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Whole-House Surge Protection

pdx_m3s

Active Member
May 18, 2019
1,479
1,325
Portland, OR
All of the recent extreme weather has me thinking about surge protection. I started researching whole-house surge protection and came across a few solutions, including the Siemens BoltShield and FirstSurge.

Does anyone here have experience with a whole-house surge protection system? Any info or stories would be appreciated. A little info on my electrical setup:

- 400 amp service (two 200 amp panels)
- All electric house
- 11.2kW Tesla Solar panel system (no Powerwalls)
 

pdx_m3s

Active Member
May 18, 2019
1,479
1,325
Portland, OR
This is an older thread, but it is on the topic you are asking about. Not sure it helps, just wanted to link it because I remember it being here:

Whole House Surge Protection

Thanks!

I like the Siemens BoltShield design because it snaps right into the existing panel like a breaker. I have plenty of room on each panel for another breaker.
 

bob_p

Active Member
Apr 5, 2012
3,738
2,947
Prior to installing solar/PowerWalls, and after we had a grid issue cause the two onboard chargers in our 2012 S P85 to fail, we had inexpensive surge protectors added into each of our breaker panels.

When the solar/PowerWalls were installed, when the installers rewired our breaker panels to connect to the Tesla Gateway, they kept the surge protectors and even added separate breakers for them in the panel.

Of course, this is between the Gateway and the house circuits - it does not provide surge protection for the Gateway itself. Hopefully Tesla has provided some protection for the Gateway electronics...
 

h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
3,637
870
auburn, ca
Prior to installing solar/PowerWalls, and after we had a grid issue cause the two onboard chargers in our 2012 S P85 to fail, we had inexpensive surge protectors added into each of our breaker panels.

When the solar/PowerWalls were installed, when the installers rewired our breaker panels to connect to the Tesla Gateway, they kept the surge protectors and even added separate breakers for them in the panel.

Of course, this is between the Gateway and the house circuits - it does not provide surge protection for the Gateway itself. Hopefully Tesla has provided some protection for the Gateway electronics...
I am asking can surge protectors be put in between grid breakers and GW's. Then everything would be protected
 
I am asking can surge protectors be put in between grid breakers and GW's. Then everything would be protected
While a common model are the ones that look like breakers; there are also in-line surge protectors. Basically, a standalone device that is wired between two things.

That said, I don't think there's such a thing as having "too" many surge protectors. It's just a matter of how much one is willing to pay. ;)
 
Prior to installing solar/PowerWalls, and after we had a grid issue cause the two onboard chargers in our 2012 S P85 to fail, we had inexpensive surge protectors added into each of our breaker panels.

When the solar/PowerWalls were installed, when the installers rewired our breaker panels to connect to the Tesla Gateway, they kept the surge protectors and even added separate breakers for them in the panel.

Of course, this is between the Gateway and the house circuits - it does not provide surge protection for the Gateway itself. Hopefully Tesla has provided some protection for the Gateway electronics...

The MOVs in a surge protector just short the excess voltage to ground. Think of it as a speed limiter on a car, but for voltage. Having it a few feet away from your gateway is still going to give the gateway a great deal of protection.

I wouldn't lose sleep over it. If you are so close that a few feet might/would make a difference, not all of the voltage surge is going to be in the wires anyway.

All the best,

BG
 

Skipdd

Member
Supporting Member
Dec 30, 2015
953
2,462
Silver Spring, MD
In our previous house we had power issues in the 1st couple of years of ownership. Blew out 2 sets of HVAC circuit boards. Power company claimed there was no issue. Eventually we had electrician put in an in-line surge protector on main power feed (was 200 amp service). Believe it was an intermatic device. No further issues. Fast forward 20 years to when power company was replacing underground lines. Looking into a large trench in front yard I saw cable with a red cloth wrap on it. I asked what it was. Answer, “Looks like they spliced your cable...doesn’t look it was a very good job..”

Moved into new home this past fall. Previous owner had back-up generator with auto-transfer. And yes there are power fluctuations here. He installed a Panamax system. This appears to require a separate device in front of any electric appliance you want to protect. I think I may investigate it further after reading this thread. Not sure the 50 amp circuit I had installed for my car is protected. That said I haven’t had issues so far. In case you are wondering, the house we purchased doesn’t have roof structure and/or land layout that is conducive to solar. But there is room for improvement on energy efficiency for sure. That’s on the drawing board..
 

