasting a voltage spike through your system, I'm not sure what they tell you.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by rustymutt » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:20 pm

prudent wrote:Surge protectors die a little each time they do their job, and if you have enough power surges they will lose the ability to protect. Better ones have an LED that goes out when the unit is no longer effective. Cheap surge protectors are cheap for a reason, generally don't have an indicator light, and are not going to stand up to a series of power surges.

Consider a whole-house surge suppressor instead.
There are two types of surge protectors. Carbon protectors give you a one time and done protection against surges, whereas gas protectors keep on protector indefinitely. You'll pay about twice as much for a good quality gas protector as you would for carbon based protection. Phone lines are protected by gas protection nowadays, but was carbon early on. As the voltage increases with a surge, or strike, a chemical reaction occurs in the gas, that makes it short out to ground. Then it goes back to normal after the surge/strike. This brings up an even more important issue, the issue of your ground. No surge protection will guard you without access to a full grounding potential. Single point access to homes, or both electric service, and phone/cable is what you'd expect to have in most homes. However, some builders allow subs to bring the phone, or cable service into the home, opposite of where the electric service is entering. This can cause what's referred to as a ground loop. Noise can be found on these types of grounds, and data devices do not like noise.

No surge protection can 100% protect from lightning.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by interplanetjanet » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:33 pm

N1CKV wrote:the best protection is from an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). By using a UPS your computer would actually be running off of the batteries inside the UPS, the batteries are constantly charged from the wall socket. This creates a buffer that is unmatched by consumer grade "Surge Protectors".
What you are describing is known as a "dual conversion" UPS - it generates DC from mains electricity, which charges batteries, which power an inverter or a bank of inverters. These are good at isolation but suffer from inefficiencies during normal operation. They have some big advantages (you can rely on them to produce truly clean power from lousy input power) which keeps them in use in some roles.

Most small UPS units made these days are of the "line interactive" variety, though some older "standby" style UPS systems are out there. Neither one of these provides total isolation from transients though they do attempt to cope with them. A low end UPS is likely to do no better against surges than a surge protector.

-janet

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Fallible » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:29 pm

Thanks everyone for the excellent information. I’ve taken notes to bring with me when I buy a new protector/suppressor tomorrow. I'm not convinced though that even a good one can handle the "close lightning" strikes that Rob5TCP mentioned, and I now think that's what happened. After Nisiprius mentioned a "really loud thunderclap and an intense bluish-white flash" during a bad storm near his home, I remembered my neighbor saying that during the storm that hit our area he heard one thunderbolt louder than any he'd ever heard in his life. He said it sounded more like a bomb exploding than thunder. I'm guessing that was the lightning hitting really close by.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by westom » Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:44 am

[quote="Fallible"]The surge protector for my Mac desktop failed to protect it during a lightning storm and an apparent power surge knocked out the Mac (big repair bill) and hi-speed modem.[/quote]

Read the manufacturer specs for that protector. It did exactly what specifications said it would do. Protect only from one type of surge that typically does not do damage. What kind of protection is that? Your Mac and modem answered that question.

All appliances (including the Mac) have superior internal protection. Surges that may occur daily or monthly are made completely irrelevant by existing protection inside everything - including the dishwasher, bathroom GFCI, clock radios, and air conditioner. Your concern is a rare surge, typically once every seven years, that may overwhelm that protection. Any protector or UPS adjacent to an appliance does not even claim to protect from that destructive surge. Notice the so many hearsay recommendations; without spec numbers.

A direct lightning strike to AC wires far down the street was a direct strike to every appliance. Destrutive surges seek earth ground. Either you have connected a surge to earth BEFORE entering the building. Or (as you saw) it goes hunting for earth destructively via appliances. What was a best path to earth this time? Via your Mac and hi-speed modem. To earth via protectors already installed (for free) on the cable or telephone wires. Both incoming and outgoing surge path was through the Mac. Why were other appliances not damaged? Your Mac made a best connection to earth. Your Mac (and not your protector) protected other appliances. That was a very expensive protector - because that surge was not earthed BEFORE entering the building.

Nothing inside a house blocks or absorbs a surge. As in nothing. You bought a protector that must either block or absorb a surge. How? Either it stops what three miles of sky could not. Or it must somehow absorb hundreds of thousands of joules. How many joules did that protector say it will absorb? Hundreds? Naar zero.

How protection works. Either a surge is harmlessly earthed BEFORE entering a building. Or it goes hunting for earth destructively via appliances. What does every facility do that can never have surge damage? Earths one 'whole house' protector to protect everything. Then a surge is not hunting inside. Then the protector always remains functional even after a direct lightning strike. Read spec numbers. Only a 'whole house' protector has numbers that define protection even from direct lightning strikes.

Another popular urban myths. A protector sacrifices itself. Total nonsense. Grossly undersize the protector. Then a surge too tiny to overwhelm protection inside all appliances will destroy that grossly undersized (hundreds of joules) protector. That failure promotes sales and increases profits.

How many other appliances remained undamaged without any protector? Best protection is already inside the appliance. Your concern is the rare surge (maybe once every seven years) that can overwhelm existing and superior protection. Only solution - even 100 years ago - is an earthed 'whole house' protector. Obtained from companies with integrity including General Electric, Leviton, Siemens, ABB, Ditek, Polyphaser, Square D, or intermatic. A Cutler-Hammer protector sold in Lowes or Home Depot for less than $50. To protect everything.

If your Mac needs protection, then so does every TV, digital clock, radio, the furnace, mobile phone charger, and the most important appliance during a surge - smoke detectors. Only solution that protects everything (for about $1 per appliance) is a properly earthed 'whole house' protector. A solution so superior as to be found even in telephone COs and munitions dumps - where damage must never happen.

Protection is about earthing - not about a magic box. If your power strip does not have that low impedance (ie 'lesss that 10 foot') dedicated wire to earth, then how does it protect from a typically destructive surge? It doesn't. It is a profit center routinely recommended by hearsay. It only does what its specs said it would do. You even have damage as proof. A new one can only do what the old one also did - due to no earth ground wire.

Either connect low impedance (ie 'less than 10 feet') to earth BEFORE a surge can enter the building. Or nothing stops that destructive hunt for earth via appliances. How many joules in that new protector? Even that protector must be protected by one 'whole house' protector. Only you make that choice. Protect everything. Or have an adjacent protector that does not even claim to protect from a typically destructive surge. It did exactly what its specs said it would do - both yours and the neighbor's. Why spend so much on another one?

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Rob5TCP » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:09 am

Since NY's wires are underground, a direct hit is highly unlikely. I use the UPS and surge protector for almost daily over/under voltage conditions, which can over time, cause damage. During peak summer hours, my device shows exactly when it is running over/under and by how much. It can go hours on a low voltage (an over voltage condition does happen, but is rare).

In the suburbs, exposed wires create the hazard mentioned above. As stated, a whole house protector is the surest protection. The next best is to disconnect when lighting is expected. My brother, in Florida's lightning alley, disonnects the power
plugs whenever he leaves or there the radar shows threats in the area. It's an inconvenience, but it probably has saved more than one computer.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by theduke » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:29 am

I had a couple of surges from lightning that damaged my computer and modem even with a surge protector. What I did was install a GFCI receptacle that I plug my surge protector into. It has tripped a couple of times during lightening storms. But so far, so good. I know that may not be the best solution, but it was easy and frugal and does help.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by westom » Wed Aug 01, 2012 9:34 am

[quote="Rob5TCP"]Since NY's wires are underground, a direct hit is highly unlikely. [/quote]

Makes little difference if wires are overhead or underground. Surge is even on underground wires. As made obvious even in late 1950s research papers in the Bell System Technical Journal. Figures in multiple application notes demonstrates many overhead and undground wires at risk:
http://www.erico.com/public/library/fep ... 428_S1.pdf
http://www.erico.com/public/library/fep ... T22295.pdf

Even underground signal wires between two buildings must earth a 'whole house' protector where that wire enters both buildings. A strike to earth above that wire puts a surge on that wire.

Disconnecting has always been less reliable. Especially when a properly earthed 'whole house' protector is why facilities operate during all thunderstorms without damage.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by ilovedogs » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:07 am

I got a "line conditioner" that was recommended to me after surge protectors failed.

After a lightning strike that hit an outside security camera, the camera and the dvr it was connected to were damaged. I wasn't there. I came back to find the damage and that the lightning strike caused the line conditioner to turn off.

