Surge protectors

Discussion in 'Gateway' started by Frank Logullo, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. Had a bad experience I thought I'd pass on. Prior to power going off in
    wind storm there was tremendous bang and half the stuff in the house went
    off. Turned out surge burned out 8 surge protectors. No damage to
    computers but we lost small TV. Looking over protector warranties, Belkin
    warrants protector and equipment while Woods only warrants equipment and not
    protector. Cost me $93 for new protectors - all Belkin ;)

    Frank Logullo, Nov 18, 2003
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  2. Most surge protectors are designed to sacrifice themselves in the case
    of a power surge. They protect your appliances but they are designed
    to do so by internally shorting on a surge - therefore are single use
    devices only. $93 is a good investment considering everything else
    that could have gone!

    Albert Alcoceba
    Remove REMOVE
    Albert Alcoceba, Nov 19, 2003
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  3. Absolutely! Neighbor across street lost 2 kids pc's. OTOH electrical
    problems this year have cost me >$600 - loss of stuff in freezer, microwave
    oven, TV, cost of dry ice and protectors. Not enough for home owners
    deductible but in picking up pieces, trying to get power company to take
    responsibility (9 outages this year with Conectiv show their incompetence)
    every little bit helps. Fortunately Conectiv incompetence drove me to APC
    battery back-ups which have protected my GW's.
    Frank Logullo, Nov 19, 2003
  4. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    All appliances have substantial internal protection.
    Plug-in surge protector do not sit between surge and
    computer. The surge confronts appliance and surge protector
    simultaneously. Since surge was too small to damage most
    appliances, then no damage. But surge protector was so
    grossly undersized as to be damaged by the same small surge.

    Surge protectors, properly designed, shunt surges and remain
    intact. Remain ready for the following surge. But in the
    retail computer industry where myth is misrepresented as fact,
    many foolishly think a surge protector is a sacrificial
    device. Why then do component manufacturers provide all those
    charts demonstrating life expectancy? Why? Because effective
    surge protectors are suppose to be properly sized so as to
    shunt the transient - and remain fully functional.

    Joules determines the life expectancy of a surge protector.
    Lets take a typical plug-in protector that maybe can withstand
    3 same size (standard 8/20 usec) transients. Then one
    properly sized 'whole house' protector can withstand on the
    order of 300+ such surges - without failure. Relationship
    between joules and life expectancy is exponential. Notice
    one he is intimately familiar with the technical details and
    manufacturer datasheets. Those only educated from plug-in
    protector boxes on retail shelves would not know this. Posted
    here is the information those plug-in protectors would rather
    avoid discussing.

    For about the price of one or two Belkins, one could have
    protected the entire house with a protector that is properly
    sized AND that also protects from the typically destructive
    surge. You paid how much for the Belkin? $20 or $50 per
    protected appliance? 'Whole house' protectors cost on the
    order of $1 per protected appliance. Pay 20 times more for
    protectors that are also grossly undersized? Yep. Their
    profit margin is that large.

    How much transient can a computer power supply withstand?
    Intel specs demand about 1000 volt differential mode and about
    2000 volts common mode. Serious protection already provided
    by computer. It is usually higher than required by the
    appliance industry which explains why computers survived
    whereas the small TV failed. The small TV may have only been
    rated for 600 volts. And yet that trivial surge easily
    destroyed grossly undersized surge protectors.

    'Whole house' protectors are sold in Home Depot as
    Intermatic EG240RC or IG1240RC or as Siemens QSA2020. Your
    surge protectors were damaged because they were grossly
    undersized, as well as overpriced. But then if those
    components inside that surge protector did anything effective,
    then those components would already be inside the computer
    power supply.

    Some people will spend big bucks only because it says 'surge
    protector' on the box. What kind? How big? Irrelevant.
    They have 'heard' it is good. In reality, a surge too small
    to damage adjacent computer destroyed the grossly undersized
    (too few joules) surge protector. What a scam. Others
    actually think catastrophic failure is normal! Any properly
    sized surge protector shunts the transient - without damage -
    without homeowner even knowing surge existed.

