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Ask Slashdot: Best Option For Heavy-Duty, Full-Home Surge Protection? 341

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-your-stuff dept.
First time accepted submitter kmoser writes "Like most people, I have a couple of surge protectors for sensitive/important electronics, and even a UPS for a couple of items like computers. But I don't have surge protector on all outlets, and these consumer-grade devices don't cover things like 220 volt appliances. Add to that the fact that I live in a lightning-prone area and it's only a matter of time before one of my expensive devices has a major meltdown. I've looked into full-home surge protectors that install next to the fuse box but the prices vary widely and I have no idea how reliable they are or what brands are good. An electrician friend tells me they can still blow out, and when they do they're difficult to replace if they were installed behind a wall. Can anybody shed some light on the best options for protecting all the electronics in my house with a single surge protector?"
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Ask Slashdot: Best Option For Heavy-Duty, Full-Home Surge Protection?

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  • wait .. (Score:4, Funny)

    by WanQiaoYi (2459934) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:34PM (#39944819)
    " protecting all the electronics in my house with a single surge protector?" That's going to be a lot of extension cords
    • Re:wait .. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:42PM (#39944955)

      They get installed inline with the main house circuit breaker panel. Expensive.

      Most people budget for the $$$ for the device. Then they forget the labor to do it right, and always forget to spend the $$$ for a good ground connection.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SpockLogic (1256972)

        They get installed inline with the main house circuit breaker panel. Expensive.

        Most people budget for the $$$ for the device. Then they forget the labor to do it right, and always forget to spend the $$$ for a good ground connection.

        As he lives in a lightning-prone area he'll need to protect every line into the house, TV antenna, cable, telephone etc. Only protecting the power line is not enough. Up the $$$ budget some more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I bought a kit that included the part that an electrician installed connected to the breaker box, an inline piece for cable, and another for telephone. It was recommended to put expensive electronics on smaller plug-in surge protectors to guard against the very brief leakage that can occur just before the whole-house protector blows. This after a buddy just uphill from me lost the electronics in just about everything (dishwasher, garage door opener, etc.) but not his computers.

      • by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @03:48PM (#39945949) Journal

        In my experience, getting a good ground is sometimes the toughest part of home electrical upgrades, period!

        Twice in a row now, I'm moved into homes that were built in the 1950's or 1960's, and didn't even provide 3 prong grounded wall outlets.
        In both cases, I tried to hire an electrician to upgrade my home to properly grounded outlets, and after they did a few basic tests, essentially told me they weren't willign to go through the trouble it would take to do it. (Basically, they decided the only good way to accomplish it involved sinking a rod into the ground outside and wiring the main buss to it with an underground cable.) Either they were too lazy to do it, or simply thought it would take too much of their time to be able to quote me anything like a reasonable price for the project.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:04PM (#39947027)
          Ground spikes are standard procedure and have been part of building code for decades.

          If you can't find an electrician to do it for you, it's not that difficult to do it yourself. Get 2 ea. 6' copper ground spikes from your local hardware or electrical supply store, and pound them in with a sledgehammer. Careful not to bend them too much in the process. They aren't iron.

          Then a little bit of bare copper ground line, maybe around 3 to 4 gauge, to each spike.

          It's not a difficult job at all unless your house was built on top of a giant rock. I suspect that the real issue was not the ground spike, but running the rest of the ground wires through existing walls. That is the kind of job that no electrician likes to do. When I was looking to buy a home I passed up an otherwise great price on a nice house for exactly the same reason.

          Sure, I could have taken the money saved and upgraded the wiring, but it would have been so much of a pain, and caused so much temporary destruction to the interior, I decided it wasn't worth the trouble.
          • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:08PM (#39947089)
            I should add that if you have iron pipes, you can get much of the same protection by grounding to the water pipes at the closest point to where they run underground.

            That might not meet code, these days, but it used to for a very long time. And it will give you a serviceable ground.

