Do I need 20 amp surge suppressors for 20 amp breakers? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 11 Old 09-22-2019, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Do I need 20 amp surge suppressors for 20 amp breakers?

I’m having a couple of 20 amp receptacles professionally installed in the theater room, tied to 20 amp breakers. I like running surge suppressors but see that most of them have internal breakers of 12 or 15 amps (which logically would seem to defeat the purpose of 20 amp lines and create a weak link in the chain ... but what the hell do I know). Do I need to upgrade to one of the 20 amp surge suppressors like these to take advantage of 20 amp power?

https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Ou...gateway&sr=8-8

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-5100-...ateway&sr=8-10

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post #2 of 11 Old 09-22-2019, 08:36 AM
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I just had multiple power surges on friday caused by the power company. it was repeated on/off for 5 minutes rapidly until I thought to go turn off my entire home main breaker. the end result was my office had to reset breaker once power came back on 2 hrs later and replace 3 lightbulbs that were blown in house. the office was only room with surge protectors. the blown lightbulb thing is usually caused by really high voltage....so....did the surge protectors help? idk, but any howmowners policy would cover damages.

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post #3 of 11 Old 09-22-2019, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawdogx View Post
I’m having a couple of 20 amp receptacles professionally installed in the theater room, tied to 20 amp breakers. I like running surge suppressors but see that most of them have internal breakers of 12 or 15 amps (which logically would seem to defeat the purpose of 20 amp lines and create a weak link in the chain ... but what the hell do I know). Do I need to upgrade to one of the 20 amp surge suppressors like these to take advantage of 20 amp power?

https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Ou...gateway&sr=8-8

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-5100-...ateway&sr=8-10

A few thoughts...

Have you ever tripped the breakers or blown the internal fuses of your surge suppressors? If not, you should try harder! In reality, you should be happy that your system gives you the performance you desire without wasting vast quanities of electricity--enjoy! You are not "wasting" 20 amp power if you don't use it, it does add an additional layer of protection for your system. Think of it this way, look at your breaker panel and spot the main breaker and note the amp rating (100, 120, 150 or 200 amp etc.) Now "add up" all the breaker ratings of the other breakers that feed off the main breaker. Most likely, those "smaller" breakers will exceed the main breaker size because of the reality of electrical loads in your house/building whatever. For more information on the correct ratings of breaker panels, the National Electrical Code will provide that information.

A word of warning, once you start dealing with electrical loads, how to rate them correctly and to ensure you won't burn the house down--don't ask that on audio forums! Now you are bumping into engineering, government regulations, life safety codes and the insurance man that would love to negate your claim and refuse to pay out when/if you have an electrical fire. There is no such thing as "audio grade" wall outlets, breaker panels and internal wiring in your house--I flatly refuse to deal with anything "audio grade" when it comes down to electrical distribution systems--remember in audio they sell rocks that absorb dark mater and such things which is fine, but in reality I always go for professional companies that provide power protection to such critical things like medical devices, Mil-spec, communication grade, commercial grade and so on. This includes such devices like power cords, power plugs, wall outlets, power conditioners, UPS, internal wiring, breakers, breaker panels and so on. Communications, medical and Mil-spec is "known" and must meet specifications--"audio grade" has no specifications so I figure it this way. You can buy better, but you can't pay more!

My wall outlet is 20 amps also, my surge suppressor(s) have 15 amp breakers AND an internal 12 amp slo-blo fuse. This is done for safety reasons, breakers can "stick" or in extreme cases, "weld" themselves together and not trip so the 12 amp slo blo is there as a backup if that ever happens. 20 amp breakers won't trip if they get hit with 21 amps, they have a time constant until they do so and can handle far, far more amperage for short periods of time. One of the amp testers ran a Behringer iNuke 6000 and noted peak amp pull from the outlet was close to 80 amps for a very short period of time. The amp has a 12 amp breaker inside and fuses for the power supply. They did not blow and neither did the 30 amp breaker it was plugged into. So the electrical load depends on time and amperage--just to throw more mud into the water.

