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Is whole house surge protection for me?

February 28, 2017

Today we are going to discuss whole house surge protection.  Being an electrician for 15 years, I have seen a lot.  One thing that I have seen a ton of different opinions on is surge protection.  Should I do whole house where the protection is at the panel?  Should I only do surge strips on places where I plug in expensive electronics?  Should I not worry about surge protection at all?

 

Up until about 6 years ago I was under the assumption that surges happened when lightning struck the house or the distribution lines.  Well long story short is I attended a Cutler Hammer Certified Contractor network class in Oklahoma City and learned that only about 20 percent of surges come from outside the home.  To my surprise most come from electronics inside the home.  Have you ever heard someone say "I have had the worst luck.  My fridge went out, then my furnace went bad, and then my microwave stopped working on me."?  Bad things come in threes is most peoples explanation of that.  Well the real truth is one of those appliances went bad and started putting surges back into the panel.  The panel then spreads the surge back into all the other electronics throughout the home and killed the weakest ones first. 

 

How can this be stopped?  One solution is to put a whole house surge protector in the panel.  This will level out the surge and eliminate it before it goes back through the house.  It also protects against that rare lightning strike.  Another answer is the surge strips.  I don't like surge strips because there are so many outlets that you can plug into and people tend to overload circuits, but if you only plug in what you would normally put in the socket they can be great.  I always suggest people use both.  Put some form of surge protection on expensive electronics like that giant TV you bought for the big game or home computers which tend to be very finicky. 

 

By the way, none that I have ever seen will protect against a direct lightning strike. 

 

There are many brands on the market.  Do your research on what they protect against and how much the company puts their money where their mouth is.  Most offer guarantees.  Don't buy one without one.

 

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