Whole house surge suppressors

This is a most informative article, and it echoes what w_tom says:

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So when I call an arbitrary electrician to ask for a grounding survey, how do I know he's telling me the truth?

Do I have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to purchase a ground tester?

This is for a single family home that I have lived in for about 7 years, and will probably continue to live in for about 7 more years.

Since I'm having electrical work done, I would also like something like this:

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installed at my breaker box; it would be nice if it could break down it's info by each breaker; and it would also be nice if it could tell me how much current is flowing through my ground connection.

Here are random URLs of info:

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Here is a summary of models I have found, and some anecdotes from Usenet:

MODEL: Panamax Primax RESELLER: SmartHome.com

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JOULES: 2700 AMPS: 60,000 CIRCUIT TYPE: 120/240 1 Phase, 50/60 Hz RESPONSE TIME: 8x20 microseconds PRICE: $119.99 WARRANTY: the manufacturer provides a 3-year Connected Major Appliance Protection Policy up to $10,000 for the repair or replacement of major household appliances (refrigerator, freezer, oven, range, washer, dryer, ceiling fan or dishwasher) and a 5-year product warranty. URLS:

- Press Release:

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- Negative Experiences:

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- More Negative Experiences:

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MODEL: Leviton 51120-1 RESELLER: SmartHome.com

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JOULES: 950 AMPS: 50,000 CIRCUIT TYPE: RESPONSE TIME: "Instantaneous" PRICE: $189.99 WARRANTY: URLS:

- Positive Comment:

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- Negative Comment:

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- Positive Comment:

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MODEL: Panamax gpp8005 RESELLER: PowerSystemsDIRECT

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JOULES: 2,700 AMPS: 60,000 CIRCUIT TYPE: 120/240 1 Phase 50/60Hz RESPONSE TIME: PRICE: $99.99 WARRANTY: Connected Equipment Policy Length 3 Years; Connected Equipment Policy Amount $10,000; Lightning Protection Yes URLS: Model description:

MODEL: Intermatic IG1240RC RESELLER: SmartHomeUSA.com

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JOULES: 1,200 AMPS: 48,000 CIRCUIT TYPE: 120/240V 60Hz RESPONSE TIME: Less than 5 nanoseconds PRICE: $69.95 WARRANTY: $10,000 warrantee URLS:

- Positive:

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- Positive:

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- Positive:

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- Informational:

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MODEL: Intermatic PanelGuard IG1300-4T-2C, protects (?) phone-lines and cable lines too RESELLER: JOULES: AMPS: 48,000 CIRCUIT TYPE: 120/240 single (split) phase, 4 telephone lines, and 2 coax cable lines; ALL MODE PROTECTION (L1-N, L2-N, L1-G, L2-G, N-G, L1-L2); 150 Volt MOVs (Metal Oxide Varistors) [AC Protection]; 350 Volt Gas Tube [Telephone Protection]; 90 Volt Gas Tube [Coax Cable / Satellite Protection] RESPONSE TIME: PRICE: IG1300-2T is $152.83 at

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WARRANTY: $10,000, 5 year warranty URLS:

- Non-negative:

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- Positive:

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MODEL: Ditek DTK-WH8 Whole House Kit RESELLER: StayOnline

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JOULES: 1050 AMPS: 125,000 CIRCUIT TYPE: 120 / 240 Split Phase ; Suppressed Voltage Rating: 700V (L-L), 400V (L-G, L-N, N-G) RESPONSE TIME: Less than 5 nanosecond PRICE: $149 WARRANTY: URLS:

MODEL: PolyPhaser IS-PM120-SP RESELLER: PolyPhaser.com JOULES: AMPS: 40,000 CIRCUIT TYPE: 120Vac, 1 Phase, 2 Wires & GND RESPONSE TIME: ?? Turn-On Time: 25ns ?? PRICE: WARRANTY: URLS:

- Positive:

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Reply to
Flea Ridden
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If your trying to protect from lightning then you need a lightning protection system. try UL-96A for the specs. Every system I installed helped a little when the strike came. Nothing is guaranteed protection for lightning way to many variables.

IEEE has standards for surge protection, they come in 3 categories. Distribution, service and point of use. You need 2 out of 3 to have decent protection. Since distribution is handled by the serving utility we now have two to work with. There are 2 basic types of surge protection devices, MOV's and the rest. MOV's are tested once. So they will do their job once, a second hit,,, who knows.

Grounding and installation are the most important. The average Joe electrician is not going to have an ground tester. Are you planning a 3 point or 4 point test? I used to use 3 point a lot, also called fall of potential. 4 point I used for measuring the soil resistively for installation of ground systems. Then there are the clamp on ground testers which can do the job with out shutting down the electrical service for a test.

