Whole house surge/block/repeater

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Gene

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Jun 11, 2001, 8:30:45 AM6/11/01
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The more I learn about X10-based systems, the more apparent it becomes that
a whole-house surge protector is a good idea. Also, a blocker for outside
signals helps, as does a repeater. Finally coupling seems to be a good idea
as well. The problem with all of these improvements is that they each take
up a breaker or two in the panel. Coupling and repeating can be had in a
combined unit, but not with outside noise blocking. Outside blocking is
available with coupling. None of the coupling and repeating units seem to
have surge protection. Is there a way to get these functions combined, or
to share the breakers used by each function? I see a minimum of 5 breakers
used if one adds surge plus blocking plus repeating, unless the breakers can
be shared.

Thanks


Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 11, 2001, 1:32:01 PM6/11/01
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Actually six if I read your intentions correctly...

No whole house surge suppression combined with the other features that I
know of.

Assuming you are in the U.S. and have 240V 3 wire (two 120V legs)
residential service, most of the whole house surge suppressors one sees in
the on-line stores seem to connect after the meter and required two
breakers, one on each leg, . But there are some whole house surge
suppressors that do not require any breaker slots. Leviton, and maybe other
companies, offer one that goes between the meter and the meter mount. Many
utility companies offer these to their customers on a rental basis. There
are also others that mount externally but connect ahead of the meter. I
think the difference is that the former are rated as secondary surge
suppressors and the later are rated as TVSSs but they all do pretty much the
same thing.

The X-10 couplers, repeaters, blockers require two breakers each, one on
each leg.

Breakers can be shared if they are designed to take more than one wire. For
example, I have an older Square D panel that takes QO breakers. The
original QO breakers took a single wire. But the current QO breakers take
two wires in the lower current ratings. So all I have to do is replace old
breakers with the new (at about $6 each for 15 amp or 20 amp breakers at
HomeDepot) and attach the X-10 device to the second terminal. There are
also tandem breakers (two breakers that take the space of one) I can use if
I am want separate breakers for the X-10 devices but am out of slots in the
panel. Most panel makers offer similar options.

I would personally let all the X-10 devices share breakers with other
circuits. But I would put the surge suppressor on its own breakers because
as it nears the end of its service life the breakers will begin to trip.
Better to not affect the other circuits in the house.

BTW a blocker and a coupler/repeater in the same panel may work against each
other. See Phil Kingerly's articles on the topic. There is a link on Ido
Bartana's site. Only other blocking option I know of is large chokes on the
line coming into you house. And this is very expensive.


Gene

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Jun 11, 2001, 1:56:45 PM6/11/01
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"Malcolm Blackhall" <blac...@midtown.net> wrote in message
news:tia0aq9...@corp.supernews.com...

> Actually six if I read your intentions correctly...
>

I am in the U.S., but I am not sure what I am intending to do. If I were to
implement all of the protective features, you are right, it would add up to
6 breakers, which would completely max out my panel. My most immediate
concern was for surge protection. I would like to avoid replacing any more
$50-$80 switches than necessary.


>
> Breakers can be shared if they are designed to take more than one wire.
For
> example, I have an older Square D panel that takes QO breakers. The
> original QO breakers took a single wire. But the current QO breakers take
> two wires in the lower current ratings. So all I have to do is replace
old
> breakers with the new (at about $6 each for 15 amp or 20 amp breakers at
> HomeDepot) and attach the X-10 device to the second terminal. There are
> also tandem breakers (two breakers that take the space of one) I can use
if
> I am want separate breakers for the X-10 devices but am out of slots in
the
> panel. Most panel makers offer similar options.

Are the tandem breakers also a Home Depot item?

>
> I would personally let all the X-10 devices share breakers with other
> circuits. But I would put the surge suppressor on its own breakers
because
> as it nears the end of its service life the breakers will begin to trip.
> Better to not affect the other circuits in the house.

What kind of service life can one expect from a surge protector?

I assume a tandem breaker would place both circuits on the same phase, so a
surge protector could not simply use both sides of a tandem, or am I
mistaken? It would seem to me that, using tandem breakers or doubling
wires, and following your advice to separate the surge protector, I will
still need at least two more breaker spaces. Would it work to connect the
other X-10 devices to the surge protector breakers?

