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Whole house surge suppressor

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by jordanthompson, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. jordanthompson

    jordanthompson 2010 2.0 Sport, VIN 0683

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    For what its worth, I bought and installed this Square D surge suppressor:Shop Square D Load Center Hardwired Surge Protection Device at Lowes.com
    It was inexpensive and relatively easy to install - if you don't mind getting into your electrical panel :) Supposedly it will protect the entire house from a lighting strike. I had looked into these a while ago, but the were much more expensive. Obviously they have dropped significantly in price. The electrician at Lowes recommended to replace it every three years (I put a reminder in my phone.) It has an idiot light to tell you it is still working.
     
  2. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Something that small will protect you from an indirect strike, maybe, but just once. It will be destroyed in the process.
     
  3. jordanthompson

    jordanthompson 2010 2.0 Sport, VIN 0683

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    Correct, that is my understanding also.
     
  4. W.Petefish

    W.Petefish Active Member

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    Even still, unplug your roadster when a storm is coming. That is the best insurance against lightning.

    Also an indirect strike will still fry things. So, even if lightning doesn't strike your house it can still send a spike down the lines.
     
  5. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    Thanks for this, I'll ask my builder about solutions like these.
     
  6. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The one I have has a couple of lights on it to tell you when it needs replacing.
     
  7. jordanthompson

    jordanthompson 2010 2.0 Sport, VIN 0683

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    I have lived in central Florida (the lighting capital of the world) for 27 years and have never had an issue with any electronics getting fried because of a surge by lightning or even Florida Flicker & Flash (please note - I don't want to appear to threaten Thor by any means!) I saw this item and figured it can't really hurt anything.
    This device has a single LED that is supposed to remain on when it is working. You don't reset it - you replace it.
     
  8. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The more common problem is having a car hit a power pole which sends a big spike up the line.
     
  9. westom

    westom Member

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    #9 westom, Jun 7, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2012
    Learn some important facts. No protector does protection. Either a protector makes a low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to what does protection. Or it is a profit center.

    Some protection systems have no protector. But every protection system has the only item that does all protection. Earth ground.

    Critical to protection is the quality of and connection to earth. For example, if the ground wire from a breaker box and 'whole house' protector goes up over the foundation, then protection is compromised. Wire too long. Too many sharp bends. Ground wire not separated from other wires. That ground wire must go through the foundation and down to an earthing electrode. Shorter. No sharp bends. And other important considerations.

    Also critical is single point earth ground. Not any earth ground. All incoming utilities must enter at a common location so make the low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to the same earth ground.

    Protectors say little about protection. Protection is increased by upgrading the earth ground. After all, where do hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly dissipate? Outside in earth.

    Ufer grounds were pioneered in munitions dumps because direct lightning strikes must not cause damage. Surge protection is best installed before footings are poured. An example of what was done to make better earthing (to have better surge protection):
    UFER grounding system
    The Ufer Ground

    If any one wire enters without connecting to earth, than all protection is compromised. TV cable must connect short to earth without any protector. Telephone will not work if earthed directly. So telcos install a 'whole house' protector on all phone lines for free. Best protection for the cable is a wire. The telco installed protector is only doing what a wire might do. Protectors are simple science. The art (and most every question) is about what defines protection. Single point earth ground.

    Lightning is typically 20,000 amps. So a minimal 'whole house' protector starts to 50,000 amps. Because a protector must earth even direct lightning strikes - and remain functional.

    That light can only report a failure that must never happen. That light only reports that the protector was grossly undersized. If the protector must be replaced every three years, then it was grossly undersized. Replacing power strip protectors often is recommended because those expensive 'profit centers' are grossly undersized. A properly earthed 'whole house' protector should remain functional for decades.

    Properly earthed protector means nobody even knew a surge existed. If damage occurs, then the analysis starts with what defines protection. Not the protector. Earth ground.

    Each protection layer is only defined by its earth ground. The 'whole house' protector is only secondary protection. Also inspect your primary surge protection layer. A picture of what to inspect:
    Florida Power Light and BellSouth

    Time to install protection is before the footings are poured.
     
  10. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Yes, like I said, that undersized gadget might protect you from an indirect spike, once, maybe.

    Reminds me of a story...

    I used to work with a fellow who cut his teeth as a radar engineer in WWII. Bob wasn't just hugely experienced, he was truly a genius, and perhaps not surprisingly a bit quirky. One day one of the guys asked Bob if he could fix his halogen desk lamp. A quick check showed the transformer had blown. No problem. Bob told him he'd wind him a new transformer, and to come back in a couple of days.

    Two days later Bob presented him with the repaired desk lamp. It now had this huge lump of iron and coils attached to the base.

    The astonished lamp owner said, "Why is it so big? The original one fit in the base!"

    "Well, that one burned out, didn't it?!? This one won't."
     