            Don't ground to your gas pipe, though. Not A Good Idea.
            • by denvergeek (1184943) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:16PM (#39947187)
              The NEC these days has you drive a 6'-8' ground rod underneath the panel at the service entrance, bonded to the panel. You ALSO have to run bare copper back to the service entrance for water, and bond to that as well. In case one or the other fails, you still have a reliable path to ground. It's not simply a matter of bonding to grounds though. The panel itself needs to include a bus bar for tying all the individual grounds together, and providing a path to both both bonded ground points. So now you're basically looking at a service change, replacing the panel, meter, and mast (if applicable). It's not horribly expensive, but it's not cheap either (I used to do em for around $5k-10$k depending on the job, but that was years ago).
              • by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @09:00PM (#39949369)

                You ALSO have to run bare copper back to the service entrance for water, and bond to that as well. In case one or the other fails, you still have a reliable path to ground.

                That's not why you have to do it; "grounding" is relative and not a magic thing that guarantees no current will flow, electrical current can flow between "ground" connections. Ground potential varies from place to place, 10 feet away, ground can be at a different potential. Geology, Electromagnetic interference, solar activity, lightning, electrical faults elsewhere, and other factors can further exacerbate the difference.

                Bonding is required for the same reason that Neutral and Ground must be connected together at one place (the main service panel). If you do not have Plumbing Ground and Electrical ground bonded, you have different parts of your system connected to ground at different places ---- this means, the ground on your service panel can now be at a different electrical potential than your plumbing.

                What this means, is that if something conductive touches both your plumbing, and something connected to the main panel ground (or neutral), current will flow through that conductive thing, to equalize the potential of the different grounds.

                If that conductive thing is a human, this could very well mean that someone dies, because they touched the tap electrically connected to the plumbing, and a kitchen appliance with a metal chassis connected to neutral.

                Therefore, the requirement is that you already have these bonded together with a low resistance path.. The bonding ensures that both systems are always at the same potential, so current does not flow between Neutral or Main panel ground and your plumbing.

  • Not Advice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:35PM (#39944835)
    So here is a non answer to your question: Just replace stuff when they break Put your surge protectors next to the expensive stuff and gets some insurance. Replace things when they break. Unless your dealing with medical equipment or servers don't bother with some expensive custom solution.
    • Re:Not Advice (Score:5, Informative)

      by Thelasko (1196535) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:55PM (#39945191) Journal

      Unless your dealing with medical equipment or servers don't bother with some expensive custom solution.

      This isn't an expensive custom solution. It's becoming more common in new construction. Home Depot has several models to choose from, [homedepot.com] some as low as $30. [homedepot.com]

      The question is, how good is it?

      • The question is, how good is it?

        Surge protector Fraud Alert: The maximum allowed energy of the $30 surge protector [homedepot.com], 560 joules [wikipedia.org], is tiny. It seems that the manufacturer is taking advantage of the ignorance of most people and Home Depot about electricity.

        A joule is 2.78 x 10-4 Watt-Hours of energy. Calculating the maximum energy allowed by the surge protector: 2.78 x 10-4 * 560 = 0.15568 Watt-Hours. That means the surge protector can protect against a 1,000 watt surge for 0.00015568 hours. If I calculated correctly, that is 1,000 watts for 0.560448 seconds. More realistically, a lightning strike would cause at least a 10,000 watt surge. The surge protector could protect against that for 56 milliseconds, a trivial amount of time. I've seen lightning strikes that lasted more than a hundred milliseconds. The current in a 10,000 watt surge at the rated 175 volts is only about 57 amps. If you want to protect against a more realistic 570 amp surge, the protector will last only 5 milliseconds until it explodes.

        The surge protector linked may just have 3 small MOVs [wikipedia.org].

        Some surge protectors give no indication or inadequate indication when they have burnt and stopped protecting. The linked description says, "LED indicates operational status". For you to know if the device is working, you must check to see if the LED is lit. That's not convenient if it is installed in "service-entrance locations".

        The Home Depot web page to which you linked says,
        "36,000 Amp maximum
        20,000-volt maximum surge current"
        .

        The "maximum surge current" listed is said to be 36,000 amps, but that is for a minuscule amount of time. Volts are not current; saying "20,000-volt maximum surge current" is ignorant.

        Translation: The CEO of Home Depot has no technical knowledge and should be replaced immediately. If I were CEO of Home Depot, one of the first things I would do would be to make sure all the descriptions were accurate; I would not allow sneaky, tricky product descriptions.

