What is Whole Home Surge Protection and How Do I Achieve It?
Preventing electrical surge damage has traditionally been left to the consumer to guess at what to do.
Do you buy numerous surge protector strips? Do you spend time running around the house during a lightning storm unplugging everything in sight while putting yourself at risk for electrical shock? Or do you just do nothing and rely on your homeowner’s insurance policy to cover any surge losses that may occur? You do none of these; instead you protect your investments by preventing surge damage protecting your Whole Home.
Whole Home Surge Protection cannot be achieved by "One Whole House Surge Protector". In fact it requires a system of surge protectors working together. We refer to this as Zoned surge protection. Zoned surge protection is accomplished with the implementation of primary and secondary surge protectors.
1. First, surge protectors are applied to the incoming electrical, cable/satellite, and telephone utility services to keep externally generated surges from entering your home. This is your primary surge protection.
2. Then at key locations throughout the home, localized secondary protection is provided to safeguard against any residual surges from the main service and any internally generated surges.
To apply this type of protection for your home, surge protection developed Total Zone Protection, which consists of dividing the home into three protection zones: Main Zone, Interior Zone & Exterior Zone. Specialized surge protectors are designed for each zone location: Main Zone, Interior Zone and Exterior Zone.
What is a power surge?
Power surges (referred to as transients in the industry) are extremely brief, abnormally high voltage spikes on the AC power. There are a number of conditions that affect the quality of power you receive with power surges by far the most common. Every piece of electrical equipment in your home is designed to operate at a specified nominal voltage such as 120 Volts AC. Most equipment is designed to handle minor variations in their standard nominal operating voltage; however, even the smallest power surges can be very damaging to nearly all equipment.
What is Whole House Surge Protection?
Whole House Surge Protection is a system of surge protectors working together to eliminate surges from a number of external and internal sources. Applying surge protectors at the incoming electrical, cable/satellite, and telephone utility services keep externally generated surges from entering your home. Localized surge protectors applied to sensitive electronics safeguard against internally generated surges.
Do I need surge protection?
Yes. The reality is that surges are occurring daily and effecting the equipment in your home. Typically surge protection is attributed to "lightning protection" but the fact of the matter is that surges are caused most often from utility disturbances and internally generated surges. It is common for homeowners to lose equipment due to surge damage and not even realize it. Many “mysterious” computer problems such as contaminated or irretrievable files are actually due to electrical surges. Also, breakdowns and replacements of electronic equipment due to what you think of as “normal” wear and tear may actually be due to internally or externally caused surges.
Aren’t my circuit breakers enough?
Common AC circuit breakers don’t react quickly enough to protect sensitive electronic equipment. A Surge Main Zone protector reacts in less that a billionth of a second. Also, it’s important to note that Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) circuit breakers are not surge protectors and therefore do not provide surge protection. They protect against shock hazard.
How often do these disturbances occur?
Because we use so many things like refrigerators, pumps, heating and air conditioning systems all the time, disturbances happen frequently. A 17-month study done by IBM in 49 cities across the country found that an average of 128.3 disturbances happened in each monitored facility, every month. Most were surges that did not cause immediate damage, but which could wear down equipment over time.
Will these devices prevent my clocks
No. Neither the Main, Interior, nor Exterior Zone protectors can eliminate blinking clocks. Blinking is caused by momentary sags or outages, which are solved by the use of a UPS unit or buying electronics with built-in battery back-up.
Surge Protectors are designed to reduce and divert potentially damaging short-duration voltage spikes safely out of the system to Ground. This is similar in concept to pressure relief valves that protect water heaters from overpressure. It is a common misconception that surge protectors "absorb" surges when in fact their purpose is to divert the surge away from the protected equipment to Ground.
What should I look for when selecting a Surge Protective Device (SPD)?
Any panel mount Surge Protective Device that you consider must be listed UL 1449 3rd Edition. All manufacturers UL listings are available for review on the UL website. Be careful not to confuse SPD listed products with Secondary Surge Arrestors (aka Lightning Arrestors). Secondary Surge Arrestors have a clamping voltage much too high to protect sensitive electronics.
When comparing surge protectors it is important to consider both the surge current capacity and clamping voltage to determine the performance of the surge protector.
What is surge current capacity?
Surge current capacity is the maximum amount of surge current that a surge protector can pass for a single surge event. This level is used to indicate the protection capacity of a particular surge protector. For example, in a high exposure area (like Florida) with a high likelihood for lightning, a larger surge current capacity might be desired. But, be aware that surges have natural limitations and that larger surge current capacity tends to add redundancy rather than the implied ability to handle an extremely large surge. For example, an entire lightning strike cannot go through wire; much like a fire hose has difficulty shooting through a soda straw. Realistically, surge protectors do not need to be sized for entire lightning strikes. But, there are valid reasons for adding excess surge current capacity for redundancy reasons.
The surge protection industry uses kiloamperage (kA) as a measure of the products surge current capacity. All of surgeproducts list the kA rating for the surge capacity. kA ratings at or above 10kA (10,000 Amperes) are generally acceptable.
What Joule rating should I choose?
Many homeowners look at Joule ratings to determine which surge protector to purchase. Unfortunately, Joule ratings can be misleading according to IEEE research. When a surge protector is submitted for third party testing with Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a Joule rating is not a tested parameter. Joule ratings are an unreliable measurement for determining a products surge capacity because there is no test standard. The Joule rating listed on a surge protector’s package is determined using an unknown method by the manufacturer.
What is clamping voltage?
