REQ: Help on Surge Protection

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Oct 8, 2003, 6:21:55 AM10/8/03
I have suffered lightning damage twice in two years. The second was
two months ago, and I lost stuff both times.

I am seeking some advice and clarifications on surge protectors.

I think I should install an external whole-house protector outside. I
think I should get one that protects AC, coax, and phone. It seems in
this manufactured home, that I have an outside panel box with a 200A
main, and a few breakers feeding my garage (110v and 220v). that box
also feeds the inside breaker box controlling the house interior (110v
and 220v). I have one free 220v space in the outside SIEMENS box, but
only one free 110v space in the inside CUTLER-HAMMER box. My outside
box is situated very close to the electric meter and very close to the
incoming cable coax and phone lines.

Here in Delaware, the electric utility (Connectiv) stopped installing
meter-based protectors several years ago. That leaves me with going
for breaker panel mounted protection and surge strips at the various
points-of-use inside the house. The latter, I have already bought and
installed. There aren't that many of the former - I have found the
following, all of which are connected to a breaker in the panel box.:

Cutler-Hammer CHSP 3-Way (requires separately purchased enclosure to
shield against weather).

Intermatic PanelGuard IG1300-2T-1C (which is weather-proof).

Tesco TES 240R, but it does only AC - requiring separate protectors
for coax and phone.

I favor the Intermatic.

What is the best way to install the Intermatic? I have been told:

1) the breaker should be first, at the top of the bus.

2) the breaker can be anywhere on the bus.

3) there should be two protector breakers, at the top of each of the
two buses.

4) the breaker can be shared - that is, the protector can be
piggy-backed to an existing breaker.

5) the breaker should not be shared because the normal electric draw
of such a breaker would attract some of the surge into the house,
which of course I don't want.

6) the wires connecting the protector to the breaker should be short
and straight, otherwise a lightning surge would be delayed getting to
the protector. If this is true, then why not tie knots in all the
other breaker wires to delay surges there?

I am looking for advice here. Any comments could be helpful. Anyone
care to chip in?



Oct 8, 2003, 10:01:21 AM10/8/03

<> wrote in message

With the unconditional, no questions asked, hassle-free warranties
(including lightning strikes) available from many retail stores these days,
IMO, it's best to pay the extra $ for them and be done with it.......damage
equipment can be replaced the _same_ day.

Look at the warranty for the Intermatic (or any other manufacturer for that
matter).......they want you to file with _your_ homeowner's insurance
_first_. Payment for damages are limited to the product specifications,
most importantly the 1300 is rated for 48,000 amps. Many lightning strikes
can deliver well over that. They also state that the protector cannot be
exposed to "extreme temperatures", yet the specifications do not state what
the accepted operating temperature is for the protector. You'll also notice
that no equipment will be replaced until this or that condition is
met.......are you willing to wait that long?

I'm not picking on Intermatic in particular, just that you mentioned far as that goes, just about any surge protector
manufacturer warranty is shot full of holes.....usually in their favor.
Some will even stipulate an option for _you_ (at your expense) to ship the
damaged equipment to _them_. Who wants to pay to ship a 200 pound TV and
then wait weeks, possibly months, to find out if they are even going to
replace it? Also, after all that hassle, you will receive only the "fair
market value" from Intermatic.

OK, you have existing equipment without a retail lightning strike
replacement answer your question about the
installation, the installation that results in the shortest wires from the
protector to the breaker is best. If the protector is installed at the
bottom right side of the panel, then install the breaker at the bottom right
side of the busbar in the panel.


Oct 8, 2003, 11:29:27 AM10/8/03
Install 'whole house' protector so that wires are shortest
distance from incoming AC electric to earth ground. Sharp
bends or wire through a metallic structure (ie pipe) will only
make the protector less effective. One benchmark says that
every sharp bend is equivalent to as much as another few feet
of wire. Increased wire length to earth ground means less
effective protection. This says how to wire 'whole house'
protector and where to put circuit breakers.

Surge protector for coax is not required. Surge protector
only connects surge to earth ground. But coax already must be
connected to earth ground by hardwire as even required by
code. Again, shorter that connection means better
protection. Hardwire already does what a surge protector
would do. Just put that coax grounding block on coax so that
it makes a less than 10 foot connection to same earth ground.