  • guide from dehn (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.dehn.de/pdf/blitzplaner/BBP_2007_E_complete.pdf

  • Buy home insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tsalmark (1265778) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:36PM (#39944845) Homepage
    The cost of a whole home UPS/surge protectors is going to be rather more than the equipment it protects. Protect sensitive electronics. If you are rural consider burying the electrical lines from property line to the house.
    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:48PM (#39945061)

      The cost of a whole home UPS/surge protectors is going to be rather more than the equipment it protects.

      Whole house UPS, yes, thats some dough. Whole house surge protector, absolutely not. You're looking at about $200 for the device, maybe 2-3 times that for installation (to do it RIGHT). Even retail home depot it would be hard to blow more than $400 total for the device plus all parts.

      I suppose if you go by the /.er stereotype where mom's basement has a 5 gallon drum as a chair, a $89 special monitor with a bare incandescent bulb over the monitor hanging by the wires for illumination and a $899 graphics card that is probably not going to get blown out by lightning, then whole house is probably not worth it.

      One huge problem is its not "buy it and forget it" you will have to replace it eventually, where eventually depends on how much lighting you get.

      • Of course a $600-900 home surge protector is still going to be less to replace than a couple of appliances in the house. And should still be covered by insurance.
    • by Spazmania (174582)

      A whole-house surge suppressor runs $50 to $100 plus installation. It works by shorting hot to common long enough to trip the main breaker when the voltage spikes. Since electricity takes the easiest path, it follows the short instead of destroying your equipment.

      For a large surge (nearby lightning strike) it generally burns out the surge suppressor too. Complete with smoke. Seen it happen with one of mine. Pretty much the same a a power strip surge suppresor. So don't install it behind a wall.

      • Whole house surge protectors belong on the outside panel. I had one on my house in Colorado (which was also equipped with professionally installed lightening protectors). Tripped once after a near strike. A little flag popped up indicating that it had blown (the other tip off was the lack of power inside the home). Had to replace the MOV [wikipedia.org] in it - cost $25.

        Now perhaps the separate smaller surge protectors all over the house would have safed the various gizmos, but perhaps not. I don't trust most of the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:37PM (#39944867)

    That's the 'key phrase' to use when talking to folks, "Transient Surge Protection". Covers everything from the neighbors 220v welder switching on to an induced over voltage from a near hit 1/4 mile away or so.

    There isn't a simple "plug 'n play" solution. For example, Motorola's R-56 communications site standard is some 500 pages of how to do this. It takes intentional planning and a bit of engineering as there are at least 2, if not more goals to consider. NEC and local codes come into play as well.

    It's not a trivial task. It won't tolerate a trivial solution. Expect to spend some time and money to do it right or risk not only a false sense of security but the chance of making things worse.

    links:
    http://www.radioandtrunking.com/downloads/motorola/R56_2005_manual.pdf

  • Raycap (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:38PM (#39944873)

    I highly recommend you check out Raycap products (http://www.raycapsurgeprotection.com/), they're widely used in the Telecom industry and I use then in all my DataCenters.

  • If you are that concerned about blowing out one of your appliance, I would suggest looking into a home warrenty. They will cover replacement/repairs costs for random appliances along with a number of other things home owners doesn't cover. When I bought my house it came with one and when my dishwasher failed they replaced it, no questions asked. You will still have the inconvience of being without the appliance for however long it takes you to replace it, but you won't be out the money.
    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      As always, read the small print on it. Also, many contain deductibles per year. When a tree fell on my parents house, they still had to pay $300 on the repairs. Of course, considering it was a 45 foot or so pine onto the roof, that's not bad.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I live in a lightning-prone area, but never taken a hit. it's a gamble, but that's what insurance is for to begin with. sounds like you already have all you need, why spend more money to protect appliances unless they can't be replaced? whatever your deductible is has got to be cheaper than the type of solution you're looking for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:40PM (#39944921)

    Any electrician will tell you that whole house surge protection does not replace local surge protection. It stops most of the spike but not all of it. You still have to have surge protection strips locally for sensitive equipment.

  • Honestly, how important are surge protectors? Don't most have a disclaimer that they don't protect vs lightning anyway?

    I'm sure for large businesses or extreme cost equipment they are a good investment, but for home users are they really needed?