Clamping voltage, also referred to as let through voltage or the Voltage Protection Rating (VPR), is the amount of voltage a surge protector permits to pass through it to the attached load (ex: a TV) during a surge event. Clamping voltage is a performance measurement of a surge protector's ability to attenuate a surge, or more simply, to reduce the surge to a manageable level. For example, a surge protector might limit a 6,000V surge so that only 600V is ‘visible’ to the load. The clamping voltage is 600V. This performance value is confirmed by Underwriters Laboratories during tests conducted while evaluating a surge protector for listing.
My utility offers surge protection.
What is the difference between your product and theirs?
Utilities generally offer meter-based products. Please make sure that the product they are offering is UL 1449 3rd Edition listed and not a surge arrestor. Most utility surge protection programs are leasing programs so you will be paying a monthly fee for as long as you are opted into the program. Why pay a monthly charge when you can own your surge protector? If you were to pay $10 a month to lease surge protection from your utility for 10 years (our panel mount device has a 10 year product warranty) you will end up paying $1200. It is cheaper in the long run to own your panel mounted surge protector. Also, the electric utility does not provide protection for your telephone and coaxial connections.
Can a “power factor correction device” save money on my power bill and provide surge protection?
Any panel mount Surge Protective Device that you consider must be listed UL 1449 3rdEdition. This is not only for performance but also for safety reasons. If the product has not been evaluated specifically for UL 1449 3rd Edition then important end-of-life (failure mode) testing has not been performed to determine if the product will fail passively (safely) and the product may explode when subject to a fault condition and put you at risk for an electrical fire.
Although it is tempting to buy a product that claims to save you money on your home’s power bill there is no documented proof from a reputable organization that substantiates these claims.
A document was released on Dec 15, 2009 by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and the US Dept of Commerce that discusses "Power Factor Correction" for residential applications. This document is available on the NIST website. There is also a reference in the NIST document to the US Dept of Energy "Energy Star" program's opinion of power factor correction devices which is located on the Energy Star website’s FAQ. Q: Do Power Factor Correction Devices (kVAR) really save money?
My electronics have built-in surge protection.
Why do I need more?
Built-in surge protectors often aren’t strong enough to handle larger surges and spikes and, like other smaller surge protectors, can wear out without your even knowing it, leaving you with no protection at all. Built-in protection for one piece of equipment may still leave you without protection for important peripherals such as answering machines, modems, printers, etc. In addition, built-in protectors don’t provide back-up power which lets you perform orderly shut-downs.
My home has 2-pronged electrical outlets only.
Can I still get Zone protection?
Although you won’t be able to use the Interior Zone protectors (they require use of a grounded three-pronged outlet), you can still have the Main Zone protector installed. Your standard electrical equipment that is “hard-wired” will then be covered under the Main Zone’s connected equipment warranty.
Homes with a combination of two- and three-pronged outlets may take advantage of the Interior Zone protectors, as long as properly wired and grounded three-pronged outlets are used for all UPS and plug-in protectors. Use of two to three-pronged adapters is expressly disallowed with the surge protector program.
How long will my surge protector last?
Under normal operation, these devices will operate indefinitely. The devices have been engineered by APT, an "ISO 9001: 2000 Certified" industry leading manufacturer and are built to withstand multiple surge events. Our world class test facility assures maximum design efficiencies and assures maximum accuracy, quality, and dependability. Surgeprotector demonstrates its faith in these products with a 10-year product warranty for the Main Zone protectors. Interior Zone plug-in protectors offer a lifetime product warranty and 10-year connected equipment warranty. Also, our UPS system come with a 2-year product and connected equipment warranties.
How do I reset my Surge Protector?
Panel mount surge protectors cannot be "reset." Once they have reached the end of their useful lifecycle the indicator light will extinguish and the product will need to be replaced.
How do I hookup my plug-in surge protector?
Plug the surge protector into a powered wall outlet. Be sure the switch on the surge protector is set "ON" by pushing down on the reset side. If the surge protector has LED's, be sure they are lighted according to the enclosed instruction manual. If not check your wall outlet. Connect equipment into the outlets on the power strip or surge protector. Be sure to plug in your phone/fax or TV/coax if surge protector has this option.
The phone is not working when plugged
into the surge protector?
Unplug and reinstall the phone/fax input cable on the surge protector. If that doesn't work, plug the phone/fax directly into the phone wall jack. If the phone/fax works in the wall jack, the surge protector has been damaged by a surge or could be failed (phone/fax protection circuits are separate and not related to the indicator lights). If the phone doesn't work check your phone in another outlet you may have a defective phone. Or you may have a damaged Main Zone telephone protector.
If other in-home phones are working then the phone is probably damaged. If the other phones work, but you have a bad signal, the Main Zone telephone protector is probably damaged. To verify Main Zone telephone protector is damaged, unplug telephone cables, and connect them with Radio Shack Inline Coupler Cat# 279-434. If telephone signal is restored, the Main Zone telephone protector needs to be replaced. If signal is still bad, contact the telephone company.
Outlets aren't grounded, can I use an adapter?
No. Your surge protector must be plugged directly into a three-pronged grounded outlet. If you use an adapter the warranty will be void.
Can I daisy chain surge protectors?
No. Surge protectors must be plugged directly into a grounded outlet to work properly. (Underwriters Laboratories prohibits daisy chaining) Never plug a surge protector into a plug strip or plug adapter.
What if my TV (or appliance) is damaged, but the surge suppressor’s lights are still on?
Then a transient did not damage the appliance. The units are designed to show evidence of a transient passing through it. If the lights are on, there is some other cause of the damage to the appliance.