Bad voltage spikes

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Where we live we have regular electrical outages due to a number of problems. Last night, however, we had a new experience. It must have been something like a voltage surge. it blew out a drive of mine, my PC speaker system and screwed up our wireless home network pretty good. All electricity to the house went off for a few seconds and then turned back on. I guess the electric company had a backup system of sorts that took over.
I did have so-called surge suppressor outlet strips to which our comps were plugged in. They were useless against whatever it was that happened. I'm amazed my battery backups for the computers are still working. I'm thinking we need some kind of really strong voltage control item on our comps and a few other things around here. Any suggestions?
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snipped-for-privacy@I.don't.have.a.clue.com wrote:

Sorry to hear that. Don't you have insurance coverage for that kinda damage? Regarding good suppressor individually or at main power entrance point you have many choices but like anything else, case of you get what you pay for. I moved out here from Ontario in '70. Since total power outage altogether does not even equal 3 hour caused by grass fire in the spring of some years ago. All our power, phone, cable are under ground nothing over head in my neighborhood. Only steel street lamp poles fed by under ground cable stand along the streets.
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Tony Hwang wrote:

The insurance of a few hundred dollars is moot. What about all the data that could be lost? I have an external HD connected to my computer. I only turn it on when I back up the internal HD and then I turn it off.
Regarding good suppressor individually or at main power entrance

--
Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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That is why I have one of the external drives that plug into the USB port. I plug it every day or so depending on what I am doing with the computer. It will automatically back up the internal hard drive. I then unplug it. It colst less than $ 100 for about a 500 GB drive. You can get larger ones now, but my hard drive is only around 200 GB. I also keep a copy of most of my data and pic on a netbook computer. Usually have a 32 GB thumb drive with me that also has most of the important data on it. That way if the house goes up in smoke I will have a copy of the pic. I used to leave it at work but have retired now. Always good to have an off site copy of any computer data.
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Ralph Mowery wrote:

My ISP is Comcast, and I get a huge amount of storage space free with our account.
I'm quite religious about backing up the computerized payroll data files from our family business by FTPing them to Comcast immediately after anything is done which changes them. I also back up stuff like my family tree efforts and family photo albums there too.
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
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wrote:

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First a heads up. surge suppressor outlet strips are typically one shot one time protection (and poor at that).
We had industrial grade (typically multiple surge) suppressor installed in the breaker box. Again this is not 100% but much better than plug strips.
I would check with your insurance (if you saw fire and or smoke) you may have coverage. For surge that's iffy.
Second I would try to file a claim with the power company.
Last a Ferro resonance voltage controller may help. Increases the power consumption by~ 15% but does give a added protection for voltage surges.
We have all our computers running on heavy duty inverters using large (think golf cart) batteries on three state float charges. Short of one *hell* of a hard lighting strike real close we're safe.
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*Were there any lightning storms in the area at the time? You could try calling the power company to see if they had any incidents during that time period.
Basic protection against future events would be to install a whole house surge protector and also to make sure that your grounding electrode system (water pipe, ground rods, bonding jumper) has good clean, and tight connections.
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On 6/19/2013 12:45 AM, snipped-for-privacy@I.don't.have.a.clue.com wrote:

Been through this. Have surge protectors and battery backup on computers. As other point out surge protectors are only good for one shot. They will work but not protect. Usually a light goes out. Insurance can cover big costs - I have a $500 deductible. Power company here always claims act of god and will not pay.
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On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 12:45:08 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@I.don't.have.a.clue.com wrote:

Those power strips did exactly what they claim to do. They protect only fr om transients that typically do no damage. And are so grossly undersized a s to fail even on transients that are too small to damage other appliances.
Utility equipment can detect faults (ie a lightning strike). Temporarily disconnects power (ie because voltages are out of spec). And then automat ically restore power a few seconds later after the fault has cleared. That would be what you observed.
Protection from such transients only works where AC wires enter the build ing. Nothing inside the building will or claims to protect from such anoma lies. Protection from such anomalies has been routine for over 100 years. But most are, instead, educated by advertising. For example, purchase pow er strips that do not do that protection. But sure are profitable.
Destructive transients occur maybe once every seven years. Typically may be hundreds of thousands of joules. And are not averted by any 'box'. Un derstand what does the protection - what absorbs hundreds of thousands of j oules - earth ground. Either you connected every wire inside every cable t o the single point earth ground. Or that transient was inside hunting for earth destructively via appliances. The adjacent protector sometimes gives that transient even more potentially destructive paths.
Even the power strip needs protection provided by earthing one 'whole hou se' protector. That protector (the box) is not protection. It simply conn ects a surge (maybe 20,000 amps) to earth. But only if the connection is l ow impedance (ie 'less than 10 feet', no sharp wire bends, well separated f rom other non-grounding wires, etc).
Every facility that cannot have damage uses the 'whole house' solution. You have learned the hard way why those facilities do not waste money on ad jacent magic boxes.
And finally, protectors are simple science. The 'art' of protection is e arth ground. Most of your questions should be about what does the actual p rotection - the art of earthing.
Routine is to have direct lightning strikes. And nobody even knew a surge existed. Because even a protector does not fail. Because a protector is only as effective as its earth ground.
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On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 8:44:08 AM UTC-4, westom wrote:

Good grief, Tom's back folks! Mention surge protector and wham!, there he is. Show us where plug-in surge protectors claim to "only protect from transients that typically do no damage". It seems to me it would be very hard to sell them if they made that claim...... That alone should put everyone on guard that you don't know what you're talking about

That would be something, because those other appliances all use MOVs, just like the plug-in surge protectors. The difference is that the MOVs inside the appliance are much smaller and can only handle smaller surges than the plug-in protector. The other obvious difference is that each surge degrades the MOV a bit. Which MOV would you rather have fail? The one in the $2000 TV or the one in the $25 surge protector? And the rating of that $25 one is typically higher than that of the ones in the TV.

atically restore power a few seconds later after the fault has cleared. Th at would be what you observed.
While lightning is the most frequent cause, you have no way of knowing what caused this specific event.

malies.
The IEEE tutorial on surge protection strategies disagrees. They clearly show plug-in type surge protectors being used as part of a tiered protection strategy. So would all the appliance manufacturers who almost all include some surge protection inside the appliances they manufacture. And they use the same components and method that the manufacturers of plug-ins use. It's just that the MOVs they use are even smaller than those in the plug-in.
You start with a perfectly valid premise. That a whole house surge protector is the best first line defense. The IEEE agrees with that and so do I. But then you go astray by this crusade against plug-ins offering any protection at all. There we disagree. And you fail to recognize that not everyone can install a whole house surge protector. Those living in a rental house, rental apartment, etc.
Protection from such anomalies has been routine for over 100 years. But m ost are, instead, educated by advertising. For example, purchase power str ips that do not do that protection. But sure are profitable.
Again the IEEE, among other authorities, disagrees.

My whole house surge protector is in a "box". Have you actually seen one?
Understand what does the protection - what absorbs hundreds of thousands of joules - earth ground. Either you connected every wire inside every cable to the single point earth ground. Or that transient was inside hunting fo r earth destructively via appliances. The adjacent protector sometimes giv es that transient even more potentially destructive paths.
The myth repeated that surge protectors are what cause destruction.

nnects a surge (maybe 20,000 amps) to earth. But only if the connection is low impedance (ie 'less than 10 feet', no sharp wire bends, well separated from other non-grounding wires, etc).
A powerstrip uses MOVs. If you look inside a TV, PC, electronic oven, etc you will almost always find an MOV. An MOV that is smaller than those used in a plug-in surge protector. If they are useless, incapable of any protection because they are not directly connected to an earth ground, are all the appliance manufacturers just dumb and wasting their money?

adjacent magic boxes.

The plug-in work by clamping all the voltages at an appliance together. If there is a 1000V surge, all the voltages going into the PC then rise together so there is no potential difference to cause damage. That is why for a surge protector for a PC to be effective, anything connected must pass through it, ie power, phone, cable. At the same time, they provide a path for the surge to ground.
It would be interesting to know if in the case of the PC damaged, what all it was connected to and what passed through the surge protector.

protection - the art of earthing.