Skipdd

Member
Supporting Member
Dec 30, 2015
953
2,462
Silver Spring, MD
In our previous house we had power issues in the 1st couple of years of ownership. Blew out 2 sets of HVAC circuit boards. Power company claimed there was no issue. Eventually we had electrician put in an in-line surge protector on main power feed (was 200 amp service). Believe it was an intermatic device. No further issues. Fast forward 20 years to when power company was replacing underground lines. Looking into a large trench in front yard I saw cable with a red cloth wrap on it. I asked what it was. Answer, “Looks like they spliced your cable...doesn’t look it was a very good job..”

Moved into new home this past fall. Previous owner had back-up generator with auto-transfer. And yes there are power fluctuations here. He installed a Panamax system. This appears to require a separate device in front of any electric appliance you want to protect. I think I may investigate it further after reading this thread. Not sure the 50 amp circuit I had installed for my car is protected. That said I haven’t had issues so far. In case you are wondering, the house we purchased doesn’t have roof structure and/or land layout that is conducive to solar. But there is room for improvement on energy efficiency for sure. That’s on the drawing board..


Update. Looked at sub panel in garage. It has a panamax unit plugged into it, so it appears that power is is also being protected.
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
7,566
7,023
MA, NH
In our previous house we had power issues in the 1st couple of years of ownership. Blew out 2 sets of HVAC circuit boards. Power company claimed there was no issue. Eventually we had electrician put in an in-line surge protector on main power feed (was 200 amp service). Believe it was an intermatic device. No further issues. Fast forward 20 years to when power company was replacing underground lines. Looking into a large trench in front yard I saw cable with a red cloth wrap on it. I asked what it was. Answer, “Looks like they spliced your cable...doesn’t look it was a very good job..”

Moved into new home this past fall. Previous owner had back-up generator with auto-transfer. And yes there are power fluctuations here. He installed a Panamax system. This appears to require a separate device in front of any electric appliance you want to protect. I think I may investigate it further after reading this thread. Not sure the 50 amp circuit I had installed for my car is protected. That said I haven’t had issues so far. In case you are wondering, the house we purchased doesn’t have roof structure and/or land layout that is conducive to solar. But there is room for improvement on energy efficiency for sure. That’s on the drawing board..

For the record a power surge doesn’t come from a poorly insulated underground splice.

Typically surges are from lightning or bad transformers. Also it can come through any copper coming to the house. Copper Cable TV, phone etc.

Note that surge protectors won’t help with under voltage. Which is probably happening a lot in Texas. Also referred to as “brown outs” Which can damage things too. Brownouts can put a strain on transformers.
 
Does anyone here have experience with a whole-house surge protection system?
First learn what an effective protector does. It never tries to 'block' or 'absorb' a surge. Effective protectors are only connecting devices to what does all protection.

Where are hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly absorbed? Single point earth ground. Not any other ground. And that connection to earth must be low impedance (ie less than 10 feet). Protector is only a connecting device to what does all protection - earth.

Quality of that protection is defined by that low impedance (ie hardwire has no sharp bends or splices) connection to and the quality of those earthing electrodes. Often that earth ground must be upgraded to exceed code requirements. Code is only concerned with protecting humans. Earth ground is upgraded to also protect hardware.

Second, lightning (one example of a surge) is typically 20,000 amps. So a minimal 'whole house' protector is 50,000 amps. Those plug-in Siemens type protectors are smaller. So multiple ones must be installed.

That number defines protector life expectancy over many decades and many direct lightning strikes. Since effective protectors must never fail catastrophically. Only profit center protectors fail to increase sales and profits.

Third, that specification number is about protector life expectancy. Protection during each surge is defined by that low impedance (ie hardwire is not inside metallic conduit) connection to and the quality of single point earth ground.

Four, an AC electric utility demonstrates what must exist to have single point earth ground using good, bad, and ugly (preferred, wrong, and right) examples at Tech Tips - Duke Energy . Select Tech Tip 8. Every incoming wire must be part of that solution.

If not obvious, protection is always about earth grounding a surge. Not its victim. Effective protection always means a surge is not anywhere inside.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
14,309
18,120
Riverside Co. CA
First learn what an effective protector does. It never tries to 'block' or 'absorb' a surge. Effective protectors are only connecting devices to what does all protection.

Where are hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly absorbed? Single point earth ground. Not any other ground. And that connection to earth must be low impedance (ie less than 10 feet). Protector is only a connecting device to what does all protection - earth.

Quality of that protection is defined by that low impedance (ie hardwire has no sharp bends or splices) connection to and the quality of those earthing electrodes. Often that earth ground must be upgraded to exceed code requirements. Code is only concerned with protecting humans. Earth ground is upgraded to also protect hardware.

