Thread Number: 47409
Is there any real protection from power surges?
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Post# 688543   7/10/2013 at 20:09 (1,560 days old) by vintagekitchen ()        

Well, I got hit today. There was a major thunderstorm in this area, and several transformer were apparently hit by lightning, as well as trees and branches damaging power lines. My electricity never went out completely, however, in a short space of time the power would dip down and almost go out, then bounce back up, then a surge would come through.

I protect items in my home with surge protectors, and not the cheap ones either, but apparently this was false security. After one of these "fits" during the storm, and the power dipping and surging repeatedly, the tv picture scrambled for a moment, then became unwatchable. The red green and blue convergence no longer line up at all, it's like watching bad 3D, without the special glasses.

When I saw what had happened, I quickly unplugged the refrigerator and air conditioner, and it seems so far that the only damage was to the tv, which is very frustrating, since it is a 54 inch rear projection in a wooden cabinet, with an entertainment center/ tv surround in matching wood. The nearest repair man still willing to work on these type tv's is 2 hours away, and while his price per hour and for travel is reasonable, it's not in the budget this month.

Is there no real protection from power surges? I feel cheated, I paid for the high quality power strip surge protectors, and none of them tripped, if they had the tv might still be functional. How do I protect my appliances and electronics?

This post was last edited 07/10/2013 at 20:27

Post# 688546 , Reply# 1   7/10/2013 at 20:24 (1,560 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        
Power surges

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I hope if I get a power surge I am home and can shut off computer, tv, etc and close windows, which are never open or turned on when not home. Regardless of the surge protector, I always run around and unplug them totally if its really bad or forcasted to be bad and NOAA radar says watch out basically. so far, so good after 18 years here.

Post# 688551 , Reply# 2   7/10/2013 at 20:34 (1,560 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Darned if I know...

But I can tell you a true story of just how much lightning can tear up, my neighbors back home were asleep one morning about 45 or 50 years ago when lightning stuck their house, the fuse box was an old fashioned thing in the wall over their bed, the door blew open and all four of the glass fuses stuck in the wall on the other side of the room, almost like you shot them out of a gun...They told me they of course jumped up and started looking to see if the house was on fire, it wasnt but the freezer which was a great big then new Coldspot sat on a closed in poarch, when they opened the door they were almost overcome with black greasy smoke, the freezer took a direct hit, splitting the compressor wide open, when it was all over and they moved the freezer, there were holes in the concrete where each of the feet sat, about 6 to 8 inches deep and about the same size around,they never found the cord except for inch long pieces, the strangest thing was, the insurance company had the freezer rebuilt and a distant cousin still has it and its still running, now over 50 years old, the drip pan looks like you hit it all over with a hammer where the lightning hit it!and the feet are welded in place.

Post# 688552 , Reply# 3   7/10/2013 at 20:35 (1,560 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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I have my AV equipment on a Panamax power conditioner (NOT a battery backup) and haven't (yet) had any damage occur in all the years.

My computers are on APC battery units.

Washer, dishwasher, refrigerator are on typical surge suppressors.

Post# 688555 , Reply# 4   7/10/2013 at 20:43 (1,560 days old) by classiccaprice (Hampton, Virginia)        

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Huh!  My parents were always really careful with thunderstorms.  I can remember going  around the house and unplug the tv, stereo, computer and microwave whenever a big storm was approaching.  I still do this to a lesser degree to this day.  In the 70's my great-grandmother's house was struck by lightening.  She had one of those electric organs that were popular then and the keys were all blown off it.  

Post# 688558 , Reply# 5   7/10/2013 at 20:46 (1,560 days old) by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        
I'm Trained....

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....By years of dealing with Georgia Power, who will not spend a single unnecessary penny on infrastructure.

When I'm not home, air conditioners are both off and unplugged. So's the TV.

Back in the '80s, I lost my A/C, my refrigerator and my TV all at the same time due to a transformer going wonky - it cycled the power off and on quite a number of times in a short time, ending with a surge that sent blue sparks out of outlets.

Georgia Power's response? "Too bad, so sad." Not even my insurance company could budge them.


Post# 688560 , Reply# 6   7/10/2013 at 20:51 (1,560 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
People dont realize...

On the other side of that transformer on the pole is 7200 volts with enough amperage to instantly fry whatever it comes in contact included!!as with all mechanical things,problems can happen!!Those big metal towers you see thats upwards of 30,000 volts!

Post# 688563 , Reply# 7   7/10/2013 at 20:57 (1,560 days old) by vintagekitchen ()        
Sandy, I feel for ya..

