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Old 08-24-2012, 12:20 AM   #1
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Whole house surge protector question


I had my service upgraded to 200 amps and had a whole-house surge unit put in as well.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I saw it, it is one of these: http://www.eaton.com/Eaton/ProductsS...Home/index.htm

I got the best one the CHSPT2ULTRA one. I always thought that a whole-house surge unit would be in-line with the main power line coming from the meter, how exactly does this thing control surge if it just sits accross a couple breakers? Couldn't the extra current just flow to every circuit in the panel?

Also, does it matter where it sits in the panel? I guess it seems intuitive to me that it should be the very first breaker in the panel (either side) or does it not matter?

I had another question as well; I have a 100 amp sub panel fed off my main 200 amp panel, I guess I thought that that too should be the very first breaker in the panel since it's the highest load, but he put it about 2/3 of the way down the panel. Does it matter?

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Old 08-24-2012, 05:32 AM   #2
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Whole house surge protector question


Why are you disappointed with this model? They attach to your bus bars (parallel not series) and shunt higher than normal voltages to your neutral/ground system. The most basic units use MOV’s which short out at a predetermined voltage. Installing 2/3rds of the way down the bars will work just fine.

There are in-line units availiable where your service runs through them but they are as big as your panel and uber expensive. Not normally installed in residential.

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Last edited by zappa; 08-24-2012 at 06:00 AM. Reason: more info
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:39 AM   #3
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Whole house surge protector question


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Originally Posted by zappa View Post
Why are you disappointed with this model? They attach to your bus bars (parallel not series) and shunt higher than normal voltages to your neutral/ground system. The most basic units use MOV’s which short out at a predetermined voltage. Installing 2/3rds of the way down the bars will work just fine.

There are in-line units availiable where your service runs through them but they are as big as your panel and uber expensive. Not normally installed in residential.
Thanks Zappa, I was only disappointed because I had no idea what they looked like, I guess I just thought it'd be a lot bigger/beefier looking. Thanks for the explanation too, that makes sense about removing the excess voltage.

I'm still going to have to relocate the unit, because the electrician installed it stupidly, twice! First time he put it so close to the edge of the wall the main panel sits on that he wasn't able to attach the Cable surge protector I also wanted intalled. (it attaches to the whole-house unit like legos). He then moved it to the other side of the panel (I wasn't home for this) and when I looked he located it where one of the inputs for the cable surge unit was blocked by an electrical box...I will relocate it up about 6 inches to have clearance all around it, don't know why he found this challenging, lol.
Not too impressed with the company I chose, overall they did a fair job, but they re-used some old breakers from my old panel and charged me for all-new ones and did some other things that weren't kosher. I am also going to replace the two single-pole 20amp breakers they installed the surge unit on, and replace with the correct double-pole 50amp breaker that it calls for!

I think they under-quoted me and were trying to hide things along the way to save money. I had quoted you guys their price on the forum here a while ago and many of you thought it sounded oddly low, now I know why...but overall I'm still happy. I can handle fixing a couple things to save $1000+!

In case any1 is wondering, their base price to just upgrade the service with cheap parts was $1600, I asked for some extras: whole-house surge, cable surge, Square-D QO panel and breakers, and an external disconnect. With those options it came to $2700, not too bad eh?

Last edited by DoctorWho; 08-24-2012 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:57 AM   #4
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Whole house surge protector question


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Originally Posted by DoctorWho View Post
First time he put it so close to the edge of the wall the main panel sits on that he wasn't able to attach the Cable surge protector I also wanted intalled. (it attaches to the whole-house unit like legos).
Apparently you are still confused. No protector does protection. Cable already has best protection IF cable is connected to earth ground BEFORE entering.

No protector does protection. Protection is what absorbs hundreds of thousands of joules: earth ground. A protector is only a connecting device. Doing what a wire does from the cable ground block to earth. What makes a protector better? Better earthing that both meets and exceeds code requirements.

A surge is not a voltage event. It is a current. If a connection to a better earth ground is lower impedance (no sharp wire bends, not inside metallic conduit, etc), then less voltage is created. A current source means voltage increases as necessary to maintain a current flow. Surge protection means that current flows on less impedance; creates less voltage.

That same current will flow no matter what. Either harmlessly on a wire short to earth. Or destructively (with a large voltage) through appliances.

Again, the box does not do protection. The box only exists on utility wires that cannot connect directly to earth. Because all protection is defined by what a surge seeks - earth ground and its connection.

So what does the cable protector do? That cable must already be earthed by the cable installer before it enters.