Second, lightning (one example of a surge) is typically 20,000 amps. So a minimal 'whole house' protector is 50,000 amps. Those plug-in Siemens type protectors are smaller. So multiple ones must be installed.

That number defines protector life expectancy over many decades and many direct lightning strikes. Since effective protectors must never fail catastrophically. Only profit center protectors fail to increase sales and profits.

Third, that specification number is about protector life expectancy. Protection during each surge is defined by that low impedance (ie hardwire is not inside metallic conduit) connection to and the quality of single point earth ground.

Four, an AC electric utility demonstrates what must exist to have single point earth ground using good, bad, and ugly (preferred, wrong, and right) examples at Tech Tips - Duke Energy . Select Tech Tip 8. Every incoming wire must be part of that solution.

If not obvious, protection is always about earth grounding a surge. Not its victim. Effective protection always means a surge is not anywhere inside.


I realize that this topic is something that you seem to be extremely passionate about (Since virtually every post you have made on TMC is related to surge protectors / lightning strikes etc), but I ask you to please not derail this thread into theories etc. Please keep discussion to recommended products to install, install process etc.
 
please not derail this thread into theories etc. Please keep discussion to recommended products to install, install process etc.
No theories were posted.. Any post that does not also say why is, by honest adults, always best ignored as a lie. Passion is a silly emotion. Science has no passion - only reality. Posted were facts with relevant supporting knowledge that separates reality from insidious lies.

Who posted facts is always irrelevant. Only facts matter. In this discussion, reason why a 'whole house' protector is so effective must be known. Otherwise protection would not exist. And that protector might even make damage easier.

Those posts are not me. Each represents over 100 years of well proven science. Science (as opposed to junk science) means always saying why and citing relevant numbers. That means many paragraphs.

Scams exist when someone only wants an answer - does not want to know why - wants a subjective recommendation.. In this case, if one does not understand earth ground, then no protection exists. The topic is 'whole house' protection. Protector is not protection. Earth ground is. Please appreciate what was not grasped.

A previously cited discussion had so much disinformation. For example, a Telsa electrician lied. He did not say why with numbers. And denied why that protector 'can be' so effective. Others failed to even mention the only item that makes any protector effective - earth ground. Some recommended protectors were undersized. That long discussion was only subjective - relevant numbers missing. Why is subjective (also best called lies) somehow acceptable? And numbers (essential for honesty) not?
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Moderator
Nov 28, 2018
14,309
18,120
Riverside Co. CA
No theories were posted.. Any post that does not also say why is, by honest adults, always best ignored as a lie. Passion is a silly emotion. Science has no passion - only reality. Posted were facts with relevant supporting knowledge that separates reality from insidious lies.

Who posted facts is always irrelevant. Only facts matter. In this discussion, reason why a 'whole house' protector is so effective must be known. Otherwise protection would not exist. And that protector might even make damage easier.

Those posts are not me. Each represents over 100 years of well proven science. Science (as opposed to junk science) means always saying why and citing relevant numbers. That means many paragraphs.

Scams exist when someone only wants an answer - does not want to know why - wants a subjective recommendation.. In this case, if one does not understand earth ground, then no protection exists. The topic is 'whole house' protection. Protector is not protection. Earth ground is. Please appreciate what was not grasped.

A previously cited discussion had so much disinformation. For example, a Telsa electrician lied. He did not say why with numbers. And denied why that protector 'can be' so effective. Others failed to even mention the only item that makes any protector effective - earth ground. Some recommended protectors were undersized. That long discussion was only subjective - relevant numbers missing. Why is subjective (also best called lies) somehow acceptable? And numbers (essential for honesty) not?

People would be more inclined to listen / read your posts if they were not as condescending as they come across. I am asking again to not derail this thread. Thanks

===========================

Moderator note: I should have been a bit more direct in my post above and said "I will not allow this thread to get derailed like previous ones on this topic". Posts not on specific products used, or install processes or directly on the specific topic asked by OP will removed.
 
Last edited:
Topic is clearly about "protection". Protectors and protection are two different items.

pdx_m3s demonstrated how best protection is installed, Demonstrated is a well proven technology called Ufer grounding. Originally developed so that surges (including direct lightning strikes) cause no damage in munitions dumps. A standard solution in facilities that cannot have damage; such as telco COs. Where each thunderstorm typically creates about 100 surges. pdx_m3s has effective protection.

Protection is about earthing. Protector is only effective when connected low impedance (ie less than 3 meters) to earth ground. pdx_m3s demonstrates a superior solution for surges on AC mains. Same must exist on all incoming wires to complete what makes each protector effective.
 

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