I can't figure out what difference it made to have it, if it just turns off and all the connected equipment was damaged.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by hicabob » Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:24 am

If a decent ground is the ultimate lightling protection why not just have a decent grounding rod at the point the electricity enters the house? In fact I thought this was required by code?

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Call_Me_Op » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:00 am

Fallible wrote:The surge protector for my Mac desktop failed to protect it during a lightning storm and an apparent power surge knocked out the Mac (big repair bill) and hi-speed modem. (I should probably note that it happened while I was gone for several days so I can't be certain it was the lightning, although a neighbor told me about the storm and said it had knocked out the computer of another neighbor just a block away - and he, too, had a surge protector!)

I've never had this happen with surge protectors and this one is about four years old. Should I get a new one? What kind? (This one I think is from Apple.) Should I just unplug the computer during a storm? Shouldn't these protectors protect for all or most conditions? Do they wear out? If I unplug the computer every time there's a storm, is that good for it?

Thanks.
Standard surge protectors will certainly not protect against direct lightning strikes - but only limited surges from more distant strikes.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Rob5TCP » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:20 am

westom wrote:
Rob5TCP wrote:Since NY's wires are underground, a direct hit is highly unlikely.
a properly earthed 'whole house' protector is why facilities operate during all thunderstorms without damage.
In most apartment buildings, you do not have option (unless they are already installed and I don't think they are here). My best options are a higher grade surge protector, then connected to my UPS.
In 20 years, I've never had a damaging surge (though I have lost electricity about 5 times).

Additionally, I do unplug at rate times as warnings are given about really sever weather coming. Though last week there was a seemingly unprecedented event with thousands of lightning strikes per instance- whatever an instance is.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Fallible » Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:57 am

westom wrote: ... Only solution that protects everything (for about $1 per appliance) is a properly earthed 'whole house' protector. A solution so superior as to be found even in telephone COs and munitions dumps - where damage must never happen.

...
Thanks very much for a good lesson in protection from direct lightning strikes, which I now realize is what happened in my area. Question: If I go the whole-house route with one of the companies you mention, how could I be certain it's "properly earthed"? Or won't I know for certain until another direct strike?
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by rustymutt » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:11 pm

hicabob wrote:If a decent ground is the ultimate lightling protection why not just have a decent grounding rod at the point the electricity enters the house? In fact I thought this was required by code?
In Kansas it is a requirement. However, most electricians put these right in to the ground next to your home. That removes 180 degrees of ground plane potential from working. I personally went and purchased an 8' copper ground rod, and drove it down about 9 feet out from my foundation. This way you get a total of 360 degrees of grounding potential. I also tied the phone, cable, and electrical grounds all together on this rod. In some areas, you can't drive a rod because of stone, or rock. In these situations, they sometimes will bury ground grids.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by indexfundfan » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:56 pm

After reading this post, I am thinking of putting one whole house surge protector. Is the following any good?

http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-Bre ... Bls42FYsUU
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by boffalora » Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:17 pm

I've installed whole-house circuit protectors in several homes I've owned, plus those of family and friends. For me it's important since I have multiple computers, a home network plus a ham radio station. I'll comment on a few items mentioned on this thread just from experience:

1. Before buying any whole-house surge protector, check your panelboard's (circuit breaker box) manufacturer and model. If it was made since about 1980, it is likely that there's a whole-house surge protector made just for that box in the form of a double-pole breaker replacement with a hefty ground wire to be connected to the box's copper ground bus. (In American English we call this 'grounding'; British English calls it 'earthing'.) Square-D, GE and Cutler-Hammer all have surge protectors available for their panelboards. Search the internet. If you're familiar with electrical repairs you can probably install it yourself in 5 minutes; otherwise hire an electrician.

2. If you have an older panelboard or fuse box, you'll need an external surge protector connected via a spare double-pole breaker or pair of fuses. This is the first time I've seen the Leviton model sold at Home Depot. Although I've never used it, Leviton is a respected brand and the price is right. It appears that this unit mounts in a standard steel or plastic box.

