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What kind of surge protection should I get?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I was looking at some of the Monster stuff (ripoff!) so I started looking around and someone recommended Tripplite. Has anyone had any experience with them? Or what are you guys running or would recommend? Anyone using stuff with filters?

Budget is pretty open I guess. Here's what's going to be plugged into it:
TV - Sony KDS-R70XBR2
Media Center - Bose AV18 (DVD Player built-in)
Cable Box (if I don't change it for a Cable Card)
Game Console - Xbox and the upcoming Nintendo Wi (sp?)

Thanks all!
post #2 of 36
take a look at apc, panamax and furman sound.
post #3 of 36
Most all surge protectors have some sort of emi/rfi filters with those built for A/V applications likely targeting the degree of filtration and where it occurs for where it might do the most good. If you own your own house though, you should give preferential thought to what's known as a whole house approach.
post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 
^hmm...thanks for teh response. yea we own the house...a brand new one so, what would you suggest?
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
any other suggestions?
post #6 of 36
For the whole house? Where do you live? Just trying to get a handle on what sort of weather you get. Lightning and all that.
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
i'm from san diego, ca. i was just looking at something where the TV and other stuff go.
post #8 of 36
Well, that's what I get for not reading your location under your name. This really is a hard question to answer in part because when you buy one of these units not only do you get some basic surge protection (don't look at it as capable of handling true surges like you'd get from lightning) and some EMI/RFI filtration, but a host of other features that can be useful to you.

For example, some units have outlets that are isolated from each other. The thinking here is that if you've got some kind of device that radiates interference back down the AC line, maybe some other device might be susceptible to it. So what the manufacturers do is isolate adjacent pairs of outlets using appropriate EMI/RFI circuitry to filter most of this out. As to whether this is a real or imagined problem, it's tough to say but if everyone else is doing it, then if you don't want to lose some customers then you better offer it too.

Some models might have an outlet in the front or other connections that can make life easier for people who need to stick something into their system on an occasional basies.

Some models offer things like switched and unswitched outlets as well as high current outlets. Generally people stick their amps in the high current outlets and the primary reason they're called high current has to do with the nature of the circuitry.

Other features you'll find are programmable sequenced turn ons of outlets with delay times that can be user defined. Some may let you dim the display and maybe turn it off completely. Some have things like 12 volt triggers that'll let you hook up a wire to some piece of equipment so that it turns the device on without you having to do so. Some offer voltage regulation if you need that. Some have multiple inputs for things like cable, antenna, or satellite.

Various vendors make these devices. For example we have Monster, Furman, Panamax, Belkin, APC, and TrippLite not to mention the audiophile brands but my experience is that the audiophile brands are strong on marketing and pretty weak at answering any specific questions. I always get the feeling when I talk to them they've got one hand in my pocket feeling around for money.

Unfortunately, there's no standardization when it comes to the different companies using terms. You'll hear things like Level 4, Stage 3, and god knows what else. My recommendation to you would be for you to first define what you'd like the unit to do. Focus initially on the creature comforts that'll make operating your system easier. That'll help you come up with a short list of brands and models. Then maybe reorder that list by considering their joule ratings. The joule rating gives you a handle on how big the MOV's are and is a rough guide as to how long the unit will last when exposed to repeated surges. I wouldn't consider two units that have joule ratings of say 2000 and 2250 to be all that different, but I would consider 1050 and 3500 to say something. IOW, don't agonize over little differences. After you've done that, maybe you've still got 2 or 3 possibilities. At that point it's up to you. Buy the one that looks nicest. Buy the one your girlfriend likes. Flip a coin. Buy on price.

Although many of us have our favorites for whatever reason, the reasons may not be yours because of the way you priortize things. I'm sure if you just spend a little time with a pencil and paper and some downloads, you'll be able to come up with a model that suits you perfectly.
post #9 of 36
Thread Starter 
wow, thank you so much for all of that info. that helps a lot! i really appreciate it. the house is also brand new, so wiring is new and up to date. dont know if that'll help much lol.

p.s. actually, i put in my location in my profile info right after you asked lol so it wasnt there to being with.
post #10 of 36
Well thanks for telling me that bulls! I thought I'd just missed it and it wouldn't be the first time.

One of the best things you can do or have, and that's regardless of whether you go with a whole house setup + a point of use device or just the latter, is a good earth ground. Depending upon your soil and weather conditions, if things are dry and the earth drains rapidly, then the resistance to the ground increases. Now, what's good and acceptable for ensuring human safety frankly falls a bit short of ensuring transistor safety. So, if you don't plan on doing some kind of testing, and that gets expensive, then make a judgement call based on what you know. If, in your opinion, the earth ground can be improved, then you could simply sink another grounding rod into the earth, about the same distance away that the other rod is, and connect the two using appropriately sized wire and clamps. That's something, that if you're masochistic, you could do yourself.