The power company here is the same. Part of one of the old "rural electrification projects". Well I will say this, when they said the project was completed all those decades ago, they meant it! Upgrades and repairs which can in any way possibly be avoided, are avoided. That's why I use the surge protectors.

Situations like what you described with the transformers quickly cycling and damaging appliances are far too common in this area. A few years back the transformer at my grandparents house was going out, to the point it fried their tv and damaged several appliances, their power bill went through the roof from the wild voltage swings, and they had to deal with it for 3 months. The power company refused to do anything until it got so bad we could see sparks coming off the transformer at night.

2 years ago I lost my cable box, dishwasher, ceiling fan, and oven element due to a lightning strike to a transformer during a storm. I guess it's all part of electricity in rural areas, but I swear sometimes I think a generator would be less troublesome.

Post# 688567 , Reply# 8   7/10/2013 at 21:06 (1,560 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
One more story..

In my hometown of Lenoir NC, there are several small sub stations, in the early 70s one was struck by lightning, of course the power went out all over town, a good friend who is a Retired fireman responded to the call, their was a small grass fire which he put out, of course the power company was called, it just so happened it was a Sunday morning and the Supervisor for Duke Powers repair dept was on call so he went to see what could be done, the main breaker was tripped so he re set it, when he did the transformer exploded spraying boiling oil all over him, he lived a few hours but died from the burns,make no mistake,my Uncle who was an electrical contractor for 60 years has told me some stories that you wouldnt believe, electricity is a dangerous thing ,and one of these days our aging infrastructure will have to be re done.

Post# 688568 , Reply# 9   7/10/2013 at 21:09 (1,560 days old) by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        

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It's bad enough to do that to customers in a rural area, but Georgia Power is the major provider of electricity to freakin' Atlanta - a megalopolis of nearly six million people.

When I moved from Atlanta proper to its bedroom community of Marietta in '05, I went from Georgia Power to Cobb EMC. Life was instantly blissful, with the power steady as a rock.

Iowa has been pretty much the same. And this is the Midwest, where the storms can be awe-inspiring.

Post# 688570 , Reply# 10   7/10/2013 at 21:10 (1,560 days old) by washer111 ()        

Whether or not you used a cheap surge suppressor, a couple of things come to mind:

~ When a surge hits the device at an "appropriate" trip voltage/amperage, there is a time delay between that voltage "hitting" the device, and the time for the device to divert excess capacity away from the main circuit
~ Some suppressors have higher clamping voltages - the voltage where excess power is diverted away from the line

I've attached the Wikipedia article for these devices below. What I would suggest in the future is you perhaps purchase very high-end equipment to protect the "most valuable" devices: This way, you (should) get a lower clamp voltage and perhaps better reaction time between a "hit" and power diversion.
That said, if expensive equipment offers better protection, I can't say if replacing those as frequently as lightning strikes in your vicinity would be viable against replacing stuff on the off chance the suppressor doesn't work exactly as it should...


Post# 688571 , Reply# 11   7/10/2013 at 21:13 (1,559 days old) by xraytech (S.W. Pennsylvania, near Pittsb)        

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We had a very nasty storm here this evening, I was at church conducting choir practice and we didn't know it was storming until the lights started dimming and the organ started sounding funky. I must say I couldn't flip that switch off fast enough. Hope the organ is alright.

Went to grandmas from there since it is only 1/4 mile away and the power there was only half voltage so I had to unplug the air conditioners and decided to sit through the storm on the veranda

Post# 688582 , Reply# 12   7/10/2013 at 22:21 (1,559 days old) by Maytagbear (N.E. Ohio)        
This past Saturday........

the surge bar I have running my laptop, landline phone/answering machine, and modem........

The power supply/transformer/cord for my laptop died. The machine is fine, but.....

I was surprised and pleased that Radio Shack had a generic? one size runs most? transformer/cord, and the clerk was willing to open the package and see if it would start my computer---it did! Of course, the transformer/cord was 59.00 and tax, but better that than trying to come up with a new computer.

Usually, Ohio Edison/"First Energy'"s power is rather good, but for the time being, I am vigilant again about unplugging things.


Post# 688586 , Reply# 13   7/10/2013 at 23:03 (1,559 days old) by A440 ()        

I have been hearing commercials from companies that offer whole house surge protection. These companies also talk about customers that get insurance deductions for installing these systems....
I just wonder how they work. Do they install one big protector in your power panel of your home?
Sounds interesting...but have not heard very much about it, and how it works.

