Whole house surge suppressor

I'd like to know how effective these are and a ballpark figure to have an electrician furnish and install one in Northern NJ.
This question was prompted by the recent failure of a security light. The maker's tech support speculated it was from a surge. My HVAC contractor said the same thing after replacing fried components two years ago.
Anyhow, my computers are on suppressors but everything else seems vulnerable. Note that lightning is not a problem.
Thanks.
Mike snipped-for-privacy@onuj.com (reverse domain)
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I put one in two years ago. It took about 30 minutes. How much does an electrician charge for 30 minutes?
Can't say how effective they are, but haven't had a problem since. Of course, I hadn't had a problem before either; so it doesn't prove much.
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Most residential panel manufacture make a plug in surge arrestor. They look like a two pole breaker, with one wire coming out of them. Simple to install and you do not need a contractor to do the job, remember to shut off the main before sticking your fingers in there. These attached to the bus directly have been proven to be superior to the "wired ones". Almost every manufacture makes these as well. I bought my GE plug in surge arrestor at Lowes for ~$55.00. Take a breaker from your panel with you if your not sure. These are not returnable if opened.
IEEE states that you need to protect 2 of the 3 zones of use for protection. The panel unit will LOWER the surge. A point of use surge protector will LOWER the surge hopefully within tolerance of the load. Problem is the size and speed of the surge is unknown.
I lost a garage door opener recently because of a lightning storm.
I would counsel you to have your ground at the electrical service measured. Unfortunately not a meter that is common unless your in business. My meter is $2k, and I use it almost every week.
WAG A supplemental ground rod might help if installed properly NEC says 25 ohms to ground for safety. IEEE says less than 5 ohms to ground for sensitive electronics. I have installed grounding systems that approach 1 ohm to ground, tested. I will bet that you not interested in spending $30k.
Not knowing all of the facts in your situation it is hard to guess what you need to do to solve the problem.
Nothing that I am aware of will protect your electrical stuff 100% especially if the problem is from the utility.
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My experience with these "whole house" panel suppressors, in southern NY, is that they work fine for motors and general house wiring and equipment, but your sensitive electronics will still fry
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As with any surge supressor, the critical rating is the number of Joules it can absorb if an overvoltage does occur. Nothing is a cure for everything. Given the cost of the part and ease of installation, if you have the space in the box, why not do it. If you need those slots in the future for a new branch, it is easily removed. If you have a newer breaker panel, the part number for the supressor may be on the sticker inside the door.
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A standard myth has been posted. For example, an idea that a protector will absorb a surge is bogus. Technology was well proven in the 1930s and even demonstrated by Franklin in 1752. The protector (such as what you think that UPS is doing) is not protection. Effective protector connects destructive transients 'less than 10 feet' to earth ground. Not just to protect motors but to protect all household electronics. Some utility wires provide that same protection without a protector - ie cable TV. Other incoming wires must connect to earth ground via a 'whole house' protector - ie AC electric and telephone.
'Whole house' protectors are so effective that a phone line has one installed for free by the telco. Protection installed so that direct lightning strikes are not destructive. But again, a protector is only as effective as its earth ground. One need not install a $30K ground. In most locations, even a few ground rods properly installed massively increase protection.
'Whole house' protectors provide a necessary wire to make that short earthing connection. Plug-in UPS (and power strip protectors) do not have such connection. Then claim protection from transients that are typically not destructive. And charge how much per protected appliance? Tens of times more money. Too much profit to mention earthing. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground.
Minimally sized 'whole house' protectors start at about 1000 joules / 50,000 amps. Joules determines protector life expectancy. A protector must remain operational after every surge. How effective a protector will be is determined by the quality of your building's single point earth ground.
One final point. Protectors adjacent to appliances can even contribute to damage of that appliance. After all, what do protectors do? Shunt (connect) all wires together. IOW the adjacent protector simply provides a surge with more paths to earth ground, destructively, via that computer. Effective protection adjacent to a computer is already inside that computer. Protection that may be overwhelmed if you do not install a properly earthed 'whole house' protector on AC mains - at the service entrance. A protector being only as as effective as its earth ground.
Mike Trachtenberg wrote:

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AMEN!!! Several years ago I had my fused 200a service changed to circuit breakers and an outside, whole-house disconnect. Incident to this a single whole house ground was driven into the earth nearby. The power company guys told me that I needed to then get the telephone and cable gents out to reconnect their grounds to that single ground. Haven't had a problem since, when I had many fried appliances before that
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