    But then effective surge protectors that 'appear to do
    nothing' (because they are properly sized) would not get
    recommended by the technically naive. How do you know a surge
    protector was not effective? Because it was damaged by the
    surge - especially a surge to small to damage the adjacent

    In the meantime, good luck getting that warranty honored.
    One learns from a free market. Often the greater the big buck
    warranty, then the less effective the product. Warranty is
    chock full of exemptions which one only learns about after the
    failure. Woods was simply being more honest about what is
    really protected by that warranty.
    w_tom, Nov 20, 2003
  5. I've heard of whole house protectors getting knocked out in a surge. They
    had to get an electrician back to fix.
    Most of Belkins ~$9 and twice that for those with phone protection. I think
    our whole house has about 10 surge protectors. The one on wife's computer
    was not damaged. Also, she took 4 of the damaged into Radio Shack - 2 were
    quite old but they replace the other 2 free. Cost of surge protectors has
    been minor vs loss of food in freezer and TV and microwave. Not to mention
    having to buy ~$30 worth of dry ice ;(
    Frank Logullo, Nov 21, 2003
  6. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    A properly sized protector would require more energy than
    lightning to be knocked out. IOW if the 'whole house'
    protector required repair, then the surge protector has
    probably protected everything in the house and maybe even the
    house. Pictures from a FL hurricane demonstrated what
    happened when the power utility high voltage wires fell onto
    incoming household wires. The 'whole house' protector was
    damaged, but the house did not burn down. No electronics were
    damaged. None - as must be the case when installing any

    If he was using your Belkin and Radio Shack protectors, then
    every one would be damaged as well as most every electronic
    appliance - as demonstrated by specifications for those
    plug-in protectors.

    As for telephone protector - the effective 'whole house'
    type protector is already installed by telco in the NID - for

    The plug-in Belkin would self destruct and may even be the
    source of the house destructive fire. Where do you want a
    vaporizing surge protector? On the rug behind the table or
    under a pile of papers? And yet some would recommend surge
    protectors on the theory that is what they do - self destruct
    - vaporize. How dangerous.

    In the meantime, to protect food in a freezer, then a
    protector that claims to provide protection is required. The
    Belkins did exactly as claimed. Nothing. They were so
    pathetic as to even be damaged by a surge too small to damage
    most household appliances. How many electronic timer
    switches, dimmer switches and the so many other household
    appliances not on those 10 protectors failed. If the surge
    was that large, then you are replacing GFCIs in the kitchen
    and bathroom? How many clock radios? The dishwasher? The
    furnace control system? No? Then the transient was that
    trivial and yet still destroyed those ineffective Belkin and
    Radio Shack protectors.

    How surge protectors work is summarized in another newsgroup
    discussion: "Opinions on Surge Protectors?" on 7 Jul 2003 in
    the newsgroup alt.certification.a-plus or

    Fundamental to surge protection is this well proven
    principle. A surge protector is only as effective as its
    earth ground. That Belkin has no such connection. So it
    avoids the entire discussion. Notice how it does not even
    provide technical specs that claim such protection. No earth
    ground means no effective protection. Which is why they don't
    even bother installing sufficient joules - and why those
    grossly undersized protectors failed. We would not know a
    transient occurred if a properly sized 'whole house' protector
    had been installed. There would have been NO damage and no
    reason for this discussion. The fact that you had any damage
    proves how ineffective those plug-in protectors really were.
    Obviously. No earth ground meant no effective protection -
    and why the manufacture does not even claim that protection.
    w_tom, Nov 21, 2003
  7. I'm sure you are correct in your overall assessment but in nearly 30 years
    of living here, this is worst we have seen.
    Out utilities are all underground and offending transformers/line a distance
    away. Whole house protector would be way to go but factoring in cost of
    electrician would make most expensive. It was frightening to see scorch
    marks on walls and protectors. I'm still in a state of flux on electrical
    supply. I've resisted getting a generator which would need be wired in. If
    I do this and electrician will be necessary, whole house surge protector may
    go on too.
    Frank Logullo, Nov 22, 2003
  8. Frank Logullo

    Craig Guest

    Whole house protectors are better than the common surge strip when
    it comes to a power surge.
    Problem: Whole house protectors will not prvent electrical problems
    like power outages, brownouts and under voltage.
    These power anomalies can also cause damage to sensitive computer
    equipment. I recommended APC ups like the smart ups series in addtion
    to a whole house protectors.