Post# 688589 , Reply# 14   7/10/2013 at 23:17 (1,559 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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Absolutely you can protect almost 100% from spikes and impulses. But its not as simple as just plugging in a surge supressor between your device and the wall. There are a lot of variables and unknowns in play here and you need an engineered system.

I'm not sure what caused your damage, you had brownouts (voltage dropouts) and maybe overvoltage events. Often the over voltage can be caused from inductive kicks from the transformers, especially big ones like the pole mounted jobs.

Sensitive items like computers need to be plugged into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS has a large rechargeable storage battery and at the first sign of difficulty they isolate the load from the line and generate the AC power from the battery. This will allow the load to continue to function while being isolated from the hysterics the power on the line is experiencing. You will have a finite time on the battery but it would give enough time to properly shut down the computer etc. (many UPS's have a cable to the computer that will shut it down automatically). My rule with computers and UPS's is that ANY computer I care at all about will ALWAYS be on a UPS. If I don't mind losing that hard drive then maybe I don't care then. Side note all my UPS's are always the APC brand.

The surge supressors you mention are simply power strips that have solid state devices (MOV or Metal Oxide Varistors) in them that will conduct electricity when a certain voltage is reached. The idea is if the voltage starts to climb from a surge or a spike, the device will shunt the extra power to the neutral or ground line preventing the energy from reaching your device. These aren't a bad thing to have and they do work well, at least the decent ones. The Triplite Isobar brand is likely the best you can get and they have additional filtering in them that others lack. Note that these suppressors do NOTHING at all for power brownouts and sags. Bouncing power is the most common reason for failed or corrupted computer hard disks, you need a UPS for computers!

The best impulse suppressors wire into your power entrance panel (breaker panel). These have much greater surge current protection and they attempt to shunt the energy at the panel where it enters your home. Ideally these can be a first line of defense and your power strip suppressers can be the backup at your devices. The whole home models will protect everything in the home from spikes and overvoltages within the limits of their ability. Again they do nothing for any under voltage events.

Finally the last thing to keep in mind is that all connected lines need to be at a common ground potential. Its common to have your TV etc plugged into a power strip protector, but unless the cable entering the TV is also tied to the same ground at that point you are opening the door for dissimilar ground voltages and that can open the door for damage. Phone lines and computer network cables are other lines that can have differing grounds and cause the protection to be compromised.

I maintain a number of radio repeaters that are installed on various local water tanks. We have had direct lightnings strikes to our equipment and when its protected properly it never knows the antenna was just blown into pieces! See the attached photo for some damage found at one of my sites. Note there is steel that was vaporized next to that outlet. The equipment that was plugged in there is still working today :)

Post# 688629 , Reply# 15   7/11/2013 at 02:48 (1,559 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

Since lightning can do anything it wants and various utilities can be very sloppy about protection, your best coverage is low-deductible homeowners/renters insurance.

Post# 688637 , Reply# 16   7/11/2013 at 04:56 (1,559 days old) by alr2903 (TN)        
Beware of "Land lines".

Phone lines as well as electric lines can be the culprit.  When we first moved into this house lightning zapped our modem and security system ( both connected to a "land line phone").  After we bundled phone internet and cable it has not happened again.  The phone line came into our house from across the street, the electric and "the bundle" both come in from the backyard.  I really believe the phone lines are in very poor shape. So many people have given up their landline to save money (who can blame them?) and rely totally on cellular. alr

Post# 688643 , Reply# 17   7/11/2013 at 05:35 (1,559 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

About four years ago a surge knocked out the Kenmore dishwasher, stove & microwave we had. We contacted our insurance company and they made it seem all so easy. They told us just to get a letter from the power company that states we had a power surge on such and such a date and the insurance company would pay for the damage.

We called the power company and they said "We ain't admitting to nuthin'." Then they went on and told us to read the contract with them as we connect to their system at our own risk. And they didn't have any power meters monitoring our home so they couldn't tell us if we had a surge or not. So we ended up paying for new appliances.
We are in a somewhat rural area and our electrical system at the time was very old.
The power company said that it was installed in the 30's and hasn't been upgraded since.

But over the past few weeks they did upgrade the system. All new power poles and new wires. Even the wires for the underground electric in our area were replaced. This week the power company was hanging new transformers on the poles.

