Electrical Short...

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Who knows? By posting this, it might be that I get to save a life or two somewhere down the road...
Awhile back, I bought one of those *trendy* steel-wire bookcases for my bedroom office. On one shelf, I set up my monitor so that I could use it from bed (bad back). While on the bottom shelf, I put the computer itself, along with the surge-protector...
I felt reasonably assured that I had enough insulation -- as both computer and monitor have fairly *beefy* plastic bases. As it turns out though, I should have been a little more concerned!
Yesterday, just as I was leaving to go to a job, my SO called me back and asked if I knew anything about a strange odor coming from the back bedroom. The odor, as I soon found out, was smoke. Apparently,the surge-protector shorted against the wire shelving -- and in doing so sparked off a small electrical fire!
The wife and I are feeling pretty darned fortunate today -- all we've lost is a printer cable and a surge-protector. And yet, I feel slightly embarrassed (and a little guilty) whenever I look over at this big black spot that we now have on the carpet. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER!
Still, I suppose if pride is all I'm down, then I should consider myself blessed -- as it’s a small price to pay for such an invaluable lesson. The moral being that perhaps having my electronics sitting directly on a metal shelf is not such a good idea. ; - ))
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Kewless wrote:

That has nothing whatsoever to do with your behaviour, and everything to do with faulty gear. Anything that could short against the wire shelf could also short against your skin.
I wouldn't worry about metal shelving any more because of this...get a new surge protector from a different company. (In any case, whole-house surge protectors are much more effective than the power-bar type, as they are much closer to the primary electrical ground.)
Chris
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This is a joke of some sort. I don't get it, but it is too silly to be true.
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all sorts of wierd things can and do happen, having seen some myself...
not a troll, just a near disaster
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On 7-May-2007, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Yes, thank you.
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On 7-May-2007, Tollerwrote:

Nope. It's true.
When I posted this I suspected that my experience was fairly uncommon. But I had no idea that it was so bizarre as to defy belief. Perhaps, I should have called the National Enquirer instead?
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True, you are assured of electrical ground...but you will not protect from induction on the same circuit (motor switching) as your electronics. Also, there is induction from wire to wire in the same run or conduit.
JM$.02
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You are not the only one who has experienced such problems with plug- in protectors: http://www.hanford.gov/rl/?pageU6&parentU4 http://www.westwhitelandfire.com/Articles/Surge%20Protectors.pdf http://www.ddxg.net/old/surge_protectors.htm http://www.zerosurge.com/HTML/movs.html
Better is a simple $4 power strip with that all so important 15 amp circuit breaker. Short would have only tripped the breaker - would not contain internal components mislocated where fire is a threat; such as in those above pictures.
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w_tom wrote:

For anyone with minimal reading skills the hanford link talks about `some older model' power strips and specifically references the revised UL standard, effective 1998, that requires a thermal disconnect as a fix for overheating MOVs. Overheating was fixed in the US in 1998.
There is no indication in the original post what caused the problem.
-- bud--
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On 8-May-2007, Budwrote:

I have no idea how old this thing was or even where I got it. It could be that it was pre' 98...

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Bud is spinning myths again. He promotes plug-in protectors. The changes that Bud was talking about were implemented in the late 1980s after so many publications - including two mid-1980s PC Magazine articles - showed how frequently this problem would occur. In the meantime, even those scary pictures include protectors that are supposed to be even less likely to spit 'sparks and flames'.
It remains a dangerous problem which is another reason why we don't want protectors adjacent to flammable materials. Just another reason why a 'whole house' protector is preferred. Properly sized. Safely located. Costs tens of times less money per protected appliance. And is sold by manufacturers with far more responsible names such as Leviton, Intermatic, Cutler-Hammer, Square D, Siemens, GE, and others.
If the power strip had shorted to rack, then its 15 amp circuit breaker would have tripped - no smoke; no sparks. Furthermore, if power strip shorted to metal rack, then incoming electricity is the power strip. What is an outgoing path back to breaker box? If no outgoing path through the rack, then short was not through that rack. Again, a more common problem even with UL1449 approval is: http://www.hanford.gov/rl/?pageU6&parentU4 http://www.westwhitelandfire.com/Articles/Surge%20Protectors.pdf http://www.ddxg.net/old/surge_protectors.htm http://www.zerosurge.com/HTML/movs.html
Does your protector have UL1449 certification? Purchased after late 1980s - then it probably does. It met those protection standards and yet still did as other certified protectors sometimes do when grossly undersized, excessively profitable, and (by the way) don't even claim to provide protection from surges that actually harm electronics.
Undersized? Yes, it sell more protectors when it is damaged by a trivial surge. Effective protectors earth surges, are not damaged, and leave you completely unaware of how effective it really is. A protector that is not damaged - that does its job - does not get hyped recommendations by the naive. But when undersized, then those scary pictures happen more frequently.
More reasons why one properly earthed 'whole house' protector is the safer and superior solution compared to grossly undersized plug-in protectors all over the house.
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w_tom wrote:

I only promote accurate information. It is w_'w *belief* that plug-in suppressors can't work. Lacking technical arguments he resorts to pathetic scare tactics.

