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Thread: Is this Surge Protector OK

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    Default Is this Surge Protector OK

    Looking to protect a 20A/240VAC circuit with a "real" (non-MOV) surge protector. What do you guys think of this one?

    http://www.brickwall.com/surge-prote...view/2/12.html

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    non expert observation:
    You are looking for serious protection, is there something about your line in or system that requires it? What is your location?
    I would be more inclined to upgrade power supply and other components for that kind of money.
    OTOH I have not experienced any power input problems, and back up for my content is cheap.

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    Default See my earlier post on surges

    Quote Originally Posted by sk3tch View Post
    Looking to protect a 20A/240VAC circuit with a "real" (non-MOV) surge protector.
    I've ranted about this before. Serious, equipment-destroying surges are deflected, not stopped.

    Any kind of electrical filter requires a combination of series and shunt impedances. To stop a signal, you need that signal to see a low shunt impedance and a high series impedance.

    When your signal source is low impedance, a.k.a. a voltage source, then your filter has to start with a series impedance. It's hard to short out a voltage source, so starting with a shunt doesn't help.

    But a lighting surge is a high-impedance current source. When dealing with those, the shunt (e.g. MOV, spark gap, gas discharge tube, transzorb, etc.) must come first. Starting with series impedance is of limited use.

    Now, in real life there are always parasitics: there is some sort of shunt in the wiring before the surge gets to your protector, so sufficient series inductance will do something, but the attenuation depends on the ratio between the (unknown, possibly high) external shunt impedance and the series impedance that you can fit in a box.

    I'd respect those brickwall guys a lot more if they started with an extremely robust shunt, like a carbon block gap.

    But their big omission is forgetting that a surge can come through any wire. If you have a wired network, or a video cable to a TV, or anything like that, a surge can come through in of those wires, through your computer's innards (destroying it in the process) and out the ground wire.

    A power line only protector isn't going to do shit about that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sk3tch View Post
    Looking to protect a 20A/240VAC circuit with a "real" (non-MOV) surge protector. What do you guys think of this one?
    cypherpunks explained some facts that Brickwall forgot to mention. So that filter will stop a surge ... that three miles of sky could not? How many joules will that filter absorb so that energy does not pass through appliances? A surge strong enough to overwhelm superior protection already inside appliances is typically hundreds of thousands of joules. How does a Brickwall's few hundred joules absorb that energy? Where is that energy absorbing number?

    A Brickwall is for a transient best called noise. It protects that surges too tiny to overwhelm protection inside appliances.

    Nothing stops a surge - as in nothing. And no protector does protection. Protection is what harmlessly absorbs that energy - earth ground. Either that energy harmlessly dissipates outside. Or that current is hunting for earth inside and destructively via appliances. Your choice.

    The proven 'whole house' solution connects hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly to earth. Typically costs about $1 per protected appliance. And must always have that low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to single point earth ground. Each of four words defines critically important requirements.

    Only solution found in any facility that cannot have damage is better earthing and a 'whole house' protector. They don't spend so many times more money on a noise filter. Because no filter stops or absorbs a surge. Only earth ground can harmlessly absorb that energy.

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    So how does one set up a house to shunt surges to earth. And who should we hire to do the planning, and who to do the work?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ehume View Post
    So how does one set up a house to shunt surges to earth.
    It should already be installed on any incoming TV cable, telephone or satellite dish wire. Each must connect low impedance (ie 'less than 10 feet') to the single point earth ground that is also earthing the breaker box.

    Find that ground by following a quarter inch bare copper wire from the breaker box outside to the earthing electrode. Those other incoming utilities must connect to that same ten foot copper clad rod.

    Companies with better integrity sell 'whole house' protectors including Siemens, Intermatic, General Electric, ABB, Keison, Leviton, Ditek, and Square D. A Cutler Hammer solution sold in Lowes and Home Depot for less than $50. Sold to homeowners because anyone comfortable with electrical wiring can installl one. Otherwise hire an electrician. And make sure he understands rules below and necessary to exceed code requirements.