Phone line is installed with 'whole house' protector provided
free. Again, that 10 AWG wire from telco provided NID to
earth ground must be a short as possible (less than 10 feet),
no sharp bends, and connected directly to the all so important
earth ground rod.

Short list of other AC 'whole house' protectors were posted
in the newsgroup misc.rural at .

What does a protector do? It connects a surge to surge
protection - earth ground. It does not stop, block, or absorb
a surge as some protectors would imply. And yet that is what
an adjacent surge protector must do to be effective - stop,
block, or absorb the surge!

What protectors do - shunt. Surge protector is not surge
protection. Surge protector is equivalent to a switch that
closes only during the surge - to connect to surge
protection. Protector and protection are two different
components of a surge protection 'system'.

How well is that appliance protected? Where is earth ground
(not where is the surge protector)? What does a plug-in
protector do? It attempts to earth a surge at the appliance.
Good luck. The plug-in protector has simply transferred a
surge from one wire onto all other wires. Surge now has more
paths to find earth ground, destructively, through adjacent
appliance. That's Bad #1. Other earth ground paths, via
household safety ground wires, are bundled with other wires.
That is called induced transients. Any surge being grounded
will also induce transients on adjacent wires. That's Bad
#2. Therefore wires to earth ground should be separated from
non-grounding wires.

Bottom line are the 'two Bads'. An adjacent protector will
only provide a surge with potentially destructive paths via
the appliance AND create induced transients inside the
building. Again, notice they didn't even claim to provide
protection from the destructive type of surge. They simply
forgot to mention which type of surge they do and do not
protect from so that you will assume it protects from all
types of surges. Since too far from earth ground, the plug-in
protector provides a surge with alternative paths to earth,
destructively through the appliance.

Separation of earthing wire also is not possible with
plug-in protectors. Again, plug-in protectors avoid all
mention of earthing - since they don't claim protection from
destructive surges. But no earth ground means no effective
protection. How can they avoid mentioning earth ground and be
honest? Best place for those plug-in protectors are as close
to earth ground as possible and distant from transistors.
Best to plug them into the outlet attached to breaker box
where they will be more effective - less distance to earth

AC 'whole house' protector must connect to circuit breakers
on different phases of AC electric. That means a voltage
difference between breakers must measure 240 VAC. Measurement
necessary if not sure that each breaker is on separate phase.

> ... normal electric draw of such a [shared] breaker would attract

> some of the surge into the house, which of course I don't want.

Don't worry about this nonsense. It is equivalent to saying
don't put a storm sewer in front of your house because it will
attract more flood water.

Knots in wire provide minimal wire impedance increase. They
will do nothing effective to keep tiny destructive surges from
continuing on into appliances. That protection is already
provided by 20 of fifty feet of wire separating surge
protector from appliance. But even the smallest increase in
wire impedance to earth ground will adversely affect earthing
of lightning. Lighting is typically less than 20,000 amps AND
those 20,000 amps are dispersed in many direction. But even
5,000 amps trying to get through a knot may cause a voltage
increase - encourage some of those 5,000 amps to find another
path - such as through your appliances.

Perspective necessary to answer the knot question is in the
numbers. Knots, like sharp bends, are bad for wire that
earths lightning - a large current for so short time. But
knots do nothing to hindering the more trivial currents that
would destructively seek the appliance.

In Delaware, are you in sandy soil? Quality of earthing is
essential for effective protection. Sandy soil says your
earthing system should probably be expanded. Numerous ways to
accomplish this. But your bottom line remains for everything
posted above: a surge protector is only as effective as its
earth ground. Poor conductive soil means less protection and
more earthing is required.

Oct 8, 2003, 2:17:34 PM10/8/03

Since I have suffered two 'hits' that melted coax outside including
the company's box, I doubt the cable is grounded properly if at all.

Since my burglar alarm control panel is connected via phone line to
the phone box, and since I lost the panel in both 'hits' I doubt the
phone line(s) is grounded either.

I have called the electric company Connectiv to send an engineer out
regarding the ground they have on their meter, but so far they have
not responded. Sounds like they are ignoring me?

So far I have lost:

two TVs
one VCR
two garage door openers
two outside lights
one freezer chest
two burglar alarm control panels
two telephones
two computer internal modems
one garage 220V baseboard heater and the wall thermostat that controls

What to do, what to do, what to do.


