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Advice needed on surge protector and UPS.


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#1 of 10 Norris

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Posted January 08 2007 - 09:25 AM

Hello,

I recently moved to a new home and am not sure of the quality of AC power delivery in this area. I've never had a "serious" surge protector in the past (bought some cheapo Belkin at Fry's), but then again, I never had anything worth protecting until now. I've read through a lot of posts here about surge protection and UPS and am now having a major headache from info overload!

So what I'm looking for are some simple answers to my concerns. I'll try to be as specific as possible in my questions so you guys can help me out.

[1] Is it a definite no-no to connect a surge protector to a UPS?

[2] Do I need a UPS for home theater use? I mean, if I'm watching and the power gets cut off (happened twice last week), there's no harm in that right?

[3] How important is it to have a voltage regulator in your surge protector, to correct the under- and over-voltage situation?

[4] My budget for this component is $300, what's the best one out there (that you know of) for that price?

[5] For HT, I only need surge protection, but in a PC I also need a UPS in addition to surge protection, correct?

[6] A surge protector will lose its ability over time. How can I tell when to replace it?

Thanks so much for any and all responses,

#2 of 10 Chu Gai

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Posted January 08 2007 - 01:57 PM

Quote:
I recently moved to a new home and am not sure of the quality of AC power delivery in this area. I've never had a "serious" surge protector in the past (bought some cheapo Belkin at Fry's), but then again, I never had anything worth protecting until now. I've read through a lot of posts here about surge protection and UPS and am now having a major headache from info overload!
Well, now that you've got a house, you've got all the contents in your home to protect. An excellent place to start would be to first spring for a whole house surge protection system where all your incoming wires (AC, phone, cable) go through the device. That way it deals with the most serious of surges by effectively grounding them to your external grounding rod. Prices vary (of course) and may include the services of an electrician or someone who knows their way safely around things. Figure that you could get away for about $200 or so installed. You can shop this around. You'd still benefit from a sprinkling of surge protectors but you wouldn't have to worry about them being overwhelmed by a real nasty surge. Whereabouts do you live?

1) Most UPS's have modest surge protection already. It's not recommended to chain them like that for a variety of reasons. For example, if the UPS generates small amounts of distortion (little spikes), this shortens the lifetime of the surge protector.

2) Well if you've got a projector or something that uses bulbs, having a UPS means that in the event of a power outage, the bulbs can go through a cool down period which extends their life. If you don't have that scenario, then consider a UPS only if you can't live with outages. Of course, you'll need to size the UPS to the load and duration of no power, and that may mean a bigger UPS than you think.

3) Most surge protectors, TVSS (transient voltage surge suppressors) if they're made according to UL 1449, have over and under voltage protection that shuts the power off if the voltage goes above or below certain values. Now, that's different than correcting the voltage. Nominal voltage variations are nothing to be concerned about unless you're simply paranoid.

4) Again, go whole house first. For that kind of money, consider units that offer functionality (12 volt triggers, sequenced turn ons, outlets in the front, isolated outlets, etc.) in addition to the usual surge protection and noise filtration. Panamax, Monster, Belkin, APC, TrippLite, are brands to consider.

5) More or less. It depends on whether the work you do would be compromised if you were to lose power. For a PC it doesn't have to be expensive.

6) Well, if you've got whole house first, your secondary devices will have something like a light that goes on or off (depends) if there's an issue. You can check the specifics with whomever you're buying it from.

#3 of 10 Norris

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Posted January 09 2007 - 04:06 AM

Thanks for the comprehensive responses! I live in Bakersfield, CA. Regarding the whole house surge protection setup, should I call an electrician or a HT installer? Will this affect any aspect of the home warranty?

#4 of 10 Norris

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Posted January 09 2007 - 04:59 AM

I found this for whole house protection, is this what you're referring to?

http://www.apc.com/r....X&tab=features

#5 of 10 Chu Gai

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Posted January 09 2007 - 08:39 AM

Well, that's one type but keep in mind that one only does the AC. There are others. For example at your local HD or Lowes you should be able to find products by Siemens and maybe others. The appearance of the devices varies tremendously. For example, some of the Siemens devices look very similar to a breaker on your distribution box, taking up I believe two spaces. Also, your local electrical utility sometimes installs and rents them for around $10/month. Give them a call and check. Other brands, FWIW are Panamax, 4Square, Eaton, Leviton, Intermatic, etc.

The devices that'd handle your incoming phone and cable can be readily installed by the homeowner and you could figure the cost of those to be in and around $50 combined.

If you want, I can provide a few links to give you a feel for what they look like and cost.

#6 of 10 Norris

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Posted January 09 2007 - 10:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai
If you want, I can provide a few links to give you a feel for what they look like and cost.

Please do!

