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Whole House Surge Protector Devices

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Summary: Voltage Spikes, Surges and other Electrical Disturbances can ruin or severely damage computers, DVD Players, Stereos, televisions,and wreak havoc with telecommunications systems.
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The Basics of Surge Protection Devices

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With so many surge devices available, how do you know which is right for your application?

The payoff is well worth the cost and effort of installing surge protection devices. It’s far less expensive to invest in protection than it is to replace costly equipment.
How do you know which surge protector to purchase?

Implementing a tiered protection plan is just half the battle. The other half is investing in quality equipment that will actually do its job.


  • Protect or disconnect circuitry—circuitry in a protector that instantly disconnects power to the connected equipment when a massive over voltage or surge condition occurs—or when surge protection components are no longer functioning. Make sure the surge protector/arrestor will sacrifice itself--and not your equipment--in the event of a catastrophic surge.
  • Good warranties—better warranties provide a lifetime product and connected equipment warranty with a free replacement policy. This type of warranty covers the surge protector and may offer to replace, pay to replace at fair market value, or pay to repair equipment damaged while connected to a properly installed surge protector.
  • Status and diagnostic indicators—the protective device should provide alerts to different status conditions. These include LED's to indicate power on and protection status, audible alarms for protection disruption, and other diagnostic lights. The most important indicator is one that indicates whether the connected device is still receiving power. Because most power strips are used behind desks or couches, visual indications may be difficult to detect. Therefore, if the protector causes the connected device to lose power or trips a breaker, you know if surge protection is gone.
  • Multi-port protection—many protection devices employ circuitry that protects the AC power source and all signal lines. These protection devices combine AC and telephone/modem protection, AC and coaxial cable protection, satellite protection and AC and LAN/data line protection.
  • Line filtration—provides protection against electromagnetic and radio frequency interference.
  • Premium construction—Make sure the protection device is constructed of premium materials. There are big differences in the way surge protectors/arrestors are made, although it is difficult to discern from the outside. Company reputation, specifications, and the warranty are the most important indicators of a quality product. An indication of cheap construction is a cheap price—the old adage “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” holds true.
  • Better ratings— Not all point of use devices are created equal.



Low suppression rating/clamping level (typically 330V for AC point-of-use protectors)

A measure of the voltage-limiting capability of the protector, this rating states the voltage level that the suppressor will allow to pass through it. The lower the suppression rating, the better the protection.

Joule rating

With a low suppression rating, the higher the joule rating the better.

Maximum impulse current rating

A withstand rating that determines the maximum current the device can survive. The higher the number the better, typically around 40,000 amperes.

UL 1449, second edition listing

Shows that the product has passed the most recent tests for safety.

Guaranteed protection

A measure of the manufacturer’s confidence in the actual performance of the product.

A tiered protection plan pre-empt's the costly damage that power disturbances can cause and more than pays for itself in both time and money. And when a tiered protection plan is reinforced by installing first-class devices that offer quality construction, acceptable ratings, compliance with standards, and the power to truly protect, the biggest payoff may well be the one that’s most valuable and most difficult to measure—peace of mind.

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