Post# 688650 , Reply# 18   7/11/2013 at 06:32 (1,559 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

The substation failure from the lightning strike-sounds like the "supervisor" that was sent out to solve the problem was not experienced-merely trying to reset a breaker on a system like that is DANGEROUS unless the transformers,breakers,and other equipment is tested-the lineman should test them with a Turns Ratio Tester-for the transformers,and a "Megger" for other items.At the plant where I work we do have "one shot" 4160V 3Ph circuit breakers for the transmitters,building LV power supplies.The Installer of our equipment mentioned we were the only customer that specified non remote resetable breakers.So when you turn the reset lever on our breakers----STAND TO THE SIDE-NEVER in front of the breaker-if a fault occurs-the force can blow the truck right out of the cabinet.and a 300 pound breaker truck hitting you won't make your day-along with the blast.The doors on the new switchgear cabinets are almost like bank vaults-but still stand to the side.Other systems installed by the contractor used remote reset-you are not at the breaker while reseting it.We had a power outage at our site several months ago-Duke Power-the protection built into the substation here is substantial--An insulator failed in our 4160V distrubution system-the substation switchgear also locked out the 4160V Cat genset.So the Duke power guys had to investigtate this-I did spot the insulator and pointed it out to them.The insulator was replaced-power restored.The sustation equipment even opened the 115Kv primary voltage to the substation.
For the pole pigs and other dist transformers-the neutral side of the transformer winding is grounded inside the transformer can-so if the rare event of a primary to secondary short in one of these it will blow the transformer primary fuse immiediately to prevent primary voltage from being fed to a LV circuit(208,120/240,480V)
For TOTAL power isolation-you would have to regenerate the power thru a motor gen set or a large invertor.The UPS is just that-a small invertor with a battery in it to provide power-originally UPS units were to power a system until a backup genset could be started and put on line.

Post# 688659 , Reply# 19   7/11/2013 at 07:25 (1,559 days old) by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        

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Did the surge mess up your Monarch range at all?

Post# 688667 , Reply# 20   7/11/2013 at 07:56 (1,559 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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The trend around here is to have a whole house surge protector installed right at the circuit breaker box. A friend of mine just had it installed by an electrician and it was about $250 total.


Post# 688675 , Reply# 21   7/11/2013 at 08:08 (1,559 days old) by DaveTranter (Central England)        

Whilst I fully agree that the best (if also most expensive) protection against power irregularities is a UPS or Motor/Generator set, has anyone had much experience with 'Ultra Isolation' type transformers?? ( the deliberately 'lossy' very heavy iron-cored jobs, which appear to function by turning any 'fast rising' transient into a bit more heat in the iron). I have one of these (built by Onan Corp in the U.S.A.) which claims to reduce coupling between the windings at above 50Hz to the equivalent of a few pF. Certainly the ouput voltage looks pretty sinusoidal to me, despite a quite 'dirty' waveform around here....

Obviously, these don't offer any protction from undervoltage faults..

Any comments, please??

Dave T

VintageKitchen: Apart from trying a 'proper' degauss, I would suspect that the surge has fried the LOPT.... :-(

Post# 688691 , Reply# 22   7/11/2013 at 08:39 (1,559 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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I am blessed to live in an area with very few irregularities in power. I've never experienced a "brown-out", which seem to be more common in densely-populated/urban areas. Our main threat is lightning. Personally, I'm an unplugger. If there's even a small chance of a thunderstorm while I'm away from the house, I unplug my computer/wi-fi/printer, which are all on a plain old power strip.

I used to unplug the two TVs, but they're both so old (one 14, the other 20) that I just don't care. It would give me an excuse to upgrade. Amazingly, both those CRT televisions have endured very close lightning strikes with no damage!

A close strike a couple of weeks ago caused a temporary loss of power (only a few seconds). The next morning I loaded up the Frigidaire Immersion Care washer, pressed the cycle knob to wake it up and...nothing. Uh-oh. I unplugged it for a few seconds and it fired right up after that. The Frigidaire front-loader, oddly, wasn't bothered even though it was plugged into the same outlet.

Good luck with your television, Kevin!

Post# 688696 , Reply# 23   7/11/2013 at 09:09 (1,559 days old) by foxchapel ()        
unplugging is the only sure protection

. . . from lightining strikes nearby or direct hits.

Now that ALL our laundry and kitchen appliances are computers that cook & wash, I have researched whole-house surge protection at the breaker box, and get mixed-bag reviews. Apparently if the house is hit hard enough, nothing will save the appliances. One has to hope the house does not catch fire. That happens a LOT around here, including the million-dollar mansions. Yet no one uses lightning rods, not even the multi-million dollar mansions. (built-in sprinkler systems seem to be the way they go)

I keep my computerized sewing machines unplugged when not in use. The dealers assure us that is the only way to protect them from lightning hits, power surges, etc. They are plugged into a UPS while in use, especially when in embroidery machine mode. Buying and learning a newer sewing machine is more bother than learning a new oven or cooktop. And more expensive, too.

