Power troubles - appliances bite the dust!

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Eric_L, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,994
    Likes Received:
    1
    I just replaced my third appliance in five years - all for similar reasons - electronics failure.

    I am led to believe that the power in my area is horrid. There are plenty electric storms, but also a grid that still looks to be held together by the chicken wire and chewing gum used after Hurricance Charley.

    I have been considering a whole-house surge protector, but as I read up on them I am not so sure they will fix my problem. They seem to only stop lightning hits, but what about power irregularity? How do I deal with that - if it is even my problem? There are line conditioners, UPS, voltage stabilizing, etc. etc. etc. ouch! my head!

    Does anyone here know anything about all of this and willing to help me figure out what I need to do to protect my new appliances?

    I found this fantastic post;
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...urge+protector
    but I am still not sure that power surges are to blame for my appliance failures. Anyone want to speculate?
     
  2. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Messages:
    3,597
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    CJ
    power irregularity would be solved by a voltage stabilizer, which will "stabilize" the voltage output of the outlet, and not let it rise above or drop below a certain value.

    CJ
     
  3. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,994
    Likes Received:
    1
    Is something like that available for a whole house? Do you think that is the cause of my problem?

    I have lost a fridge, a range and a microwave. There is suspicion on a lamp for my new projection TV...
     
  4. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    I suspect the problem would be over or under voltage (brownouts), which would be corrected by a stabilizer, but I suspect the cost to protect a whole house could be prohibitive, and unecessary.

    I would look at what someone like APC has to offer (http://apc.com/products/category.cfm?id=12&lid=12) for individual components. They have everything form simple, stepped regulators, to fully conditioned, sine wave output UPS systems.

    For larger solutions, someone like IREM http://www.irem.it/en/AVR/AVRset.htm might be an option, although I know nothing about this company.
     
  5. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    That's an even costlier approach on a per protected appliance basis though. Your problem isn't an easy one to diagnose...yet. There are so many places to start.

    1) If your lights are flickering constantly it could mean problems with the incoming power (a utility problem) or something to do with your wiring. Spring for about $5 or less for a circuit tester at Home Depot and check all your outlets for proper wiring. Repair or replace as necessary.

    2) Your local utility, especially if it's Florida Power and Light, can have issues. Dealing with hurricanes let alone ineptness can have its toll. Check out the following link for some examples of issues. Walk around your neighborhood and pay attention to the condition of the poles based on some of the pictures. Regretfully, some of the pictures won't show and I had to pull this particular link from the internet archive.

    3) You might have problems with your house ground especially if the soil is sandy or drains very rapidly. Maybe you can comment on that.

    4) If you've got the above issues under control, then a whole house approach can be a very cost effective way to address overall protection. FWIW, this is what I did. I'm not saying this is the only way, but it's what I chose. You might also want to contact your local power utility to see what they'll do in the way of protection. Usually, they'll install the stuff for about $10/month. However, if you're going to be there for a while, you can do substantially better both price wise and with beefier, longer lasting devices.
     
  6. Henry Wai

    Henry Wai Extra

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    You need an appliance surge outlet, I picked mine up at Zellers for $6.00 CAD with 500 Joules of Surge Protection, I think it was made by GE.
     
  7. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    It really depends on what the cause of the problem is. A surge arrestor won't help one bit if you are having sags all the time, and those are great for burning out motors/compressors. The first thing to do is figure out what the problem is, then decide on a suitable solution.
     
  8. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 1999
    Messages:
    4,203
    Likes Received:
    0
    What I would do is to email the appliance companies, and tell them what happened. Yes, I am sure they want you to buy new stuff over and over again, but if - say, a Sears Fridge bit it, I'd think twice about buying from Sears again, and that they would not want.

    I think you need a whole-house voltage regulator, but the companies that make your appliances KNOW what went into them, and what their restrictions are, more than anyone else.

    Glenn
     
  9. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,370
    Likes Received:
    0
    On this same topic, does anyone make an outlet strip for 220v appliances? A friend of mine lives in an apartment and only has one outlet for a stove and if he only uses one item at a time he should be ok. He's wanting to buy a washer and dryer combo for this situation. Are there any pro-audio manufacturers who makes such items as well (since some pro-amps are 220v I thought it would be a natural but couldn't find any) because if anyone will make a line conditioner or surge suppressor they should as well?
     
  10. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    Probably not a natural because of NEC codes. You might want to just check with a competent local electrical supply company (yellow pages) but I think 220's are dedicated.
     
  11. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,994
    Likes Received:
    1
    Chu;
    Thanks for the links and info.

    As far as #1, our lights are just fine. During the summer sometimes (lightning season) we get brief blackouts. Most of the time we have no flickering or dimming. As far as te local utility; yes it is FPL. I'll have to look at the service poles. Even with the pictures I barely know what I'm looking for. I live at the edge of town, so likely there are MANY poles to consider.