    But again, more important is the earthing. For example, if that bare copper wire goes up over the foundation and does to a ground rod, then protection is compromised. Wire is too long. Had sharp bends over the foundation. Is bundled with other non-ground wires. How that connection is made determines impedance. Low impedance means the surge finds earth there; not destructively via appliances.

    Protectors are simple science. Earthing is the art of protecting appliances. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground.

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    Excellent information on surges and surge protection is at:
    http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/IEEE_Guide.pdf
    - "How to protect your house and its contents from lightning: IEEE guide for surge protection of equipment connected to AC power and communication circuits" published by the IEEE in 2005 (the IEEE is a major organization of electrical and electronic engineers).
    And also:
    http://www.eeel.nist.gov/817/pubs/sp...%20happen!.pdf
    - "NIST recommended practice guide: Surges Happen!: how to protect the appliances in your home" published by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2001

    The IEEE surge guide is aimed at people with some technical background.

    Quote Originally Posted by westom View Post
    It should already be installed on any incoming TV cable, telephone or satellite dish wire.
    The NEC just requires a ground block that allows the cable coax shield to be earthed. The IEEE guide says “there is no requirement to limit the voltage developed between the core and the sheath. .... The only voltage limit is the breakdown of the F connectors, typically ~2–4 kV.” And "there is obviously the possibility of damage to TV tuners and cable modems from the very high voltages that can be developed, especially from nearby lightning."

    The same is true for dish coax, but dish is likely not a major source of surges.

    Quote Originally Posted by westom View Post
    Those other incoming utilities must connect to that same ten foot copper clad rod.
    Ground rods are the worst of the commonly used earthing electrodes. For many years the NEC has required a "concrete encased electrode" (commonly called a Ufer ground) for new construction with foundations or footings. In some cases you are stuck with ground rod(s).

    Quote Originally Posted by westom View Post
    Companies with better integrity sell 'whole house' protectors including Siemens, Intermatic, General Electric, ABB, Keison, Leviton, Ditek, and Square D.
    Among the good brand names. The IEEE surge guide has recommendations for ratings on page 18.

    Service panel protectors are a real good idea.
    But from the NIST guide:
    "Q - Will a surge protector installed at the service entrance be sufficient for the whole house?
    A - There are two answers to than question: Yes for one-link appliances [electronic equipment], No for two-link appliances [equipment connected to power AND phone or cable or....]. Since most homes today have some kind of two-link appliances, the prudent answer to the question would be NO - but that does not mean that a surge protector installed at the service entrance is useless."

    Service panel suppressors do not, by themselves, prevent high voltages from developing between power and phone/cable/... wires. The NIST surge guide suggests most equipment damage is from high voltage between power and signal wires.

    A service panel protector is very likely to protect anything connected only to power wires from a very near very strong lightning strike.

    With short entry protector ground wires (as below) a service panel protector gives quite good protection.

    Quote Originally Posted by westom View Post
    But again, more important is the earthing.
    The author of the NIST surge guide has written "the impedance of the grounding system to `true earth' is far less important than the integrity of the bonding of the various parts of the grounding system."

    Quote Originally Posted by westom View Post
    For example, if that bare copper wire goes up over the foundation and does to a ground rod, then protection is compromised.
    If you have a 1,000A surge current to earth and have only a ground rod as an earthing electrode, but it has a near miraculous 10 ohms resistance to earth, the building 'ground' rises 10,000V above 'absolute' earth potential. In general 70% of the voltage drop away from a ground rod is in the first 3 feet. The earth over 3 feet away will be at least 7,000V from the building 'ground' system. That is with very good conditions.

    "Up over the foundation" is not particularly important.