In summation, there willl be no need to "upgrade" your surge suppression if your existing gear does not trip the breaker. If there is anything that benefits from overkill, your electrical system would be a great place to throw in money. Sure, some audiophile types claim that fuses change the sound but that is just the madness of marketing--I always default to not burning my house down and standards that I can verify. Everyone is free to believe whatever they like but at some point, reality must intrude and electrical systems, electrical grids and that sort of thing should meet or exceed actual standards made by people that do that for a living.

Never know, some nut might of done blaind ABX testing with 15 amp VS 20 amp breakers--does it matter? I've even heard discusssion that 220V sounds better than amps running on 120V US or 100V Japan...what about 50Hz VS 60Hz? Yes, you can get amplifiers that run on batteries to magically improve the sound so take that for what you will. Since your concern is power protection and does it electrically matter--if you are not blowing the breaker it won't matter.

Good question though, having dedicated 20 amp breakers you don't use is much safer than 15 amp breakers that blow during every action scene! You made many electricians and engineers smile so enjoy your system.

PS A real audiophile uses 3 sphase.... cuz.... bumpy electricity is BAD!
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-22-2019, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawdogx View Post
I’m having a couple of 20 amp receptacles professionally installed in the theater room, tied to 20 amp breakers. I like running surge suppressors but see that most of them have internal breakers of 12 or 15 amps (which logically would seem to defeat the purpose of 20 amp lines and create a weak link in the chain ... but what the hell do I know). Do I need to upgrade to one of the 20 amp surge suppressors like these to take advantage of 20 amp power?

https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Ou...gateway&sr=8-8

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-5100-...ateway&sr=8-10
If you intended to pull 20a of current, then legally I believe you have to use 20a-rated equipment on 20a lines. I wouldn't advise using smaller rated devices on big circuits, that's just asking for a house fire.

That said, neither of those are good surge protectors and may actually just end up damaging the gear rather than protect it.
Anyone who understands the nature of the operation of MOV's and line-inductance of a LONG run of parallel small-diameter romex when exposed to surge waveforms should know better...
It's really quite a scam and they should be taken off the market (IMO), they do more harm than good, especially to audio equipment in particular.

NEVER use a strip "surge" bar. You are better off using nothing, or a Y-splitter extension cord with no MOV's, or ideally... dedicated sockets and an appropriate length power cord from the get-go.

You are much better off installing a whole-house surge protector. (Ask your electrician.) Those are designed to redirect surge energies FAR in-excess of what those stripbars can do (and are about the same price: $100 protects the whole flipping house!)

It is VERY important that the conductors (bleed/ground) be as short as possible with the least number of sharp bends possible with a solid grounding rod and impedance-tested. Otherwise the surge energy will still enter the house!
Chances are the surge is gonna enter the house no matter what, as even whole-house units still pass 600-1000v. LOL! (Read the specs on them...)

It is VERY important where the protector is placed. The closer to the mains ground, the better!
If it has 80ft of romex on it, it will be rendered useless because of how surge energy operates (and how mov-only devices operate).

I've used this brand for a few years now (ESP SurgeX):
https://www.amazon.com/ESP-Digital-P...dp/B074XJ5P49/
They have very close to zero volts of let-through. They also have overvoltage disconnects on both the hot and neutral and don't contaminate the ground pin; and they don't care how long the romex wire is because of how they operate. They use gas-tubes, diodes, relays, mov's, capacitors and bleed resistors in an intelligent design that actually might save the equipment rather than damaging it further.
They are quite a bit better than most of the junk you'll find from other vendors. I opened one up in one of my other threads, they are very serious business inside!
They have a lifetime warranty, but you must adhere to all their conditions.(As per usual...)

The combination of using both should stop "most" non-direct strikes and other utility nastiest.
Personally I wouldn't trust any other brand, unless I saw the inside guts of their "protector" at the very least.