Nonsense. Damage that occurs as a result of surges is rarely a direct lightning strike. It's usually lightning hitting the electric utility somewhere nearby, eg out at the steet poles with overhead wires.
And nobody even knew a surge existed.
If you're house took a direct lightning strike, it would most likely be obvious.
Because even a protector does not fail. Because a protector is only as e ffective as its earth ground.
Which is not true either. The whole house surge protectors also use MOVs. They are typically larger. But with each surge their capability also degrades. It's part of the basic physics of the devices. And over time, with enough surges, they will fail.
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On 6/19/2013 6:44 AM, westom wrote: > On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 12:45:08 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@I.don't.have.a.clue.com wrote: >> I'm thinking we need some kind of really strong voltage >> control item on our comps and a few other things around here. >> Any suggestions?
Excellent information on surges and surge protection is at: http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/IEEE_Guide.pdf - "How to protect your house and its contents from lightning: IEEE guide for surge protection of equipment connected to AC power and communication circuits" published by the IEEE (the IEEE is a major organization of electrical and electronic engineers). And also: http://www.eeel.nist.gov/817/pubs/spd-anthology/files/Surges%20happen!.pdf - "NIST recommended practice guide: Surges Happen!: how to protect the appliances in your home" published by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology
The IEEE surge guide is aimed at people with some technical background.
======================= From the description this was something more like crossed power wires. That is not a "surge", which is, by definition, a very short event. As JohnG wrote, ask the utility if they had an 'incident'.
> Those power strips did exactly what they claim to do. They protect > only from transients that > typically do no damage.
Complete nonsense.
> And are so grossly undersized as to fail even on transients that are > too > small to damage other appliances.
More complete nonsense.
Contrary to westom's beliefs, which he compulsively spreads all over the internet, both the IEEE and NIST surge guides say plug-in protectors are effective.
When using a plug-in protector all interconnected equipment needs to be connected to the same protector. External connections, like coax, also must go through the protector
> > Utility equipment can detect faults (ie a lightning strike). > Temporarily disconnects power > (ie because voltages are out of spec). And then automatically > restore power a few seconds later > after the fault has cleared. That would be what you observed.
A lighting strike is not a fault.
Sounds like a "recloser", that does open on faults and may reclose several times.
Service panel protectors are very effective against very high current but very short duration surges. They will be rapidly burned out by the much longer duration of a crossed power wire. See the IEEE surge guide pages 11, 15 and 25.
The same is true of plug-in protectors. There are supposed to be plug-in protectors that disconnect on overvoltage - I haven't seen them. A UPS may disconnect and provide protection (and apparently they did). (Disconnecting to protect from a surge doesn't work because a surge is too short an event.)
The author of the NIST surge guide has written "the major cause of [surge protector] failures is a temporary overvoltage, rather than an unusually large surge."
> > Destructive transients occur maybe once every seven years. Typically > may be hundreds of > thousands of joules. And are not averted by any 'box'.
It has been explained to westom many times that not much surge energy can make it to a plug-in protector, and also explained why. But westom ignores anything that does not fit his very limited beliefs on protection.
> > Even the power strip needs protection provided by earthing one 'whole > house' protector.
More complete nonsense.
SquareD does not make plug-in protectors, but says for their "best" service panel protector "electronic equipment may need additional protection by installing plug-in [protectors] at the point of use."
> > Because a protector is only as effective as its earth ground.
It is westom's mantra that protects him from confusing thoughts (aka reality).
Unfortunately for westom, the IEEE surge guide explains (starting page 30) that plug in protectors do not work primarily by earthing surges. Earthing occurs elsewhere. Plug-in protectors work by limiting the voltage from each wire (power and signal) to the ground at the protector. The voltage between the wires going to the protected equipment is safe for the protected equipment.
For real science, and excellent information on surge protection, read the IEEE and NIST surge guides.
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Hear, hear. Good example of NO ground, Norway.
I was once told by utilities people that when a distribution fault/'short' occurs; we'll see a brown-out, or complete drop out, then the utilities come back on trying to 'clear' the short [burning it out?] and if that doesn't work, power goes off again. Was believable, because that has pretty much been the sequence here.
Only thing here that REALLY caused the PC's to get upset, was when strong winds kept slapping the high tension cabling together coming in from ?? Hoover Dam? [according to utilities spokesperson giving that reason] You can't believe the on off sequences we went through.
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On 6/18/2013 11:45 PM, snipped-for-privacy@I.don't.have.a.clue.com wrote:

