Nonsense. They all use same components - MOVs - with
clamping times in nanoseconds. MOVs replaced gas discharge
tubes (GDTs) that were effective (if properly located) AND had
even *slower* reactions times.
Even Tripplite does not claim a faster response time. If it
did, then a URL for that specification will be provided.
Nonsense about LEDs that report when protector is OK. Look
at other expensive surge protectors, that use same circuit and
same components as that Tripplite:
Pictures even removed essential components (MOVs) and the
indicator still said the surge protector was OK. What kind of
indicator is that!! That LED only reports failure when
protector was so grossly undersized that it failed open
circuit - a completely unacceptable failure mode for any
properly sized surge protector. Reality - LED only reports
when the surge protector was grossly undersized for the job -
after the fact. MOVs could be removed and surge protector
still says OK? Protector manufacturer forgot to mention that
LED cannot report when a surge protector is good. It can
only report when the surge protector has failed due an extreme
condition that is not even acceptable - grossly undersized
Correctly noted is those warranties are bull. Better have an
expensive attorney such as your insurance compeny to get
something honored since most warranties are never honored. No
plug-in surge protector is effective against lightning - nor
claims to be. Read their specs; not the warranty. Where is
the technical claim of lightning protection? Yet lightning is
the typically destructive surge. The Tripplite is installed
for surges that don't typically exist! Again, what a racket!
Surge protectors must be installed for the destructive surge
- direct lightning strike. That means a surge protector can
only be effective when connected less than 10 feet to central
earth ground. Effective surge protector is 'whole house'
type - which also costs tens of times less money per
protected appliance. Provides protection from common mode
surges AND costs less.
Anyone who can responsibly recommend a surge protector knows
this fact cold - a surge protector is only as effective as its
earth ground. So instead, those plug-in manufacturers
completely avoid earthing discussions. After all, they are
not selling effective protection. So they let silly,
technically incorrect rumors about faster response sell their
ineffective protect for them.
Even switched outlets is a silly recommendation. Lightning
has traveled miles through non-conductive air to get to your
transistors. Is a silly one-eight inch gap going to stop what
miles of air did not? Of course not. Is the human going to be
there every minute of day to switch every thing off -
including dimmer switches, furnance controls, portable phone
base station, etc? Of course not. But then we have so many
urban myths promoted about protecting transistors. Myths
because those techniques are not used where failure is not an
option; such as telephone exchange, 911 emergency response
centers, cell phone towers, and airport control towers.
That recommended Tripplite is nonsense - overpriced,
ineffective, undersized. Where do they mention the most
critical component in any surge protection system - earth
ground? Where is that essential, less than 10 foot connection
to earth ground? Did they mention that telco already
installed effective 'whole house' protector on your phone line
- for free? Why forget to mention so many facts? Increased
profits? Why do they forget to mention that a surge protector
is only as effective as its earth ground? So that others will
promote urban myths to recommend the Tripplite - such as the
mythical LED indicator and faster response time.
Want to enhance surge protection? Enhance the 'system's
most critical component - earth ground. Forget miracle
solutions in a box such as 'faster' plug-in surge protector
that quietly forget to mention that they can only be as
effective as that single point earth ground - to sell a
grossly overpriced product.
mark Ransley wrote:
MOVs are supposed to be used with a FUSE,so that when the MOV conducts to
shunt the spike,the fuse blows.Sometimes MOVs degrade with minor
spikes,then totally short,sometimes they blow apart completely.I've
serviced commercial test equipment that had MOVs split open,with the fuse
blown,yet the circuitry was unharmed,only needing a new MOV and fuse to
restore operation.Others had the MOV blown completely apart.(and fuse
And I live in central Florida,the lightning capital of the US.
An inline fuse is installed so that if one, single surge
exceeds limits of MOVs - if MOVs are grossly undersized for
the task, then surge protector will not burn down the house.
Fuse is how MOV protectors meet UL1449 2nd Edition
requirements - for human safety. Fuse is not for a surge
protector circuit; not for transistor safety.
