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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. Looking for advice on for a whole house surge protector (in a low to moderate lightning area) - what product to install and where based on my specific breaker panels (main & sub, and has photovoltaics - not worried about the solar panels getting hit - more about surges through the grid). See pic:


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As I understand it, there are three options (am I missing any?):
1) external surge protector wired to breaker panel
2) surge protector that plugs directly into double-pole slot
3) a protector that plugs into the meter slot

For the plug'n'play option (#2), I think I need to install it at the top of the main breaker for best response time, but in my case those slots are filled. There are spaces in the sub-panel however, so I guess moving a bunch of stuff around is an option.

I'm open to hiring an electrician for this, but if it's not too complicated for someone with basic DIY electrical experience (I've installed simple circuits, replaced faulty wiring, know how to use a multimeter, and worked with 220V) I'd be willing to try it myself.

For ease of installation (and reasonable protection against brownout/lightning surges), what's my best option? Grateful for any ideas here.
 

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OK, the nugget you are missing is that surge suppressors can share breakers. Also it shouldn't be nearest the top of the panel, but rather the #1 source of surges.

Breakers can be moved around at will. That's provided the last guy left you any wire length to maneuver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, seharper.

OK, the nugget you are missing is that surge suppressors can share breakers. Also it shouldn't be nearest the top of the panel, but rather the #1 source of surges.
Thanks - that seems like an important nugget. (Some whole house surge suppressors seem to be built to fit into a breaker slot)

How does one identify the #1 source of surges?

Breakers can be moved around at will. That's provided the last guy left you any wire length to maneuver.
From the photo you can see my main panel is full. Would anything need to be moved in this case?
 

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Please read the instructions if you get a panel mount suppressor. Most say to mount as close to the main as possible to stop external surges. Some also want a dedicated breaker.

If the wires from the circuits are too short to move you can splice additional length. It doesn't matter if they were cut initially.

The plug on is simplest. Just move two circuits to the subpanel. If you have room an external mount is fairly easy also.
 

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1 and 2 are the same in reality, difference of mag wheels and steel wheel.
You do not have access to the meter slot and I suggest that you do not waist your breath talking to the POCO. They do not care about your problems only their own.

Surge protectors all have a let through voltage. What you want is one that clamps down the incoming voltage to something that will not fry your wiring. Like >1000v.
Now that you put a surge protector on you STILL have to provide a protector at the POU.
These protectors can not handle the surge at the panel but can handle what the panel surge lets through.
I offer these pages for your knowledge,

Now for the bad news, NONE of these devices are forever. Just like tires on your vehicle.
I replace my panel unit after every medium to large LOCAL thunderstorm. I do not mean 2 miles away. Or every third monsoon season.

Lastly and still bad news, IGNORE all claims about duckets being paid to you for damage if the unit fails. This is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to prove for payment. If the wires are two short get conductors at least the same size and stranded and splice them longer. I use compression crimps for this when I have to. I prefer MTW wire rather than just stranded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Please read the instructions if you get a panel mount suppressor. Most say to mount as close to the main as possible to stop external surges. Some also want a dedicated breaker.

If the wires from the circuits are too short to move you can splice additional length. It doesn't matter if they were cut initially.

The plug on is simplest. Just move two circuits to the subpanel. If you have room an external mount is fairly easy also.
Thanks - I appreciate the practical tips. The plug-on ones seem less robust, but there is something to be said for simplicity.
 

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The breaker-type surge protectors are easier to install, but usually have lower max surge current specs than the externally mounted types. My feeling is that you should have as much protection as possible, so why skimp just because the breaker type SPD is a little easier to install.

If you are comfortable moving and/or installing a new breaker in the panel, then installing an external SPD is not much different. The most important thing is to keep the wiring as short and as straight (no sharp bends!) as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, SW Dweller - great info.

1 and 2 are the same in reality, difference of mag wheels and steel wheel.
You do not have access to the meter slot and I suggest that you do not waist your breath talking to the POCO. They do not care about your problems only their own.

Surge protectors all have a let through voltage. What you want is one that clamps down the incoming voltage to something that will not fry your wiring. Like >1000v.
Now that you put a surge protector on you STILL have to provide a protector at the POU.
These protectors can not handle the surge at the panel but can handle what the panel surge lets through.
I did not realize this, but makes sense. Thanks.

I offer these pages for your knowledge,
Thanks for the links.

Now for the bad news, NONE of these devices are forever. Just like tires on your vehicle.
I replace my panel unit after every medium to large LOCAL thunderstorm. I do not mean 2 miles away. Or every third monsoon season.
Thanks - I did read about this elsewhere. Some offer less expensive replaceable modules vs replacing the whole unit - do you prefer one kind over the other?

Lastly and still bad news, IGNORE all claims about duckets being paid to you for damage if the unit fails. This is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to prove for payment.
Thanks. I had no false hopes about recovering damages. Been down that road.

If the wires are two short get conductors at least the same size and stranded and splice them longer. I use compression crimps for this when I have to. I prefer MTW wire rather than just stranded.
I appreciate the practical info, especially since a lot of units have reviews saying the provided wires are too short.
 

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I heard good things about this one. Is it straightforward for DIY or should I hire an electrician?
Its just 4 wires. Hot-Hot- Neutral-Ground that get attached to any two pole breaker, then the white and green to the neutral/ground bar.

