First Surge Protector Purchase -- Have Questions

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Bob Elliott, Dec 11, 2003.

  1. Bob Elliott

    Bob Elliott Agent

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    I just bought a HK AVR-7200 and a DVD-25. I want to protect them from power spikes and surges. This is the first time I have ever bought a surge protector for good equipment. What shoudl I get? What shoudl I look for? Know any good deals? It's hard to buy something when you don't know what you want.

    TIA,

    Bob
     
  2. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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    Whats your budget?

    For under $100 you can get the Monster Power HTS-1000 which is a nice piece.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Marc_Sulinski

    Marc_Sulinski Supporting Actor

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    I recently did a little research on this, too. Everyone at the AVS forum (www.avsforum.com) seems to like "Series Mode" surge protectors. My understanding is that most surge protectors use MOVs, which degrade or fail after a surge. This means that the next time a surge comes through, your equipment could be unprotected. Even if you knew that the MOV had failed, you would have to replace the surge protector.

    The "Series Mode" protectors supposedly do not degrade or fail when surges come in. I ordered a model from Brick Wall. There are a few companies that sell these types of protectors:

    Brick Wall
    Zero Surge
    Adcom

    There was one more, but I forget what it is. You can get more information by searching at the AVS forum.

    What a lot of people do who do not want the added expense of some of the 8-outlet models is buy the 2-outlet model and hook a power strip up to one or both of the outlets.

    You will also want to consider coax protection, as only the Adcom has it. The thing is, no one is sure if the one in the Adcom coax protector is a "Series Mode" or not. You can also buy an in-line coax protector for about $10 from Radio Shack that is supposed to cause the connection to fail when it blows. You will still need to replace it, but at least you will be aware of the problem.
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    If you live in your own home and are concerned about surges...you know the big ass ones that can come from lightning, then you should seriously consider what's known as 'whole house' protection. These devices, which are fairly small, are located at either the breakers or the meter such that the path to earth ground is less than 10 feet away. Further, all incoming lines to the house are routed through these whole house units. Those who live in areas of the country where the cloud-to-ground lightning activity is particularly severe (parts of Florida, the Midwest, etc.) are prime candidates for such protection. Estimated costs vary but a 1000 joule unit (2000 joule for problematic areas), can cost as little as $50 or so however electrician costs can drive that up a bit. Nonetheless, it's easy to do the math and see that an inexpensive unit such as those provides a protected cost per appliance of ony a couple of dollars not to mention that it's effective.

    As far as MOV's failing, that's generally simply because they're undersized. You see, plug in devices were never intended to be the first line of defense. That includes all types of surge suppressors, including those of the Brickwall variety.

    So, if you're going to go the MOV route, then get one that you can route all your lines into and that includes your cable. Further, get the highest joule rating that you can find. With respect to Mr. Grooms, that Monster HTS-1000 is pretty paltry in that regard, 1665 Joules. There are other beefier units that are considerably less expensive.
    For example we have...
    A
    Refurb unit from Belkin that costs $60, provides 4270 joules of protection (longer lifetime, probably longer than yours) and throws in EMI/RFI isolation between the outlets.

    A Tripp Lite TLP810SAT Cable-Antenna-Satellite Surge Protector will set you back somewhere around $60 with 3570 joules.

    A Stratitec, available from Sam's Club for under $20 or online at directron.com gives you around 3,000 joules.

    If you want to go non-MOV, consider devices such as those based on Silicon Avalanche Diode Technology available directly from Transtector.com.

    You should begin by considering what sort of equipment needs to be hooked up, so the number of outlets, any wall warts, cable, sattelite will help you develop a short list of units to consider apart from the ones that have been mentioned here.
     
  5. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    I own the Monster HTS-1000. I have lost five appliances over the last three years due to two separate nearby lightning strikes. NOTHING plugged into the HTS-1000 has ever been damaged. It might be coincidence, but it may be doing it's job. My only beef with the HTS-1000 is a pretty serious signal loss (15%-20%) on both antenna and satellite COAX connections through the unit. I bypassed the unit on the COAX connections. It's not good, but until I get a better one, it's what I must do.


    Ralph
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Then explain to me how the Monster is protecting your equipment if you've bypassed the cable which is connected to your TV which is connected to the rest of your system?

    Tough to say though Ralph, hopefully you've got renter's insurance that'd cover that.
     
  7. Andrew Testa

    Andrew Testa Second Unit

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    Chu,

    Do you have any pointers on where to buy the whole-house units and any particular brand/style that stands out or should be avoided?

    Andy
     
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well, with all due respect to electricians, I'd generally not ask them to size the unit. In all honesty, that's a job better done by a qualified engineer.