    There must be a short ground wire from entry protectors for cable, phone, dish,... to a common connection point on the power earthing system. Much of the protection is that if the building 'ground' rises, all wires rises together. That is the point being made in the quote above.

    Quote Originally Posted by westom View Post
    A protector is only as effective as its earth ground.
    Plug-in protectors do not work primarily by earthing. As explained in the IEEE surge guide (starting page 30) plug-in protectors primarily work by limiting the voltage from each wire (power and signal) to the ground at the protector. The voltage between the wires going to the protected equipment is safe for the protected equipment.

    If using a plug-in protector all interconnected equipment needs to be connected to the same protector. External connections, like coax also must go through the protector.

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    Answers are even found in power strip specification numbers. Grossly undersized protectors may even cause house fires. Virtually every professional organization recommends better earthing of a 'whole house' protector. Even a cited NIST guide defined power strip protectors as "useless":
    A very important point to keep in mind is that your surge protector will work by diverting the surges to ground. The best surge protector in the world can be useless if grounding is not done properly.
    Same guide also says what any effective protector does:
    You cannot really suppress a surge altogether, nor "arrest" it. What these protective devices do is neither suppress nor arrest a surge, but simply divert it to ground, where it can do no harm. So a name that makes sense would be "surge diverter" but it was not picked.
    Two completley different devices are both called surge protectors. One type does not even claim to protect from destructive surges. And is often undersized so as to fail (to promote sales).

    The other is properly earthed to make even direct lightning strikes irrelevant. So effective that nobody even knows a surge existed. Even its spec numbers state protection even from direct lightning strikes - ie 50,000 amps. This second protector is the only solution found in every facility that cannot have damage.

    Unfortunately, only the better informed know that, why damage does not happen, and how superior protection works. The best soluton, that costs tens or 100 times less money, means nobody even knew a surge existed.

    If a protector makes a low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to earth, then hundreds of thousands of joules dissipate harmlessly outside the house. If a protector does not have earthing (only has a safety ground - ie power strip), then it must make hundreds of thosuands of joules magically disappear. Latter is also promoted by one whose job is to promote those "uesless" devices.

    Why are all telephone lines earthed via a 'whole house' protector on every house? Because that is the only and best solution found in every facility that cannot have damage. And does not have an obscene profit margin found in power strip protectors. Because a protector (all protectors) is only as effective as the earth ground. Money goes into protection; not profits and sales promoters.

    Every professional organization defines what does protection. Where hundreds of thousands of joules dissipate. Earth ground. So that nobody knows a surge even existed. Even power strip protectors need protection only provided by earthing a 'whole house' protector. The alternative, sometimes, is a house fire. Spec numbers and industry professionals all define protection in what matters - grounding a surge before it can enter the building.

    Where do hundreds of thousands of joules dissiapate? A protector is only as effective as its earth ground.

    Sun Microsystems Planning Guide for the Server Room - where surges must never do damage:
    Section 6.4.7 Lightning Protection:
    Lightning surges cannot be stopped, but they can be diverted. The plans for the data center should be thoroughly reviewed to identify any paths for surge entry into the data center. Surge arrestors can be designed into the system to help mitigate the potential for lightning damage within the data center. These should divert the power of the surge by providing a path to ground for the surge energy.
    Could professionals be any blunter?

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    Default The whole thing about "shunting to ground" is actually irrelevant...

    As bud-- is saying, and not as westom is saying.

    Ultimately, lighting comes from the potential difference between the clouds and the raindrops on the ground outside, so "ground" is an accurate description of where the bottom end of a lightning bolt will go, but really "electrical ground" has no more magic properties than the "ground floor" of a building. It's just a convenient place to do measuring from.

    What's important is that every wire to your equipment is at the same voltage, within the tolerance of your equipment. It doesn't matter if your ground is at 1,000,000 V relative to someone else's "ground" as long as there are no dangerous voltages between your various signals.

    But there's nothing special or magical about any specific point on the ground or type of electrode that matters. You just want a heavy-duty conductor at a conveniently low voltage.