If w_ could only read and think he would know that HIS hanford link says overheating MOVs were fixed with a revised UL 1449 standard. From the hanford link: "Surge protection devices in some older model multi-outlet power strips can overheat and create a potential fire hazard."
Why does hanford say both "some" and "older"?
and: "Underwriters Laboratories Standard UL 1449, 2nd Edition, Standard For Safety For Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors, now requires thermal protection in power strips. This protection is provided by a thermal fuse located next to the MOV."
If w_ knew anything about UL 1449 he would know the 2nd edition was in 1998 - 18 years after his PCMag articles and 9 years ago.

The scare tactic again. Obsolete by his own hanford link. The 2nd and 3rd link are the same. Zerosurge is a manufacturer with a competing surge protection scheme (which w_ says doesn't work). None of these links say there is any problem with suppressors under the current UL standard. None of them even says the problem units had a UL label.

Another really stupid statement.

Lacking technical arguments w_ also relies on "undersized" - a red herring. Plug-in suppressors with very high ratings are readily available. And the surge expert at the National Institute of Standards and Technology wrote "in fact, the major cause of TVSS [surge suppressor] failures is a temporary overvoltage, rather than an unusually large surge."
-- bud--
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Bud spins subjective words into a wild speculation. "Some"? "Older"? Is that a technical answer?
If those 'scary picture' protectors did not meet UL1449 - a standard for 25 years, then why not cite that specific fact? Bud is so desperate to prove a point - to promote his product - as to cite "Some" and "Older" as definitive facts. Only a junk scientist would advance such rationalizations. Protectors that even meet UL1449 2nd edition create those scary pictures.
How does UL1449 2nd edition make 'scary pictures' less likely? Disconnect protector components faster. Abandon an adjacent appliance to the surge. Instead protect a power strip protector. What kind of protection is that? Ineffective. When was a protector's task to protect itself; not the appliance?
UL1449 says a protector need not even provide protection. A protector can completely fail during UL1449 testing - and still obtain UL1449 approval. UL does not care if protector disconnects so quickly as to provide zero protection. UL1449 only wants no 'sparks and flames' during smaller test waveforms.
Therein lies the tradeoff. Either claim to protect an appliance and suffer those scary pictures. Or disconnect MOVs (protector components) so fast that internal appliance protection protects that appliance. Latter condition indicated by a 'failure' light. As noted earlier, that 'failed' indicator is an unacceptable condition often associated with grossly undersized and overpriced plug-in protectors.
No effective protector fails quickly. But doing in plug-in protectors can achieve a UL1449 2nd edition approval - while protecting that excessively high profit margin.
Let's view that profit margin. Take a $3 power strip. Add some $0.10 parts. Sell it for $25 or $100 as a power strip protector. Make sure the protector components disconnect so quickly that it can obtain a UL1449 approval. IOW protect the protector - not appliances. No wonder plug-in protectors don't even claim to protect from the typically destructive type of surge. View it yourself. Where does it list protection from each type of surge? It does not. More important is to disconnect MOVs so that scary pictures occur less often.
'Whole house' protectors such as in Lowes, Home Depot, and electrical supply houses (not sold in Sears, Wal-Mart, Circuit City, Radio Shack, Staples, etc) have that essential earthing wire AND remain functional after surges. An effective protector shunts a surge to earth, remains functional, and never lets a homeowner know that a surge even existed. Effective: remains functional as in not spitting 'sparks and flames'.
That power strip protector would not have shorted to closet rack. A short would have been eliminated by a 15 amp circuit breaker. But internal components may have spit 'sparks or flame' during a surge too small to overwhelm other household appliances. Just another problem with plug-in protectors. Plug-in protectors may fail during a surge so small that appliances were not harmed. Catastrophic failures are not acceptable from more responsible manufacturers. Protector inside a closet failed catastrophically during that same 'so trivial' surge? No wonder superior protectors are located where?
At the service entrance and not inside a closet of flammable clothes; not on a desktop of flammable papers; not behind furniture in dust balls on a rug. A superior 'whole house' protector also has what that closet protector would not - 'less than 10 foot' connection to earth. Smoking protector inside a closet - just another example of why plug-in protectors are not effective protection.
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w_tom has reached a new level of silliness. When a manufacturer puts surge protecting components inside say a DVD player, it's a great thing. Not only will it protect the electronics from a surge, it will do so despite the fact that the only ground it has is the same ground a plug in protector would have. And it's perfectly safe to sit the DVD player in a bedroom without fear that's it's gonna burn the house down.
But install the same surge components into a power strip and it's a death trap unacceptable for a living space. No, wait, not the same components. BIGGER components, able to handle an even bigger surge. It's gonna spew fire and also won't protect at all against a surge because it's impossible to do surge protection without a true nearby earth ground. Funny if their so unsafe, they are UL listed, ain't it?
Sure there have been problems with some surge protectors. There have been problems and safety recalls with some cars too, haven't there? Should we stop buying them too?