    The house is only three years old. I'll have to check out the ground, but the electrician who did the work has a good reputation. The soil is typical Florida dirt. I live on a canal/lakefront. There is a well about 30' of my utility box. IT is 80 feet down to freshwater.

    The electronics that have fried are not the motors, the circuit board of a range, the tube for a microwave, a small electronics part for the fridge (years ago - I forget) and possibly a lamp for the DLP TV. The range was the most recent to go, right in the middle of cooking a pizza on a clear night.

    I guess I should get a whole house surge protector and just watch for any more problems.
     
  12. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    If it is just the electronics, it could just be faulty appliances. They don't make anything to last anymore, and components are cheap. I have had to fix many cold solder joints on stuff that has seemingly failed. QC isn't what it used to be.

    One thing about surge protectors, is that many, if not all, are designed to sacrifice themselves to save what comes after them, so one good surge and they are toast. Ask how the devices you are looking at work, and whether they are designed for more than one incident.

    The thing I like about dedicated devices like a UPS is that some companies will warrant against damage caused by a failure of their device. All of my computer gear is behind APC SmartUPSs, which fully regulates the power, plus insures me against loss should the device fail (assuming I can prove the claim).
     
  13. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    Jeff's got a point that it could just be an extraoridinary run of bad luck. I've had a range go because of circuit board problems and I suspect I'm reasonably well protected. Shit happens. OTOH... If your lights aren't perceptibly dimming, then likely your voltage stability is fairly tight. 'Course the brownouts are another matter entirely. I'd suspect that's not the cause of your problems.
    Just examine the poles, look up and down, for things that look 'peculiar'. I know that's a pretty vague term. However, if you see what looks to be obvious disrepair, wires hanging, corrosion, then just give them a call and see what happens.
    Even though your home is new that doesn't mean mistakes aren't made. For under $5 you can test all the outlets in your home ('cept that 220V) for proper hookup. Even the best of electricians with the best of reputations make mistakes.
    I'm not sure what your typical Florida soil looks like. Out of curiousity, do you have one grounding rod or two outside your home? If two, can you estimate the spacing? If one, you can always add a second one yourself. Simply sink it a distance that's a bit over twice the length from the other one and pick up the right wire and cable clamps from an electrical supply store. It's nice weather in Florida. Work up a sweat!
    For lamps on projectors, there's generally a cool off period when you turn them off. If that's consistently interrupted by power outages, the bulb life goes down. You can look into a separate UPS for that.
    The whole house approach, coupled with plug in units works very effectively. The former takes care of the wallops, while the latter deals with the residual stuff that comes through that's now attenuated. Again, I'm not recommending you buy what I bought. However, if you plan on staying there for a while, then look for something that's 2000 joules as that'll last longer. Costs a bit more, but...
     
  14. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    One other thing that's nice about a higher end UPS is that you can monitor what is going on with your power to some degree. If you see it is constantly correcting for brownouts or overvoltages, that would give you a better idea of how your power is. Even a cheaper power distribution bar with a voltage indicator can be an eye opener.
     
  15. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    I kinda doubt that minor over or under voltages is the issue for the electronics to go frying. You're right though about the monitoring thing. One person here on HTF was able to notice the incoming voltages flutuating a lot. Turned out it was the utility's problem.
     
  16. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,994
    Likes Received:
    1
    Chu;
    I tried to follow your link. The delta link in your post seems to be broken. Can you repair it or repost?

    Thanks
     
  17. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    Minor fluctuations aren't the issue, but if you are getting 130V for extended periods, it could be.
     
  18. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,994
    Likes Received:
    1
    Here are the two surge protectors I'm looking at;

    http://www.smarthome.com/4839.HTML

    Designed specifically for residential use, this unit is rated for split single-phase panels up to 400 amps and will absorb an astonishing 2,700 Joules! And with an ultra high spike capacity of 60,000 amps, this surge suppressor is one of the best values you'll find for the money anywhere. And unlike most other whole-house surge suppressors, this unit is equipped with two LED lights to indicate protection status, and an audible alarm to alert you when there was a disruption in power.


    Trouble is, I think my fuse box is larger than that. I have 2 boxes + one by my dock. There are multiple fuses which are 20/20 or 15/15 - Am I wrong in assuming those are 40w and 30 wat fuses? If I am correct then I have in the small box 180 amps, but in the other, much larger one I have 390 on one column and 365 on the other inside of it.

    If I understand things correctly, I either need a unit that can handle 800 or two of the 400 jobbers... right?
     
  19. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2001
    Messages:
    7,270
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well, you're going to have to determine what the fuse boxes are rated for and what your incoming service is. That information might be on the boxes. If not, there's usually a manufacturer and a part number that you can use to call an electrical supply house and get the information.

    Armed with that, I'd give Panamax a call and see if their product meets your needs. While you're at it, also give Intermatic (toll free # available from the web) and speak to an applications engineer.
     
  20. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,994
    Likes Received:
    1

Share This Page