I have a Question about Surge Protectors******Looking for Advice

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Question: What do I need to know about buying/using Surge Protectors? In the event of unequal delivery of electricity I was thinking of putting : Freezer, Fridge, TV, Computer , Washer and Dryer on a surge protector This maybe a contingencie if electricity is disruted but not out long, I was thinking. Thank you

-- Ruth the Moab (aapm@aapainmanage.org), July 10, 1999


Ruth..call your power company and see if they provide them. We have one right at the meter that protects the whole house. They run about $180 to buy. Our power company also leases them for so much a month.


-- Taz (Tassie@aol.com), July 10, 1999.


Surge protectors will protect against voltage spikes (i.e. higher than normal) and motor noise, and some lightning.

I beleive you are realy talking about brownouts, where you have a sustained low voltage situation. This can cause motors to stall and heat up. Usually a motor has built in overload protection, but does not always work with an abnormally low voltage.

Your normal home voltage is 120v ac You also have 240v ac across the 2 hot lines comming and is used for dryers, ranges, and some 240v motors (pumps, pools etc)

Low voltage can destroy motors and electronics (chips etc)

To combat this, get your checkbook out.

Sola power division makes what is called a "constant voltage transformer" and in different sizes, depending on your need.

The can be gotten at Bruce Electric Equipment Co. in Lindenhurst NY 1-516-226-2424 You will need a good(licensed) electrician to connect them (heavy too) They will keep the voltage constant to the appliances that need it. also protectes against voltage spikes(surges)

Our voltage here(NJ) over 4th of July droped to 96 volts (from 120 volts) . we didn't lose anything, but lights were dim and motors sluggish

E-mail me if you like,

Bob P

-- Bob P (bobbyp42@aol.com), July 10, 1999.

I know from sad experience that small surge protectors protect against only ordinary events.

I had a microwave oven plugged into the sort of surge protector that is a few inches high and plugs directly into an electrical outlet. When a storm knocked a large tree branch onto our electric power feeder line, ripping the line's support loose but not breaking it, I didn't lose power, and didn't even lose the microwave -- immediately. But after the electric company turned off my power, repaired the feeder line and the support bracket, then turned power back on, the microwave went "Bang-Poof". The small surge protector still had the little light on that supposedly meant that it was protecting.

My home computer has always been plugged into an APC Powercell UPS. (I advise getting a UPS before ever plugging in a home computer, and always, always plug the computer only into the UPS, never directly to a wall outlet.) The first three years it survived quite a few lightning surges, but in the past several months lightning surges killed a tape drive and damaged the monitor's brightness.

I now think a whole-house protector (plus replacing the UPS for one's computer when the warranty runs out) is the best way to go. (Can I convince my landlord? ...)

-- No Spam Please (nos_pam_please@hotmail.com), July 11, 1999.

I also have a question regarding surge protectors.

Is it true that they should be replaced every year because, although a person may not even realize it, the protector has actually protected the electronic equipment from spikes, etc? In other words, it's done it's job and is in a weakened state because of it. Or, that after there is a severe event it is wise to replace a UPS just because.

Also, would this be true for a whole house surge protector located at the box?



PS. OT - Anyone have info on a Fifth Generation Systems SCSI tape drive? I just aquired on for backup but I'm not sure which tape it requires. Model: Fastback Tape, FB120. Thanks! ============================================================

-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), July 11, 1999.

From Mark Minasi's "Mastering Windows NT Server 4."....

"You've heard of surge protectors., and perhaps some of you use them. But I recommend avoiding them because they are really only rated to catch one surge. After that, they are not reliable. (Honest, it's true - suprising though, isn't it.) Worse yet there's no way to find out if that surge has already happened! Furthermore, surge protectors are of no value whatsoever in low voltage or outage situations."

He goes on to recommend using UPS (uniterruptible power supply), although he's talking computers, not fridges and microwaves.

-- number six (Iam_not_a_number@hotmail.com), July 11, 1999.

Power conditioning is an art and science of its own and there are very few really qualified people to deal with this (and I am not one of them, but just a techie who has run radio stations, TV stations, and computer centers for the past few decades. Also, Dad was an electrician).

