AC Surge/Lightning Suppressors

cables, connectors, wiring, surge/lightning suppressors, AC conditioners and AC synthesizers
westom
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Postby westom » 24 Jul 2009, 21:54

Richard wrote:How do I connect that to my AC panel? Does my AC panel have a place for it? Does this include cable/antenna/satellite and telephone/data lines?

Each protector is installed unique to manufacturer design. For example, some Siemens protectors are inside a circuit breaker. Some simply attach to the panel side. Some attach to the electric meter pan. But in every case, a protector connects each AC mains (hot) wire short to earth ground. Typically electric service has two hot wires that must connect to a protector. And a neutral wire that connects directly to earth.

Telephone even in the 1950s had an earthed protector. Newer protectors are better as indicated by a shorter connection to earth. Already posted: "A 'whole house' protector routinely installed by the telco on every subscriber interface also makes a short connection to that same earthing electrode."

Already posted: "Cable TV needs no protector. Cable makes earthing by a direct (hardwired) connection"
And "Don't forget that coax from antennas and the cable company should be properly grounded before they enter the home and that ground should be tied into the whole house, single point ground."
And "but as long as the coax, interconnecting cables, AC line, telephone line, and ground also rise to the same voltage at the same time there should be no damage to even sensitive solid state devices."

Your questions were answered previously - often repeatedly.

Any laymen with electrical experience can easily install this - which is why a Cutler-Hammer solution is sold in Lowes. Or hire an electrician. Both cable and telephone protection should already be installed by those companies. You are responsible for providing earth ground. How difficult is it to pound a ground rod in earth? So difficult as to also be sold in Lowes et al.

But again, where is that manufacturer spec from any plug-in protector that claims to provide protection? Even the manufacturer will not claim protection. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. It makes so obvious the only useful solution.

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Postby Richard » 25 Jul 2009, 07:02

It would be far more helpful and educational if you could explain to me and our readers your first suggestion with specificity, a how to guide so to speak.
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westom
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Postby westom » 25 Jul 2009, 09:25

Richard wrote:How do I connect that to my AC panel? Does my AC panel have a place for it? Do you have a product number? ...
You claim additional devices are not necessary for cable and telephone based on them being properly grounded. What is your answer to the home owner who has suffered damage via one of these lines yet the provider claims it is not their fault and the line was properly installed?

So many protectors install so many ways. All is well beyond the scope of this discussion. This is about what it must do - how it must connect. How to install it is unique to each selected protector, local electrical codes, what currently exists, what is needed to upgrade or install earthing, etc. None of that is difficult - just laborious.

An example (model CHSPMICRO) from Lowes:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=p ... lpage=none
Another example from Lowes (model BRSURGECS) that mounts differently:
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=p ... lpage=none
One from Intermatic:
http://www.smarthome.com/4870.HTML
One from Leviton:
http://www.smarthome.com/4860.html
Delta LA302R:
http://www.deltala.com/prod01.htm#LA302R

Utilities are required by code to earth their wires (directly or via a protector). But remember the soundbyte? "A protector is only as effective as its earth ground". Who is responsible for providing that ground? Who must enhance that ground for surge protection? You. Or your hired agent (the electrician).

If you had damage, an investigation starts with what you are responsible for - earthing.

An example to learn from. A FL home was repeatedly struck on the side wall. They had lightning rods installed and earthed with an 8 foot ground rod. Lightning again struck the side wall. Lightning rods were only earthed in sand. Plumbing inside the wall was connected to deeper and more conductive limestone. And again, "a protector was only as effective as its earth ground".

If you had damage, well, how good is your earthing? Is it single point? Do all wires make short connections to those electrodes? Do those wires only meet at that single point ground? Follow the surge. What path did it take to earth?

One house had a 'whole house' protector. But lightning still traveled through the house. On the far side was a buried vein of graphite. Lightning was still seeking that better earth ground. Solution was to encircle the house with a buried ground loop. Now the surge need not pass through the house to be earthed by more conductive soil.