3. My favorite for years has been the Intermatic surge protector in its various iterations. Here is the current version. http://www.amazon.com/Intermatic-IG1240 ... m_sbs_hi_1 One of the homes in which I've installed one is that of a family member in an unusually lightning-prone region of the country. He and his neighbors have repeatedly taken surges through their power mains that have destroyed electronic equipment including TV sets and computers. He has had two Intermatic surge protectors take and absorb fatal hits while protecting his equipment and appliances, all while his neighbors suffered catastrophes. In each case he had an electrician inspect his home's wiring, replace the Intermatic and move on. From this experience I would say that the surge protector sacrificing itself is not a myth at all. It happens. Not often, but it happens.

Although I have a fondness for the Intermatic unit, if I were you I'd begin by searching for a custom surge protector made for my panelboard, and if none is available, then trying the Leviton just for its maker's reputation and the savings over the Intermatic.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by westom » Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:43 am

[quote="Fallible"] Question: If I go the whole-house route with one of the companies you mention, how could I be certain it's "properly earthed"? [/quote]

Inspection is important. Or consult one of fewer electricians who actually knows this stuff.

From your breaker box must be a couple of bare copper quarter inch wires. One would connect to water pipes. The most important ground must connection to an earth ground electrode that is low impedance (ie 'less than 10 feet') from the box. If that ground wire goes up over the foundation and down to earth, then ground is only sufficient to meet code. And too long for surge protection.

That ground wire best goes through the foundation and down to earth. Then the wire is shorter, has no sharp bends, is more separated from other non-grounding wires, is not inside metallic conduit, etc. All are important for a protector to be earthed. For 'low impedance'. And are completely ignored to recommend a line conditoner, UPS, or strip protector (that also does not claim to protect from destructive surges). Those ineffective devices violate most every rule for grounding. Protection is defined only by the item that absorbs hundreds of thousands of joules - harmlessly.

Earthing is required by code - but only one AC wire. One 'whole house' protector earths those other wires that probably carried a destrutive surge into your building. Also connected just as short to earth would be the telco's 'installed for free' 'whole house' protector, and a wire from the cable ground block. If every incoming wire connects to the same earth ground, then the 'secondary' protection layer exists.

Yes, secondary. Also inspect what defines your 'primary' protection layer. A picture deomonstratesd what to inspect in that 'primary' layer:
http://www.tvtower.com/fpl.html

Quality of earthing is important. Facilities that can never have damage install an Ufer ground. IOW protection starts before the footings are poured. Others must settle for less grounds. For most homeowners, one or two 10 foot ground rods are sufficient. If in poor conductive soil (ie sand), then more electrodes may be necessary. Again, what defines protection is an art. You can never have enough earthing. Some important rules are summarized above. Because a protector is only as effective as its earth ground. Because only earthing does the actual protection.

Protectors are simple science. Earthing is the 'art'. Protectors without that low impedance connection (ie UPS, line conditioner, etc) do not even claim protection from a typically destrutive surge. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by surgeknowitall » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:16 am

I find it odd that no one has posted the obvious yet. It may have not been an issue with the surge protector as much as it sounds as though you lacked low voltage protection. You mentioned the modem was damaged. Was there any other equipment plugged into the surge protector and if so were these items damaged? If they weren't then I would bet money that the surge damage came through the modem. Invest in a surge protector that is equipped with modem protection.

To learn more about protecting your home's equipment I recommend the following resources:

Nist's Surge Happens
http://www.eeel.nist.gov/817/pubs/spd-a ... appen!.pdf
IEEE How to protect your home from lightning
http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/IEEE_Guide.pdf
NEMA surge site
http://www.nemasurge.org/residential-facilities/
surge protection faq's
http://www.surgeassure.com/faq.aspx

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Dealmaster00 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:32 am

I also learned that surge protectors do not protect against lightning. My tv just got fried by a lightning strike last week.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Sam I Am » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:38 am

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by rustymutt » Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:58 am

Dealmaster00 wrote:I also learned that surge protectors do not protect against lightning. My tv just got fried by a lightning strike last week.

Your cable TV, and phone service protection is many times over looked. A storm surge can come in over these, and exit via a ground on any appliance, thus frying components. So don't over look these conductor highways.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by ejvyas » Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:24 pm

moral of the story: turn off and pull out all plugs and connections (computers, tv, electronics etc) before leaving your home for vacation. Also during lightening

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Sam I Am » Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:51 pm

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by westom » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:22 pm

[quote="rustymutt"] Your cable TV, and phone service protection is many times over looked. A storm surge can come in over these, and exit via a ground on any appliance, thus frying components. [/quote]

Cable TV, satellite dish, and phone are REQUIRED to already have protection. Cable TV and phone is typically good protection. Unfortunately, many dish installers never bother to install per code or for surge protection. A homeowner is responsible for that installation. Only a homeowner holds that installer (or his company) responsible for defective earthing and resulting damage. Many who recommend ineffective protectors also do not even know about that existing phone, cable, et al protection - due to advertising.