Data sheets from MOV manufacturers are clear about this with
graphs. MOVs do not fail short circuited - except when they
are undersized for one surge. Size is measured in joules -
another critical number. MOVs degrade as demonstrated by
datasheet graphs for size of surges (in current and time)
verses number of surges. MOVs don't explode if properly sized
such as in good 'whole house' protectors. MOVs simply
degrade. But if too much energy is applied in one surge (just
like a wire) then the MOV fails catastrophically - because
human did not install a protector of sufficient joules.
Just because one saw a failed, undersized MOV does not mean
that failure is the normal. Experience without knowledge from
those datasheets means no valid conclusions can be drawn.
Observation combined with those datasheets says that 'MOV with
hole' was grossly undersized. The normal failure mode for an
MOV is increased threshold or let-through voltage. Industry
standard. MOV is completely degraded when the MOV voltage
increases by 10%. How does one dispute what manufacturer data
sheets say? More likely those data sheets were not read.
MOV was grossly undersized if it short circuits or explodes
- which is why an inline fuse is installed for human safety
and UL1449 requirements.
An MOV that degrades 10% is not reported as defective by the
LED. But an MOV protector that fails because grossly
undersized can be reported by the LED. LED cannot report a
good protector. LED can only report a surge protector failed
because it was grossly undersized - and therefore blew the
thermal protection device (fuse).
Pictures properly identify what that LED indicates:
Zerosurge makes series mode protectors; not shunt mode. But
their pictures are consistent with MOV datasheets. That LED
cannot report a good surge protector. It can only report a
surge protector failed because it was grossly undersized.
Where one lives does not mean one first read those
manufacturer data sheets. Speculation without first learning
the principles and reading data sheets is a typical human
If the MOV short circuits, then it was grossly undersized
for the task.
Jim Yanik wrote:
An MOV conducts when a spike is encountered;that effectively is a SHORT
across your mains supply.That's how a MOV gets rid of the spike. If the
'short' duration is low,the circuit breaker or fuse may not be fast enough
to respond,and there's little harm to the mains,little fire hazard.But the
inline fuse aids in protection of the instrument protected,as it breaks the
circuit,stopping the flow of anymore energy.
Also,the energy of spikes vary greatly,so one cannot simply select the
biggest MOV for every application.
Of course a manufacturer of _series_ mode suppressors (Zero Surge) is going
to go out of their way to show how shunt mode suppressors are supposedly
ineffective.......how do you know that the damaged suppressors shown on that
web page were properly grounded in the first place? _Any_ improperly
grounded or installed surge protector will get a hole blown in it during a
big hit. Even a properly connected surge protector can be suffer big time
damage......which is why the better manufacturers, such as Tripplite, use
metal cases for their protectors.
Talk about misleading someone.......the LED lights when the MOV is no longer
effective, telling one that it's time to replace it.
Some, yes. Others, no.
Why then did my mothers $2000 Sony TV _not_ get damaged in a recent
_direct_lightning strike (fire ball and all), while other (unprotected) TV's
and phones _did_ get damaged? You gonna tell me that the TV protected
Try again. Any manufacturer of quality surge protectors will tell you that
you _must_ connect it to a properly grounded system, and, in fact, they tell
you that your warranty will be jeopardized if you don't.......and they
usually reserve the right to inspect your premises to see if it was.
Horse droppings. Faster response time does make a difference. How does
this apply to your recommendation for "whole house protectors"? There's a
response time for those too.......which is all the more reason to install a
point-of-use protector to pick up anything that gets by the whole house
protector. If you look at _any_ surge protection program offered by power
companies you will see that this is exactly what they do.......whole house
protector PLUS point-of-use protector. I guess they are "uninformed" also?
No, that's why we install surge protection.
I wouldn't be so sure about that Tom.......I've personally seen holes blown
in 911 system surge protectors. Surge protection for those types of
buildings starts with proper power wiring.
That's funny, it just saved a $2000 Sony TV. Just not having to lift that
200 pound monster (for replacement) was thanks enough.
In BIG letters in the instructions that come with the suppressor.
Funny how that telco "protector" got fried too........_and_ didn't do a damn
thing to save the phones that were not connected to the Tripplite.
Probably because you've never owned a Tripplite, and thus, never read the
I've personally seen a Tripplite protect an expensive TV from a direct
lightning strike......or are you going to tell me that the TV protected
itself while all the other (unprotected) TV's and phones got blown out?
