Surge Protectors and whole house surge protector

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Feb 4, 2020
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Schaumburg, IL
Surge Protectors only last 2-3 years. That's a lot of strips to replace and a hassle since I have to date the strip and replace them at some interval. What if I install a whole house surge protector? Would those need replacing every couple of years? If I have one, would I still get surges coming from within the house or would the whole house system protect against those?

Paul
 
Joined
Aug 28, 2017
Messages
3,303
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near Cincinnati, OH
^ Sure there is. If a surge shunting component fails, it will usually look the worse for it, and some have LED indicators to show some level of protection still exists.

It is false to suggest surge protectors only last 2-3 years. One could last a single surge the same day it's installed, or well over a decade. Rather it is far more complicated than that. Basically the lower the surge voltage limit, the more often and higher a magnitude surge they will shunt, wearing the components faster, and of course some sites have far more surges and at different voltages than others.

However these components can be in parallel or higher current rated to last longer, and/or have parallel methods of shunting excess voltage or buffering peaks. Extra protection beyond a mere 3 MOVs adds significantly to the cost not just in component BOM but also due to the luxury price tiering structure of such devices.

Whole house surge protectors do tend to be better made, unless you buy generic Chinese junk, and will be a superior option for the majority of high magnitude surge sources. However they will have limited effectiveness if the surge is from another device on the same circuit for example equipment with large motors such as refrigerator, A/C, etc.

Why is it a lot of power strips to replaced? Many things aren't particularly surge sensitive. Granted more are today with every other thing having smart logic controls that predecessor devices didn't have but I'm thinking mostly of higher ticket appliances.

Since you seem very concerned, I would get the whole house protector, not replace it every 2 years, and also use decent quality (not $15 specials) surge strips on anything particularly valuable and voltage-spike sensitive.

Keep in mind that low cost surge protectors are little more than two or three MOVs soldered between the live, neutral, and ground. You could add that basic protection to anything you own, or replace those MOVs on the cheap surge protectors that have nothing more. It only takes a soldering iron and 5 minutes...
 
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Joined
Jul 15, 2018
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illinois, usa
I have some surge protectors seen early 90's and still doing fine. Buy a good brand and stay away from lower price. It also depends on what is tripping the protector, we had one case where the blender was going bad and kept tripping it.
 
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Daytona Beach
I can't add to much to the post by Dave9, just my personal experiences.
I live in Florida, the LIGHTENING capitol of the world, and have had one power strip blow out. (the MOV's were toast!). Who knows if that was a result of an actual surge, or just a component failure. It was a Tripplite 4 outlet protector in the metal housing, but several years old.
I also have the Eaton whole house (50 amp) protector installed. The strip surge protector blew AFTER the Eaton was installed, but the Eaton has 2 LED indicators that continue to be GREEN, which is good, this is 4 years now.
No component damage happened in the blowout or since the protectors were installed.

Most reviews that I have read seem to recommend a "tiered" protection system, utilizing not only a whole house protector but the strips or "point of use" protectors as well. I just wouldn't change them out based on time. If they "BLOW" (do their job), you will know it.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
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10,348
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The Midwest
My home has a whole home surge protector. It is off to the side of the load center. I like that it protects everything. Who here actually uses a surge protector strip for their HVAC, garage door opener, range..? That is why you want a whole home surge protector.
 
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Santa Barbara, CA
When I had my new panel installed a couple years ago, they put in a whole house surge protector. It takes up a couple breaker slots. I also have APC UPS's on anything valuable.
 
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
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Under the Hood
My 2 cents,

If you have the room in your Breaker Box, install a Whole House Surge Protector.
ALSO
Buy Point of Use Surge Protectors with the highest joules rating for any electronics you want to protect / TV, Stereo, Computer, Refrigerator

These ALL should have an LED Indicator Light showing you the status of the Protector.

As far as surges originating from inside your house, any appliance with a motor should be on its own Breaker.
Such as Sump Pump. Refrigerator, Washer/Dryer, Furnace.

I have a neighbor who said a surge destroyed some electronics in his house / no way to really tell.
I have Surge Protectors and never had a problem.
 
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Joined
Dec 21, 2009
Messages
775
Location
WPB, FL
My 2 cents,

If you have the room in your Breaker Box, install a Whole House Surge Protector.
ALSO
Buy Point of Use Surge Protectors with the highest joules rating for any electronics you want to protect / TV, Stereo, Computer, Refrigerator

These ALL should have an LED Indicator Light showing you the status of the Protector.

As far as surges originating from inside your house, any appliance with a motor should be on its own Breaker.
Such as Sump Pump. Refrigerator, Washer/Dryer, Furnace.

I have a neighbor who said a surge destroyed some electronics in his house / no way to really tell.
I have Surge Protectors and never had a problem.

Another thing to note is "Clamp Voltage" some are 600v good ones are much better.
 
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
3,360
Location
South Carolina
^ Sure there is. If a surge shunting component fails, it will usually look the worse for it, and some have LED indicators to show some level of protection still exists.

It is false to suggest surge protectors only last 2-3 years. One could last a single surge the same day it's installed, or well over a decade. Rather it is far more complicated than that. Basically the lower the surge voltage limit, the more often and higher a magnitude surge they will shunt, wearing the components faster, and of course some sites have far more surges and at different voltages than others.