Thanks for the advice.


Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 11, 2001, 3:49:54 PM6/11/01
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A limited selection of Square D products are available at HomeDepot where I
live. Is your panel a Square D panel? If so, you need to determine whether
it takes QO or Homeline breakers. My local HomeDepot stocks tandem breakers
for both. They also stock other popular brands/models of breakers but I
don't have specifics. If HomeDepot does not have what you need, a
commercial electrical house will. You can also buy breakers from on-line
dealers or eBay if you know exactly what it is you need. In fact, you can
find some real bargains on breakers on eBay. Sometimes its because someone
has a few left over from a project, sometimes its somebody selling surplus,
and sometimes, I bet, its somebody who walked away from a job site with a
few in his pocket.

To add the breakers for a surge suppressor in a full panel, assuming you can
use tandem breakers, you will probably want to pull four 15 or 20 amp
breakers used for lighting/small appliance circuits, two from each leg, and
replace with two tandem breakers, one on each leg. Then you have two free
spaces, one on each leg, for the breakers required for the surge suppressor.
The Leviton surge suppressor I have specifies 30 amp breakers. You will
need to use whatever your surge suppressor manufacturer specifies.

If your panel is outside, the surge suppressor needs to be in a weather
tight container. Leviton makes one that comes in a NEMA 3R box, or provide
your own. You will also need to use weather tight conduit and hubs to
connect to your panel.

You will want to make the cable from the surge suppressor to the breakers as
short as possible. The shorter the cable, the better the protection. There
may not be a knockout in your panel in a place that makes this possible.
So, you may need to make your own hole. If so, you'll need a step drill or
hole punch capable of making a 7/8" hole for 1/2" conduit to do this. These
are also available at HomeDepot and lots of other places.

BTW all work needs to be done according to your local electrical code to be
legal. The work may also require a permit to be legal. And your local
electrical code may require that this all be done by a licensed electrician.
You might want to check with a local electrician or inspector. If you have
any doubts about you ability to do this safely, you may want to hire an
electrician anyway.

If you do this yourself don't forget to make sure the main breaker is off,
main disconnect is off, or main fuses are removed, as appropriate, before
doing any of this.


BruceR

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Jun 11, 2001, 5:07:48 PM6/11/01
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Unless you really need the blocker I'd forego it and add it later if your
neighbors X-10 signals were really an issue. I have a Leviton whole house
surge suppressor and an ACT repeater sharing one pair of breakers for about
7 years now with no problems. I ran a piece of Romex from a pair of
breakers in the panel through the wall to a surface mounted J-box above the
panel and connected the two devices to either side of the J-box and wired it
all together inside so both devices use only 1 pair of breakers. pretty
much all of my 15 and 20 amp breakers are the "2-in-1" type which adds about
60% more capacity to my panel. The breaker arrangement was done by my
electrician and inspected when we added on to the house.

"Gene" <ge...@vancefirm.com> wrote in message
news:3C7V6.1234$go5.1...@news.uswest.net...
:
: "Malcolm Blackhall" <blac...@midtown.net> wrote in message

:
:


Gene

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Jun 11, 2001, 5:11:15 PM6/11/01
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After running a search for whole house surge protectors, I see that Siemens
makes a surge protector which installs as a breaker and doubles as a
breaker. Has anyone used this type of product?

"Malcolm Blackhall" <blac...@midtown.net> wrote in message

news:tia8dac...@corp.supernews.com...

Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 11, 2001, 5:45:27 PM6/11/01
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I am not familiar with the Siemens product line. Do they make a model that
will fit your panel?

Square D has surge suppressors for QO and Homeline that plug into the panel.
They take two spaces. But, you cannot connect a circuit to them.


Gene

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Jun 11, 2001, 8:04:03 PM6/11/01
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Unfortunately, the Siemens product only works in a Siemens panel. I have a
GE panel. I will probably need to use a wire-in product.

"Malcolm Blackhall" <blac...@midtown.net> wrote in message

news:tiaf5vi...@corp.supernews.com...