    (Honest question since I don't really know)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Honestly, how important are surge protectors? Don't most have a disclaimer that they don't protect vs lightning anyway?

      I'm sure for large businesses or extreme cost equipment they are a good investment, but for home users are they really needed?

      (Honest question since I don't really know)

      A strike anywhere close to your house can cause a lot of havoc. And any one item you have to replace may not seem so bad, but you could also lose several at once.

      I lost an ethernet port, the controller for my home alarm system, the controller for my garage door opener and a 35" TV set in one strike. Altogether this cost over $800 bucks to recover from and I didn't even replace the TV!. All of this was also in a new, well-grounded house.

      I'm in Iowa - not really a legendary place for lightning - and have had

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      I had an ADSL modem saved by a surge protector once upon a time (late 90s/early 00s, don't remember exactly when). A few other things also survived thanks to surge protectors (a couple of the surge protectors even magically survived the incident).

      What incident you ask? Well, lightning struck a tree down the street, a friend of mine who lived a little closer to the lightning strike had his 56k modem literally destroyed (we're not just talking about the magic smoke being let out, we're talking about the modem

  • SPD's are expensive. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:44PM (#39944979)

    EE Here

    Seriously, finding a single phase SPD to protect your house is expensive. And if they take a direct strike, they'll blow out and need to be replaced (also expensive). Your best bet would be to install some lightning protection air terminals on the roof of your house, and run some down conductors to ground rods. This'll be expensive too, but there's less of a chance of needing a replacement. If you really want to go the SPD route, Siemens has some good products.

    Honestly, I wouldn't do either. I'd put some surge protectors on my most expensive electronics and just go through the process of unplugging things when a big storm comes up. If that isn't an option, then be prepared to spend money.

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      While replacing a single expensive surge protector might be expensive it is still a lot more convenient than having to order a new fridge, buy a new computer (and transfer data from your fried one), buying a new stereo and all the other shit that might break.

      Surge protector breaks? Bypass it and wait for the new one to be delivered/installed.

      Every fucking gadget and piece of electric equipment in your home breaks? Oh goodie, you get to spend a couple of weeks fixing everything.

    • by robot256 (1635039)

      Why are you even mentioning air terminals? Unless your house is actually on top of a mountain, the probability of a direct strike is miniscule compared to that of a power or data line surge. The poster didn't even ask about direct strikes.

      Breaker-box-mounted surge protectors are now in the sub-$200 range at Home Depot etc. My house has one of these as well as surge protectors on all the sensitive equipment. Anything that gets past the main surge protector, or gets induced in the house itself by nearby

      • by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:05PM (#39946181) Homepage Journal

        Heh. My house was saved from a lightning strike a few years ago by the mailbox.

        The mailbox pedestal (masonry) had chicken wire inside, apparently to reinforce the mortar between the cinder block core and the outer layer of rock. One stormy night a LOUD clap of thunder was heard and one (only one) breaker popped, for a room in the back of the house. The next morning we discovered pulverized bits of masonry all over the front yard and a large divot in one corner of the mailbox.

      • Depends on where you live. The Front Range in Colorado (Colorado Springs-Fort Collins metro area) has some of the highest lightening frequency in the country. After two of my neighbors had direct or near direct strikes to their houses - with concomitant significant costs, I put up air terminals, ground lines and multiple levels of surge protection. After another guy down the block fried his home theatre system, a couple other neighbors also joined in.

        Not necessarily typical, but it does happen. Once you

  • by ComSon0 (473373) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:45PM (#39945007) Homepage
    I have a surge protector connected to my power meter and the power company even guarantees your appliances against surges. Here is a link to FPL's "SurgeShield" [fplenergyservices.com]
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:46PM (#39945019) Homepage

    I've looked into full-home surge protectors that install next to the fuse box ...

    When I had my house converted to circuit breakers, it was less than $100 for them to add the whole-house surge, but the electrician was already there for the panel replacement. The whole job was only $700, but that was a good decade or so ago.