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On May 12, 11:32 am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Did trader assume that MOVs are inside appliances? MOVs - that one type of surge component - once was inside appliances such as Apple II. No longer. MOVs inside appliances or inside power strip protectors were not effective. Anything that a power strip protector might accomplish is already inside appliances. And its not MOVs as trader has assumed.
For example, integrated circuits are now defined to withstand 2000 and 15,000 volts without damage. That is IEC6100-4-2 and other standards. Internal protection is constructed in three layers - system, board, and inside each semiconductor. Protection that is already inside electronic appliances is understood by those who work with things beyond an electrician's grasp. Internal protection that naysayers often do not even know exists.
w_tom provided numerous sources of facts. But even sources cited by bud demonstrate same. Bud would have everyone believe his magic plug- in protector works even without earthing. Bud would have everyone believe IEEE, et al recommend plug-in protectors. Wrong. IEEE makes recommendations in standards - not in papers. Many IEEE Standards each define one thing essential for protection: earthing. Not a protector. Earthing.
Bud's own citation (Page 42 Figure 8) shows TVs being damaged - 8000 volts destructively - because a protector was too close to appliances and too far from earthing.
What does a protector do? Earth. A protector with a short (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to earth provides a non-destructive surge path. Even 1752 lightning rods did same for Ben Franklin. But a protector too far from earth ground and too close to TVs .... that is Page 42 Figure 8 in Bud's citation - TVs destroyed.
All electronic appliances contain internal protection. MOVs once were inside appliances - too close to transistors and too far from earth ground. No longer installed - and trader should have known that. Even before PC existed, industry standards have defined protection inside electronic appliances. Trader should have also known that fact.
Effective surge protection earths a typically destructive surge so that 8000 volts does not pass through TVs - page 42 figure 8. How well does a protector 'handle' a surge? Well how long is that earthing wire? Sharp bends inside junction boxes? Bundled with other wires? More than 10 feet? Factors that make a plug-in protector NOT earthed. One protector, properly earthed, means massively improved protection for tens of times less money. Without MOVs inside appliances.
Now wonder so many responsible manufacturers such as GE, Siemens, Cutler-Hammer, Leviton, Intermatic, Square D ... sell 'whole house' protectors. Some models are available in Lowes and Home Depot for less than $50. No wonder effective protectors have a dedicated wire just for earthing.
Bud hopes the lurker will not notice what his other citation says: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/practiceguides/surgesfnl.pdf Adobe page 8 (page 6) says:

Bud also posts that protectors clamp - but do not earth? Earthing is defined as necessary by his own citations. A protector is not protection. A protector is nothing more than a connecting device to protection. An effective protector 'shunts' a surge to protection. What is the protection? Earth ground.
Effective protectors shunt (clamp, connect, divert) to earth ground long before that surge can get anywhere near to appliances (ie the TV). How to make that protector better? Enhance the protection - the earthing system. Even Bud's citations note that - in direct contradition to what Bud has posted. Earth so that protection already inside all appliances is not overwhelmed.
trader apparently has confused standard protection inside all appliances with MOVs. One 'whole house' protector properly earthed means protection inside all electronics appliances need not be overwhelmed. As Bud's Page 42 Figure 8 demonstrates - a protector too close to appliances and too far from earth ground may '8000 volts' overwhelm and destroy internal appliance protection.
Superior and effectively earthed protection for about $1 per protected appliance. Installed so that protection already inside every appliance is not overwhelmed. trader - did you know of IEC6100 and other standards that define. for example, 2000 and 15,000 volt internal protection - and without MOVs? It's not something taught to electricians.
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w_tom wrote:

Never seen - a source that says plug-in suppressors are NOT effective. Or that UL-1449-2ed is a problem.

With a minimal ability to read anyone, except apparently w_, can look at the IEEE guide, pdf page 4 and find that the guide was peer-reviewed in the IEEE and represents the views of the IEEE. But w_ has a religious belief (immune from challenge) that surge protection must use earthing. w_ must deny what is obvious to protect his belief in earthing.