    Craig, Nov 22, 2003
  9. I had a whole house protector installed last year, total of $200. Pretty
    cheap insurance for all the electronic stuff we have.

    Frank Logullo wrote:
    | I'm sure you are correct in your overall assessment but in nearly 30
    | years of living here, this is worst we have seen.
    | Out utilities are all underground and offending transformers/line a
    | distance away. Whole house protector would be way to go but
    | factoring in cost of electrician would make most expensive. It was
    | frightening to see scorch marks on walls and protectors. I'm still
    | in a state of flux on electrical supply. I've resisted getting a
    | generator which would need be wired in. If I do this and electrician
    | will be necessary, whole house surge protector may go on too.
    | Frank
    Joan F \(MI\), Nov 23, 2003
  10. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    It is a myth that computers are sensitive. Refer to Intel's
    ATX specifications. A fully loaded computer power supply must
    supply voltage, in spec, even when AC mains voltage drops so
    low that incandescent bulbs are at less than 40% intensity.
    That right. That low (which does not mean 40% of 120 volts).
    Intel specs say that a computer must work and even startup
    with a 100% load when AC mains voltage drops that low - severe
    undervoltage or brownout.

    Computer power supply is not damaged by power outages,
    brownouts, and under voltage. It either supplies power just
    fine or it shuts down the machine. It even tells computer
    that of that shutdown - the Power Good wire to motherboard.
    No hardware damage results. What is a typical power down?
    When power switch is turned off. Electrolytic capacitors
    slowly discharge - putting computer through a brownout or
    undervoltage, and then into a blackout. IOW there is little
    difference between power off and brownout. A computer turns
    off by going through a brownout on its way to a blackout -
    without damage.

    However power loss - either by extreme brownout or by
    blackout can cause data problems. If using a FAT filesystem
    and if the OS is writing to that filesystem when power is
    lost, then not only is the new file version or directory
    lost. Also the existing (older) version can be deleted on
    disk. Some power outages can damage existing files on FAT
    type disks. This was just another in a long list of FAT
    filesystem problems that were eliminated with the NTFS

    Computers are not sensitive electronics. In fact computer
    hardware tends to be more robust than many other household
    electronics. That assumes, of course, that a computer meets
    those Intel specs. A common problem with many clone
    computers. To sell power supplies at $20 or $40, then those
    power supplies just 'forget' to include essential functions.
    A power supply that does not conform to Intel and other
    defacto standards just might be damaged by brownouts and other

    Demonstrated by Tom's Hardware tests where power supplies
    were so defectively designed as to even self destruct:
    Claims that, for example, a power supply can be damaged by
    low voltage is more likely traceable to a computer assembler
    who buys power supplies based only on a price specification.
    IOW failure is directly traceable to the 'bean counter' who
    assembled the system and never bothered to first demand the
    power supply even meet Intel specifications. Such supplies are
    so widespread as to even be sold in CompUSA.
    w_tom, Nov 23, 2003
  11. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    Even it a 'whole house' protector is not installed, an
    electrician may still be required to upgrade the earthing
    system to post 1990 NEC requirements. No earth ground means
    no effective surge protection. No way around essential
    earthing requirements. Requirements both for transistor
    safety AND human safety.

    None of this is complex. Many simply purchase the less than
    $50 'whole house' protector, turn AC power off at the mains,
    attach the 'whole house' protector to two circuit breakers,
    and done. Many also (easily) upgrade their earthing with a
    less than $10 earth ground rod and less than 10 feet of 4 AWG
    copper wire - also sold in Home Depot, et al. Just installing
    that earth ground rod can massively increase surge
    protection. Obviously because surge protectors are only as
    effective as that central earth ground. No way around that
    fact. Surge protection is about earthing the destructive
    transient - something that all plug-in protectors must avoid
    discussing to sell their ineffective and typically overpriced
    w_tom, Nov 23, 2003
  12. Post 1990?! You mean to tell me that prior to 1990 local earth ground
    systems weren't madantory in the United States????!!!

    It's been madatory in Australia since at least the 1920s.