    It just slots into two of the circuit breaker spaces, so I'm assuming it's just open the panel cover and swap 'em out should something go wrong. (mind you, he also drove in a couple of new grounding rods outside, and connected it all up, so the installation was a little more than just slotting them in)

    Whole house brownouts on the other hand ... that's something I've still got issues with, but I'm not willing to put up the money for a giant flywheel.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:46PM (#39945023)

    Effective lightning protection is layered. The socket surge protectors are actually meant to be used in combination with the other layers, not standalone. A close enough lightning strike will induce strong currents in the wiring between the fuse box and your appliances. The surge protectors are designed to protect against the resulting voltage and not much more, and obviously a central surge protector can not protect your appliances if it's not between the surge and the appliance. Stronger surges from lightning strikes into the power lines outside your house on the other hand will not be stopped by the small surge protectors alone. You need both. And then you'll also want a lightning rod to prevent direct strikes into your wiring, because no surge protector would be able to handle a direct strike.

    • Faraday cages (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:15PM (#39946333) Journal

      Effective lightning protection is layered. One of the best things you can do to stop errant radio waves from messing with you is to build a Faraday cage around your house. That will provide an effective defense against lightning strikes from outside the home.

      However, this won't protect you from lightning strikes that occur INSIDE the Faraday cage. To defend against that, you need to not only have everything inside a Faraday cage, with a household surge suppressor, you also need to have a separate Faraday cage around every electronic device in the home, each with its own surge suppressor. It may seem a bit awkward, having to crawl inside a cage to watch TV or play computer, but it's worth it!

      That way, when the aliens attack with their pulse EMP weapons, you will be blithely unaffected and will be able to sell your stereo on Ebay when everybody else's has been blown to 5h17.

      Seriously, why is this important? If you care about your device, get a $10 surge suppressing power strip and call it good. I've already had several devices saved by such devices, when my parent's house was hit by lightning, it blew out their TV/VCR, microwave, telephone, and just about everything else in the house, except for the computer that I'd insisted they buy a SS power strip for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:48PM (#39945059)

    We've got an observatory on a hill with air cabling and plenty of lightning. Our three-stage
    protection has never failed through the power line. DSL connections have died many times through the
    telephone lines.

    First line of defence are large MOV devices with separate grounding installed at the nearest pole. Cost about 600USD.
    Second line is at the breaked boxes, cost 400 USD.
    Third line is done with 'normal' plug-level protectors for the most sensitive equipment.

    Google for Phoenix Contact surge protection..

  • They do exist (Score:4, Informative)

    by ftp coward (245726) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:50PM (#39945081)

    Here is an excellent panel mounted surge suppressor. http://ep2000.com/index.php?page=industrial [ep2000.com]

    It isn't cheap (several hundred dollars IIRC) but excellent quality.

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:50PM (#39945085)
    Do you have lightning rod(s) installed nearby? If not, they can obviously help a lot.
  • Portable nuclear reactors [treehugger.com] are cost efficient and you never have to argue with your power company again!

  • If lightning is your worry, have you thought about installing a lightning rod?
    • by Hatta (162192)

      A lightning rod won't help you if the power pole leading to your house is struck.

      • by tilante (2547392)
        And a surge suppressor won't help if your house itself is struck. Ideally, you want both if you're in a lightning-prone area and worried about it.
    • by Githaron (2462596)
      Does that help if the power lines are hit?
      • by tilante (2547392)
        Never said it did. It's just that the surge suppressor doesn't help if the lightning strike goes through your house. Thus, if lightning strikes are the worry, having both would be a good idea.
  • Surges vs. Lightning (Score:4, Informative)

    by LeoDeSol (1323269) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @02:56PM (#39945207)
    Protecting against surges (Transients) and Lightning strikes are 2 very different things. I have worked in some of the nicest tier IV data centers with state of the art redundant power systems and protection. Most Tier IV data centers will have a "Lightning Detection" system. They will count on their power systems and grounding to help, but still track area lightning strikes and be on alert to check things should lightning hit them or close to them. The reason is because there is not gaurantee's when it comes to lightning. That much energy can jump gaps in blown breakers, fuses, and circuits and cause all sorts of havoc, even if the Generator and UPS is still up. Now, transient surge suppression is a different issue and not too expensive for whole home systems IMO. It is not a guarantee, but it is better than nothing at all. http://www.apc.com/products/family/index.cfm?id=174 [apc.com] (this is link to APC residential hard wire panel mount surge suppression options at list cost). Couple a home solution like the APC units above that protects all the random outlets in your house, with strategically placed UPS systems (behind entertainment center, in the office, etc.) and you are getting a decent ammount of protection from the normal surges and near strikes. In closing, lightning is a odd thing. I have been in a house and care that where "stuck". In the car, almost everything was fine, radio lost its pre-sets and time, etc. but that was about it. I don't remember even having any fuses go out. In the house, some things where fried, others where fine. For example, my roommates TV was toast, but the main one in the living room was OK, neither where on UPS. The cordless phone was fine, but the speakers in the corded handset where toast and would only squeal when you turned on the phone.
  • ...the variety that supplies power not from the line (which is random and sporadic at the best of times, *often* spiking over 1200v here), but from the battery via a complex circuit which ends up supplying a very clean 50Hz signal at 220v while being continuously charged from the main. So what we have basically is:

    dirty line 220-1200vac->isolator step-down to 13.5vac->regulator to 12vdc->battery stack->isolator step-up to 240v->regulator to 220vac->terminal

    Works very well, I have a 15-minu

    • by colfer (619105)

      Any reason to use 48v instead of 12v? Seems to be a lot of 48v and 24v equipment available for the solar market.

  • by Mr_Blank (172031) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @03:00PM (#39945267) Journal

    Protecting an entire building from lightning is a solved problem. You need a lightning rod [wikipedia.org].

    My aunt and uncle live in a hundred year old farm house. It has a lightning rod. Their butter churn [wikipedia.org] has never had to be replaced due to a blown circuit.

  • When I lived in Pensacola, FL the local power company offered a whole house surge protection service/product.
  • Another thing to consider: will your "whole house" surge protector protect you from internal surges?
    The only surge that I have ever had blow out electronic equipment in my home was caused internally by an electrician who was supposedly fixing my wiring, not by an external lightning strike.

  • A whole house surge protector is not expensive, and easy to install. They simply mount to the main box and connect to the mains, either through a circuit breaker or where the main line connects to the panel. Trivial through the (double/240V) breaker. It can be connected in parallel with your heaviest 240V appliance if no empty breaker location are available, but this means that on those rare times that breaker is turned off it will not be functioning. Better to use a moderately high amp dedicated breaker

  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @03:41PM (#39945853) Homepage

    Whole-house surge protectors run $40-60 at Lowes and Home Depot (Siemans/SquareD), but you're best to get an electrician to install them because they need to be installed in the breaker box. One type is a double-breaker and clamps into the A & B busses with a wire to ground. The other has three wires to the same places.

    IMHO whole-house is _much_ better than power-strip MOVs because of the reduced impedence to ground -- the rod is near the box. Also, check your ground rod and upgrade clamps -- they often deteriorate (loosen or corrode).

    Make sure phone & cable TV entrances are also grounded, preferably to the same stake. If they are on opposite sides of [old] houses, you are going to occasionally fry equipment from nearby lightening strikes due to transient ground potential difference.

    • The $40-$60 ones are pants. Go with the Square D Surgebreaker Plus. About $300.

      Gas discharge protected MOVs and silicon avalanche diodes. Robust against even a sustained high voltage. All-mode protection etc.

      Protects phone and incoming coax too.

      Then on top of that add some local surge protectors in your house. I happen to like the Tripp-Lite ones. This will protect you if say a fridge or AC goes bonkers.

      When you get your surgebreaker make sure you have a good ground too. If you have an electrician install i

      • by redelm (54142)
        Sorry, I'm just not convinced -- sure, the Surgebreaker _might_ (need to read specs) offer some additional protection, but nothing stops everything. I think the additional $200 is unlikely to pay off -- "Golden Ears".

        Not too worried about local power strip devices -- the AC certainly is on separate circuits, and the fridge is most likely to be. If they generate any surges (unlikely), they have to feed it to the panel where the whole-house MOVs will ground it out.

  • We have a uk house earthed with a modernish electrical trip box of ten year - anything internal like a light-bulb going can trip the local circuit and not the house. The item is not up to date with modern building rules and regs,

    Poe devices (ethernet over electrical wiring) are ok with this

    UK electrics items are also fused, although having lived in Germany i have bought a large flat fuse when the power died,

    The underground power mains from the power supplier most summers terminates though old age and the th

  • You can buy good lightning protection devices from Square D or Siemens. Here's a background paper from Siemens. [siemens.com] and a product guide from Square D. [squared.com]. These go between the meter and the circuit breaker box. They're hulking big metal boxes with big inductors inside and a huge ground wire. You can get various peak current ratings, up to 480,000 amps. That's more power than lightning bolts have.