Ideally, the whole-house unit would be rated 200kaic and installed on breaker no smaller than half the size of the mains breaker. So for a 200a service, a 100a breaker. That way the trip-current will hopefully trip the mains breaker, killing the nasty power at the source! As you probably have guessed, it won't be cheap vs the non-200kaic rated units...
Something like this one: https://transientprotectiondesign.co...ales-Sheet.pdf

That APC H15 UPS looked like it had a bad hair day there.
What would you rather have: working equipment or smoked equipment?
and it's made in America by Americans. (i.e. not robots in China....)

They mentioned that they have been to CES for a number of years now and NOBODY ELSE has even bothered to bring their protectors to their booth for a side-by-side demo (because they know they would fail to pass.) Gansta!

After seeing their videos and looking at the insides of their products, I believe them to be actually legit protection.
We have 4 SurgeX's at work, and they've all been working 24/7/365 for several years now being fed nasty industrial-zone power, and all protected loads are still working zero anomalies, even though each one has received several-dozens of surges without replacement.
It was at that point I was sold on the brand, and I bought 7 of them for my home and HT. (and those too have been working 24/7/365 without issues.)

It helps me sleep better at night knowing that at least the expensive electronics like my rack will likely survive even a big solar storm. I won't be able to eat or have clean clothes the next day, but I'll have music.

I'd be curious to know if anyone in Florida has a SurgeX and how they've faired with the product because it almost never storms here on the east side of the NW cascades (like 2 lightning storms a year at-most.)
I'd like to know if any have EVER failed to protect their load, as that is the ultimate endurance test?

-My 2 cents
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Last edited by BassThatHz; 09-22-2019 at 03:21 PM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-23-2019, 06:43 AM
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Why not ask your electrician?

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post #6 of 11 Old 09-23-2019, 08:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by johnson636 View Post
Why not ask your electrician?
I fully intend to! However, my electrician, while a great guy and an excellent electrician, has zero experience with high-end audio (and even less experience with the particular brand of mental illness that causes folks to run a half dozen or more subwoofers and many thousands of watts of amp power in a single room). So, rather than general computer or appliance electrical advice I thought I'd pose the question to folks with experience with the same intended use as mine. I now know to ask about whole house protection and have some ideas for point of use protection on top of that (thanks to Hurts and Hertz above!)

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post #7 of 11 Old 09-23-2019, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawdogx View Post
I’m having a couple of 20 amp receptacles professionally installed in the theater room, tied to 20 amp breakers. I like running surge suppressors but see that most of them have internal breakers of 12 or 15 amps (which logically would seem to defeat the purpose of 20 amp lines and create a weak link in the chain ... but what the hell do I know). Do I need to upgrade to one of the 20 amp surge suppressors like these to take advantage of 20 amp power?

https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Ou...gateway&sr=8-8

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-5100-...ateway&sr=8-10
short answer you're looking for:

You size the power strip based on the load that's connected to it. If you have devices that are pulling 20a, you should not put them on a 15a strip. You can have multiple 15a strips connected to a 20a breaker. You should not daisy chain power strips.
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-23-2019, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawdogx View Post
I fully intend to! However, my electrician, while a great guy and an excellent electrician, has zero experience with high-end audio (and even less experience with the particular brand of mental illness that causes folks to run a half dozen or more subwoofers and many thousands of watts of amp power in a single room). So, rather than general computer or appliance electrical advice I thought I'd pose the question to folks with experience with the same intended use as mine. I now know to ask about whole house protection and have some ideas for point of use protection on top of that (thanks to Hurts and Hertz above!)
I gotcha.

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post #9 of 11 Old 09-23-2019, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawdogx View Post
I’m having a couple of 20 amp receptacles professionally installed in the theater room, tied to 20 amp breakers. I like running surge suppressors but see that most of them have internal breakers of 12 or 15 amps (which logically would seem to defeat the purpose of 20 amp lines and create a weak link in the chain ... but what the hell do I know). Do I need to upgrade to one of the 20 amp surge suppressors like these to take advantage of 20 amp power?

https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Ou...gateway&sr=8-8

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-5100-...ateway&sr=8-10

Also, these are what I've been using for 20A distribution with surge protection:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00077IS32
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-23-2019, 07:15 PM
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Just spend the $100 on a whole-house unit, and then never worry about needing to "surge protect" equipment with stripbars and PDU's and UPS's. (because they do nothing by-comparison.)

Heck. All whole-house units, stripbars, PDU's, UPS's and almost-every-other surge "protector" uses MOV-only. Which as clearly seen in the video "protects" inadequately for even a basic 3kV surge, let lone the zillion of volts found in a lightning strike.
3000v to 350v? LOL! Still too much!!!

(The goggles, they do nothing!)

As mentioned, the whole-house units will drop 20kV (or whatever) down to 600V (or whatever), which is better than NOTHING...

But still not good-enough to actually save the equipment (most likely.)
To do that, you'll need that AND surge elimination, and the brand that does that the best (to my knowledge and as of writing this) is SurgeX.

The QC-20 does advanced pseudo-series mode surge elimination with basic overvoltage protection and no monitoring.
The EV-20 does advanced pseudo-series mode surge elimination with advanced OV/UV/Inrush protection and advanced monitoring.
The SA-20 does series-mode surge elimination with no overvoltage protection or anything else.
The SX-20 has almost all of that, but only has 15A sockets for some strange reasons.
The AX-20 has it all, plus remote management and/or sequencing. (and costs a fortune...)

They also have 15a models for each of these. (The SA has a 30a model too.)

The rest of the models are garbage and should be avoided IMO. (Do your research before buying.)
IMO, the QC model offers awesome protection for its price level.

If nasty power gets past a SurgeX, it was gonna get past anything regardless.

The SA, SX and AX are A-1-1 certified. Which is the highest standard that the US government has for surge protectors.
and they are all CSA and UL 1449 certified too, which is the civilian-equivalent of the same standard.

With solar flares and lightning you (basically) have to be grid-attached to be greatly effected. So there will still be LOTS of things that survive that on a country-wide scale.
Satellites are probably toast. Cell towers, likely toast. Cellphones and cars will be completely fine though!

EMP though... That's an entirely different league. (Everything is TOAST.)
For that you MUST have a Faraday cage (solid metal, not mesh), because EMP's travels through space-time itself (i.e. the air), and it occurs at basically ALL frequencies from DC up to gamma.
and you must have surge elimination too (for grid-attached equipment.)
Having one or the other isn't good-enough. It's all, or don't-even-bother.
EMP = stone-age and mad-max for EVERYONE.

Ya know, if AMD, INTEL and Samsung labs get fried, it is the END of technology for humans for a LONG LONG time. (Day1: empty shelves. Day2: absolute chaos. Day69: use your imagination! )
Heck, they lost power briefly for a few seconds about a few months ago, and that caused RAM and SSD resources to basically flat-line planet wide. We are only JUST recovering from that now.
(Goldilocks-zone indeed!!! )
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Last edited by BassThatHz; 09-23-2019 at 07:23 PM.
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post #11 of 11 Old 09-27-2019, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BassThatHz View Post
Just spend the $100 on a whole-house unit, and then never worry about needing to "surge protect" equipment with stripbars and PDU's and UPS's. (because they do nothing by-comparison.)

...
I appreciate the information provided; as a result of your post I will be purchasing two ESP D11416T for my dedicated lines which currently feed to two 20amp tripp-lite rack mount PDUs.

I have also reached out to a local electrician to get an estimate for install of a 200KAIC whole house unit.

We had a storm the other day and it got me on edge, glad I came across this post; will help with peace of mind.

Also... I have lurked your build over the years... INCREDIBLE!
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