Protection means every wire inside every incoming cable must make that low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to single point ground. If any wire enters without that low impedance connection, then protection is compromised. By far, most of your attention should focus on quality of and connections to earth ground.
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:23 PM   #5
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Whole house surge protector question


lol, what? I don't quite understand all of that but I can tell you that the reason I specifically wanted a cable SPD was because I lost two TV's last year and a cable box due to lightning hitting the lines a few blocks away, my cable is grounded first thing before going into the house, but it wasn't good enough...still fried my stuff anyway. Even lost an HDMI port on my 3rd TV. A couple of my neighbors also lost equipment, except my next door neighbor who had a cable SPD.
I know these things all have a disclaimer that they aren't guaranteed to work vs lightning, they're meant to control regular surges but they seem to help with lightning just the same.
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:41 PM   #6
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Whole house surge protector question


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Originally Posted by DoctorWho View Post
... my cable is grounded first thing before going into the house, but it wasn't good enough...still fried my stuff anyway.
Everything posted was at a layman's level. But this is true for anything that is new. If you do not read it at least three times, then it makes no sense. If you read something the first time and understand it, then you have only read what you already knew.

If any box (ie SPD) does protection, then advertising has, essentially, accomplished brainwashing. Again, the box does not do protection. Reread it. The fact that you think an SPD does anything - it demonstrated how easily advertising promotes scams. With over 100 SPDs, still near zero protection. One sentence you did not understand and totally applies to you: If any wire enters (anywhere in the building) without that low impedance connection, then protection is compromised.

Meanwhile, what should have most of your attention? The so many questions about protection - single point earth ground. If the electrician did not do that right, then even a 'whole house' protector is compromised.

Last edited by westom; 08-24-2012 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:43 PM   #7
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Whole house surge protector question


Quote:
Originally Posted by westom View Post
Everything posted was at a layman's level. But this is true for anything that is new. If you do not read it at least three times, then it makes no sense. If you read something the first time and understand it, then you have only read what you already knew.

If any box (ie SPD) does protection, then advertising has, essentially, accomplished brainwashing. Again, the box does not do protection. Reread it. The fact that you think an SPD does anything - it demonstrated how easily advertising promotes scams. With over 100 SPDs, still near zero protection. One sentence you did not understand and totally applies to you: If any wire enters (anywhere in the building) without that low impedance connection, then protection is compromised.

Meanwhile, what should have most of your attention? The so many questions about protection - single point earth ground. If the electrician did not do that right, then even a 'whole house' protector is compromised.
just ignore this guy, he pops up any time a surge question appears. While he isn't wrong on the importance of earth grounding, he's a little out there.

Besides what surge thread would be complete without the ground nazi's showing up. Prepare for the ensueing surge protector no surge protector arguement.
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:35 AM   #8
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Whole house surge protector question


Excellent information on surges and surge protection is at:
http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lhm/IEEE_Guide.pdf
And also from the NIST at:
http://www.eeel.nist.gov/817/pubs/sp...%20happen!.pdf

The IEEE surge guide is aimed at people with some technical background.

Quote:
Originally Posted by westom View Post
Cable already has best protection IF cable is connected to earth ground BEFORE entering.

So what does the cable protector do? That cable must already be earthed by the cable installer before it enters.
Cable has the "best protection"? All it has is a ground block that connects the shield to the house earthing system.

The IEEE guide says “there is no requirement to limit the voltage developed between the core and the sheath. .... The only voltage limit is the breakdown of the F connectors, typically ~2–4 kV.” And "there is obviously the possibility of damage to TV tuners and cable modems from the very high voltages that can be developed, especially from nearby lightning."

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Originally Posted by westom View Post
By far, most of your attention should focus on quality of and connections to earth ground.
The author of the NIST surge guide 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."

In the event of a strong surge the building 'ground' can lift thousands of volts above 'absolute' earth potential. Much of the protection is that all wiring - power, cable, phone, dish - rises together. That requires a short ground wire from the entry protectors to a common connection point on the power earthing system. If you run cable through the cable surge protector you want to install and then to the house that is exactly what you are doing.

The NIST surge guide suggests that most equipment damage is from high voltage between power and signal (cable, ...) wires.

Westom is an internet nut that googles for "surge" to spread his very limited beliefs about surge protection.
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Old 08-26-2012, 06:56 PM   #9
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Whole house surge protector question


lol, thanks everybody. Whether the SPD's help or not I feel better with them there, so that's worth it by itself. I just got done moving them to the center of the panel so all the connections are accessible now. Also replaced the tied single pole breakers with a double pole 50 amp one like the instuctions recommend. Put in a new 40 amp breaker to replace the 20 year old one they reused from my old box and didn't mention.
I also found that a couple of the breakers weren't fully seated, which explains why the panel face plate wasn't sitting right. Now comes the real fun, I get to rewire my house with RG-6Q!!!

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