    Similar protection devices are available for phone lines. [sandman.com] These attach where the phone line enters the building an

  • A good solution would be to do with "Total Protection Solutions". They have a warranty of 20+ years and their product is really robust. It could probably do what you are looking for, though, they are not cheap.

    http://www.tpscanada.ca/ [tpscanada.ca]

    You have to remember that the more MOVs you have, the better chance you have to absorb a lightning strike.
  • http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=whole+house+surge+protector&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=2095718605650227831&sa=X&ei=_syqT7vTOKm62wWN7eymAg&ved=0CPcBEPMCMAE [google.com]

    That is one of the best made. If you want to waste more money, look at the snake oil sold by http://www.richardgrayspowercompany.com/ [richardgra...ompany.com]

    Nothing is better than the above Leviton unit for surge protection.

  • I live on the US Gulf Coast and I get more than my fair share of lightning strikes. Because of the long power feed line coming to my house, the power company installed an "enhanced" ground system and whole house surge suppressor. While I haven't had a lightening strike take out all my electrical appliances, I still have the occasional small electronics die during an electrical storm. My cable modem, television, and anything connected to coaxial cable have been struck by lightning so don't forget to purchase

  • Most of the surge damage I have seen in the last several years is on things like phone lines and Ethernet. Long wires act like antennas and get high voltages induced onto them. Ethernet is especially sensitive. Surge protectors should located as close as possible to equipment being protected for maximum protection. Over the last several years I have lost more Ethernet ports on switches and equipment than anything else. Good Ethernet surge protectors at http://www.magicsurge.com/ [magicsurge.com]

  • Just call your power company, many offer whole house protection for an additional monthly charge and insure against any problems.

    For example, my power company is Gulf Power: http://www.gulfpower.com/premiumsurge/home.asp [gulfpower.com]
  • There are normal, fuse-like surge protectors you can just install in the breaker-board. If you are paranoid, you can use MOX and plasma devices at once. I do not know what standards are in use at your side, but here are a few links for 235V devoices used in Europe (sorry, text is German):

    https://www.distrelec.ch/ [distrelec.ch]überspannungsableiter-typ-1-dreiphasig-für-tnc-systeme/dehn/dv-m-tnc-255
    https://www.distrelec.ch/ [distrelec.ch]überspannungsableiter-typ-2/dehn/dreiphasig-für-tt-und-tn-systeme
    https://www.dist [distrelec.ch]

  • by klui (457783) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @07:41PM (#39948769)

    http://www.mikeholt.com/mojonewsarchive/LSP-HTML/HTML/TVSS-Protection-Questions-and-Answers~20040708.php [mikeholt.com]

    Those guys know their electricals.

    Damage from a close lightning strike will probably not be mitigated by whole house surge suppressors. But I would still install one. The important point to look for is UL 1449-listed devices. Then at specific locations, install a good surge suppressor. Kinda like computer defense-in-depth. Something from ZeroSurge will help if your home is old and doesn't have ground; otherwise, a normal MOV surge suppressor requires good ground. This would be equipment ground and is not the same as your grounding rods/water pipe ground. The latter are really for lightning strikes. ZeroSurge doesn't use MOVs and don't rely on equipment ground. You may also want to consider getting a line conditioner but I haven't done any research on their viability.

    I'm looking at the Leviton 51120. Depending if your house is single or three phase, you'll need to get the right model for the type of service you're receiving. The Leviton is nice because it comes with its own J-box for extra protection. Eaton (Cutler-Hammer) has one but it's normally attached on the bottom of the buss bars while a lot of other companies recommend their TVSSes be installed on a breaker that is the closest to the service conductors. I prefer the standalone devices like the Leviton because they could be installed on any panel instead of a specific brand. The Leviton can also pigtail into an existing breaker. If you have Eaton/Square D QO breakers, you could attach up to 2 hots per breaker.

    If you do decide to get one installed, make sure you or the electrician make the conductors as short as possible and don't create too sharp a turn in them.

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