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. The most important thing here is the guy running the meter. It takes a fair amount of experience to understand what the readings mean. Try to achieve less than 5 ohms during your driest times. You can always add more ground rods to the electrical service to get the readings lower. I once had to add

2-40' long chemical ground rods to a service to get it to 2 ohms. These must be installed per the local and national codes.

The wires should be short as possible for connecting your surge arrestor. CH and other manufactures make units that connect to the buss for services. SQD has one for the homeline panel that plugs in like a breaker. The most important part is to have the let through at the service arrestor be below the threshold of the point of use arrestor. You can put that warranty crap in you peace pipe and smoke it. I used to work for an OEM and they NEVER paid a single claim in 8 years for arrestors. You will never be able to prove the unit ever failed to work. Make the best choices you can and hope for the best.

Reply to
SQLit

I have 2 point protection - service and point of use. I have had 2 lightning strikes in the past few years and have had no power related damage. However, both times it wiped out my tv's by coming in the cable tv line. Last week it got 3 tv's ($2500 loss). Sure wish there was a better way of protecting the cable.

They usually blow open so you don't know they're not working. I have only seen one blow to a short - kept popping a breaker.

I have had to pour 50# bags of rock salt around ground rods in sandy soil to get less than 5 ohms. Have had to cad-weld rods end-to-end and go down 50 ft. to get a good ground. Have also had to create a ground field of up to 12 interconnected rods. Sometimes you just do what you have to do!

And the fine print says you have to have affidavits from all utility companies, service providers, and home insurance companies stating they will not pay for losses before the arrestor company will even accept your claim.

Bob S.

Reply to
Bob S.

And again we have this misconception that a 'service entrance' and a 'point of use' protectors are protection. Again, protectors and protection are two different components in a protection 'system'. Again, protection is that single point earth ground. Protectors are only electrical switches or connections to that single point ground. A protector without that single point earth ground is doing nothing effective.

The CATV line is as easy to protect as all other incoming utility wires. It must first make a connection to single point earth ground - the protection - before entering the building. Newly revitalized cable companies are now teaching their employees this 60+ year old technology. Technology that long understood and that repeatedly proven. And yet still, here in the 21st Century, we still have people 'assuming' a protector is protection. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. How does the incoming cable get protected? Throw away the protector and connect that incoming cable direct - hardwired - to single point earth ground. No earth ground means no effective protection.

Why might the TV be damaged on its cable connection? If cable was properly earthed, then incoming transient is on some other utility. One typical incoming source is the AC electric (especially if appliance is connected to an adjacent plug-in protector). Incoming on AC electric, through TV, and outgoing to earth ground via cable. First everything in an electrical path from cloud to ground conducts the transient. Only then does one device in that path fail - often a component on TV's cable connection. Many then assume the surge came in on cable when, in reality, surge was incoming on AC electric and outgoing on cable connection.

Reply to
w_tom

Do you have surge suppressors that provide surge reference equalization? What that means is a surge suppressor with power and cable protection in the same box. Even if the grounds for both electric and cable service are grounded at the same point, it is still possible to end up with an induced potential between them at your television. The suppressor with both power and cable protection will clamp this potential at a safe level.

Charles Perry P.E.

Reply to
Charles Perry

Appliances already have effective internal protection. With a properly installed 'whole house' protector and the so critical earth ground, then any induced potential inside the building will remain well below what appliances are designed to withstand. A 'whole house' protector may not be perfect. But with it, residual transients inside a building should remain at below what appliances must withstand; below those ratings of appliance internal protection.

Anything that can be effective adjacent to the appliance is already inside that appliance. One of the early requirements for such internal protection was the CBEMA. Even Intel specifications for power supplies require sufficient internal protection. Internal protection that assumes the 'whole house' protector exists and that all incoming utilities are properly earthed to the single point earth ground.

Reply to
w_tom

The problem is not with the power supply, it is with the communications ports. Nine out of ten failed appliances that we examine have failures associated with the communications ports. If you don't provide the proper TVSS that ties the power and communications references together, then you will damage equipment.

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A very good paper that mentions this.

Charles Perry P.E.