I'd like to be able to recommend something specific to you, but all I'd be doing is imposing my own needs, wants, and prejudices upon you. I think that armed with enough information, you can maybe ask more questions and be better informed whether they're asked here or of the manufacturer. Even though you live in a relatively benign area of the US with respect , I'd urge you to also go whole house. The whole house approach can be looked upon as a perimeter defence that'll deal with all your home electronics (ovens, microwaves, washers, phones, garage door openers, etc.) which you can augment with point of use devices. I do hate to spend people's money bulls, and seeing as you've bought a new house in San Diego, you've already spent a bundle but give it some thought.
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
hmm, the whole house thing is out of my budget for now. i was looking at these:

Belkin Pure AV Home Theater Battery Backup AP30800-10 $180
post #12 of 36
Check this out they were at the CEDIA show and they was very impressive

post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by taker View Post

Check this out they were at the CEDIA show and they was very impressive


wow, where can i find pricing and availability info on that?
post #14 of 36
I saw the link. They didn't say much. Sharp looking though.
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
bump! im moving towards this one at the moment.
Belkin Pure AV Home Theater Battery Backup AP30800-10 $180
post #16 of 36
If you need battery backup and constant voltage this should fit the bill.
post #17 of 36
Thread Starter 
just looked at the whole house approach. i thought it'd cost thousands of dollars lol. it doesnt seem too bad at all for ~$200. how hard are these to install? do you think i'd need one for a brand new house/community? not sure if new houses these days might have one already built-in.

also, which would you guys recommend and where? thanks!
post #18 of 36
Well, why people think they're outrageously expensive is beyond me. Maybe it's because people see things like Shunyata or whomever costing many hundreds of dollars for piss poor protection.

If it's a brand new house, ask the builder or community association if they have them. I doubt it. Yes, they can be installed by the individual. There are literally hundreds of brands out there because like salt and sugar, they're really a commodity item. As to whether you ought to get one because it's a new house, all I can say is that surges and electrical disturbances are equal opportunity attackers.

Locally, you should be able to find brands like Siemens or 4Square and perhaps others at your local Home Depot or Lowes. Electrical supply houses will also carry brands. Some devices are an all in one solution meaning that the AC, phones, and cable run through them. If not, you'll need to get separate devices but this is no big thing at all. Other brands to consider would be Panamax, Leviton, Eaton (formerly Cutler-Hammer), Intermatic (you know, the automation folks), and online there are a host of places including something like SmartHome. You'll be able to find toll free numbers for virtually all these brands and if you call them, ask to speak to an applications engineer about what you want to do. They'll suggest options and sources, give you their sales pitch, and you can take it from there.

These devices, properly installed, will reduce surges that can range from kilovolts and kiloamps to levels of a few hundred volts which any plug in device out there will handle without batting an eye. Plus, you'll be providing protection for all your electrical appliances at a per protected device that's very very reasonable.
post #19 of 36
The cable connection on my surge protector seems to cause a couple of HD channels to be unviewable. (As soon as I bypassed it, the problems went away.)

How important is it for the cable signal to be routed thru a surge protector?
post #20 of 36
This happens occasionally. Some plug in devices have options for both cable and satellite inputs and you'll find that the bandwidth of those two inputs is different. Contact your cable company and find out what frequencies your channels are being broadcast and compare that to the bandwidth as well as insertion loss (how many dB's are attenuated). Also, if you're splitting your incoming cable then your signal strength is also being reduced.

As to how important it is, that's a bit of a judgement call along with rolling the dice. If you recognize that a surge can enter your home via any incoming wire, then it's one of the avenues you need to guard against. You could, for $10 or so, pick up what's known as a gas arrestor tube and place that inline with your incoming cable at the point it enters your home. These devices will also have or should have a place where you attach a heavy gauge wire and run that to your external grounding rod. Again, check the frequency bandwidths of the devices and your cable.
post #21 of 36
Thread Starter 
the only reason i thought it was expensive cuz:
1) i'm a n00b :P
2) whole house "sounds" expensive lol

but thanks for the info. are there any out there that are recommended from personal usage by members here?
post #22 of 36
I'll tell you what I use but that doesn't mean there aren't tons of brands out there that would've worked just as well. A while back, I don't recall in which forum I posted what I used so if it's eating at you, I'll try and find it. Being in San Diego, the propensity for lightning strikes that hit the ground isn't so much a problem as it is in other parts of the US. Therefore, you can get away with more modest units and still have every reasonable expectation they'll last a very long time. The underlying reason why whole house is effective is because of how close it is to earth ground which is typically 10 feet or less. FWIW, the Siemens product looks almost like a regular circuit breaker. It can be put in by a homeowner. For people who are doing new construction or upgrading their electrical they can look into putting in a load center instead of the builder's grade box.

These devices reduce the incoming surge which can be thousands of volts and amps down to something like 400 volts or so (very short...microsecond duration). You can then use your plug in devices which will throttle that down even further. I think they call it the let-through voltage or something like that.


For the incoming AC and phone, I picked up the Delta Residential Package and installed it myself. That took care of my primary concerns about the AC and phones.