    Albert Alcoceba
    Remove REMOVE
    Albert Alcoceba, Nov 23, 2003
  13. Frank Logullo

    Craig Guest

    Here is a good website on power surge

    Craig, Nov 23, 2003
  14. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    Excellent citation from Same point is
    made in figure 2 at:
    There is nothing new about this earthing requirements since it
    was well established in 1930s Westinghouse and GE papers.
    Technology is that well proven.

    However we still build new homes as if the transistor did
    not exist. Effective surge protection starts when the
    footings are poured - the so highly regarded Ufer ground. And
    yet we still don't install such earthing.

    To sell ineffective and overpriced products, the plug-in
    surge protector avoids all mention of what? Earth ground. If
    they mention earthing, then you might ask some embarrassing
    questions that would drastically hurt sales. Better to leave
    the consumer naive. Better for profits to not mention
    earthing. No earth ground means no effective protection.
    w_tom, Nov 23, 2003
  15. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    Earthing requirements have been upgraded - enhanced - since
    1990. The word was 'upgrade' - not 'install'.

    However Australia has long had lesser earthing
    requirements. For example, Telstra et al still doesn't
    install 'whole house' protectors on all customer premise
    interfaces. An installation that requires those post 1990
    requirements. In North America, telco 'whole house'
    protectors connected to the all so important central earth
    ground have been provided for decades. Previously, other
    lesser protectors were routinely installed on all phone
    services and connected to the same AC electric earth ground.
    But with the advent of transistors, now all residential
    buildings require earthing as was standard for communication
    facilities. For transistor protection, distance to that earth
    ground is critical. A long wire to earth ground is equivalent
    to no earth ground - from the perspective of transistor
    safety. Not using a single point earth ground creates
    additional threats to transistors. These additional
    requirements did not exist before the transistors. Post 1990
    requirements include new provisions that also protect
    transistors. Provisions made for human safety reasons - that
    also increase transistor protection.

    In the meantime, both Australia and N America have reasons
    to upgrade earthing requirements for effective transistor
    safety. Australia still does not require earthing as
    demonstrated by this picture of what is necessary for
    effective transistor safety:
    w_tom, Nov 23, 2003
  16. Frank Logullo

    PC Gladiator Guest

    If they're "ineffective" then how or why did they protect Frank's equipment?
    PC Gladiator, Nov 23, 2003
  17. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    From the very first post:
    Many would assume a neighbor's machines also suffered from
    same size surge and yet were damaged. Assumptions not based
    upon how surge damage occurs. What electronic devices were in
    a path from cloud to earth ground? Not all appliances connect
    to same earth. Other factors also affect each surge circuit
    such as location of earth ground, no household earth ground,
    multiple earthing grounds, underlying geology, how wires are
    routed inside the building (resulting in induced transients),
    were other incoming utilities properly installed, how computer
    was constructed, etc.

    We know this. Even with surge protectors installed, Frank
    suffered damage. That means surge protectors were not
    effective once over (if computer adjacent surge protector
    earthed the surge as Frank believes, then everything else in
    the house must also have been protected by those protectors).
    Surge protectors self destructed - defective twice over. Surge
    so small that internal computer protection was sufficient, but
    still too large for surge protector. Ineffective three times

    Fortunately the computer had sufficient internal
    protection. Plug-in protector had all but no earth ground
    meaning the surge protector could not protect from typically
    destructive surges. Multiple generations of research,
    examples throughout the world, extensive professional
    publications, etc all demonstrate this well proven concept.
    Concept that the plug-in protector must keep from the public
    to sell their products. They never mention earthing because
    that computer adjacent surge protector could not provide
    effective protection - ineffective earthing connection.
    Protection that would already be inside a computer if that
    protection (too far from earth) could be effective.

