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Thread: Proper set-up with a surge protector

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    Default Proper set-up with a surge protector

    I would like to add a bit of a safeguard to my mother's townhouse situation, which is not a large brick building, but rather a fairly flimsy 2-floor one. I don't know how good the lightning rods are distributed there, but I know that two neighbors close by have lost their modem and some other electronics during lightning storms over the past few years.

    There are a few points of confusion for me regarding surge protectors.

    First, their efficacy past a certain joule rating--is it better to go for the highest rating, or maybe past ~3000J it's a wash?

    Secondly, I've read about MOVs having a limited lifespan, which means I will have to replace surge protectors every year? Or is it not that bad? If every year, I have to go for cheaper ones =/

    And finally, there are two sets of equipment to protect. I'm not sure how to go about it:

    Upstairs, there is a desktop computer, one monitor, one set of speakers (2 front + one subwoofer), Verizon FIOS modem, and a multi-function printer (which means it's plugged into the computer via USB, to the wall for power, and also to the phone line to function as a fax. Then from the printer, there's another phone cable that goes back to the wall at another point to continue to the actual phones. One single phone line overall).

    Downstairs, there's a TV, a DVD player, a ROKU, and a digital cable box from Verizon.

    Do I need to purchase shorter power cables for everything? Do I have to pass the phone and ethernet cables through a surge protector (in which case, I've read some have signal issues, and I'm not entirely sure how it works anyway--the protector is a pass-through?) If the printer/fax is connected to the ground and the computer (via USB), and to the phone line, it seems like a weak point. Downstairs, there are HDMI cables connecting the TV and various boxes, as well as, I think, a set of component cables. Basically, it's generally confusing how to do this properly.

    I've been looking at Monoprice surge protectors for price / quality--are those a good choice?
    http://www.monoprice.com/products/su...&cs_id=1090702

    Many thanks!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenSilence View Post
    First, their efficacy past a certain joule rating--is it better to go for the highest rating, or maybe past ~3000J it's a wash?

    Secondly, I've read about MOVs having a limited lifespan, which means I will have to replace surge protectors every year?
    Many popular myths were cited. Even joules means little until one first learns how surge protection works. Start with concepts originally taught in elementary school science.

    Lightning seeks earth ground. A best connection to earth is a wooden church steeple. Even wood is an electrical conductor. Now for numbers based in high school physics. Wood is not a very good conductor. So 20,000 amps through a poor electrical conductor (wood) creates a high voltage. 20,000 amps times a high voltage is high energy. A church steeple damaged.

    Franklin mounted a lightning rod atop that steeple. Does a lightning rod do protection? Of course not. That rod is simply another path to earth. 20,000 amps times a low voltage connection to earth is low energy. By connecting lightning to earth on a more conductive path, then no structure damage.

    That is protection of a building. Another path to earth is from utility wires to earth via appliances. Appliances try to stop that surge - a poor conductor. 20,000 amps through a poor electrical conductor (appliance) creates a high voltage. 20,000 amps (or less) times a high voltage is high energy. The appliance damaged.

    Over 100 years ago, informed consumers mounted a protector where wires enter the building. Does a protector do protection? Of course not. No protector does protection. An effective protector is simply a better path to earth. 20,000 amps times that low voltage connection means low energy. By connection lightning to earth on a shorter and more conductive path, then no appliance damage.

    To protect a building means earthing a lightning rod. To protect appliances inside that building means earthing a 'whole house' protector. A 'whole house' solution is the superior solution that also costs many times less money. It is the only solution found at any facility that cannot have damage.

    Well, a protector adjacent to the appliance can only stop or absorb that surge. How does its hundreds of joules absorb a surge that is hundreds of thousands of joules? By undersizing it, then profits increase, it fails often and easily to get the naive to recommend it, and it does not claim to protect from any typically destructive surge. Read its specification numbers. It only claims near zero protection.

    A properly sized protector earths direct lightning strikes ... and remains functional. Any protector that fails (or must be replaced annually) is grossly undersized. Best called a scam. Is often a $4 power strip with ten cent protector parts selling for $35 or $90. A profit center marketed to people who never learned simple concepts summarized in the first five paragraphs.

    Third, a direct lightning strike is typically 20,000 amps. So a minimal 'whole house' protector is 50,000 amps. Must have a dedicated wire for the low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to single point earth ground. That ground wire separates ineffective (power strip) protectors from the other completely different device with a same name. Most important is low impedance (an earthing wire that is that short) and one earth ground for every incoming utility wire. Every incoming utility wire (no exceptions) must connect to the same ground either directly or via protector.

    Your telco's $multi-million switching computer is connected to wires all over town. Suffers about 100 surges with each thunderstorm. How often is your town without phone service for four days after every thunderstorm? Never? Because what you do (for less money) is what telcos have done for over 100 years. They also do not waste money on protectors inside the building.

    Like a lightning rod, earth a surge BEFORE it enters the building. Otherwise that surge will go hunting for earth, destructively, via appliances. Only you give a surge the destructive option by not earthing it at the service entrance.