How _do_ you reach all of your conclusions? Are you a _power_ electrical
engineer, or do you just read web pages and try to piece this info together
as you go?
We cannot say why your mother's Sony TV was not damaged.
Remember, when discussing surges, then wire becomes another
electronic component. Wire has impedance when discussing
surges. Possible that your mother's TV would not be damage
also if not connected to a surge protector. Was it in a
circuit between incoming surge to earth ground? Maybe those
other destroyed appliances acted more like a 'whole house'
protector - shunting the surge to earth ground to protect your
mother's TV. Furthermore the Sony could have superior
internal protection. What are its common mode and
differential mode transient limits? Without electronic
details (remembering that wire is another electronic component
in a surge protection system), we cannot say why one item is
damaged and another is not.
TV and VCR side by side. Both plugged into same power
outlet. VCR was damaged. TV was not. Both confronted by the
same AC mains surge. But TV did not make a good outgoing
connection to earth ground. VCR did. First we need the
complete schematic, including wires inside walls and other
conductive materials such as baseboard heat and concrete
floors, to see why one appliance is or is not damaged.
Bottom line is that your mother had damage because the surge
was not earthed at service entrance to a single point earth
ground. A design so well proven that your telephone exchange
keeps running without damage through all thunderstorms - even
when connected directly to overhead wires all over town. 911
Operators don't remove their headsets and stop taking
emergency calls. FM and TV electronics atop the Empire State
Building and WTC suffered 25 and 40 direct strikes annually
without damage - because they too use principles of 'whole
house' protection even back in the 1930s. Your mother
suffered damage, unnecessarily, because the surge was
permitted inside her building. We call that human failure
because effective protection from direct strikes is that well
understood and that well proven. A surge protector is only as
effective as its earth ground.
Special note to all lurkers. volts500 wrote a good
explanation of how to earth a home to meet minimally
acceptable, post 1990 NEC requirements. Most homes don't even
meet his installation. Surge protection means the home must
both meet and, in some cases, exceed his installation. His
highly regarded post is in the newsgroup alt.home.repair
entitled "Grounding Rod Info" on 12 July 2003 or can be found
at http://tinyurl.com/hkjq .
I don't believe so Tom. As you know, lightning is a strange critter. As
far as I could tell there was arcing between the aluminum siding and a
splitter that a cable guy had installed on the outside of the house (unknown
to us and remote from the main cable service.) The splitter was close to
the siding. There was a definite flash over between the siding and the
splitter, as evidenced by burn marks on the siding and charring of the
splitter and cable wires, which probably accounts for the fire ball also.
The Tripplite and the Sony TV were closest to that entry point, probably
about 5 feet. One other small TV (unprotected) was also within 5 feet of
the entry point and was fried. Two other small TV's (unprotected) were on
the other side
of the house and did not survive. The surge must have also came in on the
phone line because the telco protector was fried and the whole box had to be
replaced along with some phones. I still think that the Tripplite did it's
Again, TV's that were much further from the entry point were damaged.
OK, I'll conceed that.
No, that's not the case. The power ground, telco ground, and cable ground
are (and were at the time of the strike)
in fact connected to the same grounding electrode at the front (side) of the
house.........again the entry point was in the rear (same side) of the house
where the splitter had been installed, just hanging in the breeze, close to
the aluminum siding. I strongly believe that had the splitter been
installed on a non metallic surface and a ground rod installed at that point
and connected to the ground block (and bonded to the main electric grounding
system), which is what I have since done, that the surge would not have
entered the house via the cable TV
line(s). The aluminum siding has also since been grounded.
IMO, thanks to the cable guy who installed the splitter (flapping in the
breeze next to aluminum siding) in a hidden place and didn't bother to
A surge circuit must be better defined to understand what
could and could not be damaged. To make things more complex -
a transient down a wire will actually result in highest
voltage at the wire's farthest end. A basic concept taught in
electromagnetic wave theory. Not that it definitely applies
to your mon's situation. However, the component first to
suffer the highest voltage is at the far end of a long wire.
Tracing surges can be that complex.
Just because the telco protector was fried does not mean a
surge entered on phone line. Noted previously is how modems,
fax machines, and portable phone base stations are destroyed.