I live in Alabamastan and we have a pretty good power company, Alabama Power and I've had damage due to aberrations in the power at times and on one occasion, I had a really bad power spike blow out some equipment at my business. I had to get past the nice lady customer service rep in order to speak with one of the engineers to explain what happened. He agreed with me and the power company paid for my damaged gear. ^_^
TDD
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On Wed, 19 Jun 2013 10:10:52 -0500, The Daring Dufas

The best chance to get a PoCo to help you out with a surge is to buy their surge protection package. (protectors in the meter base and an evaluation of your grounding) Usually that will stop most of them tho. You want all of your surge protection connected to the same ground electrode system, preferably at the same place. That needs to be a robust grounding system too., Then when you add point of use protection at the devices that need it. protecting all inputs, you have a comprehensive surge protection scheme.
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On 6/19/2013 11:08 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The power company here offers a whole house surge protector that plugs in behind the meter. Then the customer is definitely covered for voltage surge damage to their equipment. ^_^
http://www.metertreater.com/Utility_Products.html
TDD
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On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 1:10:04 PM UTC-4, The Daring Dufas wrote:

A 'whole house' protector is the only solution always found in every faci lity that cannot have damage. IEEE even puts a number to the protection. It does about 99.5% of the protection. Then get maybe an additional 0.2% protection using 'point of connection' protectors. IEEE papers even report damage created when 'point of connection' protectors are used without a 'w hole house' protector.
Some facilities that may even suffer about 100 surges per storm always us e the 'whole house' solution. In some cases, an employee could even be fir ed for using the adjacent 'point of connection' protector. Due to their hi gher requirements for reliablity.
Even professional organization including the IEEE, NIST, and ARRL recomme nd the 'whole house' solution. Because no protector does protection. Eith er the protector connects to what does protection - earth ground. Or the p rotector is for other transients that typically are not destructive; made i rrelevant by protection that routinely exists inside all appliances (with o r without internal MOVs).
The utility 'whole house' protector is so simple that the girl who reads the meter may often install it. But the same solution from many other (and more responsible companies including GE, Siemens, Intermatic, Cutler-Hamme r, Ditek, ABB, Syscom, Square D, etc) can be installed for less money.
Even the 'point of connection' protection needs protection only possible by earthing a 'whole house' protector.
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On 6/20/2013 11:31 AM, westom wrote:

I remember reading about some research done by labs working for The DOD where they had to come up with a way to protect the power systems and connected electronic equipment from the EMP created by a nuclear weapon when it explodes. They were testing surge protection installed in layers. It would start where power entered the facility and was added to inside electrical panels all the outlets and in/on the individual pieces of electronic equipment. They found what they did was the best way to protect electronic equipment from any extreme events affecting the electrical power service. ^_^
TDD
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On Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:31:30 PM UTC-4, westom wrote:

Nonsense. Look at a phone facility for example. Not only is there protection on the incoming lines, there is also protection on the linecard boards in the system that the lines go to too. Just like IEEE recommends, they use a tiered protection strategy. In the past, I even provided you with references to major component manufacturers that provide such surge protection, but of course you ignore it. Here are some again:
http://www.littelfuse.com/~/media/Files/Littelfuse/Technical%20Resources/Do cuments/Reference%20Designs/3Analog.pdf
http://www.st.com/st-web-ui/static/active/jp/resource/technical/document/ap plication_note/CD00004119.pdf
"A “primary protection” located on the Main Distribution Frame (MDF) el iminates coarsely the high energy environmental disturbances (lightning transients and AC power mains disturb ances) n A “secondary protection” located on the line card includes a primary protection level (first stage) and a residual protection (second stage) which eliminates finely the remaining tr ansients that have not been totally suppressed by the first stage."
Note that the above clearly is a TIERED strategy, consistent with the IEEE recommendations.
IEEE even puts a number to the protection. It does about 99.5% of the pr otection. Then get maybe an additional 0.2% protection using 'point of con nection' protectors.
Please provide us with a link that shows those numbers.
IEEE papers even report damage created when 'point of connection' protecto rs are used without a 'whole house' protector.

ired for using the adjacent 'point of connection' protector. Due to their higher requirements for reliablity.

