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.

Reply to
Jeff D
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The best information on surges and surge protection I have seen is at:

- "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:

- "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.

Reply to
bud--

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. It=92s 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

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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 c> You cannot really suppress a surge altogether, nor "arrest" it. What th=

ese protective

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:

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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.

Reply to
westom

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.

Reply to
bud--

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.

Reply to
James Sweet

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.

Reply to
bud--

A utility describes one solution:

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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.
Reply to
westom

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.

Reply to
westom

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.

Reply to
Dean Hoffman

On Aug 29, 7:49=A0am, "Jeff D." wrote:

Jeff Let me stick an oar in here and make a suggestion. I have had several clients over the forty plus years I have been an electrician that had problems like yours. Two of them are summer camps on ridge top properties. The Mid Atlantic states get a fair amount of lightning and the camps were loosing modems, answering machines, cordless phone bases, and several other items every year. Since they are non profit church camps they do not have the resources to completely eliminate the problems but I've been able to cut it way down. Your house has the same type of wire geography that several of the camps buildings have. Power and other wired services enter at widely separated locations on the building. My next statement will drive some people right up the wall but the solution is much the same as what you do when you use a plug in serge protector. All the plug in surge protector does is keep the voltage between all the connected wires low enough to avoid the flow of destructive currents. It does that by bypassing the equipment it is protecting and allowing the voltage to equalize through the protector rather than destructively through the protected equipment.

Please notice that it is not the absolute voltage relative to the earth that you are trying to reduce. Since the voltage relative to the earth itself IS going to rise during a strike concentrate on seeing that it rises uniformly across the equipment you are trying to protect. You cannot keep the voltage relative to the earth low. But you can keep the voltage difference BETWEEN the several different wires low enough to avoid damage. It will be perfectly fine if the absolute voltage to earth of your various wires rises to several thousand volts as long as all of the wires rise in voltage fairly uniformly. It matters not that your telephone wires and your power wires rise to a couple of thousand volts relative to the earth as long as the difference between them is relatively small. It is the difference of potential between the separate wired utilities; expressed as a relative voltage; that causes current to flow, destructively, through your equipment.

Here is how I would suggest you go about accomplishing the limiting of the difference of potential between the wires that enter your home. Drive a ground rod at each wire entry and install an appropriate protector on each set of wires. If possible the ground rod should be long enough to extend below the permanent moisture level. The ground rods should have earth on all sides. Do not drive them within their own length of deep foundation walls or other underground obstructions. Run the Grounding Electrode Conductor (GEC) specified by the manufacturer of the protector from the protector itself to the ground rod. Connect the GEC to the electrode; in this case a driven rod; by using an acorn clamp or by exothermic welding. Westom's advice on how to run the conductor is valid. Run the GEC as directly as possible. Any bend should be gradual and have a radius no smaller then six inches. You will need to dig a trench halfway around your house run between all of these separate ground rod locations. In that trench you will install a number two copper conductor. That conductor will serve as an additional grounding electrode as well as a bonding conductor. Connect the rods to each other via the number two copper conductor. If your willing to spend the additional money you can use a copper ribbon or strap having the same cross sectional area as the number two copper conductor. Copper strap has a far lower impedance then a regular number two wire. When a voltage is changing very rapidly; as it does during a lightning discharge; it is the impedance of the conductor that matters a lot more then it's DC resistance and less is better. If you want to maximize the effectiveness of the buried conductor as an additional grounding electrode then you will make the trench as deep as practical and at least thirty inches deep. By digging the trench first, and driving the ground rods through the bottom of the trench, you can increase the effective depth of the driven rods and the overall effectiveness of your Grounding Electrode System. It is by bonding all of the electrodes together that you keep the voltage BETWEEN the various wires that enter your home below the damage threshold.

If you have any questions about what I am suggesting you are welcome to ask for clarification here or by direct email. Bonne Chance.

-- Tom Horne

Reply to
Tom Horne

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.

Reply to
James Sweet

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.

Reply to
James Sweet

In article , westom writes

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.

Reply to
Mike Tomlinson

In article , Tom Horne writes

[...]

My employer has an installation exactly like that you have described at a location on a mountain top (9000ft high) in a remote location. Grounding presented its own problems as it sits on a rock base, where the word "earth" has little meaning. The building surrounding it has an exposed metal frame. Internally to the building, surge diversion is performed using a number of different techniques, including a three-way protector on the mains supply of every connected electronic instrument and computer with as short a connection as possible to a thick copper ribbon (5mm thick x 50mm wide) surrounding the interior of the entire building, to which services and equipment are bonded at frequent intervals and is also itself bonded to the incoming power feed and the external ring.

westom pooh-poohed the concept when I described it some years ago because it did not have, you guessed it, a single whole-structure protector (we could not have fitted one even if we had wanted to because as in Jeff's case, utilities enter the building at opposite ends, some ~100m apart). In addition he twisted my words outright by saying our organisation had not taken sufficient precautions and were willing to accept lightning damage. This was after I had said that the installation was unlikely to survive a direct or very close lightning strike, and over the years it has survived a large number of nearby strikes, which have caused severe damage to other facilities nearby, without any interruption to operation.