    You'll find that your local Home Depot sells these units (Intermatic, Siemens) for what I believe is well under a $100. Intermatic (check their website) has a toll-free number where you can speak to an engineer and he/she can suggest a couple of choices depending upon your needs. Now you'll find that some electrical supply houses also carry products. I'm not overly enamoured by 4-Square mostly because it seems like I can't find anyone who can provide useful information. That, and it's my understanding, they tend to undersize units.

    Also a nice company, is a subsidiary from Eaton, called Cuttler-Hammer. Their Residential Products tend to be a bit pricier but they are a real company with real knowledge about electricity. I'm sure if you dig up their phone number, you'd also be able to speak with a qualified engineer regarding your needs who can further tell you who sells their products in your area.

    The thing is, whatever you get, you want all incoming lines to be surge protected such that the earth ground connection is short (less than 10 feet). The reason why a whole house unit is better is predicated on that short distance. When the distances get long, a surge, which is a high frequency event, sees that long length of copper from your AC wiring and it doesn't see the wire as simple resistance. Rather, it becomes relatively high impedance, like 150 or so ohms.

    Another little thing you might want to know about point of use systems, is that when you see something that says, 3000 joules of protection, realize, it's spread out over three possible pathways...L/N, L/G, G/N. Hence the most you can get, is 1000 joules. Further that 1000 joules needs to be derated by maybe 40% or so simply because the ground path is now high impedance. And further still, there's no guarantee that a surge that's diverted by a plug in device is going to go straight back down the line. It's going to go wherever it can find earth ground. If that means jumping lines, that's what'll happen. Therefore, if $100 dollars protects your HT via plug-in, it may well contribute to the failure of other items.
     
  9. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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    The dish and antenna COAX cables go through a grounding block which is directly grounded to the house ground. I would hope that would take care of the surge issue for those cables. We lose power 5 or 6 times a year due to various weather related incidents. I am more concerned that my HTS-1000 is protecting my system when the power fluctuates as it flickers off or surges back on.

    As far as I'm concerned, it could be coincidence that nothing plugged into the system got fried, but I lost two garage door openers, two phones and the circuit board of my washing machine in two nearby lightning strikes. And our homeowners insurance reimbursed us for those items. We are going to go with a whole-house system though. How can you go wrong for a couple hundred bucks.
     
  10. Marc_Sulinski

    Marc_Sulinski Supporting Actor

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  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    supposedly...[​IMG]
     
  12. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Just want to check if this is a recommended practice. Any safety or performance issues? The cost savings would be significant but I don't want to sacrifice product performance.
     
  13. Marc_Sulinski

    Marc_Sulinski Supporting Actor

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  14. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    The series mode approach is basically a low-pass filter. IOW, it captures high frequencies, which a surge is albeit a very high energy one, and allows your 60 Hz to pass. Now a side benefit to this is that it's pretty spectacular at cleaning up spikes, glitches, and sundry noise that may exist on your AC line.

    There are two basic approaches to dealing with surges. Divert them or dam them. Look at a surge for a moment as being a flood of water coming down to a town at the bottom of a mountain. A series mode approach acts to put a dam between the flood and the town. Other technology, be it MOV, Silicon, Isolation Transformer, etc., works on the premise that it diverts the surge by providing an alternate pathway for the flood.

    When I said "supposedly" earlier, this is predicated on a couple of thoughts. First of all, it depends upon the duration of the surge. Now for testing purposes, that's taken as 8/20 of a second as I recall. Hence, the longer the duration (the more water that's flowing down the mountain for a given time), the less likely it is that a dam will work. Lightning is remarkably powerful and it's travelled many miles through non-conductive air and precious little can stop it. That's why the superior approach for a homeowner is to divert it as closely as possible to earth ground. Then you can use whatever you want as a plug in device. It's proper use is as a secondary device. Now there's another aspect to my use of the word "supposedly" and that has to do with series mode devices protect on the white and black. However, if a surge comes through on the ground, you're toast as the ground wire is the trojan horse if you will.

    You know, life's a series of probabilities. I'm not telling you to junk your Brickwall device. I'm simply saying you need to look at it as your secondary device as that's where all plug in devices have their utility. Further I'm telling you that from the point of view of a surge, earth ground is not the same as the ground on your outlet. It's not a question of resistance. It's a question of distance. Given that, the effectiveness of a Brickwall type device increases substantially, the closer it is to that earth ground. Now one of those companies that are licencing the technology, make a panel that one's breakers could plug into. That's going to be enormously more effective than a unit close to your electronics. However that's not a sexy approach to audiophiles because they can't see the unit.
     
  15. HankM

    HankM Second Unit

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  16. DaleBesh

    DaleBesh Stunt Coordinator

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    Look at the www.panamax.com line too. Good performance for a fair price. I like power being removed in the instance of large (and relatively slow) power fluctuations not just transient protection.
     

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