Yes and right in the IEEE white paper, part of that whole house strategy is to use a whole house protector at the panel AND point-of-use, ie plug-in protectors at appliances, like TV, PC, etc.
Because no protector does protection. Either the protector connects to wh at does protection - earth ground. Or the protector is for other transient s that typically are not destructive; made irrelevant by protection that ro utinely exists inside all appliances (with or without internal MOVs).
Still waiting all these years for an answer. If MOVs inside an appliance are effective with out a direct connection to ground, then how is it that MOVs located in an adjacent surge protector are useless, because they have no earth ground?
And factor in that the MOVs in a $25 surge protector are an order of magnitude larger than those in an appliance. And which device would you rather have much of the surge going through? The ones in the $25 surge protector or the ones in the $2000 TV?

Demeaning comment noted. How would a simple girl know if the earth ground is proper and adequate?
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On Friday, June 21, 2013 11:09:59 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Protection on incoming lines is the 'whole house' solution. Protection i n a line card is equivalent to protection found inside all household applia nces. All appliances (and line cards) already contain protection that woul d otherwise be on its adjacent power wire. All appliances (and line cards) have best protection on lines entering the facility - properly earthed 'wh ole house' protection.
Tiered protection strategy exists when a consumer earths a 'whole house' protector and nothing more. An earthed 'whole house' protector is his "sec ondary" protection. Each layer of protection is defined by earth ground - not by the protector. A homeowner's "primary" protection layer is elsewher e. Consumers should also inspect their 'primary' protection layer. A pict ure demonstrates that most important component: http://www.tvtower.com/fpl.html
Protection is always defined by where energy dissipates. Always. An eff ective protector makes a connection to what does protection. The only solu tion always found in every facility that cannot have damage. Including tel co switching centers, radio and TV broadcast stations, and even munitions d umps. The solution that rarely exists in homes because so many foolishly t hink that power strip protects from the other and typically destructive sur ge. It doesn’t.
I never said MOVs adjacent to appliances are useless. They do a maybe 0. 2% additional protection. Many manufactures stopped putting MOVs inside ap pliances. Since other internal protection is often hardier. And since int ernal MOVs do little to protect from the other and typically destructive su rge.
All appliances (and line cards) by design already have superior protectio n. The informed homeowner is concerned with another and typically destruct ive transient. A transient that can overwhelm existing protection. That t ransient can only be diverted by properly earthed protectors. A 'whole hou se' solution is even necessary to protect 'point of connection' protectors ... that otherwise only protect from something that is typically not destru ctive.
So yes, the adjacent protector does maybe an additional 0.2% protection. And the 'whole house' protector must still exist. Spend about $1 per prot ected appliance for about 99.5% protection - one properly earthed 'whole ho use' protector to protect from all type of surges. Then spend $25 or $80 p er appliance to protect mostly from a type of surge that typically causes n o damage. Yes, install a tiered solution. But that is done with protectio n already inside each appliance, by what is required (and typically missing ) in most homes (a properly earthed 'whole house' protector), and the alrea dy existing 'primary' protection layer.
Protectors without the short connection to earth do not and do not claim to protect from the typically destructive surge. That other surge is typic ally made irrelevant by what already exists even in dimmer switches, CFL li ght bulbs, computers, clocks, the furnace and air conditioner, and even smo ke detectors.
Informed consumers are better advised to direct money into what is more im portant - better earthing. And either a wire connection or a 'whole house' protector connection to what actually does the protection - earth ground.
Page 42 figure 8: The adjacent protector is too far from earth ground an d too close to appliances. So it earths a surge 8000 volts destructively t hrough any nearby appliance. We have seen this often (in part because we d id this stuff). Distance between a protector and electronics INCREASES pro tection. Distance from protector to earth ground is a most critical parame ter for effective protection ... from the other and typically destructive s urge. Even power strip protectors need protection only possible by earthin g one 'whole house' protector.
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