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09:16 AM Liked: 18
post #211 of 220
09-07-2011 | Posts: 3,772
Joined: Apr 2000
Originally Posted by ham View Post

Hope it is OK to resurrect this thread...

Do I need two separate SPDs at each of the service panels? Should the subpanels both have SPDs?

I might've said this here already, but I have a main service, and fully four subpanels (house, garage/guest, pool, well) and have FIVE surge protectors, one on each (cheap $100 Panamax compared to the surgeassure you linked).

So my answer would depend on the physical layout of your panels--if they are all under one roof, you can probably get-away with one at each of the 200amp panels).

But if any are under a different roof, I'd protect it separately.

IMO you can't have too many of these things, EXCEPT that surge suppressors tend to kill any powerline gizmos you may own (or want to buy). They think powerline communications is noise and try to shunt it to ground (e.g. powerline ethernet or X-10 or what-have-you.

Re: RayCap it looks interesting, though I didn't look to see what the "Rayvoss" (system uses raycaps) cost--might be seriously expensive but maybe you don't care about that!

Oh, I should add that any MOV device does of course sacrifice itself over time, then you throw it away and put-in a new one, but of course you knew that already!
amirm's Avatar amirm
06:50 PM Liked: 547
post #212 of 220
09-07-2011 | Posts: 18,375
Joined: Jan 2002
Originally Posted by ham View Post

Hope it is OK to resurrect this thread. Have read it -- very interesting -- and need a whole house surge protector. I have a 400 amp service that comes into the house and splits immediately into two 200 amp panels, with subpanels for the garage and for the AV room. So:

Do I need two separate SPDs at each of the service panels?

No. If the worry is surges from outside, then shunting them to the ground on the panel with the best path to ground does the job. There will be nothing for the second one to do, other than make you feel good that it is there .


Should the subpanels both have SPDs?

The main reason for having them is to protect the reverse path. If you think that a surge may get generated through that path, say from a box with external connection to the outside not protected, or something like a large motor which creates its own spikes, then a "local" SPD is useful there.

Another school of thought says that your primary units at the service panel do the heavy lifting and these secondary ones reclamp what is left over. Others dispute that by saying you don't have a decent ground that far away from the main panel so the level of effectiveness is low or non-existent. Emotionally though, people feel safer having local devices everywhere so if you fall in that camp, by all means put it everywhere .


Otherwise, would one consider all UL 1449 Rev 3 SPD2 devices similar if they meet the spec, with practical differences being indicator lights, let through voltage and max surge current rating? I've read about some of the units listed on this site, and was interested in this Siemens one as well:



No experience with that unit but let me say that the most important thing is proper installation. You have to keep the connection paths very short and to a very solid ground. Here is a nice visualization of how damaging cable length is:

Look at what damage two extra feet does to the performance of the device and how larger gauge wire doesn't help.
leedolce's Avatar leedolce
11:22 PM Liked: 10
post #213 of 220
08-15-2012 | Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2012
I'm not familiar with that particular surge suppressor but Eaton makes a reasonably priced one called the "the Whole House Surge Suppressor". I have installed this one in the past working as a Phoenix electrician at Meade Electric Co. Seem like good insurance to help protect your electronics but I would still use the power strips in conjunction. Many electrical contractors in Phoenix AZ that provide service panel upgrades offer various kinds of surge suppressor as an upgrade. This model is a simple hookup... a black and red wire get connected to a 15 amp 2 pole breaker and white and green go to the neutral bar and grounding bar. Hope this helps and good luck!
amirm's Avatar amirm
09:51 AM Liked: 547
post #214 of 220
08-16-2012 | Posts: 18,375
Joined: Jan 2002
Originally Posted by leedolce View Post

I'm not familiar with that particular surge suppressor but Eaton makes a reasonably priced one called the "the Whole House Surge Suppressor".
I would be careful about low cost devices. Specifically you want to look for a unit with CLF (component level fusing). Otherwise, it may cook and cook good. Here are some examples including Eaton falling victim to that:


Here is a before and after (Eaton Vanguard VGX). On the left is the unharmed unit. The other two after the surge. Notice that the damage even extends to the metal box!


This is the brand we use:


Note the use of fuses. They also have a great warranty where they fix it if the fuse or other damage may occur.
alternety's Avatar alternety
11:55 AM Liked: 12
post #215 of 220
08-16-2012 | Posts: 48
Joined: Apr 2003
Could you share what brand that is?
fastl's Avatar fastl
05:17 PM Liked: 11
post #216 of 220
08-16-2012 | Posts: 589
Joined: Sep 2007
Amirm, two things: (1) you were right regarding the Ultraviolet and (2) just to satisfy my morbid curiosity, what type of surge event was it that took out that Eaton unit?
amirm's Avatar amirm
05:59 PM Liked: 547
post #217 of 220
08-16-2012 | Posts: 18,375
Joined: Jan 2002
Originally Posted by alternety View Post

Could you share what brand that is?
Sure. It was actually on the picture itself smile.gif. It is "Total Protection Solutions." Here is their web site: http://www.tpssurge.com/
alternety's Avatar alternety
11:48 AM Liked: 12
post #218 of 220
08-18-2012 | Posts: 48
Joined: Apr 2003
Thanks. Yeah, it was on the picture. Not terribly astute of me to not recognize it.

I looked at their web site. No info on special construction, why are they better, etc. Their web site is not trying very hard. And then there is the stupid auto-start video. Maybe the info is in there.