When an appliance is damaged (ie its cable port or telephone connection), that is typically the outgoing path to earth. Those who know only from speculation or hearsay then 'assume' that was an incoming path. Even forget to learn about protection required by codes. And forget to always know what was the outgoing surge path. Many forget how electricity works - therefore forget to identify the always required outgoing current path.

Most who recommend protection recite advertising myths. How to separate myths from science? Demand facts and numbers. For example, lightning is typically 20,000 amps. So informed consumes earth a 'whole house' protector rated at 50,000 amps (minimum). That 50,000 amps solution typically costs tens or 100 times less money than a UPS or other hearsay solution. Protection means nobody even knew a surge existed. As was true even 100 years ago.

The most common source of modem damage (as we engineers learned by tracing surge damage) is incoming on AC mains. And outgoing via a telephone or cable wire. Damaged side is not the incoming path; despite wild speculation. Damage is often the outgoing path to earth - ie via well protected cable or phone wires.

What does the electric company install behind the meter? A 'whole house' protector.

Even unplugging or power off is a least reliable solution. How do you unplug the dishwasher, furnace, GFCIs, clocks, dimmer and timer switches, and the most important appliance during any surge - the smoke detector? You don't. Only hearsay recommends that less reliable solution as if the millimter gap in a switch will somehow stop what three miles of sky could not. Informed consumers earth a 'whole house' protector. Because everything needs that protection. Then use every appliance, without fear, during a thunderstorm. Or does your telco disconnect phone service in your town with each approaching storm? Of course not. Only hearsay promoted disconnecting. Effective solutions are easy, reliable, less expensive, and have been routine for well over 100 years.

Did operators remove their headsets and leave the room with each storm? Of course not. Even 100 years ago, protection was about harmlessly earthing that energy outside. Today it is called a 'whole house' protector. A solution not found in any UPS, line conditioner, or magic box.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Mudpuppy » Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:47 pm

westom wrote:
rustymutt wrote: Your cable TV, and phone service protection is many times over looked. A storm surge can come in over these, and exit via a ground on any appliance, thus frying components.
Cable TV, satellite dish, and phone are REQUIRED to already have protection. Cable TV and phone is typically good protection. Unfortunately, many dish installers never bother to install per code or for surge protection. A homeowner is responsible for that installation. Only a homeowner holds that installer (or his company) responsible for defective earthing and resulting damage. Many who recommend ineffective protectors also do not even know about that existing phone, cable, et al protection - due to advertising.
They may be required to have protection on their infrastructure, but that protection does not extend entirely to each individual house. It prevents the surge from traveling "down the line" so to speak, but if lightning strikes between the protector and your house, there's nothing stopping it from traveling into your house. All the protector will do is stop it from traveling to other portions of the network.

It is, of course, a rare event due to the small strike target that exists between the last neighborhood protector and the individual homes, but I wouldn't go on for paragraphs berating people who want to protect against this risk. If one lives in extreme storm territory, one might have a much higher risk of such a close lightning strike than the average consumer. A whole house power protector does not protect against this since it only "watches" the power line entering the house.

As an aside, you have BBCode turned off for your posts. This is causing the quote mechanism to fail. Make sure when you post that on the right hand side by the text input box, underneath the smiles, it says "BBCode is ON" and that underneath the text input box, below the preview/submit buttons, that you have NOT checked "Disable BBCode".

Edit: Added a line break.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by westom » Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:37 pm

Mudpuppy wrote: They may be required to have protection on their infrastructure, but that protection does not extend entirely to each individual house.
That protection exists on every house for longer than anyone here has existed. Anyone recommending surge protection must know about that protection. And even inspects it. Minimally sufficient knowledge means those protectors are known and the earthing inspected. That protection was long required where each cable TV and telephone wire enters the building. Required by a long list of codes. And typically only known by the few who also actually know surge protection - and the many scams.