  11. westom

    westom Member

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    #11 westom, Jun 7, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2012
    Again, a transient too tiny to overwhelm protection standard in all appliances can cause the power strip to fail. Grossly undersizing a protector increases profits. The resulting failure gets the most naive consumers to recommend it and buy more. In another ongoing discussion entitled "My 110 Tall had a fire over the weekend!" in http://www.reefsanctuary.com , a power strip protector created a house fire. Fortunately the homeowner had many smoke detectors. So nobody died. What kind of protection is that? Grossly undersized.

    Nothing else was damaged by the near zero surge. But smoke damage was extensive.

    If using a grossly undersized protector, then at minimum, a homeowner must earth a 'whole house' protector. Or have similar protection by only earthing one 'whole house' protector. And replacing power strip protector with $4 power strips (that must always have that 15 amp circuit breaker).

    Another reason for that 'whole house' protector? Absolutely necessary to protect a recharging Telsa.
     
  12. W.Petefish

    W.Petefish Active Member

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    Lightning acts in mysterious ways. Case and point: My house was struck on wednesday. Took out our internet connection (POE adaptor, LOS Radio, Wires), alarm system, Motion sensor lights, Satellite TV, Wiring. I wasn't home at the time, so the roadster is safe. The LOS Radio for our internet is completely melted on the inside of the transceiver assembly. The cable going to the radio was blown apart. (mind you CAT5E rated for outdoor and the thing had a ground wire and grounding lead in line.) The Satellite dish took an indirect hit. Probably melted the LMB assembly internally. (again it was grounded. and had a grounding block.) All of the equipment was on surge suppressors and was properly installed and grounded. I'll see about taking some photos tomorrow.

    Whole house surge protector, yeah right. I need a lightning suppressor.
     
  13. drees

    drees Active Member

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    Surge protectors aren't going to save you from a directly lightning strike.

    Only way to protect your home from direct lightning hits is to properly install lightning rods on your house that channels the energy from your roof into the ground. See "Enhanced Protection against Lightning" on page 8 here: http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/IEEE_Guide.pdf

    You'll see that there is a rod installed on each end of the peak of the house with ground wire run along the ridge of the roof, ground wires run from the roof into the ground into grounding stakes. Then the whole thing is bonded together and to your service entrance ground. Very important to avoid sharp bends on your ground wires going down from the roof - otherwise the lightning will find an easier way to ground that may involve your house instead of your ground!
     
  14. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    It's possible to protect a building against almost all lightning strikes, but the cost would not be worth it. With that sort of direct strike, if your Roadster was home it would probably have been a casualty too. At least it didn't set your house on fire!
     
  15. westom

    westom Member

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    A lightning strike to the house is averted by properly earthing lightning rods. A lightning strike to wires down the street is a direct strike to every household appliance. Is averted by properly earthing utility wires - ie one 'whole house' protector.

    Lightning might be 20,000 amps. A minimally sized 'whole house' protector is at least 50,000 amps. Can easily connect a direct lightning strike to earth. But no protector does protection. Protection exists when the protector is earthed. No lightning is inside the house IF connected to earth before entering. For example, via a ‘whole house’ protector.

    Unfortunately, many say earthing exists when it only meets safety codes. A protector is simple ‘science’. Only effective when one learns the 'art'. Earthing that must exceed codes. For example, a FL couple had multiple strikes to one wall. They installed lightning rods. And again had that wall struck. Well, lightning rods were less than 8 feet in sand. Lightning was connecting to deeper and more conductive soil via bathroom pipes.

    Their solution was simple. Learn the 'art'. More and deeper ground rods were installed. Then lightning stopped striking that bathroom wall.

    Lightning is not capricious. But appears capricious when a homeowner does not learn from the event. Clearly his earthing is defective. He even confuses an ethernet ground with earth. A rookie mistake. Lightning found earth ground via appliances due to virtually no earthing. A lightning strike to wires down the street could have found many grounds destructively via the LOS radio, the satellite dish, etc. He all but invited lightning to hunt for earth destructively via appliances.

    Apparently he had plug-in protectors. Therefore no protection. Those protectors do not claim to protect from destructive surges. Read their specs. Sometimes those protectors make lightning damage easier. Sometimes even cause a house fire.

    Another completely different device is, unfortunately, also called a protector. The effective solution connects to earth. Is installed to make all surges, including lightning, irrelevant. Connected not to any ground. Earthing is an 'art'. For example, low impedance means a connection must be short (ie ‘less than ten feet’). Wire must have no sharp bends. Earthing must be single point. Completely different grounds (ie ethernet wire) violate those and other rules. Do not exist for and do not do surge protection.

    Lightning is not capricious. His event demonstrates damage due to virtually no earthing. Lightning was all but invited to go hunting for earth destructively via household appliances. A homeowner uses damage to discover why protection is defective. Why lightning went hunting for earth destructively inside the house. Why lightning was not earthed BEFORE entering. Why protectors all over a house can even make lightning damage easier. Lightning is not capricious. But if anyone tried to protect with plug-in protectors, then lightning will appear to be capricious.

    All that damage is due to defective earthing. Lightning was permitted inside. Damage was lightning hunting for earth ground inside the house. Maybe because lightning struck AC electric wires far down the street. Protectors all over the house did exactly what those profit centers claimed to do. No protection.