    BTW, Apple once installed that protection inside their
    products. No longer. It was not effective when too close to
    transistor and too far from earth ground. To claim that
    plug-in protector protected Frank's computer is simply urban
    myth - for just so many reasons.
    w_tom, Nov 24, 2003
  18. Maybe to clarify a bit further, the only appliance we lost was old 13
    inch TV. It was on a Radio Shack protector whose light was out and
    should have been replaced. I was on my GW on line when surge hit.
    Computer plugged into APC not effected nor was APC. Surge protector
    on same line with fax machine, knocked out. Neighbor across street
    had 2 kids computers knocked out and neighbor down block had notebook
    knocked out. There was no electrical storm or rain but strong winds
    toppled tree across lines. These are lines leading to our
    neighborhood's underground service. I suspect surge due to higher
    voltage line hitting house voltage line. Previous storm where we lost
    microwave was also old Radio Shack protector. Microwave was also old.
    Wife is happy to get new TV and microwave.
    Frank Logullo, Nov 25, 2003
  19. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    Again, if a surge protector adjacent to the computer
    protected that computer, then it also protected everything
    else on that AC breaker box phase including the 13 inch TV.
    (Again, further information is required since protection is an
    analysis of all building wires.) Don't characterize the
    protector as a block or dam between surge and appliance. The
    fact that damage occurred to 13 inch TV means the many
    household protectors did not provide protection. They would
    protect everything around them in all directions - both
    towards and away from breaker box - if they provided

    Are GFCIs in bathroom and kitchen still functional? If so,
    then the transient was probably trivial which would explain
    why computers were not damged - in your house. Maybe your
    neighbor was acting as a surge protector for the neighborhood
    - assuming all share the same pole transformer.

    An example with pictures from Ft Lauderdale where high
    voltage wire fell onto incoming service of a sales manager's
    home during the hurricane. Utility wires typically create
    higher energy than lightning. His 'whole house' protector
    shunted high voltage until utility breakers finally tripped. A
    massive surge might have vaporized every undersized household
    protector and probably some appliances. However, the only
    damage was to a 'whole house' protector. No fire. No sparks
    flying out of outlets or out of plug-in surge protectors under
    papers or on rug. No damage to dishwasher, dimmer switches,
    electronic timer switches, clock radio, or air conditioner
    controls. Simply swapped out the less than $50 'whole house'

    You suffered some damage because plug-in protectors just
    are not that effective - especially at that high price. Only
    no damage is acceptable. That Ft Lauderdale home suffered no
    appliance damage or fire because a 'whole house' protector was
    properly located and sufficiently sized.

    But then that particular 'whole house' protector is also
    minimally sized. Even though superior to plug-in protectors,
    that less than $50 FL 'whole house' protector is minimally
    sized - minimally acceptable. Other units from electric
    supply companies such as Square D are even larger.

    That was protection for a rare electric utility failure.
    Also necessary is protection from a frequent surge called
    lightning. Plug-in protectors don't even claim to provide
    effective protection from lightning. Again, no dedicated
    earth ground connection. Protector must be sufficiently sized
    and located to protect everything in the building, AND must
    also be properly earthed to protect from all types of
    destuctive surges. Plug-in protectors don't even have
    effective earthing.

    For many times more money, those plug-in protectors still
    permitted failure inside the building. Not only must the
    protector protect everything, but it must do so without
    indication - except, of course, in the worst type of rare,
    high energy transient created by a utility high voltage wire.
    And even then, a protector must be properly sized so that
    appliances inside the house are not damaged.

    Bottom line - costs tens of times less per protected
    appliance, it protects every appliance, and it protects from
    all types of surges. It makes more sense financially and
    technically. The 'whole house' protector that is based upon
    technology routinely installed even generations ago where
    failure was not an option. Telco suffers such transients all
    through town and never replaces their computers because they
    use 'whole house' technology. Telco also installs a 'whole
    house' protector where residence phone line enters your
    building. The technology is that effective and costs that
    w_tom, Nov 26, 2003
  20. Frank Logullo

    w_tom Guest

    That indicator lamp on those Radio Shack surge protectors
    can only indicate failure when one surge was beyond the
    abilities of that protector. No protector should see a single
    transient that large because it costs so little to properly
    size the protector. Protectors, properly sized, fail by
    degrading. They take so many transients as to degrade. And
    that failure by degradation cannot be indicated by the light.

    The light can only indicate a failure due to being
    undersized. It cannot report other type of failures and
    cannot report the protector as good. Just another little fact
    that plug-in protector manufacturers forget to mention. They
    forget to mention many things - the most important being an
    all so critical need for earth ground. No earth ground means
    no effective surge protection. So instead they don't even ask
    you to confirm the building's earth ground even still exists.
    w_tom, Nov 26, 2003
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