Incoming on AC electric. Outgoing on telephone wire. That
earth ground path on phone wire is through that telco provided
'whole house' protector. Surge that damaged telco protector
could have been incoming on AC electric, through household
phone appliances, and outgoing through that telco protector.
It gets more interesting. If telco protector and AC
electric were grounded on different sides of building, then,
well first we must describe the circuit. Lightning seeks
earth ground that is 5 miles diagonal from cloud to earth.
Shortest electrical path is 3 miles cloud to earth, then 4
miles through earth to those other charges. If home is in
that 4 mile path, then surge enters on (say) phone line
ground, passes destructively through household appliances,
then returns to earth on AC electric ground. Just another
reason why basic concepts such as single point earth ground is
Either way, the Tripplet protector did nothing to provide
In your mother's case, the "flapping in the breeze" cable
splitter could have been a connection, through siding, into
household AC wire behind siding, then through various
appliances to earth ground. Aluminum siding, concrete floors,
copper and cast iron pipes in contact with those other items,
hot water heat pipes, linoleum tile, etc all mean that once a
surge has entered the building, then destructive surge
circuits appear everywhere. Again, this is why all incoming
utilities must first be earthed at single point earth ground.
This is also why halo ground or, even bettter, Ufer grounds
can be so important to better surge protection (attention to
anyone about to build their own house).
In another example, vitims were on vacation when lightning
struck AC mains. Surge entered two powered off computers via
plug-in protectors. They, in turn carried the surge through
an RS-485 based network to a third computer. Surge passed out
of third computer via modem. Damage was quite clear because I
replaced every defective electronic component in that circuit
- on network cards and modem - and to restore the network.
What was incoming and outgoing on network cards even resulted
in different damage to same type chip. This is a classic case
where a plug-in protector contributed to surge damage -
incoming on AC electric and outgoing on phone line. Surge
protectors being too far from earth ground via AC electric
Lightning is not capricious. Every surge damage can be
traced. Once understood, it become an "Oh yeah. I didn't
think of that one" experience. Protection is always about
single point earth grounding - the most critical component in
any surge protection 'system'. Surge protector is only as
effective as its earth ground.
AC electric is almost never installed with the necessary
'whole house' protector. Even more embarrassing are how cable
TV and satellite dish operators install their surge
protection. They don't even need a surge protector! They
only need route the wire appropriately. All homes since 1970s
have required transistor protection. And yet many cable
installer don't even earth to meet NEC human safety
requirements! Maybe we need more immigrants so that the
wiring will be done with intelligence? It certainly is not
difficult to understand the single point earth ground concept
except, mabye, if one is a cable TV installer.
As I posted previously, one CATV installer grounded the
cable to a flower box on the porch. Just stuck a 10 AWG wire
in the dirt! Who trains these people?
The point of "adjacent VCR and TV" - one damaged and other
not - was that lightning damages for a specific reason. In
this example, one was not damaged because it did not have the
prerequisite incoming and outgoing surge path. Surge could
have been incoming on AC electric and outgoing on cable -
because cable was properly earthed before it entered the
building. Or surge could have been incoming on cable and
outgoing on AC electric - because cable was not earthed at
The point is that lightning is not capricious. It damages
for a specific reason. Additional point: damage on the cable
side of VCR does not mean that incoming surge was from cable.
Same damage could have been from AC electric surge that was
outgoing on cable.
Same reasoning is why many incorrectly assume surge entered
on phone line to damage modem. They assume that modem was
damaged from surge on phone line because modem was damaged and
computer was not. However and again, the surge had to first
form a complete electrical circuit. Incoming on phone line
and outgoing through computer. Or incoming on AC electric,
through computer, and outgoing on phone line. Either way
produces damage in the modem's DAA circuit. Surge passed
through computer without damaging computer. Surge confronted
every IC in that computer. But since those other ICs did not
have an outgoing path, then those other computer ICs were not
To be damaged, the electronic component must first be part
of a complete incoming and outgoing surge circuit.
Phone lines routinely have telco "provided for free" 'whole
house' protector which is but one reason why surges incoming
on phone lines are rare. Most modems have a direct connection
to one AC wire which is often the incoming surge path.
Adjacent surge protector can make damage more probable.
