REQ: Recommend a whole-house surge suppressor?

I need to buy/install one on my outside breaker panel box. What do you recommend and why?
Thanks
Wee
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The type that looks like a circuit breaker that fits your panel (called "plug on surge protection" in the link below). These have the shortest possible leads so they how a low impedance to a surge, but may not last as long as the larger ones that mount through a knockout. You could use the larger style if you also want to protect CATV and phone lines through the same TVSS, and you can probably find those types at your local home center.
http://www.nooutage.com/LightningSurgeProt.htm
-- Mark Kent, WA
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Our local utility leases TESCO Watt Hour Meter Base Surge Arresters -- the meter is pulled and it is plugged into the meter socket and grounded then the meter is replugged into it. Tesco also has units to wire into the main panel for both 1 phase and 3 phase services. http://www.tesco-online.com / Others make similar equipment too.

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On Sat, 06 Mar 2004 05:45:49 GMT, "The Masked Marvel"

meter-based surge suppressors. They say those devices gave them too many problems.
Thanks
Wee
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says...

For starters, make sure your ground is of good quality - a good electrician can measure the conductivity of the soil around your ground rod, measure the difference in potential between the soil and your ground wire, etc. Make sure you get someone who understands that grounding for lightning/surge protection is more demanding than just safety grounding; many electricians I've called know only how to meet code, which covers only safety grounding.
Lightning has high-frequency components that behave very differently than the 60-Hz sinewave of normal AC, and long or poor-quality grounds can be fine for safety, but useless for lightning. As I understand it - and I'm not particularly electrically inclined, as diespammer can tell you - the surge suppressor is essentially in parallel with your breaker panel, and if a surge hits, the suppressor tries to become a better path to ground than your panel, so that the surge is bled off straight to ground. But if your ground isn't high-quality enough, or the rod is too far from the surge suppressor, the suppressor will be useless.
I have a thousand-dollar surge-protection system that failed to prevent several thousands of dollars in damage during a nearby lightning strike, probably because my ground rod is 40-50 feet from the surge suppressor, and may not be buried enough or in conductive enough soil. (My "main panel" doesn't exist, electrically speaking; my outside service entrance has a long run to my two "main panels" which are really wired as subpanels due to code requirements, and the suppressors were attached to these subpanels.)
As for the brand of suppressor, every lightning-protection company I've talked to recommends a different brand, so I'm not sure it matters that much. I've heard recommendations for Square-D and Leviton among others. I currently have a Cutler-Hammer, which one company says is not high- enough quality, but I'm not sure if that's true or just typical we- don't-carry-that talk.
And to state the obvious, if you're going to install it outside, make sure it has a weatherproof enclosure available. Outside may be the best choice, though, since that will certainly provide the shortest path to ground. My next one will probably be outdoors.
--
Jay Levitt |
Wellesley, MA | Hi!
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A surge suppresser is just that, a suppresser for voltage surges or transient high voltages that come in on your electrical service line. This is not necessarily the same as the voltage surge resulting from lightning. If the lightning strike is distant from your home and the surge just results in a transient over-voltage on your line it will probably protect you.
However, if you are close to the lightning strike it's another ball game. Recall that current passing by a wire will induce a voltage in that wire. This is usually thought of as a current passing through a coil of wire as in a transformer but a coil isn't needed. A straight wire in a magnetic field is enough if the magnitude of the current is high enough. Lightning strike currents can reach millions of amperes. The consequence of this is that damagingly high voltages can be induced in wires within your home, 120 volt lines, CAT-5 cables, speaker cabling, etc. The surge suppresser in an entrance panel can't do much to protect against these surges. The best you can do is to protect as close as you can at each device that is at risk.
RB
Jay Levitt wrote:

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RB misrepresents facts and posts classic urban myths. If nearby lightning creates currents in wires, then how much current. He cannot answer that. Not enough current to even overwhelm protection that already exists in all appliances.
Specifications on the 'whole house' protectors list numbers rated for earthing the direct strike. That is what a 'whole house' protector is for - earthing the direct strike so that damage does not occur inside the building. Earth the transient so that internal electronic protection is not overwhelmed.
Jay Levitt has accurately summarized what protectors (or suppressors or TVSS) do. Make a temporary connection to earth ground. Earth ground - the quality of - determines how effective a protector would be during the direct strike. Suppressors do not stop, block, or absorb transients as RB would have us believe.
Joules is a benchmark for life expectancy of a suppressor. The suppressor is equivalent to a switch that connects earth ground to that potentially destructive transient. More joules means life expectancy of that 'switch' (the suppressor) increases - exponentially.
Some effective 'whole house' protectors were listed in a previous post in newsgroup misc.rural: "telephone wire/lightning strikes" on 30 Sept 2003 or http://tinyurl.com/q6g6
Introduction to surge protectors and surge protection (they are separate items) is in "RJ-11 line protection?" on 31 Dec 2003 in pdx.computing, or http://tinyurl.com/2hl53 and "Opinions on Surge Protectors?" on 7 Jul 2003 in the newsgroup alt.certification.a-plus or http://tinyurl.com/l3m9
RB wrote:

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Check specs, look for High Joules and reaction time in nanoseconds. Instantanious is best, 0 Nanoseconds. Tripp makes strip units with Zero response time but not a whole house unit. Tripp offers a good warranty. Whole house units vary. There is also a lightning arrestor but i dont now who makes it. Start with your grounding , and strip units try www.nooutage.com
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