Reply to
Mike Tomlinson

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.

Reply to
James Sweet

Tom, I'm confident your multiple driven ground rod plan would greatly help if not eliminate my problem. However I'd have to cut through a concrete driveway and tear apart a paver patio to go direct burial. The alternative of running the bonding wire through my house is not very appealing to me, don't particularly like the thought of having several KV passing to ground running though wiring inside wood framing. Just driving a proper ground rod without bonding them adequately would create a potential difference between the 3 systems and would most likely make lighting damage more severe.

Proteus, not sure if your serious or being facetious. If you are serious can you provide a link to what you're referring to. However as I stated earlier I live in a woods, the small trees are 60' tall.

"Tom Horne" wrote in message news: snipped-for-privacy@o36g2000vbl.googlegroups.com... On Aug 29, 7:49 am, "Jeff D." wrote:

Jeff Let me stick an oar in here and make a suggestion. I have had several clients over the forty plus years I have been an electrician that had problems like yours. Two of them are summer camps on ridge top properties. The Mid Atlantic states get a fair amount of lightning and the camps were loosing modems, answering machines, cordless phone bases, and several other items every year. Since they are non profit church camps they do not have the resources to completely eliminate the problems but I've been able to cut it way down. Your house has the same type of wire geography that several of the camps buildings have. Power and other wired services enter at widely separated locations on the building. My next statement will drive some people right up the wall but the solution is much the same as what you do when you use a plug in serge protector. All the plug in surge protector does is keep the voltage between all the connected wires low enough to avoid the flow of destructive currents. It does that by bypassing the equipment it is protecting and allowing the voltage to equalize through the protector rather than destructively through the protected equipment.

Please notice that it is not the absolute voltage relative to the earth that you are trying to reduce. Since the voltage relative to the earth itself IS going to rise during a strike concentrate on seeing that it rises uniformly across the equipment you are trying to protect. You cannot keep the voltage relative to the earth low. But you can keep the voltage difference BETWEEN the several different wires low enough to avoid damage. It will be perfectly fine if the absolute voltage to earth of your various wires rises to several thousand volts as long as all of the wires rise in voltage fairly uniformly. It matters not that your telephone wires and your power wires rise to a couple of thousand volts relative to the earth as long as the difference between them is relatively small. It is the difference of potential between the separate wired utilities; expressed as a relative voltage; that causes current to flow, destructively, through your equipment.

Here is how I would suggest you go about accomplishing the limiting of the difference of potential between the wires that enter your home. Drive a ground rod at each wire entry and install an appropriate protector on each set of wires. If possible the ground rod should be long enough to extend below the permanent moisture level. The ground rods should have earth on all sides. Do not drive them within their own length of deep foundation walls or other underground obstructions. Run the Grounding Electrode Conductor (GEC) specified by the manufacturer of the protector from the protector itself to the ground rod. Connect the GEC to the electrode; in this case a driven rod; by using an acorn clamp or by exothermic welding. Westom's advice on how to run the conductor is valid. Run the GEC as directly as possible. Any bend should be gradual and have a radius no smaller then six inches. You will need to dig a trench halfway around your house run between all of these separate ground rod locations. In that trench you will install a number two copper conductor. That conductor will serve as an additional grounding electrode as well as a bonding conductor. Connect the rods to each other via the number two copper conductor. If your willing to spend the additional money you can use a copper ribbon or strap having the same cross sectional area as the number two copper conductor. Copper strap has a far lower impedance then a regular number two wire. When a voltage is changing very rapidly; as it does during a lightning discharge; it is the impedance of the conductor that matters a lot more then it's DC resistance and less is better. If you want to maximize the effectiveness of the buried conductor as an additional grounding electrode then you will make the trench as deep as practical and at least thirty inches deep. By digging the trench first, and driving the ground rods through the bottom of the trench, you can increase the effective depth of the driven rods and the overall effectiveness of your Grounding Electrode System. It is by bonding all of the electrodes together that you keep the voltage BETWEEN the various wires that enter your home below the damage threshold.

If you have any questions about what I am suggesting you are welcome to ask for clarification here or by direct email. Bonne Chance.

-- Tom Horne

Reply to
Jeff D

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.

Reply to
westom

You were not pooh-poohed. Your memory is defective because your venom is obvious. You see what you want to see only because you were previously caught and exposed posting myths. Your anger has so demented your memory that you must always attack me rather than post facts.

Surge protection is always about diverting that energy to earth. As posted back then, another accomplished the same thing on a rocky mountain using a similar technique:

formatting link
There is no magic box. Personal attacks do not change reality. Stated only for benefit of others. Protection is about diverting energy to earth. Absorbing surge energy harmlessly in earth; not inside a building. Which is why a protector is only as effective as its earth ground - no matter how much you dislike that reality.

Reply to
westom

In article , westom writes

Liar.

Where's the citation, liar?

Reply to
Mike Tomlinson

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