John Grabowski

Oct 8, 2003, 5:01:03 PM10/8/03
You should check out your grounding connection to your water pipe or ground
rod. Maybe install a supplemental ground rod.

Some friends of mine had a similiar problem years ago. They lost several
things to lightning. I checked out their ground and it was practically
non-existent. They had a plastic water line from their well and their
ground rod consisted of a rusted steel pipe.

I installed a 3/4" x 10' ground rod for them with some number 3 wire and
they haven't had a problem since.

<> wrote in message


Oct 8, 2003, 9:36:12 PM10/8/03
Assumed is that lightning entered on phone line, damaged
alarm system, then stopped. It does not work that way as
explained (I think multiple times) in another discussion in
the newsgroup alt.certification.a-plus on 7 to 9 Jul 2003 that
may be read at . Basic concepts of
electricity would define where a surge came from.

Lightning more often enters via AC electric (highest wires
on pole) and seeks earth ground. It finds a path from AC
through alarm system to earth ground on phone line - because
phone line HAS a 'whole house' protector. Incoming: AC
electric. Outgoing: phone line. Defined as necessary is what
is taught in primary school science - a complete electric
circuit. Only after the entire circuit is created - surge
flowing through everything in that circuit - does something
then fail. Ie. the alarm box.

Electricity must first have a complete circuit. No complete
circuit means no electric flow. No electric circuit means no
surge. If no incoming and outgoing path through that alarm
box, then no damage. It is that simple. For alarm box to be
damaged, first an incoming and outgoing circuit path must

Effective protection means EVERY incoming utility wire must
be earthed - either via surge protector (AC electric and
telephone) or using direct hardwire (CATV and satellite
dish). Central earth ground being the only one component
essential to any surge protection 'system'. Inside the
building are too many potentially destructive paths. No
interior (plug-in) protection can be effective when even
linoleum tile becomes a conductor of surges. Surges must be
earthed before they can enter the building.

Connectiv has no reason to respond to your request. YOU are
responsible for that earth ground. That earth ground required
by NEC is your responsibility (or the electrician you hire).
However that same earth ground typically exceeds code
requirements to make better surge protection. Connectiv
typically will not be concerned by anything posted here. They
don't care, are typically not trained in these concepts, and
are only responsible for the earth ground on that pole
transformer. Connectiv may demand (an extreme case and not
likely) that you repair your earth ground under threat of
service termination.

Which introduces another part to your protection 'system'.
That 'whole house' protector is simply secondary protection.
Primary protection is that earth ground from Connnectiv's
transformer to earth ground underneath that transformer. If a
stray car has broken that utility transformer ground wire,
then primary protection for your building has been
compromised. Connectiv is responsible for that ground wire -
which is part of your primary protection 'system'.

What happens if that primary protector is missing?
Lightning then may create a temporary plasma short from
utility's 13k volt line to your 220 volt wires. Lightning
sets up that path because lightning was not earthed. Then
high energy electricity - 13,000 volts from utility - does

How might your coax been damaged? Lightning enters on AC
electric seeking earth ground. Since you did not earth AC
mains via a 'whole house' protector, then lightning must seek
earth ground via household appliances. TVs and VCRs make a
perfect path - incoming on AC electric and outgoing on coax
cable. Therein lies the complete circuit that could account
for TV, VCR, and coax cable damage because at least one
incoming utility - the one most commonly carrying surges into
your home - AC electric - did not have an earthed 'whole
house' protector. TV and VCR need not even be powered on to
complete that destructive surge circuit.

Again, where would the plug-in protector do anything? Well,
even if the computer power was off, that plug-in protector
would simply connect AC mains to motherboard and modem.
Plug-in protector has completed a destructive path from AC
mains, via modem, to earth ground on phone line. Again a
complete circuit where the plug-in surge protector has
contributed to damage of modem inside powered off computer.

What to do? First read that above discussion in
alt.certification.a-plus. Also questioned was integrity of
your geology. What are you earthed in? Further reading in
another newsgroup discussion can be provided on the art of
earthing. Surge protection is quite inexpensive, wonderfully
successful, and rarely understood even though it has been well
proven by science and the test of generations. IOW surge
damage is directly traceable to human failure.

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