Protection was routine long before transistors existed. When Bell first started using transistors, many 1950s research papers asked if that existing protection (found on both homes and in COs) would also protect transistors. With some minor corrections, yes. Homes already had similar solutions. Since the 1980s, even better protectors are installed on every subscriber interface. Replacing the 'carbons' with better semiconductor based solution. Why do I mention this? Only those who actually know about protection would know why even 1950s protectors were so effective. A majority, only educated by hearsay, have not even learned of these old, well proven, and basic concepts.

That protection is required by FCC Part 68.215d(4). By the National Electrical Code Article 800.30A, by Bellcore, and a long list of other standards. From Article 800.30B
Location.
The primary protector shall be located in, on, or immediately adjacent to the structure or building served and as close as practical to the point of entrance.
Article 800.31
The primary protector shall consist of an arrester connected between each line conductor and ground in an appropriate mounting. Primary protector terminals shall be marked to indicate line and ground as applicable.
Again the point. A majority recommending protection only learn from hearsay and advertising. Do not learn how protectors work (as understood for over 100 years). Do not learn hard facts. Did not learn well defined codes. Do not demand nor post numbers. Do not even know of protection required for each home - required on each subscriber interface. And most important, have no grasp of earth ground. Even confuse a receptacle safety ground with earth ground.

Of course, protection is only as effective as its earth ground. Only one person is totally responsible for that ground. Often the person who is responsible does not know what an earth ground is. Could not be bothered. And then is easily scammed by urban myths, outright lies, and 'magic box' protectors.

A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. Homeowners who want protection start by learning about what only they are responsible for - the earth ground.

A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. That sentence should have everyone's attention.

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by Fallible » Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:33 pm

surgeknowitall wrote:I find it odd that no one has posted the obvious yet. It may have not been an issue with the surge protector as much as it sounds as though you lacked low voltage protection. You mentioned the modem was damaged. Was there any other equipment plugged into the surge protector and if so were these items damaged? If they weren't then I would bet money that the surge damage came through the modem. Invest in a surge protector that is equipped with modem protection. ...
The only other equipment plugged into the protector was the printer and a pencil sharpener and neither was affected. Thanks for the links to more info.
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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by S&L1940 » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:13 pm

Rob5TCP wrote: If you live in an area like lightning alley in Florida, you need the best surge protectors you can get.
Hint - when going away for a few days, I always disconnect my computers and my surges from the outlet.
I am in the lightning capital of the world (Florida) and always disconnect the TV's and Computers when we go away. But I cannot shut off the DVR box or the dear wife will miss all the shows she has programmed. :oops:

Also, slightly off topic, I shut off the main water supply. Nothing like coming home to several inches of water from a burst dishwasher, toilet or washing machine feed.
Don't it always seem to go * That you don't know what you've got * Till it's gone

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by magellan » Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:58 pm

I'm in the unplug it if it's convenient school of thought. I don't unplug everything, but if a storm is coming or I'm leaving for vacation, I usually unplug the power strips for the entertainment gear, the color laser printer, and maybe other LCD TVs. When thunder starts to rumble, I usually drop the power cord out of my laptop and run on batteries until the storm passes.

I've set things up so unplugging the important stuff is easy and it takes less than a minute to make the rounds through the house. Anyone that says this isn't the safest approach doesn't know what they're talking about. If you don't disconnect the wires that are attached to your gear, there's a risk no matter what you do. Which things are worth unplugging is of course based on costs vs benefits. I never unplug appliances like the fridge or microwave, and if we're in the middle of watching TV, we'll usually just keep watching.

Jim

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Re: Surge Protector That Didn't Protect

Post by magellan » Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:13 pm

1530jesup wrote:Also, slightly off topic, I shut off the main water supply. Nothing like coming home to several inches of water from a burst dishwasher, toilet or washing machine feed.
One spring, a friend purchased a lakeside cottage for a song. It was a bit of a fixerup'r though. To start with, it had 4 feet of water in the basement. Apparently over the winter there was a power outage that caused the pipes to freeze while the owners were away in Europe. When the power came back on, the water ran continuously until the water level in the basement reached the electrical panel and shorted it out. Not sure if that took days, weeks or months, but I bet they got a killer electric bill from the well pump running 7x24 for so long. Because there was water/moisture/mold damage everywhere, my friend basically gutted the place.

Jim

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