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post #1 of 10 Old 07-08-2014, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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ZeroSurge - Protection for ungrounded outlets?

I live in an apartment with only two-prong outlets. I have the 3-prong to 2-prong adapters that hook onto the screw on the plate of the outlet, but I don't think I'm getting the kind of protection I need. I've noticed a definite decrease in performance with both a laptop and a desktop computer -- and one desktop inexplicably stopped starting up completely. I've talked to a friend in the same building, and he had issues with a receiver, so I definitely think it might be good to invest in some kind of protection for PCs, TV, gaming systems, and audio equipment.

I had a CyberPower UPS and the "Ground Fault" indicator light was always lit when I plugged it in, and it recently kicked the bucket (probably just a battery issue, but maybe due to...bad electricity!? Dun dun dunnnn!), so I've been forced to look for options for a new source of protection. I've been using this for the past 4 months, but I'm not sure how much protection it's offering me (I wasn't using this when I started having pc issues): http://www.amazon.com/TLP76MSG-Switched-Outlet-Conserve-Protector/dp/B0068LACFI/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1404848314&sr=8-12&keywords=tripp+lite+surge+protector

From what I've read, surge protectors generally don't offer full protection for ungrounded, two prong outlets, and using MOV protectors in these outlets can be a safety hazard. I kinda thought my only option was to move, but then I found ZeroSurge's products, and, after contacting them directly, they confirmed that their products would protect my electronics with my outlets the way they are now and informed me about potential fire hazards from using MOV based protection.


I'm just wondering: in your opinion, do you think it's worth investing in a heavy duty product like this or am I maybe taking things a little too far in estimating the potential damages? They're definitely expensive, but it's cheaper than moving and worth it to protect my stuff. I'm a little hesitant to shell out the cash, so I'm just interested in opinions surrounding the importance of surge protection.

Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read and reply to this!
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-08-2014, 03:12 PM
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Have you talked to the apartment management about the lack of grounded outlets? Or an electrician? It's possible that the building codes require grounded outlets now and the owner/management is liable to address the issue.

If it was me, I'd open up the outlet box and see if there's a ground wire in there that was connected to the box but not the outlet. Probably not, but worth a shot.

I can't comment on any of the equipment you've mentioned, as I'd be looking for a real solution first, rather than a stop-gap.
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-08-2014, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maglite10 View Post
I live in an apartment with only two-prong outlets. I have the 3-prong to 2-prong adapters that hook onto the screw on the plate of the outlet, but I don't think I'm getting the kind of protection I need. I've noticed a definite decrease in performance with both a laptop and a desktop computer -- and one desktop inexplicably stopped starting up completely.
Not at all related to anything from the power line...

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Originally Posted by maglite10 View Post
I had a CyberPower UPS and the "Ground Fault" indicator light was always lit when I plugged it in, and it recently kicked the bucket (probably just a battery issue, but maybe due to...bad electricity!? Dun dun dunnnn!)
The "Ground Fault" is lit because you have no ground wire.

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post #4 of 10 Old 07-08-2014, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FlyingDiver View Post
Have you talked to the apartment management about the lack of grounded outlets? Or an electrician? It's possible that the building codes require grounded outlets now and the owner/management is liable to address the issue.

If it was me, I'd open up the outlet box and see if there's a ground wire in there that was connected to the box but not the outlet. Probably not, but worth a shot.

I can't comment on any of the equipment you've mentioned, as I'd be looking for a real solution first, rather than a stop-gap.
I can ask, but it doesn't seem like anything that will get addressed soon. The management around here is...not great.

I've opened up the outlets, and I don't see any ground wires.
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post #5 of 10 Old 07-08-2014, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post
Not at all related to anything from the power line...



The "Ground Fault" is lit because you have no ground wire.
The latter I knew, but I'm scratching my head over the former. How do you know that for sure?
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-08-2014, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by maglite10 View Post
The latter I knew, but I'm scratching my head over the former. How do you know that for sure?
Probably because the switching power supplies in the computers don't care about grounds. Those power supplies are designed to work with 50-60Hz, 100-250V, ungrounded power.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-08-2014, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by maglite10 View Post
The latter I knew, but I'm scratching my head over the former. How do you know that for sure?
Because power problems don't produce "degraded performance". If the power was so bad that it did affect the computer, you would be seeing lockups or crashes. And even that is highly unlikely if you don't see other symptoms from every other appliance and light bulb in the apartment.

If you want to prove this to yourself - run the laptop on battery power.

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post #8 of 10 Old 07-09-2014, 08:05 AM
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I'm in the same boat, no grounded wiring. Brick Wall, Zero Surge, Surgex and PS Audio all offer non-MOV surge protection and reportedly don't require a ground line. My understanding is that Surgex is the OEM for Brick Wall and Zero Surge. It really depends on how much money you want to pay. I've had the Brick Wall and currrently have accumulated a bunch of PS Audio stuff.

Unfortunately, in order to properly isolate your system, all inputs and outputs have to be isolated. This includes cable coax, ethernet, any cables (except for a few like optical) that go from equipment plugged into one outlet to equipment plugged into another. I don't think there is anything currently available that offers surge protection for power, coax, ethernet, telephone in one package that works without a ground.

That being said, I would probably have the management have someone look at the power; and don't ignore the coax, if you are using it.

Last edited by riffer; 07-09-2014 at 10:46 AM. Reason: sp
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-09-2014, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post
Because power problems don't produce "degraded performance". If the power was so bad that it did affect the computer, you would be seeing lockups or crashes. And even that is highly unlikely if you don't see other symptoms from every other appliance and light bulb in the apartment.

If you want to prove this to yourself - run the laptop on battery power.
I guess I wasn't clear in what I meant by degraded performance. I'm talking about lock-ups and crashes - one pc just completely stopped starting up (and it was relatively new). I'm not saying you're wrong, because I've had computer issues in places where there was proper grounding (hard drive bursting into flames? Check.) so I know that stuff happens, and it's possible this is all unrelated to the power. I've just never had this many issues before, which leads me to wonder whether or not some surges or spikes are causing/caused damage.

I haven't noticed anything with lights or other appliances, though. Sometimes my stove is really finicky, but I always just assumed it was because it was old. I was also under the impression that more complex devices like computers would be more inclined to suffer noticeable problems from electrical issues than, say, a toaster.
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-09-2014, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by riffer View Post
I'm in the same boat, no grounded wiring. Brick Wall, Zero Surge, Surgex and PS Audio all offer non-MOV surge protection and reportedly don't require a ground line. My understanding is that Surgex is the OEM for Brick Wall and Zero Surge. It really depends on how much money you want to pay. I've had the Brick Wall and currrently have accumulated a bunch of PS Audio stuff.

Unfortunately, in order to properly isolate your system, all inputs and outputs have to be isolated. This includes cable coax, ethernet, any cables (except for a few like optical) that go from equipment plugged into one outlet to equipment plugged into another. I don't think there is anything currently available that offers surge protection for power, coax, ethernet, telephone in one package that works without a ground.

That being said, I would probably have the management have someone look at the power; and don't ignore the coax, if you are using it.
Thanks for the other names and the recommendation. I'll bring it up the next time he's in the building. Not expecting to get anywhere, but it never hurts to ask.
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