Reply to
Charles Perry

Tom you are contradicting yourself. How can an appliance protect itself if it doesn't have a ground connection in the power plug? Charles is on target when he says a point of use protector is there to clamp all inputs of an appliance to a common point. They also soften the leading edge of a transient with inductive componants. You certainly need to stop as much of this as you can at the service/utility entrance but with close strikes you can still get a surge induced into the building wiring beyond the entrance. This is what the point of use protector is for. Effective protection is composed of layers that absorb surges wherever they occur. If you really want 7/24 operation in a lightning rod place like Florida you will have a system of grounding and bonding along with devices that shunt transients to ground and absorb those that don't get shunted. You provide more attractive paths to ground with copper and less attractive paths to equipment around iron.

Reply to
Greg

Yes communication ports are easily damaged where they are used beyond what they were designed for. Two examples are RS-232 ports and outside speakers to a stereo amp. However first one must ask where was the incoming and outgoing path for that damage.

Does a surge enter on communication port, damage that port, then stop? Of course not. First a complete circuit is established from cloud to earth. After that circuit is conducting electricity through everything in that circuit, only then does something fail. If that circuit is incoming and outgoing via appliance - a condition where

1000+ volts means the 'whole house protector system was defective - then the solution is not to supplement the protector. The solution is to fix the 'whole house' protector and its so critically necessary earth ground.

As noted previously, many communication ports, to communicate with devices not adjacent to the computer, already have effective internal protection. For example NIC (ethernet) port is typically good for in excess of 1000 volts. That is effective protection that can be overwhelmed if the necessary 'whole house' protector system is not installed. Most critical component of that system? Single point earth ground.

Do we fix the single point ground or do we install 'point of use' protectors on every of well over 100 appliances inside the house? Remember, GFCIs in kitchen and bathroom, furnace, electronic timer switch, dishwasher, clock radio, portable phone, microwave, alarm system - are but a few of the electronics that each need a $15 or $50 protector if the 'whole house' system is not properly installed. Better and less expensive to fix the 'whole house' (secondary) protection system.

Charles Perry cites a paper that is a 'must read' for anyone who needs surge protection:

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Same authors make same point in an applicaton note for builders and other structural contractors - again must read:
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In the Cozy Cabin example, simple principles of single point earth ground are violated. Damage was made possible by human failure. The Rambling Residence suffers from a similar failure. For example, outside speakers are incoming wires that did not first connect to single point ground before leaving the building. Where did that transient enter or leave? The authors suspect induced electromagnetic transient. However those wires easily could have been connected to a direct surge by being buried, routed over conductive materials such as concrete, or even in contact with another conductor - the tree. But again, wires entered the building without first making contact to the single point earth ground system. A blantant violation.

Other suspects could have contributed to the problem. Electrical controls for the sprinkler system also complicate the installation of a single point ground. Where or how did another structure - the exterior pool - connect to building? Were building and pools interconnected at a single point or did they too create ground loops? Both pool and building should have been connected as if each were a separate structure. If not, then the building could have ground loop problems - no single point earth ground existed.

Earthing is the primary solution to surge protection which is also why new homes should have Ufer or halo grounds. Grounding installed bfore the foundation is even constructed. Purpose is to make earth beneath equipotential - make the single point ground more effective. Plug-in or 'point of use' protectors do not adaquately compensate for a defective earthing system. Furthermore those plug-in protectors are typically undersized and grossly overpriced - on the order of tens of times more expensive per protected appliance.

That is the point of that nist.gov paper and so many other industry professionals. Protectors are not the protection. Earthing

- the thing often forgotten because it is out of sight - is the most important aspect of surge protection.

And we are only discussing secondary protection. What is the primary protection? Examples of failures in a building's primary protection system:

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Again, the less expensive and essential solution is earthing even in the primary protector system.

Reply to
w_tom

Appliances have galvanic isolation. Part of the internal protection provided inside the appliance. Adjacent shunt mode protectors (which providde no galvanic isolation) are not effective which is why plug-in protectors enrich their manufacturers rather than provide effective protection. Again, if those $0.10 parts inside a plug-in protector were effective, then those parts would be routinely installed inside all appliances.

Appliances already have any protection that works at the appliance. Protection that can be overwhelmed if the 'whole house' protector connected short to the single point earth ground is not installed. And so we say no earth ground means no effective protection.

I have even traced surge damage through a network of powered off computers simply because the homeowner had 'point of use' protectors and no 'whole house' protector. The 'point of use' or plug-in protectors completed a circuit used by surge to enter computers. What kind of protection was that? Exactly same as the plug-in manufacturer's technical specifications claim.

Is a plug-in protector necessary? Yes, if the defective 'whole house' protector system is permitting 2000+ volt transients inside a building. But then the homwowner is also replacing GFCIs and dimmer switches frequently. Those electronic furnace controls and dishwasher failures define a defective protector system. But a properly installed 'whole house' protector (costing about $1 per protected appliance) connected to a properly earthed ground would never permit that kind of transient across the appliance.