Gene

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Jun 11, 2001, 8:07:20 PM6/11/01
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Upon further research, it appears that GE makes a similar product, but the
breakers only protect the circuits to which they are attached. I will have
to check out the pricing on these.


"Malcolm Blackhall" <blac...@midtown.net> wrote in message

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Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 11, 2001, 9:07:42 PM6/11/01
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If you go with a wire-in product you have several choices from Leviton,
Square D, Intermatic, and several other companies. Compare specs and
prices. When comparing devices note that contrary to popular belief, the
Joule rating and turn-on time are pretty much irrelevant. What are relevant
are maximum surge current, clamping voltage, etc. For more information that
you probably want, you can check the Applications Manual and Reference Guide
for Surge Protection and Power Conditioning Products:

http://www.leviton.com/pdfs/spdrefman.pdf


w_tom

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Jun 11, 2001, 11:29:13 PM6/11/01
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This subject has been discussed in far greater detail in many pervious
threads.
"House adequately/safely wired (electrical)" at end of May 2001
"Modem Lighting protection ideas?" at and of April 2001
"X10 wall units and surge protectors" at end of Mar 2001
"good whole-house surge protector at Home Depot?" at end of Feb 2001

Home Depot sells the Siemens and Intermatic units; both for less than $50.
Any 'whole house' residential electric surge protector must be at least 1000
joules 50Kamps. GE's THQLSURGE and all Square D products are both undersized
and cost more. Ironical since both companies traditionally have such good
reputations. The Leviton unit, I understand, meets those minimal specs. Also
these may apply:
http://www.semtech.com/html/tvs_low_capacitance.html
http://www.semtech.com/html/tvs_telco.html
http://www.nteinc.com/Web_pgs/MOV.html
http://www.mimcv.com/residential.html .

Surge protection should last 10+ years. If you double the joules ratings,
then life expectancy may increase up to 10 times longer. However, any surge
protector that fails prematurely is a human failure - especially since surge
protection is so inexpensive and increases its life expectancy at such an
exponential rate.

The purpose of surge protection is to shunt the direct lightning strike to
earth ground before the surge can enter the house. 'Whole house' surge
protection is typically installed on phone lines but is also required on every
other utility including CATV. Most critical component of your surge protection
'system' is earth ground. A surge protector (properly sized) is only as good
as its earth ground. Earth ground determines how well surge protection works.
No earth ground means no surge protection. And surge protectors wired more than
10 feet from the central earth ground are, for all practical purposes, not
connected to earth ground.

This and much more is detailed in those previous posts.

Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 12, 2001, 1:24:45 PM6/12/01
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Uh...the Square D whole house unit is rated 60kA, but it is definitely more
expensive than competing units.


Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 12, 2001, 1:43:40 PM6/12/01
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Although a good earth ground is important in an electrical system for safety
and if the suppressor you are using provides separate circuitrry for L1-G,
L2-G and N-G, surge suppressors will provide protection for L1-N and L2-N
and L1-L2 without it. And this is what most of the whole house surge
suppressors provide because they are installed at the service entrance where
N and G are bonded. Perhaps you are thinking of a lightning arrestor.


w_tom

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Jun 12, 2001, 2:31:22 PM6/12/01
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You are confusing surges with noise. The typically destructive surges are
common mode. Those L1 to N, etc surges all but do not exist. A L1-G and L2-G
surge protector not only shunts the common and most destructive common mode
surge - but also provides additional protection from the only typically
destructive differential mode surge.

Urban legend is full of stories that are differential mode surges such as the
refrigerator motor. Its is sometimes called lying by telling half truths.
Those surges theoretically can exist - but only if you forget to tell the whole
truth. The numbers make a refrigerator surge into only noise. And most surge
protectors ignore noise - voltages below 300 volts.

w_tom

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Jun 12, 2001, 2:37:07 PM6/12/01
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This would be a new Square D product. I have personally talked with
corporate engineers in so many surge protection companies. Intermatics and
Siemens were both most forthcoming, honest, and technically knowledgeable.
Square D could not even find anyone who knew anything about electricity and
could not provide any spec numbers. After multiple calls in furstration, I
just wrote the entire product line off. IOW I am surprised you have a Square
D product that actually lists a max ampere surge rating. I could find neither
joules nor ampere ratings on any of their products either on the product, in
spec sheets in the box, or from their own corporate office. The Square D size
suggested it had to be grossly undersized while priced extensively more.