For the coax, I obtained an Altelicon Model AL-FFFF-9.


Costs, IMO, were quite reasonable. I could equally as well have obtained any number of products from any number of companies, some known, some, as these probably are, unknown. Additional protection, where felt to be desireable was obtained by $1 Intermatic plug-in units that I got at Home Depot from a wheelbarrow full of stuff they were discounting to get rid of. I simply filled a bag with them and stuck them on things like the dishwasher, washing machine, garage door openers, microwave, etc. For the HT, I picked up a unit from Transtector for a little under $100 that was based on Silicon Avalanche Diodes. I'd estimate that my total cost for doing the entire house was a bit under $250.
post #23 of 36
Thread Starter 
^cool thanks for the info! how hard was the install? thanks.
post #24 of 36
Well under an hour. Don't forget, working around electricity is dangerous. You need to follow instructions, kill the power, all that good stuff.
post #25 of 36
I've been following this thread and taking in the advice to install a whole-house suppressor. That seems like reasonable advice.

I was also thinking of putting in a Brick Wall unit for my A/V components. Is that overkill?


I ran across a fellow who is reselling upgraded Powervar ABC-1200-11 conditioners for around $250 on various websites including Audiogon and Ebay

Any opinion? More A/V hype or something with value? Any opinions or observations would be welcome.

Steve in Atlanta
post #26 of 36
Overkill is a relative term often dictated by our ability to discretionarily spend. The whole house approach (and that means having a good earth ground) takes care of the bulk of your concerns. What comes through can be throttled down to acceptable levels using a variety of approaches, the Brickwall (surge-x, adcom I think, Furman also have devices that are essentially the same) being one of them. What's good about the Brickwall as a secondary means is that due to the inductors and capacitors you'll probably never hear ticks and pops that can sneak in a line. I don't know whether those units also handle video cable. You might want to look into that. OTOH, other brands may provide you more functionality such as switched/unswitched outlets, wall-wart spacing, outlets in the front, 12 volt triggers, sequenced turn-ons, displays of voltage, and whatever else people can think of.

If you do the smart thing first, there are tons of approaches and brands that will do the job. Figure out what it is that you want, the approach that appeals to your sensibilities, and buy it.
post #27 of 36
I have a few of the Brickwall products because it was the cheapest I could find in 20 amp units. No f-pin connectors for cable, at least not on mine. Not attractive units. Just seem very functional. Can't opine on whether they changed audio or video quality.

I had an electrician run a second ground wire and a dedicated circuit, and at the time the fusebox surge protector which he put in the fusebox for my dedicated circuit was cheap. I don't remember how much. Maybe $30 - 40. Guessing.

Nobody here has mentioned PS Audio. They're not as expensive as Shunyata, for example.

What about some of the typically computer/network based units which are available online. Nobody mentions those. They're heavy because they often include batteries, but is their surge protection inadequate for the AV market? Since more people have computers than AV, these things abound more and better prices are available. Powersupersites. Or UPSforless.
post #28 of 36
Hi folks: I was looking for this very topic, wondering, as I do a new cable install, whether the coax protection was a good idea or no (knowing there would be some degradation involved).

Having read the posts of others I'll share a personal experience. A couple years ago lightning struck a tree roughly 100' from my house. Despite the volume of the associated BOOM outside, I heard another CRACK inside. This caused me to go check the surge suppressors. The one all my AV components were plugged into was actually smoking!

I unplugged the suppressor and threw it outside (fully expecting it to burst into flames, it was very hot). No idea what I paid for it, or how many joules it was rated for. I do know it sacrificed itself and saved my electronics. My neighbor lost all his gear due to the same strike (no suppressors).

I don't have a whole house system (will look into that), but threw away every one in the house (3-4) and went out to buy replacements. Cheap insurance ...

post #29 of 36
PS Audio doesn't make surge protectors unless you buy into their non-industry definition of what a surge is...a general overvoltage situation. Also, their units aren't tested to any industry accepted standards for surges. I don't think they've even got the equipment to perform such tests. I don't believe Shunyata is any different. What both companies have in spades is prices, promises, and that's about it. Try asking them what standards they test to.

You were lucky etchasketch. Do the right thing and get a whole house unit.
post #30 of 36
Chu Gai wrote:
You were lucky etchasketch. Do the right thing and get a whole house unit

Looking at this (whole house). I'll be calling a 'lectrician friend of mine - same guy who examined the house ground after our strike. I do think ordinary surge suppressors do an OK job. Imagine how many people have their shiny new HDTVs (and computers) plugged right into the wall outlet! Bet it's a surprisingly large nummer.

With the proliferation of displays and computer chips in household appliances, it makes good sense ... dollars and cent$ that is!


ps - the power company once brought me online with a broken ground after storm damage (mini twister). Lucky then too: I was home to see the garage door opener spew smoke. Ran to the panel fast enough to prevent a fire, but, not before every readout, chip and motor in the house was fired
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