Furthermore, what is the most cost effective method of improving household protection? Do we install a 'point of use' protector on everything - the furnace, bathroom and kitchen GFCIs, alarm system, every clock radio, touch on-off lamps, dimmer switches, dishwasher, etc? Of course not. No one is going to spend $15 or $50 for each of

100 electronic appliances. Plus many of those devices most easily damaged by transients are installed in the wall. Where does the 'point of use' protector go?

'Point of use' protector is a shunt mode protector. Shunt mode protectors are all but useless without the less than 10 foot connection to single point ground. In fact many are so grossly undersized as to be damaged by a surge that was too small to overwhelm internal appliance protection. Sounds more like a scam than a protection system. Effective protectors are properly sized so as to not be damaged during a surge.

Bottom line remains. The 'whole house' protector and single point earth ground make even the appliance's own internal protection effective. And as posted previously, the human must also inspect the primary protection system as demonstrated by pictures at:

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None of this is discussed by plug-in protector manufacturers since effective protection is not even claimed. They are selling on half truths in a hope that other naive users will recommend their product. A classic example of myths promoted is, "My surge protector sacrificed itself to protect my computer". Reality is plug-in protector was so grossly undersized as to be damaged by a transient too small to damage adjacent computer. Internal protection inside the computer is again demonstrated.

BTW, surge protectors absorb surges just like wire also absorbs surges. Neither are installed to absorb the energy. Effective layers of protection are defined by layers of grounds; not layers of protectors. Defined above is the 'primary' protector and its earth ground. Then the 'secondary' protector - the 'whole house' protector and its earth ground. To have layers of protection, one must then have layers of grounding. Grounding - not the protector - defines layering. If protectors absorb surges, then so do wires. Grounding defines each layer of protection.

Reply to
w_tom

Appliances have galvanic isolation. Part of the internal protection provided inside the appliance. Adjacent shunt mode protectors (which providde no galvanic isolation) are not effective which is why plug-in protectors enrich their manufacturers rather than provide effective protection. Again, if those $0.10 parts inside a plug-in protector were effective, then those parts would be routinely installed inside all appliances.

Appliances already have any protection that works at the appliance. Protection that can be overwhelmed if the 'whole house' protector connected short to the single point earth ground is not installed. And so we say no earth ground means no effective protection.

I have even traced surge damage through a network of powered off computers simply because the homeowner had 'point of use' protectors and no 'whole house' protector. The 'point of use' or plug-in protectors completed a circuit used by surge to enter computers. What kind of protection was that? Exactly same as the plug-in manufacturer's technical specifications claim.

Is a plug-in protector necessary? Yes, if the defective 'whole house' protector system is permitting 2000+ volt transients inside a building. But then the homwowner is also replacing GFCIs and dimmer switches frequently. Those electronic furnace controls and dishwasher failures define a defective protector system. But a properly installed 'whole house' protector (costing about $1 per protected appliance) connected to a properly earthed ground would never permit that kind of transient across the appliance.

Furthermore, what is the most cost effective method of improving household protection? Do we install a 'point of use' protector on everything - the furnace, bathroom and kitchen GFCIs, alarm system, every clock radio, touch on-off lamps, dimmer switches, dishwasher, etc? Of course not. No one is going to spend $15 or $50 for each of

100 electronic appliances. Plus many of those devices most easily damaged by transients are installed in the wall. Where does the 'point of use' protector go?

'Point of use' protector is a shunt mode protector. Shunt mode protectors are all but useless without the less than 10 foot connection to single point ground. In fact many are so grossly undersized as to be damaged by a surge that was too small to overwhelm internal appliance protection. Sounds more like a scam than a protection system. Effective protectors are properly sized so as to not be damaged during a surge.

Bottom line remains. The 'whole house' protector and single point earth ground make even the appliance's own internal protection effective. And as posted previously, the human must also inspect the primary protection system as demonstrated by pictures at:

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None of this is discussed by plug-in protector manufacturers since effective protection is not even claimed. They are selling on half truths in a hope that other naive users will recommend their product. A classic example of myths promoted is, "My surge protector sacrificed itself to protect my computer". Reality is plug-in protector was so grossly undersized as to be damaged by a transient too small to damage adjacent computer. Internal protection inside the computer is again demonstrated.