Again, same point. Lightning was not capricious. Damage
occurs for a specific reason. First a complete circuit - an
incoming and outgoing path - must exist for surge damage to
Those circulating ground currents at that TEK location are
why we wire buildings beyond what NEC requires - to also
eliminate ground loops. Montandon and Rubinstein demonstrate
the problem (and solution) in an IEEE paper entitled "Some
Observations on the Protection of Buildings Against the
Induced Effects of Lightning" on 4 Nov 1998. But one need not
read the paper to learn of the solution. Again, we must wire
beyond what the NEC requires - as that TEK location probably
That NEC earth ground must be wired so all incoming
utilities meet at a single point earth ground. All incoming
utilities are earthed so their ground wires meet only at the
common earthing point. All grounding wires routed separate
from non-grounding wires (which is why plug-in or point of use
protectors do not provide earth grounds). All interconnected
equipment groups wired using common paths and grounded using
separate, dedicated, single point grounding system.
Surge protectors are not surge protection. Surge protection
is the earthing system. Surge protectors are peripherals of
that surge protection 'system'. Surge protectors are but
simple science. The *art* of surge protection is how that
earthing is installed using concepts such as single point
ground, short distances to ground, dedicated ground wires not
bundled with other wires and not inside metallic conduits,
careful wire routes, and, if necessary, enhancing the single
point ground with halo grounds, ground plates, additional
rods, or the so highly regarded Ufer ground. Even that ground
wire installed by the power utility to it's pole transformer
is the building's primary surge protection. 'Whole house'
system is but secondary protection.
Returning to the point of original poster. Most retail
surge protector are a waste of money. They don't claim
effective protection as bluntly indicated by avoiding an
earthing discussion. They would confuse safety ground with
earth ground. They would have you believe a surge protector
is surge protection. Surge protection is earth ground. The
only effective surge protector connects an incoming surge
short, direct, and independently (all adjectives have specific
technical meaning) to that central earth ground. Plug-in
surge protector manufacturers must avoid this discussion to
But a real world surge protector manufacturer discusses
earthing extensively in legendary application notes because
surge protection is about earthing; not about surge
A surge protector is only as effective as its earth ground -
as demonstrated by the concepts of electricity - the incoming
and outgoing surge path.
email@example.com (David Combs) wrote in
When you have an earth ground at one end of a building,and then another
separate ground a distance away,currents can circulate on the ground wires
in your walls. A potential can build between the two grounds,causing
current to flow,a potential hazard,if enough potential builds up.
The same thing happens in electronic equipment that's not grounded
internally to one central point.(although very small currents)
My Sony TV and Sony VCR both survived a direct lightning strike to the
buildings wiring, but two other tv's, a VCR, a computer, a fax, all
telephones, and an answering machine were fried. The surge blew an
outlet out of the wall, tripped a bunch of breakers, and blew the
transformer on the pole. The lightning struck the building, not the
transformer, there were witnesses to that. It was a very large surge.
My point is, I believe that Sony TV's do have some sort of surge
protection built into them, based only on what I saw in that strike.
On Wed, 6 Aug 2003 01:34:15 +0000 (UTC), Jim Yanik
They were both connected to a Stereo that went up in smoke. And both
plugged into the same electrical outlet. But you're right, maybe the
other stuff acted as a surge protector. The satelite dish was also
unharmed and it was connected to the TV, VCR and Stereo.
Where did I say that? I am NOT suggesting that I go buy some overpriced
Joules rating by itself means nothing. The good ones clamp 5 to 10 times
faster in nanoseconds. Overall quality, durability, size of components,
So ahould I go buy $9.95 protector that has some insanely large joules rating
in a yellow banner on the package? orange box had them.
For example: APC claims common mode on their UPS's. They only use a MOV as a
secondary means of protection. They do warrent against lighning, and they
can do that because MOVs just blow out and burn, usually worthless. I am not
inclined to believe APC, triplite, zerosurge are overpriced junk. Then the
$9.95 900 joule protector is pure on-the-package marketing hype, a small
sized, plastic, components closely packed together piece of junk.
How does one know if a surge protector has one -- does
it advertise the fact on the box?
PS: APC has been mentioned several times, re their
UPSes. What about their line of surge protectors?
Standard crap, better, what?
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.