[The illustration, from the IEEE guide, shows a surge on a CATV cable and 2 TVs, TV1 has a plug-in suppressor.] The new lie. The “protector” does not cause any damage. The “protector” protects TV1. The “protector” reduces the surge at the TV2 from 10,000V to 8,000V. With minimal reading ability anyone, almost, can read the text - "to protect TV2, a second multiport protector located at TV2 is required". The IEEE guide says plug–in suppressors are effective. But w_ must discredit the guide (as above) and distort the guide (here) to protect his religious belief in earthing.

The religious belief in earthing #2. But the IEEE guide, as stated numerous times, explains plug-in suppressors work primarily by clamping the voltage on all wires (power and signal) to the common ground at the suppressor, not earthing. The IEEE guide says earth grounding occurs elsewhere.

The new lie repeated.

The new lie #3.

Challenged by many people. Lowes online has no ‘whole house’ protectors. Home Depot has no ‘whole house protectors near $50. Yet another of w_’s ‘facts’ which he can provide no link to substantiate.

The religious belief in earthing #3.

What does the NIST guide actually say about plug–in suppressors? They are "the easiest solution".
and: "Q - Will a surge protector installed at the service entrance be sufficient for the whole house? A - There are two answers to than question: Yes for one-link appliances, No for two-link appliances [equipment connected to power AND phone or CATV or....]. Since most homes today have some kind of two-link appliances, the prudent answer to the question would be NO - but that does not mean that a surge protector installed at the service entrance is useless."
Again w_ must distort what a guide actually says to protect his religious belief in earthing.

The religious belief in earthing #4. I only repeat what the IEEE guide says - plug-in suppressors work primarily by clamping, not earthing.

The new lie #4.
Want to know if plug–in suppressors work? Read the IEEE and/or NIST guides. Both guides say plug-in suppressors are effective.
Then read w_’s sources: Never a link that says plug-in suppressors are NOT effective. Never a link that says UL-1449-2ed is a problem. Never a link to a $50 ‘whole house’ suppressor. All you get is w_'s beliefs.
Bizarre claim - plug-in surge suppressors don't work No sources. Distort or attempt to discredit opposing sources. Attempt to discredit opponents. w_ is a purveyor of junk science.
-- bud--
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w_tom wrote:

To quote w_: "It is an old political trick. When facts cannot be challenged technically, then attack the messenger." My only association with surge protectors is I have some. And I don't recommend people use plug-in suppressors. I only recommend people make decisions based on facts, not lies and junk science.

A lie w_ keeps repeating. With no technical arguments against plug-in protectors all he has left is the lie. Provide a link that says UL-1449-2ed is a problem.

Another version of the “undersized” red herring. Suppressors are readily available with very high ratings.

A repetition of the “really stupid statement”. Plug-in suppressors have MOVs from H-N, H-G, N–G. Which surge mode does that not cover? Never explained by w_ (because there is no explanation).

This is the *real* issue for w_. He believes you cannot suppress surges without a short wire to earth. But the IEEE guide to surges and surge suppression at: http://omegaps.com/Lightning%20Guide_FINALpublishedversion_May051.pdf explains that plug-in suppressors work primarily by clamping the voltage on all wires (power and signal) to the common ground at the suppressor, not earthing. The guide says earth grounding occurs elsewhere. The IEEE is the major association of electrical engineers in the US and publishes standards on surges. But poor w_ can’t find anyone who agrees with him. So he lies with pathetic scare tactics. And sets up a straw man, a “grossly undersized” suppressor, when suppressors with high ratings are readily available.
The IEEE guide above (the link originally came from w_) has excellent information. And it says plug-in suppressors are effective. In the only 2 examples of surge suppression, plug-in suppressors are used. I guess the IEEE doesn’t know about the “sparks and flames”.
Another excellent guide on surges and protection is from the National Institute of Standards and Technology at: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/practiceguides/surgesfnl.pdf and also says plug-in suppressors are effective.
So believe the IEEE, NIST and hanford.
Or believe the lies and junk science from w_. He has no links that support his beliefs.
-- bud--
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On 7-May-2007, w_tomwrote:

The first thing I did (after examining its charred remains) was to toss my surge-protector in the trash. It never occurred to me to take pictures. I wish I had...
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Not really.
You should contact the surge manufacture and tell them what happened. If they don't stand behind there product then you should not be buying anything made by them.

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Yes, it's not clear how the surge protector "shorted" against the metal shelving. Something clearly had to be defective and sitting electronics on a metal shelf should not have anything to do with it.
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