However these components can be in parallel or higher current rated to last longer, and/or have parallel methods of shunting excess voltage or buffering peaks. Extra protection beyond a mere 3 MOVs adds significantly to the cost not just in component BOM but also due to the luxury price tiering structure of such devices.

Whole house surge protectors do tend to be better made, unless you buy generic Chinese junk, and will be a superior option for the majority of high magnitude surge sources. However they will have limited effectiveness if the surge is from another device on the same circuit for example equipment with large motors such as refrigerator, A/C, etc.

Why is it a lot of power strips to replaced? Many things aren't particularly surge sensitive. Granted more are today with every other thing having smart logic controls that predecessor devices didn't have but I'm thinking mostly of higher ticket appliances.

Since you seem very concerned, I would get the whole house protector, not replace it every 2 years, and also use decent quality (not $15 specials) surge strips on anything particularly valuable and voltage-spike sensitive.

Keep in mind that low cost surge protectors are little more than two or three MOVs soldered between the live, neutral, and ground. You could add that basic protection to anything you own, or replace those MOVs on the cheap surge protectors that have nothing more. It only takes a soldering iron and 5 minutes...
How many people take apart their protectors to check the condition of the components? TSP can take multiple small "hits" which appear to be ok but every small hit weakens the protector. I've seen MOV's that look good but are toast.

As far as the LED indicators I really don't understand how they would work. They are a simple add-on gimmick. A very good, and old fashion, surge protector is a simple neon lamp bulb.

Everything else you mentioned is good info.
 
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near Cincinnati, OH
^ If you think it's time to replace it, why not crack it open and confirm it? It greatly interests me to know failure modes, and often I will repair to a better state than new, instead of buying similar new again and having shorter life again.

If you think that end of life is near, or once you have it open anyway, replace components if that's what you want to do. Obviously anyone can replace the whole surge protector before it fails Just In Case it might, but to me whether that is a good value depends on the risk level.

These days many things fail in a few years without any surges to cause it, so it's best to develop some yearly cost estimate when deciding how much money and effort to put forth towards protecting things with a finite lifespan.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2004
Messages
3,704
Location
Kentucky
Surge protectors only lasting 2-3 years is news to me. I haven't bought a surge protector in 15+ years, the few I bought way back when are still trucking along just fine (to my knowledge.) That or I don't get power surges! The green protection indicator is still lit on all of them. They weren't cheap units though, I believe each one was $50 or so. I just use them near my entertainment centers, basically any sensitive (or expensive) electronics. My main (expensive) computer has an APC Back-UPS. Have had zero issues, no indication of any surge protector or device failing.

I figure if I get a major surge that gets past my older surge protectors, that's what I'm paying insurance for.
 
Joined
Aug 2, 2018
Messages
1,550
I have a surge installed in my panel on a 20 amp breaker.. my furnace and ac condenser are also surge protected. Expire not exactly sure can they prematurely fail definitely. I just keep an eye on the status LEDs.. green good red replace
 
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Messages
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I have a surge installed in my panel on a 20 amp breaker.. my furnace and ac condenser are also surge protected. Expire not exactly sure can they prematurely fail definitely. I just keep an eye on the status LEDs.. green good red replace
 
Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
787
Location
E. Tennessee
FWIW: I built a new house in 2017, installed a whole house surge protector (Square-D HOM2175SB) in the main panel and point of use units (APC P6W) on my tankless hot water heater, water softener, freezer, garage door openers, microwave, garbage disposal. I also usa a CyberPower CP1350PFCLCD UPS on my Win10 computer and I use APC P74 on my shop bench for power tools, etc. Further, I have Leviton surge suppressor "sockets" embedded in my whole house structured media panel in which I have my router and another one on my RainBird irrigation controller. I have underground utilities and live in a new subdivision.

So, hopefully, I've got this covered. All my units have LED indicators that tell the "health" of the Surge Protector but I do plan on replacing the point of use items every 5 years or so (they are inexpensive insurance).

YMMV.
 
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Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
787
Location
E. Tennessee
On the name brand, better units, if the surge protector gets hit, it breaks the unit (no power) and thus you know you need to replace it. Some other units have an LED that indicates the surge suppressor circuits are active and not blown (likely have thermal fused in line) and you need to monitor it from time-to-time to check on it's health.
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2013
Messages
103
Location
Central FL
Whole house surge is good for items such as the HVAC and other items that you can't have a POU protector at. Personally, the www.zerosurge.com units are truly the best IMO and I have (7) of them in my house. For whole house, stay away from MOV based systems as you should in a POU as well.
 
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Northeast
Have 2 of these in use for about 20 years . Has isolated filter banks of 40 > 80 db . Used for stereo and video .
IMG_5460.JPG
 
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May 21, 2018
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South Carolina
^ If you think it's time to replace it, why not crack it open and confirm it? It greatly interests me to know failure modes, and often I will repair to a better state than new, instead of buying similar new again and having shorter life again.

If you think that end of life is near, or once you have it open anyway, replace components if that's what you want to do. Obviously anyone can replace the whole surge protector before it fails Just In Case it might, but to me whether that is a good value depends on the risk level.

These days many things fail in a few years without any surges to cause it, so it's best to develop some yearly cost estimate when deciding how much money and effort to put forth towards protecting things with a finite lifespan.
I agree but you and I are not normal people. I actually design and build my own surge protectors. For both AC power and antenna feed lines.
 
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