I am also curious if you know what actually happened to the burnt box. It is kind of hard to see details, but it looks like the surge protector was connected through a fuse or breaker like it should. But they seemed to fail to properly isolate the surge device. That is what they are there for. In my mind, that sort of damage could only occur if they got essentially a direct hit from lightening that just flashed over everything or the interrupt mechanism (fuse) failed to work and the initial surge was so high it blew the internals of the surge protector which just kept drawing current until it burned everything around it. Having individual fuse links on each set of MOVs would indeed make the result less likely if they were properly sized for the current drawn by a failed MOV. I have no way of knowing the required current to open the internal fuses or the external ones in the picture.

The Eaton picture is interesting as well. What are those devices in the middle of the board where the damage occurred? It looks like there is some sort of inductor on the top, but I can't tell what is under it. I am curious as to what actually failed on that unit. There don't seem to be any external indication that the blue disks (I am assuming they are the MOVs) failed. But something apparently caused a high current around the mystery device in the middle. Could have been failed MOVs. Just curious about things.

I just bought a couple of Eaton devices. I don't think it is the one you have shown. It is a sealed waterproof box so I can't look inside.
amirm's Avatar amirm
01:01 PM Liked: 547
post #219 of 220
08-18-2012 | Posts: 18,375
Joined: Jan 2002
The data I have is from technical presentation they provide to their dealers. It goes though much more depth than their web site.

Just briefly on your question, I don't have data on what surge caused those specific failures. But the general fault mode is clear: an MOV creates a short once its avalanche voltage is hit. Once there, it starts to cook. So two failures can occur:

1. The MOV is undersized. This causes overheat and smoke. I am told UL certification requires testing for one leg at at time. So if the surge is concurrent, then overall heat dissipation becomes too high resulting in charred circuits. TPS devices are rates for all circuits shorting out this way.

2. The surge is beyond what its rating is. This is what you want the fuse for.

The key thing here is that should any failure occur, this company will fix the device for free. Because of that, they are much more inclined to make sure it is a sound design than not.

Also, they have a superb local rep which has been exceptionally helpful with information and follow through for us. As an example, we had a very high-end customer who had frequent power failures and resulting equipment losses. They asked us to come and expand their current system (we had not done the original work) and we put in the TPS and a big rack worth of gear. Using the belts and suspenders style of work smile.gif, the crew also put line of use devices in the rack consisting of APC UPS and Furman surge protection devices. Customer calls back and says that anytime the power fails and generator kicks in, all the gear goes down. We go and investigate. As soon as the generator would kick, the APC would go in battery mode and not come out even after the generator took over. And the Furman would fault and trip its breaker (or something like it -- I did not go there personally).

Feeling safe that we had whole house protection, we thought this was just a glitch with line of use devices and suggestion was made to simply remove them all. But not being a fan of blind fixes, I asked that we properly troubleshoot why this was occurring. So we asked TPS rep company to prove to us their box was indeed clipping the surge voltage as it should have. They sent out a specialist with measurement gear to analyze the problem. What a shocker. He found out the transfer switch for the generator was wired wrong and it was dumping 120 volts into neutral (or something like it -- again I was not there personally) and our gear was being subjected to double the normal line voltage!!! Mind you, this is not a small system. The generator has a 10 cylinder engine that is the size of a double car garage! Clearly whoever did the electrical work had no clue what they were doing and the poor customer was suffering for years this way. Since our company technicians are also licensed electricians we went it and rewired the transfer switch and all is well now.

So good learning here: even though whole house system obviates the need for line of use surge protection, their *fault detection* logic still proved useful. Without that, we would have pushed this high voltage surge into our gear and would have had no end of weird failures to deal with in the future.

Anyway, suggest contacting the local rep if you are in the market. When it comes to professionally installed gear like this, you want the right one put in there or why bother smile.gif.
fastl's Avatar fastl
02:06 PM Liked: 11
post #220 of 220
08-18-2012 | Posts: 589
Joined: Sep 2007
Part of the problem with protective gear of this type is marketing semantics. When they were originally introduced many years ago, these MOV based devices were referred to as TVS (Transient Voltage Suppressor). Then, the name was changed to TVSS (Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor). Lately, it seems that the "TV" has been dropped and everyone is calling them Surge Suppressors. Therein lies the problem.

Webster defines the meaning of the word surge to be a "large wave or billow (swell)", which in the context of commercial AC power would be a large billow or swell of the 50 or 60 Hz voltage waveform, which is hundreds of milliseconds long. The MOV devices employed in these surge suppressors, typically can only clamp voltage overshoots safely for hundreds of microseconds (like a lightning transient), not the hundreds of milliseconds that you would get with a genuine AC power surge. So, in accepting the protection industries' perverting of the word "surge", everyone has allowed themselves to be duped by the marketing hype. I've tried to explain this in the past, and all I got was argumentation (as usual).

When MOVs in the surge protector overheat and catch on fire as result of the overvoltage condition (whatever it may be), current draw typically goes down and the series "protection" breaker doesn't trip, and they continue to burn to the point of incineration. If there were series protection fuses instead of the breaker, they probably wouldn't open-circuit either. The only thing that saves the day are fuses or fusible links INSIDE the surge protection enclosure, where the heat of the burning MOVs serves to open the circuit.

A number of vendors have have been offering surge protectors with this built-in safety feature for a number of years, such as Emerson with their Islatrol brand and Thomas & Betts with their Current Power brand. It's only a matter of doing research to find this stuff.

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