BTW, surge protectors absorb surges just like wire also absorbs surges. Neither are installed to absorb the energy. Effective layers of protection are defined by layers of grounds; not layers of protectors. Defined above is the 'primary' protector and its earth ground. Then the 'secondary' protector - the 'whole house' protector and its earth ground. To have layers of protection, one must then have layers of grounding. Grounding - not the protector - defines layering. If protectors absorb surges, then so do wires. Grounding defines each layer of protection.

Reply to
w_tom

Why don't all manufacturers sell models like the Intermatic PanelGuard IG1300-2T-1C which protects phone and cable inputs too?

If protection like this is not needed for phone and cable lines, why is it needed for A/C lines?

w_tom wrote:

Reply to
Flea Ridden

The phone company came out last weekend and repaired my dead phone service; the *old* wires from the pole were worn through by the strain relief clamp just before they disappeared through the hole in the siding and connected to the 1950's terminal block. The reused the old wires, cutting them off above the worn spot and he installed a fancy new terminal box with a test plug. When he was connecting the old service wires to the big terminals in the box (which I assume have gas discharge tubes to protect against lightning), I noticed that it had a big heavy ground terminal which he left unconnected. There was a 10 gauge ground wire available (from the cable TV service) that he could have easily tapped, but he said that ground connection in the box was only for buried cable and not for overhead services.

So what good is the lightning protection with no path to ground? If the servie wires are underground and have a metal sheath, that might be good enough grounding. Otherwise, the ground terminal should be bonded to the house grounding electrode system. Currently my phone line float, unless they are grounded at the utility pole.

I think I need to open up that box and connect the ground, although I will probably have to drill out the fancy screw they used to close the box.

Bob

Reply to
zxcvbob

Around here the "phone guy" is a contractor who barely knows which end of the screwdriver to hold. I would call the service line and tell them you want your telephone service properly grounded and bonded. The Dmark box itself is a state of the art protector and properly connected it will give you very good protection. Just be sure they bond their box to your service grounding electrode system, even if they do drive another rod. I did it myself with some acorns and 6ga copper. It was easier than trying to explain

250.70 to a person who thinks "NEC" was the guy who invented the Necco wafer.
Reply to
Greg

Get the phone company to correct his mistake (so they will reeducate the man and so you are not in violation of FCC regulations). Does your box look like these?

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Then NID must be earthed. And not earthed to the cable company wire. The NID must make a connection to the same earth ground where the cable wire also makes its earthing connection. Each earthing wire should run separate and then meet at the single point earth ground.

Any future trouble with phone company installers, then here is the code:

Article 800.30B Location.

Article 800.31

In short, telco (and not you) must earth that NID less than

10 feet to a po> The phone company came out last weekend and repaired my dead
Reply to
w_tom

W-Tom sells a whole house suppressor (Polyphaser I think)

Reply to
Greg

Not true. An MOV type protector will NOT conduct heavily without absorbing energy. It takes energy to change the MOV from high resistance to low resistance - that is not true of wire. The energy that it takes to change the MOV from high resistance to low resistance and keep it in the low resistance state is absorbed and dissipated in the MOV, until the MOV blows or the surge it "sees" disappears. Wire stays in a low resistance state, regardless - it does not need to absorb energy to change states nor to remain in the low resistance state. Wires on not rated in terms of the surge energy thay can absorb - MOV's are.

While in the low resistance state, everything in the current carrying path, including the wire and the MOV and anything else through which current flows, absorbs and dissipates energy in accordance with Ohm's law. In that case - where the MOV is already in the low resistance state - your statement is correct, but incomplete. The wire can absorb and dissipate FAR more energy than the MOV. That makes the MOV's capability of absorbing energy a critical factor, because it will blow long before the wires will melt. For example, a 14 gauge wire will happily conduct 10 amps essentially forever - an MOV will expire very quickly at that current.

Reply to
ehsjr

A wire will not conduct energy heavily without absorbing energy. Therefore is the purpose of wire to absorb energy? Of course not. Every conductor including MOVs absorbs some energy when conducting electricity. Does that mean the purpose of all conductors is to absorb that energy? Of course not. The purpose of an MOV is to shunt current; minimize the energy absorbed while conducting electricity - just like a wire.

Does an MOV conduct energy better than a wire? Of course not. But that still does not make the purpose of an MOV to absorb energy.

We want the MOV to absorb less energy; to shunt more current. How do we do this? We increase a surge protector's joules rating. More joules means a surge protector will absorb even less energy - just like a larger wire. Furthermore, an MOV protector with a higher joules rating means a surge is less likely to find other, destructive paths to earth ground. Therefore we want protectors with higher joules rating - so that the protector absorbs less energy - just like bigger wires.

Higher joules means a surge protector has a l> w_tom wrote:

Reply to
w_tom

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