I just stuck the wires into a 2 pole (240v) breaker that was feeding the welding circuit in the garage. Doesn't matter where the breaker is located on the panel, the surge protector has a 1 nanosecond response time.

If your panel has extra spaces, buy another breaker and use a dedicated circuit for it, if not, don't worry about it, just hook it to any 20 or 30 amp breaker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The breaker-type surge protectors are easier to install, but usually have lower max surge current specs than the externally mounted types. My feeling is that you should have as much protection as possible, so why skimp just because the breaker type SPD is a little easier to install.

If you are comfortable moving and/or installing a new breaker in the panel, then installing an external SPD is not much different. The most important thing is to keep the wiring as short and as straight (no sharp bends!) as possible.
Makes sense - thanks, RAL238. I have not installed or moved breakers. It doesn't sound like rocket science, but I think I read somewhere that even when you shut off the main breaker, there are still parts of the breaker panel that have current - is that true? Not keen on zapping myself.
 

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Surge protectors all have a let through voltage. What you want is one that clamps down the incoming voltage to something that will not fry your wiring. Like >1000v.
Now that you put a surge protector on you STILL have to provide a protector at the POU.
Most of those stupid little surge protector strips they sell at big box stores are just consumer marketing garbage.. they won't stop jack squat.

You end up with the following:
Most appliances won't be harmed by anything a good SPD misses, and if you do have an appliance that could be harmed, then it should be on a UPS system anyhow.

The other thing we can do to add protection is to install ferrite cores over the hot wires..

Truth be told, he'd be much better off with one really good SPD like the Seimens FS140, and maybe one of the much cheaper $80 SquareD units.. Put them both on the box and nothing will ever get through except a nuclear EMP or a direct lightening strike.

Personally, I just use the FS140 and that's it.. with a 1 nanosecond response time, nothing is getting down the line to anything I have that's not behind a UPS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Its just 4 wires. Hot-Hot- Neutral-Ground that get attached to any two pole breaker, then the white and green to the neutral/ground bar.

I just stuck the wires into a 2 pole (240v) breaker that was feeding the welding circuit in the garage. Doesn't matter where the breaker is located on the panel, the surge protector has a 1 nanosecond response time.

If your panel has extra spaces, buy another breaker and use a dedicated circuit for it, if not, don't worry about it, just hook it to any 20 or 30 amp breaker.
Thanks - doesn't sound too bad.
 

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Makes sense - thanks, RAL238. I have not installed or moved breakers. It doesn't sound like rocket science, but I think I read somewhere that even when you shut off the main breaker, there are still parts of the breaker panel that have current - is that true? Not keen on zapping myself.
It is not rocket science.. Lots of youtube videos on doing this stuff so I suggest you watch them.

When you shut off the main breaker, the terminals that have your feed-in wires WILL still be hot.. the rest of the panel will be dead. But this only applies for main-breaker panels.
 

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Makes sense - thanks, RAL238. I have not installed or moved breakers. It doesn't sound like rocket science, but I think I read somewhere that even when you shut off the main breaker, there are still parts of the breaker panel that have current - is that true? Not keen on zapping myself.
Yes, there are parts of the panel where things are still hot, even if the main breaker is off. This is where the incoming feed wires connect to the lugs of the main breaker. In some panels, the neutral and ground bars may be close by, so you need to be very careful and aware of what you are doing at all times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Most of those stupid little surge protector strips they sell at big box stores are just consumer marketing garbage.. they won't stop jack squat.

You end up with the following:
Most appliances won't be harmed by anything a good SPD misses, and if you do have an appliance that could be harmed, then it should be on a UPS system anyhow.

The other thing we can do to add protection is to install ferrite cores over the hot wires..

Truth be told, he'd be much better off with one really good SPD like the Seimens FS140, and maybe one of the much cheaper $80 SquareD units.. Put them both on the box and nothing will ever get through except a nuclear EMP or a direct lightening strike.

Personally, I just use the FS140 and that's it.. with a 1 nanosecond response time, nothing is getting down the line to anything I have that's not behind a UPS.
Thanks - would you install the SquareD (do you mean the QO250PSPD?) and then attach the Siemens to it directly or to a different breaker?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It is not rocket science.. Lots of youtube videos on doing this stuff so I suggest you watch them.

When you shut off the main breaker, the terminals that have your feed-in wires WILL still be hot.. the rest of the panel will be dead. But this only applies for main-breaker panels.
Got it. Thanks. And I take it I would not be connecting anything directly to those feed-in wires?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, there are parts of the panel where things are still hot, even if the main breaker is off. This is where the incoming feed wires connect to the lugs of the main breaker. In some panels, the neutral and ground bars may be close by, so you need to be very careful and aware of what you are doing at all times.
Thanks. I think i need to watch or read a primer on working with panels. Something like "How to make sure your first panel project isn't your last". Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
On the topics of UPS, I want to use a high capacity lithium-ion power source. I found the Delta EcoFlow, which looks nice but purports to have only "entry-level" UPS because it takes 50ms to switch over. They say it has "passthru", but I can't tell if that means it is constantly charging/discharging the battery (which would quickly wear out the battery if used constantly as a UPS) vs true switching. One person wrote "The Ecoflow Delta is not a good UPS replacement because its inverter is always on and its battery is always topping off when it's being used in this way, which will degrade its NMC battery pack in the long term." Anyone know if this is true?
 
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