About surge protectors. What is reported above is accurate. I recently saw another type available at Home Depot. This is a whole-house (or at least whole circuit-breaker panel) type. I found it in the circuit breaker section of the electrical department. Just add it to your circuit breaker panel (It looks sort of like a circuit breaker) and the whole panel is protected from surges.

Right after we became Y2K aware, our power company sent a bill stuffer offerring a whole-house protector for about $6.00 per month including an insurance policy. If we have their protector and something smokes from a surge, they will cover us for about $2,000 or so. That would certainly pay for a computer, refrigerator, or microwave.

Now, if you really want good protection, get your checkbook out (as stated above). I think a post above refers to a power conditioner. I call it a ferro-resonant transformer. See http://www.pkworld.com/ferro_res_.html (I just got them from a search -- never even heard of the company).

Don't be mislead by the URL above. There are two critical, separate terms. One is UPS. The other is ferro-resonant transformer. The URL above shows a UPS that also includes a ferro-resonant transformer.

Many (most) UPS's do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to condition the power. They often include surge protection. Most UPS's simply provide utility power to your computer while aslo charging an internal battery. When the UPS loses utility power, the UPS then uses the battery to generate some kind of AC electricity. UPS provided power is often "modified sine wave" = square-wave power. This can be very hard on equipment. If a UPS is fed with sloppy high- or low-voltage utility power, it passes that sloppy power onto the "protected" equipment.

A ferro-resonant transformer actually cleans up sloppy power. Ferro-resonant transformers will filter harmonics and correct low- and high- voltage conditions. A ferro-resonant transformer will make a nice, clean sine wave out of a sloppy wave. Ferro-resonant transformers are also called "constant-voltage" transfromers and they cost big bux and are heavy because they are all iron and copper. If I had an extra $100,000 or so, I might buy one for the house ;). Gee, if I had an extra $100,000 I'd just invest the money and pay for the failures out of my pocket.

Hope this helps,


-- Ray Strackbein (Ray@y2kkitchen.com), July 11, 1999.

Concur - I've witnessed several lab tests on the small, single extension surge protectors most people have on their computers. They will literally blow up on medium to large spikes, offer only very limited single-spike protection of low power spikes, and do nothing against the very rapid, short duration spikes that are the most common. They are designed to intercept (once!) a slow-rising spike of modest intensity that only lasts a short time (has low energy.)

GA power (and many of the EMC's who work with it) are pushing the $10.00-$12.00/month house protection-type option listed above.

Over a year, this would be 120.00 dollars, two years is $240.00 (etc.)

Far better, in my experience, is the whole house protector. I installed on three years ago - its still operable, and works against all surges and spikes - but not against low voltage (as noted, you need a UPS for that, but a UPS won't prevent power spikes. Before we installed it, I lost two TV's, a microwave, a VCR, and several radios/CD players. Since then - nothing. No losses, no problems.

Ad follows:

I use a modestly expensive unit ($200.00) from "Quality Power Concepts" based on reviewing their test results and their design criteria - they know what they are talking about, have been doing power design protection longer than the most others, and have a good reputation: and they use the same design criteria in their household units that are in their commercial-sized units. (These commercial units are their prime business, so most of their unts are "very" large - far too big for normal house loads. But if you want to protect your business, give them a call too.)

email address is: qpower@ix.netcom.com phone is 1-800-948-3373

I figure that in the three years I've bought this system, I've already saved more than what I would have "rented" from the power company, and got a better product.

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), July 12, 1999.

Our whole house protector can be visualized to see if its functional. We check it every now and then and the meter guy checks it too. Also....MOST COMPUTERS AND FAX MACHINES get fried through the telephone lines. I have lost one of each to lightening. Both were unplugged from power but not phone. Whenever we get thunder,which is almost every afternoon this time of year, I go and unplug computer, both power and phone.

Taz.... who keeps and ear to the sky.

-- Taz (Tassie@aol.com), July 12, 1999.

I have to agree with Taz- for us, phone lines have caused more problems than power lines, as far as damage to electronic equipment is concerned. Have lost a couple of cordless phones over the years, and the problem has always been traced back to the phone lines. We now unplug the cordless phone and computer whenever there might be a lightning storm.

-- Jim (jiminwis@yahoo.com), July 14, 1999.

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