    Earth lightning rods to protect a house. Earth incoming utility wires (ie one 'whole house' protector) to protect appliances.
     
  16. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    A radio tower offers a zone of lightning protection some multiple of its height. In 1988 I erected a 140 ft tower at the highest point on a ridge overlooking a valley in northern NY. 14 sections of Rohn 25G on a 5 ft base section imbedded in concrete. Lightning does not view this as 'grounded' yet, so three 10 ft galvanized steel pipes were driven into the ground a few feet from each of the three tower legs. Lengths of 5/8 in soft copper tubing were clamped to the tower legs and the pipes, running as smoothly as possible. This has proven effective so far: no hits in the entire area. As charged clouds approach, loud zapping begins to obliterate shortwave radio reception- time to shut down the station! The various antennas mounted on the tower bleed off the charged clouds, discharging across the insulators (visible at night), on their way to the grounded tower.

    Never got to the next step of installing conductors on the ground surface radiating from and connected to the tower base. This would provide a better radio-frequency grounding of the tower. These radials would be of random length and made of copper wire from 16ga to 12ga or even larger if you have. Two dozen would not be too many! Lightning is RF energy that travels in plasma (or even ball form!) if it can't find metal going where it wants to go. Aluminum wire woven into a 'finger torture' air core conductor can channel the plasma from the rods on your roof to ground rod(s). Much cheaper than solid wire.

    If you have power poles right near the house these will provide some degree of protection. If instead a long underground feed is what you have, then the rods or tower would make sense.
    --
     
  17. W.Petefish

    W.Petefish Active Member

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    #17 W.Petefish, Jun 15, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2012
    Slight problem with your hypothesis professor, I'm the only house on the hill. The earthing is greater than standard. (Verified by my electrician.) The only proper way to protect against lightning is to have a gas arrestor along with rods. FYI at least one of our grounds happens to be a 60ft. deep water well which is into an aquifer. Thing is: it popped our whole house protector like it wasn't even there.

    One more thing. The LOS radio connects as follows:

    RADIO>Grounding block on radio>line>grounding block on house>line>POE adaptor.
     
  18. westom

    westom Member

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    Many electricians do not understand earthing required for protection. They understand what code demands only for human safety. Transistor safety demand both meeting and exceeding code. When done properly, nobody even knows a direct lightning strike existed.

    Rather than repeatedly denying. Instead ask why damage does not happen when earthing is properly installed. For example, if a wire to earth has sharp wire bends, then earthing and protection is compromised. Sharp bends are permitted by human safety codes. And woefully insufficient to protect an appliance or Telsa from surges. Reference to sharp wires bends was the subtle suggestion that your electrician may not know this stuff. And a subtle suggestion that you should be asking to learn rather than posting denials.

    A lightning rod also does not discharge the air. That scam was repeatedly promoted by an ESE industry. They even tried to sue to NFPA (the National Electrical Code) to force the non-profit organization into bankruptcy. Because NFPA refused to list ESE (air discharge) devices. For one simple reason. Protection is not about discharging the air. Protection is always about connecting lightning harmlessly to earth on a harmless path. As Franklin demonstrates with wooden church steeples in 1752.

    Other myths also exist. Many claim lightning rods must be pointed. Blunt rods provide better protection. That ‘pointed rod’ myth exists because so many never first learn science. Many only recite popular urban myths or their feelings. Many even recite ESE myths because that was the first thing they were told.

    A lightning rod or radio tower provides a 60 degree cone of protection. Towers are struck often without anyone even knowing it. In part, because concrete (an electrical conductor if properly installed) makes an excellent earth ground. A previous post about Ufer grounds discussed this. Many will add ground rods to a tower to increase earthing. Because protection is always defined by earthing. Better earthing means better protection.

    Protection means direct lightning strikes. And nobody even knew the surge existed – to a tree or to a radio tower. Lightning rods are earthed to protect the building. Utility wires earthed to protect appliances (and the Telsa).

    Those household appliances were damage because proper earthing did not exist. Lighting was all but invited to go hunting inside the house. And did so. Protection means lightning is earthed BEFORE entering the building. Protection means one knows where hundreds of thousands of joules will harmlessly dissipate.

    Denying 100 years of experience and well proven science because some electrician did not know it? A 60 foot well does not define better earthing. But again, an assumption rather than first learning what is better earthing. Not mentioned once in thos posts is another critically important concept - single point earth ground. That (and not a 60 foot well) defined better earthing.

    Lightning was all but invited to go hunting destructively. And did so.
     
  19. W.Petefish

    W.Petefish Active Member

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    List your sources please.

    Before jumping in on a fallacy for which you have just done ask for more information.
     
  20. GSP

    GSP Member

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    Not being up to speed on this subject, but interested in how to protect my home from lightning, I did some googling and came up with the following:

    ESE = Early Streamer Emmission

    NFPA report:

    http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/Research/ESE_Air_Terminals_segment_1.pdf

    This report suggests that there is opportunity to improve human knowledge about lightning and offers suggestions for further research.

    GSP
     

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