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Someone on Facebook said that her fridge was ruined due to a power surge and that the cost of replacing the damaged parts was high but what really drove her decision to get a new one was that the parts wouldn't be available until late April.

A person recommended installing a whole-house surge protector, but another responder commented that some warranties are invalidated if a surge protector is used. That was a new one to me -- anybody heard of something like that?
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Whole-house surge protector is great. This will not invalidate the warranty of anything in your home that's plugged in. On the flip side how would they even know you had one?
Most houses 200-400 amp service you can have the protector for around $500 installed give or take.
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More likely low voltage where the compressor motor can't get going and stalls, cooks itself dead.. Or a combo, either should trip the surge protector..

In the TV setup a heavy duty surge protector, computers are on ABC battery backed up units,, But none of the appliances have protection..

So I am interested as well in a whole house upgrade at some point.. Power has been stable here, even through the firestorms.. An early underground serviced tract, we used to had trouble in a vault nearby, lots of bumping, thumping until finally it would trip their breaker.. Over the years, their splices got better, more waterproof, so we haven't had that one hit in years...

Built in the late '60s, when Zinzco panels were used, Main panel is OK, but the sub panel was crappy, gone.. Should be a simple fix...
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1poormom did commercial property management. The things I remember her talking about were low voltage, spikes, and single-phasing. All of which would damage HVAC equipment. Really, anything with a compressor/motor.

Surge protection will only cover one of those things, I believe. You would need line conditioning (a UPS?) to handle all three. I've never priced whole-house UPS, but I'll bet it's pricey.
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Maybe the person may confused "extension cord" with "surge protector" or pictured a dual product (like one of those surge protectors with multiple outlets). A whole house surge protector wouldn't be a problem -- at least in any scenario I can think of. (Then again, I am very much not an expert.)
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Hi BlueGrits,

When I built this place in 2005, I paid 5.95/month for a whole house system through our electric co-op. It was a gray ring about 2 inches deep that fit between the meter and the meter receptacle. They also supplied suppressors for all the phone lines and some units for stuff like the microwave and a large "entertainment unit" that has multiple outlets, coax and phone points also.

We have had multiple hits through the phone lines over the years. The co-op exchanges the "used" suppressors for free.

We had a direct lightning strike on our transformer. Nothing in the house was compromised. The transformer was toasted. Well toasted!

About 5 years ago, the co-op replaced the ring with a small unit that is attached to the side of the receptacle housing with a green LED. They installed this unit on all customer homes for free with no monthly fee.

Having the protection is well worth it.

Gene
All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page
http://my.fool.com/profile/gdett2/info.aspx
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I see decent Surge protectors for about $160, biggest problem here is access to the main breaker box to pop a hole, backside it all sheet rocked..

So used to doing all this stuff myself, pretty rare to call an electrician, but I do have a name & number...
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So used to doing all this stuff myself, pretty rare to call an electrician, but I do have a name & number...

This is not really a DIY job for most people. It's best to hire the deal for a whole house protector at the main panel.
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Surge protection will only cover one of those things, I believe. You would need line conditioning (a UPS?) to handle all three. I've never priced whole-house UPS, but I'll bet it's pricey.

The above is true spikes are what the surge protector takes care of. Low voltage / dropping a phase can only be handled by switching off the electricity and going to a generator. I'm sure at some point there will be technology that is affordable to switch to a battery for a few minutes until the generator takes over but as of now that would be expensive.

Overwhelmingly spikes, lightning strikes are what causes electrical damage in most homes. Check your home owners insurance, many cover direct strikes, however you still have to deal with damaged equipment, devices you cannot use until replaced or repaired which could be weeks.

Having a whole house surge protection does not mean that electronics in the house should be plugged right into the wall, not have surge protection and or battery backups for sensitive, expensive, or gear you depend on. Perhaps networking equipment / router to work from home, sure it's not expensive but if it goes out for while or dies it becomes a cheap emergency.
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I used to work at an observatory. You're not going to protect against lightning strikes, or at least not at anything resembling a reasonable cost. We had to unplug all the electronics when lightning storms were coming, otherwise it would have blown out everything. Typical lightning strikes are around 30000 amps (and 300M volts). You're not stopping that with anything residential. I'm not sure even military-grade equipment could handle that. Unless you Faraday cage your home (though lines coming into the home would still be a pathway for strikes/emp).