What are the model numbers and complete specs on this Square D unit? Any
URL?

Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 12, 2001, 4:05:17 PM6/12/01
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SBSD1175C

There is a pdf on the Square D site that lists the specs.

w_tom

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Jun 12, 2001, 4:41:42 PM6/12/01
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The Surgebreaker Plus mode SBSD1175C is finally surge
protection in the reputation of Square D. It is rated at
2600 joules.

http://www.squared.com/us/products/transvss.nsf/07a0210021262d45862564b5006e4f84/f6e8b7792acc34ec8525699700588cf1/$FILE/6671CT9701R201.pdf

Dave Strieter

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Jun 13, 2001, 12:12:24 AM6/13/01
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Malcolm Blackhall wrote:
>
> To add the breakers for a surge suppressor in a full panel, assuming you can
> use tandem breakers, you will probably want to pull four 15 or 20 amp
> breakers used for lighting/small appliance circuits, two from each leg, and
> replace with two tandem breakers, one on each leg. Then you have two free
> spaces, one on each leg, for the breakers required for the surge suppressor.

Right. But also be sure to put the circuit wires back on the same phases they
came from. The reason is that if two circuits share a neutral (what the NEC
calls a Multiwire Branch Circuit) you need to make sure that the shared neutral
carries the difference of the two currents, not the sum. You do this by having
the two circuits on opposite phases.

Dave

Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 13, 2001, 2:30:06 AM6/13/01
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Yes, definitely put the circuits back on the same legs they came from. The
other reason is to maintain the original load on each leg. Theoretically,
the electrician balanced the loads on the two legs when he originally wired
the place.


H...@xxxhydrologistxxx.com

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Jun 14, 2001, 7:36:28 AM6/14/01
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On Mon, 11 Jun 2001 12:30:45 GMT, "Gene" <ho...@vancefirm.com> wrote in
message <VR2V6.56138$aA5.3...@news1.rdc1.tx.home.com>:

No need for a slot in the breaker panel if you use before-the panel surge
protection. My local electric utility (Cinergy) installed whole-house surge
protection outside my house at the meter for a one-time fee which as I
recall, was less than the parts (i.e., not including installation) of what
a comparable "whole-house" unit would have cost.

The surge unit is an adapter that has the same the diameter as the meter
that fits into the meter socket. The meter is, in turn, plugged into it,
so all AC power to the house flows through it. Its outside location may
provide some performance advantages. Also it has a pilot/ready light that
the meter-reader says he monitors and would report any fault conditions.The
unit will be replaced as needed. They also offer various surge damage
replacement options that cover all pathways into the house (phone, cable,
etc) for an additional monthly fee.

The installation resulted in the discovery I we had a "demand" electric
meter and that we were being charged commercial rates. The refund we
received for the overcharge paid for the surge protection several times
over ...

HTH ... Marc
Marc_F_Hult
H...@xxxhydrologistxxx.com

Malcolm Blackhall

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Jun 14, 2001, 9:27:13 PM6/14/01
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A lot of utilities offer similar programs. Your utility is kinder than
miner. Mine offers the same kind of whole house protection but charges a
small installation fee plus a montly fee of $6.95. They must be having
trouble getting people to sign up. The first three months are now free.


w_tom

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Jun 15, 2001, 4:40:05 AM6/15/01
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Little understood by the homeowner is that utilities don't always install or
confirm a whole system. They install the surge protector which is but one
system component. If your earth ground is not up to code, the utility is not
concerned since that is your responsibility - not theirs. Earth ground is
another system component. A surge protector is only as good as its earth
ground. Even though the utility has installed the surge protector, you must
confirm that earth ground has been upgraded to post 1990s electric code AND
that the ground wire makes a less than 10 foot connection from their surge
protector to central earth ground.
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