There is no 'magic box' solution in any of these stories. Solution is exactly what was the solution even 100 years ago. Earthing. In every case, effective protection is about earthing. And yet still so many want to buy a 'magic box' protector. Surges are earthed - either harmlessly without entering a building or destructively through household appliances. That energy must be dissipated somewhere. That current will increase voltage (destructively) as necessary to continue flowing. So we learn why human error permitted that surge damage.

Best evidence always is the dead bodies. What was a destructive path to earth? If you had surge damage, then use damage to learn of a mistake; that permitted damage to happen.

Cited were examples (Orange County FL fixed their earthing), IEEE Standard 142 quoted, how to connect low impedance to earth, numerous 'whole house' protectors from more responsible companies, standards that even require appliances to withstand 2000 and 15,000 volts, a Monster Cable $150 scam, US Air Force and Sun Microsystems demands for the same 'whole house' solution, protection even when 33,000 volts blew electric meters up to 30 feet from their pans, and how earthing must be installed or upgraded.

If damage happens, why was a single point earth ground not the best earth? Another quote from the NIST is blunt about this:
> A very important point to keep in mind is that your surge protector will work
> by diverting the surges to ground. The best surge protection in the world
> can be useless if grounding is not done properly.

If you had damage, something is wrong or insufficient with the earthing that you must provide. Unfortunately that is an art. Provided were underlying concepts and principles. The art is to learn from damage so as to correct an earthing mistake. The solution is to dissipate surges harmlessly in earth so that surge currents do not even enter the building. IOW a protector is only as effective as its earth ground.

Some suggestions may be found in a case study of earthing upgrades to a Nebraska radio station:
http://www.copper.org/applications/elec ... raska.html
Appreciate why they even upgraded the utility power transformer ground.

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Postby Richard » 26 Jul 2009, 20:59

Thank you for identifying some products.
But remember the soundbyte? "A protector is only as effective as its earth ground". Who is responsible for providing that ground?

In the real world the normal response would be the responsibility lies with the person and company installing the utility(s) who are also licenced by the state/county to do it correctly and the county inspector who inspects what we citizens expect. Should every homeowner be aware of their grounding rod? What it looks like? What things should be connected to it? We can make a case for that like so many other things which revolve around self reliability and responsibility in our lives. But again, the reality is most are oblivious and the odds are in their favor that their earthing is just fine anyway.
So many protectors install so many ways. All is well beyond the scope of this discussion. This is about what it must do - how it must connect. How to install it is unique to each selected protector, local electrical codes, what currently exists, what is needed to upgrade or install earthing, etc. None of that is difficult - just laborious.

Thank you for acknowledging that whole house protection is not plug and play as you suggested earlier about a $50 device at Lowes. It highlights the fact that AC strips are far easier to nail down in a how to guide than whole house protection.

I downloaded a PDF from Eaton Cutler-Hammer

Page 3 starts with an additional surge panel product and a natural assumption is I need one of those too. On page 6 there are 4 CHSP products, 3 CHSA products, a BRSURGE and CHQSA product, and 3 accessory products for data/signal lines. When I look at these products and my panel I am not seeing any self evident plug and play. I might really need their surge panel product to use the devices. On top of that these are called Stage 1 products by the manufacturer followed by Stage 2 products, the infamous AC strip protection which you have such an issue with.

It gets better... It would appear that indeed a BRSURGE, CHSA and CHQSA devices are plug and play, cool. Yet looking at page 6 they have no connected equipment insurance. That only comes with the CHSP devices and if I do want to cover incoming data/signal lines I see yet again only the CHSP 3-Way device comes with connected equipment insurance. While it comes with 4 telephone lines it has only one cable/antenna/sat signal line. I have a number of customers that pay for two TV services so I guess they would need another CHSP 3-Way to cover the other one and also get the insurance.

For specific statements on lightning protection Eaton Cutler-Hammer only says as much about their BRSURGE, CHSA and CHQSA products on page 5. Do I need these and the CHSP device for full protection?

Things get even more dicey when studying the connected equipment insurance aspects of Stage 1 devices. Those devices that are defined as lightning arresters don
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eliwhitney
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Postby eliwhitney » 27 Jul 2009, 02:33

TO: .. ALL ..

IF one would only take the time necessary to do so, the many recent exchanges & analyses of this issue have become quite a classic or most excellent "case study" if you will in two entirely-different approaches!

One appears to be quite centered in an academic and / or theoretical approach whereas the other has delved very thoroughly into the practical or 'real world' applications / implications.

Congrats to Richard in taking his time to have done so! That helped me greatly to grasp the nature of what was being otherwise posted as mostly theoretical or quite an abstract point-of-view.

eli

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Modern day approach.

Postby Roger Halstead » 27 Jul 2009, 05:05

Richard,
Thank you for that practical modern day approach.

I'd like to add that the addition of satellite and TV antennas, which by code must also be "earthed" are usually well away from the electrical entrance which muddies the waters even more as they may make it impossible to develop a true, single point ground. Here my Satellite antenna as installed by the company was originally on the opposite corner (SW) of the house from the entrance(NE) while my tower and antenna array is on the NW corner. The RG6 went through a grounding block which is essentially a direct ground to an 8' ground rod at the base of the mast (required by code). I then added bare # 2 between it and the "3" ground rods for the service entrance not to mention the ground system for my ham station and the ground system for my shop which is off a separate transformer feed and is also tied into the house and tower electrical ground. It also uses the same TV and satellite antennas as well as having 3, 130' runs of CAT6 between computers in the house and shop. I have three separate 1500VA UPSs in the house and two in the shop properly grounded. These also have "protected" (I really dislike calling those outlet strips surge protectors) The UPSs tell me how many times they operate due to spikes, surges, low voltage, and power outages. They not only count how many but the total time for each. The argument given by the hi-fi enthusiasts about the wave form from the UPSs is not a valid one as the UPS does not operate except when they are going to be (or should be) shutting down their equipment. You don't run off a UPS, you use it to give you time to shut down the equipment. it works as the big tower has been struck 15 verified times since 2002.

My original point is I can not in any shape or form end up with a single point ground, but I did configure the system so the voltage on all of the systems rises and falls together at any one specific location in either the house or shop. This means that the voltage on the computers, or ham gear in here can go to several thousand volts without harming anything because it does so on every wire (including ground) going into and out of every thing on any particular circuit and there will be very little difference on any of the three circuits in here.

In my opinion the best approach is to talk to your local electrical inspector (Hope you have a good one, Ours is good, but some of the townships have one who is a royal pain), and get a good electrician. You get what you pay for. This is not an area where I suggest the newbie do it yourselfer learn by practice.

westom
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Postby westom » 27 Jul 2009, 07:19

Richard wrote:In the real world the normal response would be the responsibility lies with the person and company installing the utility(s) who are also licenced by the state/county to do it correctly and the county inspector who inspects what we citizens expect. Should every homeowner be aware of their grounding rod? What it looks like?
[size=109]
Only the homeowner (not the utilities) are responsible for proper earthing. No way around that reality. A ground rod may be sufficient for code, but insufficient for surge protection. No solution is found in staying ignorant. Only the homeowner (or his agent) is responsible for having it properly installed.

Power strip protectors are chock full of problem. Start with fire. Scary pictures have been seen by most every fire department. One is a fire marshal describing why this problem exists:
http://www.hanford.gov/rl/?page=556&parent=554
http://www.westwhitelandfire.com/Articl ... ectors.pdf
http://www.ddxg.net/old/surge_protectors.htm
http://www.zerosurge.com/HTML/movs.html
http://tinyurl.com/3x73ol
http://www3.cw56.com/news/articles/local/BO63312/
http://www.nmsu.edu/~safety/news/lesson ... orfire.htm
http://www.pennsburgfireco.com/fullstory.php?58339

Additional protection can include plug-in protectors. Then use IEEE numbers to obtain perspective. Properly earthed 'whole house' protector provides about 99.5% of the protection. A device that costs about $1 per protected appliance. What does the plug-in protector do while costing tens or 100 times more? Maybe two percent? What does the

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Postby freakhead » 14 Jul 2010, 11:37

@westom

1 yr later, but still .....Very helpful. Thanks for the information and links to the case studies. I'm moving to a new place and I will inspect the grounding and install a whole house surge suppressor.


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