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 Post subject: Power surges fry four surge suppressors at once
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 9:15 am 
Sharptooth
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One or more power transformers exploded a mile from my home yesterday, downing lines and sending a series of surges into homes.

Several circuit breakers tripped. There was a loud "pop." Afterward, we began to smell burning plastic.

All told, four surge suppressors in the home were destroyed, two of which had PCs connected. All smelled of burned plastic, two of them were slightly charred where devices had been connected. Fortunately, nothing else was damaged--as far as we can tell.

It has me wondering why some of our other suppressors tripped off and were not damaged, while these four nearly caught fire. What makes the difference amongst similarly-priced suppressors?

I'm also wondering if something should be added where the power line enters the house, because this sort of event isn't uncommon around here.


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 Post subject: Re: Power surges fry four surge suppressors at once
PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 3:18 pm 
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1. Some devices tripped and others didn't because - my semi-educated guess - is that some were on one "hot" line into the house and some were on the other "hot" line. Most houses have two 120vac lines and a neutral. Connecting the two 120vac lines will give you 240vac for stoves, electric heat, dryers, etc. but connecting one 120vac line and the neutral will give you 120vac for lights, TV, computers. When a surge comes down one "hot" line and not the other, the suppressors will blow and do their job by shunting the surge to the neutral. If the suppressor blew up or got burnt or whatever but your gear is okay, then it did its job. Sometimes these devices are "sacrificial".

2. There are whole-house surge suppressors available at places like Home Depot or Lowes. Usually an electrician needs to install them. These will protect every outlet in your house. Here's an example from Home Depot:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-120- ... ceCqNjnKW4

3. This reminds me that after my APC UPS failed last week, that I need to at least get a surge suppressor for my rig. $8 is cheap insurance.


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 Post subject: Re: Power surges fry four surge suppressors at once
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:27 pm 
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Another thing that comes to mind, is that maybe the ones that did not fry were on the breakers that popped, while the others the did fry were on breakers that stayed closed.

There is also a tolerance factor rated in Joules for most suppressors. They have to suppress a maximum amount, its highly possible that the ones the died did what they were designed to do, but the amount of energy that was sent through them surpassed their rating. The others did not fry because despite being rated to suppress a given amount a joules, actually had a better rating and were able to handle the inrush of extra energy.

In any case, I would replace all of them!

http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/surge-protector7.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Power surges fry four surge suppressors at once
PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 7:16 am 
8086
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I would agree with replacing them all. Because of the fluctuating nature of electricity going in to your home, most of those strips are being stressed by micro-surges or brownouts. Over time, those fluctuations will weaken the surge protection of the device. Because of this, it was actually recommended to replace them every 3 years or check and replace the fuze for fuzed models. Newer models are better made so they last longer, it would not surprise me if the ones that fried were older than the ones that didnt. also, double check, were they actually surge protectors? I cant count the number of times one of my clients were upset that a device didnt get protected from a surge and found out it was just a multi-outlet strip.


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 Post subject: Re: Power surges fry four surge suppressors at once
PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:58 pm 
8086
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tehR0XX0Rz wrote:
All told, four surge suppressors in the home were destroyed, two of which had PCs connected. All smelled of burned plastic, two of them were slightly charred ...

It has me wondering why some of our other suppressors tripped off and were not damaged, while these four nearly caught fire. What makes the difference amongst similarly-priced suppressors?

First ask what a surge protector does. Many completely different devices exist - all called surge protectors. Those adjacent to appliances do not even claim to protect from typically destructive surges. But only the fewest who ask "what it does" would know that and know why.

View spec numbers. Being adjacent to an appliance, it must either block or absorb a surge. How does that 2 cm part block a surge? It doesn't. How many joules does it absorb? Hundreds? Destructive surges are hundreds of thousands of joules. Yes, read those numbers. A fuse inside each power strip (different from its 15 amp circuit breaker) must disconnect protector parts as fast as possible to avert a house fire. Disconnect protector parts while leaving the surge connected to your computer. Where is the protection?

A surge too tiny to damage computers, the furnace, clocks, and dimmer swtiches also destroyed the protector? In some cases, a tiny (maybe 1 amp) fuse took so long to blow that those power strip almost caused a fire. But again, all are called surge protectors. Some are only for surges that typically do no damage. Either disconnects from or is catastrophically destroyed by a typically destructive surge. And does not even claim that protection (read its numeric specs). How many joules did it claim to absorb?

Best protection on an incoming utility cable is a hardwire, as short as possible, to single point earth ground. That best protection is routine on properly installed cable TV. Unfortunately, if AC wires connect directly to earth, then appliances cannot have electricity. So for over 100 years, facilities that cannot have damage replace that hardwire with a 'whole house' surge protector. This completely different device (with a same name) works by connecting surges harmlessly to earth. Effective protectors are only connecting devices. Never stop or absorb surges. And used when wire cannot make what is a better connection.

What harmlessly absorbs hundreds of thosuands of joules? Protection. An effective protector does not do protection. An effective protector only connects low impedance (ie 'less than 10 feet') to what absorbs energy - single point earth ground.

The effective protection system - even required to protect power strip protectors - 'always' includes an earth ground that exceeds code requirements. Makes a low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot', no sharp wire bends, etc) connection from every incoming utility cable - including telephone. Did you know your phones already have a 'whole house' protector installed for free? Did you inspect its earth ground connection?

Best protection for cable TV is a wire - no protector required, But every effective protection system always features single point earth ground.

A surge too tiny to damage most (or any) appliances easily destroyed high profit and ineffective protectors. Learn why grossly undersized protectors even create house fires. And why a 'whole house' protector - properly earthed - is necessary to protect those high profit and undersized adjacent protectors.

The completely different device does not foolisly block or absorb surges. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. Why do power strip protectors always not discuss earth ground? You are now ready to learn why. What does that protector do?


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