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    You shouldn't need to replace them once a year, they should last five years easily unless they get damaged from a strike or surge. One thing to takeaway from Westom's post is that the surge protection is only as good as the grounding in the house... if the house has a properly wired ground then the surge protection can do its job. Surge protectors can't stop lightning, they can only give it a path to ground that avoids your equipment.

    And yes, if you want to protect your computer & theater equipment then you need to pass the ethernet & phone & TV line through your surge protectors. My understanding is that it will act as a simple passthrough, while also giving lightning a direct path to ground if passes through the phone or internet lines. You basically run a good chance of lightning frying a computer if not, since it has just as much chance of coming in through the phone & other lines on the pole instead of the power line.

    Monoprice is a good website, but I can't speak for the Joules ratings as that's beyond what I know. But I think it is irrelevant... if lightning struck the line and passed through the surge protector then the unit's going to need to be tossed anywway I believe. It's only really applicable to normal powergrid surges I think?

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    I don't see any numbers from high school physics. I don't even see any high school physics.

    Of all the PSUs you've torn apart to study the input protection on, how many have had a MOV / TVS Diode connecting phase to ground?
    I've found one (1), an Infinity cheapo unit.
    Everything else connects phase to neutral.
    These are PSUs designed by people who know far, far, far more than Mr. Copy/Pasta westom up there.

    There's so much wrong with his post that I don't even know where to start. Maybe because there is a staggering lack of.. well... fact? Proof? Citations? Anything?
    Or maybe it's because I've seen the Westom and WhoeverItIs show on a bunch of different forums and Westom's spiel never changes, he never posts citations, and he never really discusses.
    It's just page after copied page of drivel.

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    Yeah, I warned GS about Westom, he knows.

    But I'm not an expert on surge protection, so I referred him here. I know we have some knowledgeable people.
    It's my PSU in a box!
    Ooo-ooh,
    My PSU in a box, baby!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobnova View Post
    Of all the PSUs you've torn apart to study the input protection on, how many have had a MOV / TVS Diode connecting phase to ground?
    Those who only post acidic comments would *assume* protection means MOVs/TVS from phase to ground. Numerous protection methods exist without those devices. But then I designed power supplies; he did not.

    Even before MOVs, designers met internationals specs that required 120 volt electronics to withstand 600 volt transients without damage. Today, electronics are even more robust. And without foolishly using MOVs.

    Apple II once included MOVs. Then Apple learned. Better protection was implemented without MOVs. Others who still learn from hearsay would instead post insults as proof of superior technical knowledge.

    Hundreds of joules on an adjacent protector will somehow stop or absorb a typically destructive surge - hundreds of thousands of joules? Of course not. Only myths make that claim. Only insults were posted to deny reality. That undersized protector is protecting from transients that typically cause no damage.

    Informed consumers earth one 'whole house' protector. Because even an undersized protector needs protection provided by earthing only one 'whole house' protector.

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    According to Westom a magical "whole house" earthing line completely solves all surge issues. Perhaps because he works or consults for a company that sells them (probably not as an engineer...), perhaps the very one that makes those $50 units from Home Depot that he never fails to shill... But that's just idle speculation on my part.

    The point of surge protection is to provide a high impedance between the surge and sensitive equipment, and a low impedance to ground; and to dissipate or redirect the fraction of energy that takes the high impedance route, as per circuit laws, to prevent damage. Protection is needed on both power and data lines, and both good grounding and good at-the-wall protection is needed. A MOV device is a useful, but not necessarily required or sufficient aspect of surge protection. It is not, however, useless as our friend here would suggest.
    It's my PSU in a box!
    Ooo-ooh,
    My PSU in a box, baby!

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    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to start an argument here. I actually thought it was a fairly straightforward matter that was easy to resolve by following some guidelines.

    ETA: Also, I suppose the Monoprice surge protectors will not be suitable for my mother's case after all, as none of them offer telephone line / ethernet cable pass-through And Some of that equipment is connected to the internet and some to the phone line.
    Last edited by GoldenSilence; 03-25-2013 at 01:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenSilence View Post
    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to start an argument here. I actually thought it was a fairly straightforward matter that was easy to resolve by following some guidelines.
    No need to apologize, I'd suggest just ignoring it and not worrying about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenSilence View Post
    IETA: Also, I suppose the Monoprice surge protectors will not be suitable for my mother's case after all, as none of them offer telephone line / ethernet cable pass-through And Some of that equipment is connected to the internet and some to the phone line.
    Interesting, as I didn't catch that. Coax and USB only apparently... Newegg has a bunch though.

    Just a random one with good ratings: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...tem=12-120-406 Two phone-outs, two coax out, and one ethernet out. Even has spacing for transformer-type plugs. Newegg has quite a few models

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    That seems like a pretty good one--thanks. I've been looking on Amazon.com, and there are quite a few, but their specs are frequently off. Like for some reason newer Belkin protectors have 500V clamping voltage. And APC listed 330V-ish, but someone complained that it was actually higher on the packaging or description.

    Also looking at this model:
    http://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-TLP...phone+ethernet

    Internet signal deterioration (speed) is apparently common with surge protectors, so I'll just have to cross my fingers there =/

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