Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16

Thread: Whole House Surge Protection

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    13,438

    Whole House Surge Protection

    Anyone had a surge protector installed on their main panel? Just looking for info on what is recommended.

    We pay an extra $5 per month for one on our meter, which is suppose to have extra insurance, but with pool equipment, sub-panel running to my shop, and other outdoor electrical I'm thinking I should probably try to mitigate it at more central place. Maybe even on the sub-panel too.

    As you can guess, we've got a good thunderstorm passing through, so got me to thinking.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oceanside, So. Calif. 5 mi. to the ocean
    Posts
    4,944
    I can only give you my personal experience.

    Since I am an antique I have seen changes in electrical panels. The first two houses, that I can remember, had an entry panel consisting of two 15 amp fuses (Yep, that was it.), In 1941 my folks built a house and had to make a decision between fuses or circuit breakers. The electrician, a good friend, talked them into using breakers and a bit of overkill; there were 4 of them. The four breakers covered the house and the shop (TS, BS, DP, Forge, Wood Lathe, Metal Lathe). I don't know what was in the apartment house while going to college. We purchased a very well built tract house it had a 100 amp Main, Later, we built a house, it had a 200 amp Main, The last 2 houses have had 100 amp Mains.

    All of that leads up to the fact that none of these had any surge protection other than the breakers. With all of the stuff I have how, I should have a larger main. My shop sub-panel pulls off of dual 30 amp breakers in the Main. Under all of these, except one, I am sure the Main has been too small, but that's the way it is when you purchase spec. houses in So. Calif. However, I have never had a problem, I have not blown fuses nor tripped breakers (except the time I drilled into a piece of Romex).

    I have more equipment and the equipment has larger motors than I have had in the past. I have many more breakers than in the past. Several pieces of equipment have their own dedicated lines (Air compressor, Dust collector, Electric heaters in the shop, etc.). I don't stress any one circuit may be the reason I don't have problems.

    I don't know if I helped you. At least you have one darned fools lay-out.

    Enjoy,

    JimB
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
    Posts
    30,008
    Jim, the surge protector has little to do with the ampere rating of the panel or the stresses you're putting on it. Its primary purpose is to mitigate electrical surges coming into the house, either from the electric utility, or things like lightning. Back in the olden days (when you were raising kids) it was not a real big issue, but many of today's electronic appliances and other computer-controlled devices can be easily damaged by electrical surges.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Posts
    5,320
    We had one installed about a year ago. It goes into the panel just like a dual pole circuit breaker, and the electronic (Dunno what's in it!) portion is in a small box that's just outside the wall.

    Ours is a Square D (brand) model, installed in a 200 amp panel, and cost just under $200.00. My nephew, a licensed electrician, installed it, and he likely got a bit of a price break on it as well. It took less than twenty minutes to install.

    Note that, even with it installed, the manufacturer still recommends that 'point of use' surge protectors continue to be used.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Rochester Hills, MI
    Posts
    940
    I bought one for about $60 and installed it myself. As someone else said, it's just a small box that mounts to a knockout on the side of the service panel. It just connects like a two-pole breaker. They're simple to install and with all of the electronic stuff we have these days, WELL worth it!
    "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    13,438
    Thanks guys, my concerns are mostly for all the electronic equipment. We have several large trees around the house and shop, so I've got a higher than many chance of getting a surge some day. A friends tree got hit last year. The surge went through the landscaping lights, smoked the sprinkler system control, burnt one entire circuit (wire plugs and all) on the back side of his living room on it's way to the main, fried the main breaker. He lost a lot of equipment with the initial surge, but as he powered things off and back on they went out. He ended up replaced just about anything that had been plugged in at the time of the surge.

    I do keep my main server and the living room tv on power conditioner/surge protectors, but none of the appliances have any protection, so the panel one would just be another level to hopefully spare them.

    My understanding is that they put the breaker connected to the surge protection box as close to the main as possible. This would catch a surge coming in and hopefully re-direct it to the protection device and spare the circuits below it. I would say in my friends case that any outdoor circuits would have needed to be above the surge breaker and any household circuits with electronics below it?
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
    Posts
    6,098
    Breakers? What are them there thingamajigs ya'll are speaking of????? I have four screw in fuses along the bottom row, two push in black plastic things that hold two cartidges vertically. Yep, still running on 60 amp service.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    13,438
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    Breakers? What are them there thingamajigs ya'll are speaking of????? I have four screw in fuses along the bottom row, two push in black plastic things that hold two cartidges vertically. Yep, still running on 60 amp service.
    Got an emergency penny next to the box?
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    North West Indiana
    Posts
    6,098
    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Wright View Post
    Got an emergency penny next to the box?
    No, but my dad says when he was a kid, the first thing my granddad did was put a penny behind each fuse.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

    Host of the 2015 FAMILY WOODWORKING GATHERING

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,247
    Darren having had quiet a bit of experience with lightning protection and the development of these kinds of units, i dont think you should be grouping a electrical surge from the electric company as the same for a impulse resulting from induced current as a result of lightning.

    There are three basic discrete devices that are used in these "boxes" and since i came to these parts i have found very few that have appropriate specs. Mostly because of marketing smoke and mirrors.

    When one looks at induced voltage spike from a lightning bolt one has to take into account how fast the rising edge of the spike is going up. The typical components they put in a surge protector are gas arrestors, wirewound resistors and PTC (positive temp coefficient resistors) but the really good stuff uses the devices the US developed to handle electromagnetic pulses these devices are called Transzorbs and are basically like a high wattage zener diode except they very fast reacting and can handle clamping a pulse of short duration. (other good thing is they tend to fail short so you know its happened)

    Most of the so called surge stuff if its half decent has a gas arrestor in it but they slow in reaction time compared to lightning pulses. They will strike and clamp but only after the initial surge has got through. So it depends whats behind it.

    The other key thing in all of this is providing a path to divert the surge to. So a good ground and i mean low resistance ground leg is essential.

    You might consider building your own and placing them local to your electronics or looking for ones where they have encapsulated the circuitry into the plug that you place into a receptacle. Then you plug your device into the back of that.

    The surge in the mains voltage from the electric company is gonna be best handled by a PTC which is slower to react and those surges are not as fast as lightning.

    But the other downside is apart from Gas arrestors things like PTCs have limited hit rates. Many people think these devices can just sit there and take a beating time after time but that aint true at all.

    This topic gets to be somewhat like Dust Collection. Pricey to do it properly and maintain the protection.

    I would research the device you thinking of installing and get to see if you can ascertain more detail on the specs and evaluate it from there again.
    Last edited by Rob Keeble; 09-26-2012 at 08:35 PM.
    cheers

Similar Threads

  1. Eye Protection
    By Kris Petrosky in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 04-07-2011, 11:32 PM
  2. Hearing/eye protection
    By Tony Maio in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 05-09-2008, 12:30 PM
  3. is special protection necessary
    By Frank Fusco in forum Turning Tool Questions and Show & Tell
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 02-12-2008, 02:08 PM
  4. Computer protection
    By Jeff Horton in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 02-10-2008, 05:50 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •