Whole House Surge Suppressor & Lighting Strikes

Checking if these devices are worth the investment, costs seem to run between 2-3 hundred bucks. I live in a rural wooded area and have had
several lighting strikes. I use surge protector strips for all sensitive devices. On the last hit I lost telephone, alarm phone dialer, LCD TV, Satellite LNB, Satellite DVR, HVAC T-Stat. Past hits have taken out satellite receivers, computers, phones, modems and TV's. In researching this I've found what appear to be more robust suppressors that go inline with the sat coax and phone lines as well as the whole house suppressors. My electrical system is installed and grounded to code, as well as the sat and phone lines. Are there any strategies that will help a lighting prone location. We've lived here for 12 years and have had seven different strikes where we've lost something electrical.
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Jeff D wrote:

The best information on surges and surge protection I have seen is at: <http://www.mikeholt.com/files/PDF/LightningGuide_FINALpublishedversion_May051.pdf - "How to protect your house and its contents from lightning: IEEE guide for surge protection of equipment connected to AC power and communication circuits" published by the IEEE in 2005 (the IEEE is the major organization of electrical and electronic engineers in the US). And also: <http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/practiceguides/surgesfnl.pdf - "NIST recommended practice guide: Surges Happen!: how to protect the appliances in your home" published by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2001
The IEEE guide is aimed at those with some technical background. The NIST guide is aimed at the unwashed masses.
The IEEE guide has for best protection:
1 earthing the system.
2 *short* ground wire from the phone and cable entry protector to the ground/earthing at the power service. An example of a ground wire that is too long is in the IEEE guide starting pdf page 40. The entry ground block for dish also has to be connected to the power earthing system, but the length is not as important because you are not protecting from a direct lightning strike to the dish. If there is a strong surge current to earth the "ground" at the house can rise thousands of volts above "absolute" ground. Much of the protection is that power and phone and cable wires rise together.
3 surge suppressor at the power service. Keep wires short. Particularly with the amount of damage you have seen it would be a good investment.
4 plug-in suppressors at sensitive equipment, particularly equipment with both power and phone/cable connections.
The NIST guide is similar.
The NIST guide looks at US insurance information that indicates most equipment damaged is TV, computer, and related equipment (fairly consistent with your list). The guide suggests the likely cause is high voltage between power and cable/phone wires. That is what is shown in the IEEE guide example above. The short connections in #2 above are important to keep the voltage low. Correctly connected multiport plug-in suppressors also maintain safe voltages
A cable entry ground block will not prevent a high voltage on the center conductor which, the IEEE guide says, could be 2000-4000V. (Not likely on dish.) Suppressors for that may be what you are referring to in your post. Note #2 above applies.
If using a plug-in suppressor all interconnected equipment needs to be connected to the same plug-in suppressor. External connections, like cable/phone, also need to go through the suppressor. Connecting all wiring through the suppressor prevents damaging voltages between power and signal wires. These suppressors work primarily by clamping the voltage on all wires to the ground at the suppressor. Not connecting this way could cause the damage you have seen on some of your equipment. There are 2 examples of complicated connections at the end of the IEEE guide. These multiport suppressors are described in both guides. Get a suppressor with high ratings.
I assume you are not getting direct strikes to the house. Protecting from that requires lightning rods.
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Thanks for the link Bud. The IEEE info sight has updated since I was there a few years back. Unfortunately my service entrance, sat line and phone line to the house are each on a separate corner of my house. So bonding everything to my system ground with a short wire is not practical. I'm going to add the whole house device at my entrance panel. Based on the paper's recommendations for plug-in suppressors I'm going to revisit these and make sure I'm using protectors with enough kahunas. Looks like I need to add a plug-in protector to my furnace 120vac connection also since the T-Stat took a hit. The Sat coax will be the biggest expense because my dish is 400' from the house (live in a woods), with 4 coax lines from the dish to an 8-point multi switch to distribute the signal around the house, so that's 12 suppressors. I suspect this is how the T-Stat got zapped because the T-stat and sat wiring share a common raceway for 30' or so. However, with a $500 insurance deductable it will be money well spent if it stops the carnage.

<http://www.mikeholt.com/files/PDF/LightningGuide_FINALpublishedversion_May051.pdf
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Jeff D. wrote:

The only thing that is guaranteed to protect the equipment is to disconnect it during storms. Ham guys often have a switch on the antenna that disconnects it from the equipment and grounds it. I would look into something of that nature in your situation.
Is your furnace plugged in? Around here I've never seen one that isn't hardwired with metallic flex, I figured it was a code requirement.
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Jeff D. wrote:

Equipment damaged and house descriptions point to high voltage between power and signal wiring as the likely source of damage.
I would emphasize again that if you use a plug-in suppressor all interconnected equipment must connect to the same suppressor and all wires leaving the protected equipment (power, phone, cable, ...) must go through the suppressor.
A wireless router may be useful to reduce phone wire connections.

The furnace would normally be protected by the service panel suppressor. Would a plug-in suppressors add to that?

I believe dishes in general probably do not contribute much for surges (which is why the length of ground wire from entry protector to system ground is not limited by the NEC). But the earth potential 400' away may be far different from the potential at the house during a lightning event. And 400' can be a nice long wire antenna for nearby strikes.
You would probably have to protect power and all coaxes (in and out) at the switch. There are modular suppressors that have plug-in power suppressors that can be attached to other modules, like multiple cable modules.
You should have plenty of technical background. Look at how you protect all wires at all equipment, particularly if you can't get a short common bond at the entrances.

Separate the stat wires?
==================Ignore Proteus. He is the resident troll.
--
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Do you really think a surge protector in line - its little 2 cm part - will stop what three miles of sky could not? Of course not. That is the myth. Do you really think a few hundred joules inside a plug- in device will absorb those hundreds of thousands of joules in a surge? Your own damage demonstrates how ineffective plug-in protectors really are.
Meanwhile, view manufacturer's specs for those plug-in protectors. Even the manufacturer does not claim to provide that protection. And the most expensive plug-in protectors will only make the same claim - as even a $7 grocery store protector.
Plug-in protectors violate how protection has been done routinely for 100 years to never have damage. Its about the energy. Where did that energy go so that you had so much damage? You permitted that energy inside the building.
Surges seek earth ground. Either that surge was harmlessly absorbed in earth - did not enter the building. Or that surge was inside the building seeking earth ground destructively through household appliances. You solution is to earth surges. A surge that does not enter the building does not overwhelm significant protection in every one of those sensitive appliances.
Since you mentioned the dish, we can start with this application note entitled The Need for Coordinated Protection http://www.erico.com/public/library/fep/technotes/tncr002.pdf It shows two structures. Each structure must have its own single point earth ground. Any wire that connects to each structure must first connect to the structures earth ground. Even a buried wire must be surge protected - connected to earth.
Coax is easily grounded. Its ground block must connect to earth ground by being short (ie 'less than 10 feet'), no sharp wire bends, no splices, separated from all other non-grounding wires, and meeting all other earthing connections at a single point earthing electrode. Critical is that everything meet those wire requirements AND all use the same earthing electrode.
Telephone cannot connect directly to earth. So each phone wire in every cable connects to earth via a 'whole house' protector. No protector provides protection - despite popular myths. The protector is nothing more than a connecting device to earth. Or as the NIST says:

Did you know all phone lines already has 'whole house' protectors installed for free? Why? Because the superior protector costs massively less and because it is so effective. However and again. That protector will only be as effective as the earth ground you have provided. Your earth ground must meet and exceed post 1990 National Electrical code. Listed were some of the wiring requirements necessary to exceed what electricians are typically taught.
Go to the breaker box. Follow its ground wire - a bare copper quarter inch wire that must connect to the same 'single point earth ground'. Does that wire go up over the foundation and down to earth? Then it meets code but is still insufficient for surge protection. That wire must go through the foundation and down to earthing. It must be shorter, eliminate the sharp wire bends, and be separated from those other electric wires. Remember what we are doing. Connecting energy of a direct lightning strike harmlessly to earth. Once that breaker box is properly grounded, then AC mains can have an effective 'whole house' protector.
Apparently you have priced some 'whole house' solutions. Generally, only the more responsible companies provide them such as Siemens, Square D, Leviton, Intermatic, Polyphaser, General Electric, Clipsal, and Keison. The Cutler-Hammer solution sells in Lowes for less than $50.
Every incoming wire from every utility must first connect to earth. Returning to your satellite dish. Does that dish have its own short to earth grounding wire? That original application notes may apply. The antenna (like your dish) must be earthed. And the wire that enters the building must be earthed to the building's single point earth ground BEFORE it enters the building. A dish that is earthed means most of a surge will take that shortest path to earth. Any surge currents still seeking earth via household appliances get earthed by the building's single point ground.
Remember, surge protection is always about the energy. A surge harmlessly dissipated in earth does not harm electronics. The surge protector will only be as effective as its earth ground. Protectors without that short connection to earth, well, did you notice no claims of protection in its numeric specs?
Above was only secondary protection. Every protection layer is defined only by the one item that creates that protection layer. You should also inspect what defined your primary surge protection layer: http://www.tvtower.com/fpl.html
Appreciate why you had damage. What in those expensive power strips stopped what three miles of sky could not. How did they absorb surge energy? They did not. But each strip might have 'diverted' the surge. After all, what did the NIST say? "... simply divert it ..." Divert it to where? It simply gave a surge more wires to find earth ground. In some cases, a protector too close to electronics and too far from earth ground only diverted the surge to earth destructively via appliance. All appliances contain significant protection internally. But, for example, a power strip protector can earth a surge through the computer's motherboard - bypassing protection inside the computer's power supply. A protector too close to electronics and too far from earth may even make surge damage easier.
Telcos use 'whole house' protectors so that overhead wires all over town never cause computer damage. They don't waste money on plug-in protectors. Telcos all over the world earth a 'whole house' protector. So that the protector is even better, they want protectors up to 50 meters distant from electronics. That separation increases protection. That separation means the protector would not earth a surge destructively through nearby electronics.
Appreciate why you desperately need the protector that costs about $1 per protected appliance. What appliance is most critical during a surge? Smoke detectors. What protects them? An earth surge means energy is not inside the building seeking earth ground destructively via appliances. But then you have seen how effective those obscenely overpriced plug-in protectors really are.
To make a 'whole house' protector even better, then upgrade the earthing. That is what every responsible facility does to not have damage. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground.
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westom wrote:

I agree with the comments of Mike Tomlinson.
w arrived here by searching for "surge" on google groups. Some of what w says is fine. Have fun figuring out what, because much of what he says is rubbish. Substantially everything he says about plug-in suppressors is wrong.
w is on a crusade to save the universe from plug-in suppressors.

Of course not. Plug-in suppressors do not work by "stopping".

That is w's myth.

More ridiculous nonsense.
Francois Martzloff was the NIST guru on surges, wrote the NIST guide on surges, and has written many technical papers on surge protection. One paper looks at a MOV (the protection element in most surge suppressors) at the end of a 10-50 meter branch circuits. The surge was 2,000-10,000A (10,000A is the maximum current that has any reasonable probability of occurring on residential power service wires). Surprisingly, in 13 of 15 cases the energy dissipated at the MOV was less than 1J. The maximum was 35 Joules.
There are a couple reasons the energy was so low. One is that at about 6,000V (US) there is arc-over from panel busbars to the enclosure. After the arc is established the voltage is hundreds of volts. Because the enclosure is connected (US) to the power ground system and the neutral and the earthing electrode most of the surge energy is dumped to earth. The other reason is that the impedance of the branch circuit prevents much current, and as a result much energy, from reaching the MOV. A surge is short duration event, and thus relatively high frequency. The inductance of the wire is more important than the resistance.
The highest dissipation was for 10M branch circuits and, contrary to intuition, the lower current surges below 5,000A. Also contrary to intuition, at all branch circuit lengths, the energy dissipation at the MOV was lower as the surge current went up. That was because the MOV acted to clamp the voltage at the panel. With the short branch circuit and lowest surge currents, the MOV prevented arc-over. Higher current surges forced the voltage up faster causing faster arc-over and dumped more of the energy to earth.
I recently bought a plug-in surge suppressor that had ratings of 30,000A and 590J per MOV for each of the 3 MOVs - H-N, H-G, N-G, far above the energy dissipation in Martzloff's tests. High ratings give a long life and I don't expect this suppressor to ever fail. It is one reason manufacturers can have protected equipment warranties. The 30,000A rating is, in one sense, meaningless because you can't even get that current at the service. But the high rating goes along with the high energy rating.
(Neither service panel suppressors or plug-in suppressors protect by absorbing energy. But both absorb some energy in the process of protecting.)

In general you want to run the ground wire from the phone and cable entry protectors to the earthing wire at the power service. The primary goal for both cable and phone wires is to keep the voltage close to that on the power wires. Francois Martzloff has written "the impedance of the grounding system to `true earth' is far less important than the integrity of the bonding of the various parts of the grounding system." Much of the overall protection is preventing high voltage between power and phone and cable wires.
Although the coax shield is easily grounded that does not protect the center conductor. The IEEE guide says the center conductor can be 2-4kV from the shield.

You generally want a short earthing wire, but that is nonsense.

w believes the only suppressor you need is a service panel suppressor. As I said in my 1st post they are a real good idea. But from the NIST guide: "Q - Will a surge protector installed at the service entrance be sufficient for the whole house? A - There are two answers to than question: Yes for one-link appliances [electronic equipment], No for two-link appliances [equipment connected to power AND phone or cable or....]. Since most homes today have some kind of two-link appliances, the prudent answer to the question would be NO - but that does not mean that a surge protector installed at the service entrance is useless."
Service panel suppressors do not prevent high voltages from developing between power and signal wires.

w has a religious belief (immune from challenge) that surge protection must directly use earthing. Thus in his view plug-in suppressors (which are not well earthed) can not possibly work. The IEEE guide explains plug-in suppressors work by CLAMPING (limiting) the voltage on all wires (signal and power) to the common ground at the suppressor. The voltage between wires going to the protected equipment is safe for the protected equipment. Plug-in suppressors do not work primarily by earthing (or stopping or absorbing). The guide explains earthing occurs elsewhere. (Read the guide starting pdf page 40).

Nonsense.
Of course not. Plug-in suppressors do not protect by "stopping" or "absorbing". If w could only read and think.... And if cows could only give beer....

They weren't on the list of damaged equipment. In general, "one-link" equipment is less susceptible to damage than equipment that connects to both power and phone/cable.
GFCI receptacles, for example, have a MOV from hot to neutral. (But how can that work - there is no "less than 10 feet" to earth ground.)

And another favorite religious mantra. Don't fly in airplanes. They are crashing every day when they get hit by lightning. (Except the ones that drag an earthing chain.)
Never seen - a source that agrees with w that plug-in suppressors are NOT effective.
For real science read the IEEE and NIST guides. Both say plug-in suppressors are effective.
--
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That may be gradually changing. My internet is provided over fiber which runs all the way up to my house. If I had a landline anymore, it too would connect to the optical network terminal, as would cable TV if I had that. The only conductors supplying my home anymore are the electrical service.

Only one of mine is mains powered, the others all use 9V lithium batteries. All homes should have at least one battery operated smoke alarm, and those that are mains powered ideally will be the sort with battery backup.
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James Sweet wrote:

That eliminates some headaches.

Mains sounds like UK. I assume you are US?
Here (Minneapolis, and probably from the "Uniform Building Code") we need interconnected line powered smoke detectors. If the detectors are on a AFCI circuit (which they pretty well have to be for a new building), I believe the NFPA detector code requires battery backup - UBC might too (I agree it is a real good idea). I think we also need a silence feature (the ones I used are actually desensitize) for detectors near a kitchen.
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I'm in the US, friend of mine is a UK EE so I guess I picked up that word from him. "Line" has too many other meanings to me.
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Codes around here have all required smoke detectors on AC power. Which is not a problem if surges do not enter the building.
In one event, fiber optiic electronics for internet, phone, and TV were destroyed by a surge. They did not have a 'whole house' protector and earthing did not meet post 1990 code.
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In article < snipped-for-privacy@q14g2000vbi.googlegroup
More meaningless nonsense. Where is "here"? This group is read by people worldwide.
Just another example of your myopic view of the world.

I don't believe you. Citation please.
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If that's the case, it entered through the power supply, because optical fiber is not conductive.
Honestly, I don't really care if my ONT is destroyed by a surge, I don't own it, if it fails, my provider will come out and replace it. The outage would be an inconvenience though.
Of course this is all academic in my situation, as lightning strikes and surges in general are quite rare in this region, and while I've heard of lightning damaged equipment, I've never personally seen it.
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The point remains - a surge found a destructive path into and out of fiber optic electronics because the surge was not properly earthed before entering the building. Fiber alone is not sufficient protection because, as you noted, the electronics must connect to AC power. In their case, the TV, phones, and computers were not damaged. Could have been. Damage could have extended well beyond that fiber optics interface. The surge was permitted to hunt for earth ground destructively inside the building.
Yes, the fiber optic provider replaced all equipment. Took two day of no phone, internet, or TV. And somebody had to stay home waiting for the tech. But it was replaced for free. The surge found an incoming and outgoing path destructively through fiber optic interface electronics.
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In article < snipped-for-privacy@d4g2000vbm.googlegroups

Liar.
Where's the citation, liar?
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A utility describes one solution: http://www.cinergy.com/surge/ttip08.htm There is a major difference between doing this buried in earth verse a loop inside the building. If you use a loop inside the building (a kludge), you must keep that loop well away from all other wires. Earthing for surges requires many additoinal requirements that are not required by code. For example code does not address the impedance in wire. Wire impedance is a critical part of earthig for surge protection and why that protector on Page 42 Figure 8 earthed a surge 8000 volts destructively through the adjacent TV.
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westom wrote:

Ground wire through the building is shorter than a buried wire around the building. I see no reason to believe the buried bond would adequately minimize the voltage between power and signal wires.

The NEC has a maximum length for the "ground" wire for phone and cable entry protectors [which may be too long].

If poor w could only read and think he could discover what the IEEE guide says in this example:
- A plug-in suppressor protects the TV1, connected to it. - "To protect TV2, a second multiport protector located at TV2 is required." - In the example a surge comes in on a cable service with the ground wire from cable entry ground block to the ground at the power service that is far too long. In that case the IEEE guide says "the only effective way of protecting the equipment is to use a multiport [plug-in] protector." - w's favored power service suppressor would provide absolutely NO protection.
Cable-to-power wire voltage at TV2 without the suppressor is 10,000V; with plug-in suppressor at TV1 the voltage at TV2 is 8,000V.
It is simply a lie that the plug-in suppressor in the IEEE example damages the second TV.
For real science read the IEEE and NIST guides. Both say plug-in suppressors are effective.
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Jeff D. wrote:

I was going to suggest adding a concrete encased electrode or two but you probably already thought of that. Nebraska got around to requiring them a few years ago.
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Dean Hoffman > wrote:

They are a decent electrode, as opposed to a ground rod that is a bit better than nothing.
Concrete encased electrodes have been required for most new construction since the 2002 (2005?) NEC.
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Depends where you are. Here in the Northwest, our dark soggy soil is a pretty good conductor year round. Until recently, a single ground rod was considered adequate, now you have to have at least two. Never dealt with new construction though.
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