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Old 10-02-2014, 12:15 AM   #1
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Automatic emergency disconnect of main power to house


The input power to my house feeds a 200 amp panel. In the event of an incoming power surge such as from a solar event or possibly from an EMP, I want to automatically shut off the main breaker/power. I have a "Whole House Surge Protector" following the breaker, but I think it would fry after the first instant in time. Hope is to get the breaker off before the surge protector stops working.

Theoretically there are ways to do this, but I'm trying to find what hardware others are using or what the most accepted approaches are.
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Old 10-02-2014, 05:15 AM   #2
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An over voltage alarm hooked up to a contactor.
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Old 10-02-2014, 06:17 AM   #3
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What do you mean by solar event? What type of EMP?
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Old 10-02-2014, 06:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old-E View Post
The input power to my house feeds a 200 amp panel. In the event of an incoming power surge such as from a solar event or possibly from an EMP, I want to automatically shut off the main breaker/power. I have a "Whole House Surge Protector" following the breaker, but I think it would fry after the first instant in time. Hope is to get the breaker off before the surge protector stops working.

Theoretically there are ways to do this, but I'm trying to find what hardware others are using or what the most accepted approaches are.
what you are looking for is a main breaker with "shunt trip" capability. a surge detector can then trip the main cb. since this is residential, it is likely that your existing model does not have that capability, or the add-on option. they are more typically used in commercial/industrial applications.

Last edited by TimPa; 10-02-2014 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 10-02-2014, 07:57 AM   #5
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What end of the universe scenario are you so keen to protect yourself from?

Seems like a misplaced effort.
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Old 10-02-2014, 10:00 AM   #6
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What end of the universe scenario are you so keen to protect yourself from?

Seems like a misplaced effort.
And,IMO, disconnecting the power will do little to protect anything from an EMP.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:00 AM   #7
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The energy put into your wiring is a function of the energy density, the length of wire and the orientation to the pulse...with parallel being the worse.

If in fact you are subjected to an EMP, protecting your wiring is the least of your worries.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:00 AM   #8
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There will be no power to feed your house in case of an EMP event.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:46 AM   #9
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I think the we need more detail of the concern, or what the OP means in that EMP is a broad term. If the concern is a solar storm those effect powerlines/utility power transformers and cause blackouts.
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Old 10-02-2014, 12:56 PM   #10
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A surge suppressor is designed to be, essentially, sacrificial. Let it roast; it will have done all it can do for you anyway. Shunt trip devices and designs can get seriously costly, and if it comes to that, I'd say we are all in a world of hurt beyond just house power. I personally see no real benefit to the expense and effort (but that's just me).

But if you are hellbent on doing something, you might want to touch base with one of the doomsday-prepper companies. They are geared toward bad juju, and can probably tell you what you might need/ want for the Apocolypse.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
An over voltage alarm hooked up to a contactor.
Yes, that is similar to my thoughts. Just wanted to know if there was any specific hardware commonly used for this purpose. One problem with a contactor is the installation before the main breaker gets messy. But it would technically work.

Thanks
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jump-start View Post
What do you mean by solar event? What type of EMP?
A solar event is with respect to solar storms on the surface of the sun. Problem is; if a strong enough storm is pointed toward earth, the high energy particles can induce high voltage surges in the power lines and any other conductors long enough (longer usually = higher voltages). It is expected to take out most of the grid's power transformers which would shut the grid down for - probably - several years (grid transformers are now only made by overseas companies and have an 18 month led time. Other electrical things could also fry, particularly if plugged in and opperating. Most vehicles would loose their computers and other electronics depending on the strength of the storm. Everything in our society would shut down - think no electricity! But we would have a beautiful display of norther lights that are caused by solar storms. The big ones can last for seveal days which means that as the world turns, all the world's unprotected grids go down.

So why has this never happened before? It has! We just had a near miss a few weeks ago when one grazed by the edge of earth. had it been a direct hit, it is believed we would have had some degree of major power outages. A few years ago, Canada lost part of their grid by a direct hit with a much lower intensity one.

The known granddaddy of them all happened back in 1859 before electronics existed. It was called the Carriington Event - after the astronomer that saw it happen through his solar teloscope. Here, tellegraph wires and rails hummed and sparked, even starting a fire at a telegraph office.

An EMP generally referres to man induced power surge generated by a high altitude nuclear bomb. Unlike a solar storm event, an EMP strikes with a very fast pulse. It is said that one over the center of the US would take down the electrical systems throughout the country. It has been surmized that in a war, the enemy's first strike would be with an EMP. Follow up attacks would be much easier then. Our military is supposed to be hardened against an EMP, but little else is.

Many in Washington are very concerned about this, but they can't muster enough players to get Congress to spend the "relatively" small amount needed to harden our grid against EMP's and Solar Storms (but that's for another forum).
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimPa View Post
what you are looking for is a main breaker with "shunt trip" capability. a surge detector can then trip the main cb. since this is residential, it is likely that your existing model does not have that capability, or the add-on option. they are more typically used in commercial/industrial applications.
Yes! That is where I was going. But - a 200 amp main breaker (I called Cuttler Hammer) cost $4,000!!!! I then tried to buy one used, surplus, rebuilt, etc. But could not locate one anyplace. But that would be the logical way to go. Where can I find one at a much reduced price?

Thanks for your valued input.
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousB View Post
What end of the universe scenario are you so keen to protect yourself from?

Seems like a misplaced effort.
Well, it's sort of like fire insurance on you home. We almost never need it, but it sure is nice when it is needed.
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:59 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by brric View Post
And,IMO, disconnecting the power will do little to protect anything from an EMP.
That is probably true in most cases of a nuclear based event. But it could possibly stop secondary surges comming down the main lines.

However in a solar based event, they can last for several days. So being able to disconnect at the first hint of rising voltages could quite possibly save ones home to a degree. My understanding is that most of the induced surges will come from the power lines which are like long antennas.
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