Thanks,

#7 of 10 Chu Gai

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Posted January 10 2007 - 12:24 AM

Strictly as examples, here are a couple of devices that address surges on the AC side of things. Sometimes they're hard wired, or sometimes they plug right into your breaker panel.

http://www.smarthome.com/4839.html
http://nooutage.com/qo2175sb.htm

Here's one that handles coax.:

http://www.homenetwo....=212FF75F.html

Here's one that handles just phone:

http://www.ablecomm....insurprot1.html

Here's one from Intermatic that handles power, phone, and cable in one box. This may simplify matters. On the same page, you'll also find individual devices.

http://www.aplussupp...atic/ig1240.htm

Same as above but a Leviton offering:

http://www.twacomm.c...dept_id_841.htm


Here's an overview of surge protection for the homeowner along with related articles (you'll also find links to products as well as phone numbers so that any questions you have can be answered):

http://www.sea.sieme....urgeindex.html


Now, if it seems that there's just tons of different devices out there and it's confusing, well there are and it is! Many of us when we want to buy something want the best for a given amount of money but the problem in all of us is how do we define what's best? The thing here is with respect to whole house approaches best can be entirely subjective. Given that you live in California which is not in a part of the US known for its violent electrical storms, hurricanes, or tornadoes, any device that does about 1000 joules per line is entirely adequate. Look for devices that provide indication that they're working (most do). Ask if it's possible for the homeowner to replace just a part if it fails due to a surge or whatever. Maybe a good place for you to start is to consider the devices that provide all the capabilities in just one 'box'. I think the Leviton and Intermatic links above do that. Select a device or two from each and give the actual company a call (toll free numbers) and ask to speak to an applications engineer for guidance. They'll ask you questions and help you narrow down hopefully to just one offering that's right for your situation. Then, you can shop that part number around on the web and see who offers the best deal. Remember, the important place to address surges is before they get into your house. After they get in, there's no telling what a surge will do to find a way to ground itself. Better to stop the intruder before it gets into your home rather than having handguns in every room of your home. It's just smarter and cheaper.

Now, you might be curious as to what I chose. For the incoming AC and phone, I picked up the Delta Residential Package and installed it myself. That took care of my primary concerns about the AC and phones.

http://www.deltasurg....id=1&phaseid=1

For the coax, I obtained an Altelicon Model AL-FFFF-9.

http://www.hyperlink...._protector.php

Costs, IMO, were quite reasonable. I could equally as well have obtained any number of products from any number of companies, some known, some, as these probably are, unknown. Additional protection, where felt to be desireable was obtained by $1 Intermatic plug-in units that I got at Home Depot from a wheelbarrow full of stuff they were discounting to get rid of. I simply filled a bag with them and stuck them on things like the dishwasher, washing machine, garage door openers, microwave, etc. For the HT, I picked up a unit from Transtector for a little under $100 that was based on Silicon Avalanche Diodes. I'd estimate that my total cost for doing the entire house was a bit under $250.

Now, this doesn't mean it's the best. Like anyone else, I did some looking around and you know Norris, there comes a time in every man's life when he's just got to finish shitting and get off the pot. If I were to do it again today, I might've chosen something different. Not necessarily better, but different.

#8 of 10 Norris

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Posted January 10 2007 - 07:22 AM

Great info! Thank you!

I'll contact an electrician soon. You're right, there's so much info on this subject that I feel confused sometimes about which product suits my needs. I will do more reading on the links you provided.

One more question: Now that I see the whole house surge protector at the electrical panel is a no-brainer solution, what's the use for those expensive Belkin PureAV and Panamax products? I was browsing their websites and saw those nice-looking power conditioner, ups, surge protector units selling for several hundreds and some in the thousands of dollars! The way you described it, do a whole house surge protector (for around $250), and slap on some other inexpensive surge protectors at the HT area and I'm set.

#9 of 10 Chu Gai

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Posted January 10 2007 - 08:19 AM

Well, like everything else in life, sometimes you don't want to do things on the inexpensive side. For some people, their HT doesn't just represent an 'investment', but it just might be the only place in a house where you bought something where you didn't have to say, "Is this OK, dear?" So you do things to personalize it.

When you spend more, you get some useful functionality and also further throttle down surges so that they become just little eletrical nudges that don't harm anything. For example, various models have things like spaced outlets for walwarts, isolated outlets for people who are concerned, rightly or wrongly, about one component possibly contaminating the power of another component. You'll also find things like sequenced turn-ons so that some components are turned on first, then the next, then... Maybe having a 12 volt trigger is useful for you. Maybe switched/unswitched outlets or maybe an outlet in the front where you can plug in a camera or video game system.

To get all these things into an attractive package that'll sit on your rack is going to cost a little extra money. Maybe even a lot of money if you buy into the hype that some audiophile companies sling at people (in a way it's a lot like the beauty products and breast enhancers that are marketed towards women). Most of the stuff can be shopped around to find the best deals. For example, you'll find enormous price disparities in something like the Belkin products while prices tend to be a bit less variable for something like Monster.

If you first address the house, and keep in mind that it's possible to do this inexpensively and maybe even without hiring an electrician, then you've gone a long way to safeguard matters. Why it may even lower your home insurance and can be used as a selling point. If you're going to hire an electrician, then shop that around too. Maybe there's one working locally on new housing construction and you can approach him to see if he wants to do a quick side job for $30 or $50.

#10 of 10 mjl1297

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Posted January 04 2010 - 06:10 PM

Chu Gai,

With respect to that Transtector suppressor you bought, would you mind telling us what the model number is and where these products can be bought as opposed to read about? Google searches just give me general information about the things and the Sutton Designs link is a promo for the Enigma web browser! Many thanks.






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