At most you might hope to protect against the EMP from a nearby strike. But if you're hit, everything plugged into anything will fry.

I have a UPS on my computer. I believe it also serves as a line conditioner. Rarely it beeps (indicating activity) even when the power remains on, so I assume it's detecting something and "fixing" it. Rarely, but it has happened a few times.
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I used to work at an observatory. You're not going to protect against lightning strikes, or at least not at anything resembling a reasonable cost. We had to unplug all the electronics when lightning storms were coming, otherwise it would have blown out everything. Typical lightning strikes are around 30000 amps (and 300M volts). You're not stopping that with anything residential. I'm not sure even military-grade equipment could handle that. Unless you Faraday cage your home (though lines coming into the home would still be a pathway for strikes/emp).

True a direct hit to the panel it may or may not work however the resulting surged from a line, transformer or other device nearby your home the protector will work. Nothing it 100% full proof as nature has a way.
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I have a UPS on my computer. I believe it also serves as a line conditioner. Rarely it beeps (indicating activity) even when the power remains on, so I assume it's detecting something and "fixing" it. Rarely, but it has happened a few times.

A full fledged line conditioner is rather more complicated (and expensive) than a simple UPS. If you ventured into the (strange, irrational) world of audiophile electronics you would see some serious devices that do that. Our normal line power is anything BUT clean, and they tame it quite well... at some extreme cost. Generally our devices, from refrigerators to computers and televisions are designed to work find without such perfect power.

Sometimes I think the most important part of a surge protector is the $10k (or whatever) insurance that the big name brands offer against surge damage to anything plugged into the device. Yet when my whole neighborhood lost power because trees were down across wires everywhere, and my UPS died, and so did the solid state drive in the computer plugged into it, it never occurred to me to try to take them up on that. I just bought a new drive and a new UPS, restored from a backup, and went on with life.
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Hi RHinCT,

"I just bought a new drive and a new UPS"

Did the electronics actually blow or what?


Gene
All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page
http://my.fool.com/profile/gdett2/info.aspx
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Did the electronics actually blow or what?

The computer was an assemble-from-parts system I put together myself in 2011. The power supply is from PC Power & Cooling, a top brand, with more capacity than needed. The motherboard I chose was a Gigabyte Ultra Durable model*. I think it lived up to its name. At any rate they still work.

After the 2018 storm (opinions differ between tornado and micro-burst) there were trees and wires down everywhere, including a tree that had been in my front hard but was stretched across the street, under it all the wires still attached at both ends to adjacent utility poles.

After the power came back three days later the UPS would not provide power. I bypassed it and used a surge strip instead. Once the system had power it turned on but would not boot. I tracked that down to the SSD being dead. I bought a new SSD and the it worked again, so I reinstalled and restored to get back where I was. I did not try to diagnose the nature of the UPS or SSD failures, it was sufficient that they just did not work.

There have been no further issues from that incident that I am aware of. The system has been running fine and I am using it to post this response. When I inevitably get around to assembling its replacement you can be sure I will be looking for a PC Power & Cooling power supply and a Gigabyte Ultra Durable motherboard (assuming they still make them).

*(https://www.gigabyte.com/microsite/98/html/technology-guide-...)
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Hi RHinCT,

"I did not try to diagnose the nature of the UPS or SSD failures"

The reason I ask is I replaced the batteries in my UPS. They were over 5 years old and the power time on failure was down to about 10 minutes. They were lead-acid sealed units with all the specs on the case.

Does that help you?

Gene
All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page
http://my.fool.com/profile/gdett2/info.aspx
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On the one hand I still have the dead UPS because disposing of them is a PITA. On the other hand if I replace the batteries and it still doesn’t work I’ve just wasted the money. At the moment I’ve got two UPSes, one for the computer and the other for the network. Admittedly the blown one was carefully selected while the other two were what Costco carried the day I went shopping... I guess I’ll leave things as they are. I’m pretty busy settling in after a move. I should have the shelves for the paperbacks ready any day now.
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Of course, one thing you can do is turn off AC units when a thunderstorm is coming. We do that.

Vermonter
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