    The important thing is that:
    • Surge current is a high-impedance current source. It will go somewhere. Your goal is to ensure it doesn't go through anything expensive and delicate on the way.
    • To ensure this, you need a robust high-current "short-cut" (electrical shunt) connecting each and every wire, without a single exception that enters or leaves your "island of protection".
    • The perimeter of your island is up to you; you can place your cable modem inside (and worry about the coaxial cable), or outside (and worry about the ethernet cable). Just be consistent.
    • Good protection for all the signal wires is harder to shop for than the power lines. You can get separate devices, but then you need to worry about a short ground path to a common ground point. Remember: the protection is not a series barrier on each line, but a shunt tying them all together at a common point. An equipment damaging surge will take the short-cut rather than traversing the cul-de-sac that is your protected equipment. As long as you live on a dead end, you won't get through traffic. Usually you shunt everything to a ground wire, but as long as it's a single point, it doesn't actually matter.
    • What does matter is if you try to use two surge protectors in a way that defeats the common point design. Even plugged into the same outlet, 2 7-foot power cords between them is not a common ground. If it's 28 feet through your cable modem, router, and computer, 1/3 of the surge might decide to go that way and mess up your stuff. Plugged into different branch circuits in your house is even worse! Plugging one into the other is better.
    • Once you have your primary shunts in place, you can add some impedance in the lines to discourage currents bypassing the shunts. This is a lot easier to do for low-speed power lines than high-freuqency signal lines, but some common mode impedance (like wrapping the whole cable around a ferrite toroid a few times) never hurts. This part is separate per line.
    • The highest performance designs (like avionics designed to resist electronic warfare and nuclear EMP or something protecting particularly delicate electronics) use multiple stages of shunt/series/shunt/series.

    Built sufficiently rugged, the way radio transmitter sites and cell phone towers do, this basic design can withstand repeated *direct* lightning strikes. It's just basic Ohm's law, applied to AC current (so it's impedance, not just resistance, that matters!) and large numbers like 60,000 amps.

    When dealing with "unstoppable forces", you don't try to contain them. Gunpowder factories have some strong walls facing other buildings, and deliberately weak walls facing in the direction of an unoocupied hill. Trying to surround an explosive on all sides with strong walls has a name: fragmentation grenade.

    The total energy of a lightning flash is about 2 billion Joules (it varies a lot). The total energy of a 16" armour-piercing battleship shell (2700 lb @ 2500 ft/s) is ½mv² = 0.355 billion Joules.

    There's only one way to stop either: get out of the way and let it hit lots and lots of rock and dirt.
    Last edited by cypherpunks; 08-26-2012 at 08:25 PM.

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    Thank you everyone for the great replies. I have an electrician coming tomorrow (he is coming to scope the job tomorrow, not implement) - he is going to be installing the 240VAC/20A line (he's a good friend of mine) and adding an additional panel. I will inquire about the protection illustrated above versus the filter that I was thinking of buying from Brickwall. I believe he already mentioned that to me but I have *very* basic knowledge of electrical. I just assumed the protection he mentioned would not be very solid for the low cost. I guess I'm a victim of the marketing side of things.

    To answer the question, I'm setting up a high-power line to run to my new EVGA NEX 1500 PSU. It will run at 1650W in "OC Mode" (marketing, I know). I've got a 4-way 680 rig with a 3960x and I intend to watercool and overclock heavily. I'm currently using a Seasonic X-1250 which is great. Just opting for the NEX 1500 for the features (software, sleeved cables) and EVGA (they've been great to me and I trust their service) and the extra headroom for when I watercool my rig.

    I just want to protect this rig as much as possible. Right now I'm just using a Monster Power HTS850 that I bought on clearance for $35 (don't worry I did not pay Monster prices) - http://www.monstercable.com/productdisplay.asp?pin=1220.

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