Our old land-line phone wire was particularly vulnerable to nearby lightning strikes. Three dial-up modems and one DSL modem got fried by neighborhood hits, but the land-line phones always worked. We're now on VOIP, so when the power goes out, we have no phones or internet connection. But it all works when the power comes back on. Not sure which system is better. Just have to keep the cell phone charged...

Post# 688701 , Reply# 24   7/11/2013 at 09:40 (1,559 days old) by MrX ()        

Thankfully, this isn't something we seem to have an issue with in Ireland. The voltage is very stable anywhere I've lived here.

However, about 5 years ago we had a bolt of lightening that struck our front lawn!

It didn't hit the power lines (they're underground) but our phone line crosses the garden about 300 feet or so from a pole on the street (comes up from underground there).

The lightening didn't strike the phone line, but it induced a huge surge.

Everything connected to the line was fried! So : cordless phone base station, 2 normal phones, both of our satellite set top boxes, the DSL modem and the house alarm system panel.

Even the phone jacks on the wall were damaged as was the wiring. We had to rewire all the phone sockets (ended up not bothering to connect most of them again as the cordless system has 4 handsets and it is more than enough).
I installed a surge protector across the line after that!!

The phone company's distribution cabinets apparently have some kind of surge arrestors in them, as the line tripped out completely and there was no damage to the wiring on the network side, only in the house. I assume they use something a bit more sturdy than CAT5.

Lightening is not a big issue here either, it was a really freak incident.

I lived in France, where lightening in summer is quite a bit issue in some areas as it's on the atlantic coast of Europe and gets quite a lot of hot summers and cold systems interrupting them and you get fireworks when they do!

In areas that suffered from a lot of lightening, it was fairly standard practice to have a system-wide lightening-protection / surge arrester. It protected the entire distribution board and in the event of a surge would just trip the whole house.

You could also install protection on individual circuits or use plug-in surge arrestors for IT equipment and sensitive stuff as an extra layer of protection.

Post# 688704 , Reply# 25   7/11/2013 at 09:49 (1,559 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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I have been hearing commercials from companies that offer whole house surge protection. These companies also talk about customers that get insurance deductions for installing these systems....
I just wonder how they work. Do they install one big protector in your power panel of your home?
Sounds interesting...but have not heard very much about it, and how it works.
Brent, yes the protector is typically installed in the main power panel.  The electric coop here offered whole-house units for several years but has discontinued them.  They're considered a one-time-use situation, same as the outlet-cube protectors ... they no longer protect after a surge has occurred and must be replaced.  The whole-house unit I've seen beeps or buzzes as a signal when it has "gone bad" but of course someone must be in a position to hear it and be aware what the signal means.

Post# 688708 , Reply# 26   7/11/2013 at 10:02 (1,559 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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I do disagree with "unplugging is the only sure protection from lightening strikes" but I wholeheartedly agree that it is HIGHLY effective and extremely low cost!! The problem is that most electronics don't work well when unplugged so its not an answer for items that need to be up 24/7. Truly effective protection does exist but it costs money and must be properly implemented.

Hard wired telephone lines indeed do cause a LOT of headaches for folks due to lightning energy. I think this is because there is typically nothing significant done to protect the line inside the home. Years ago the Bell System would place a carbon static bleed protector at the demarcation point in a building. This would bleed off slow rising voltages (static) but they did little for anything quick or high energy i.e. lightning. Phones of the golden era tended to be robust so they just worked. Also until about 1980 or so the only thing that generally connected to your Telco pair was a passive WE phone. Just try to kill an old Bell 300 phone.

Today the phone has to interconnect with many devices, answering machines, modems, fax machines cable/satellite boxes and many phones themselves plug into AC also. This opens up the door for having separate strike energy paths with dissimilar grounds. Years ago a buddy of mine had a tree next to his home hit by lightning. Because his Telco entrance was on the opposite side of his home from his AC power entrance (both grounded to separate ground rods) they had different ground potentials. As the strike energy is absorbed into the soil around the tree (imagine pouring water on the ground and watching it soak in) the voltage potential of the ground rod for the Telco rises, but the power ground rod at the other side of the home didn't. Electricity took the path of least resistance through the Telco lines and across to the AC through every interconnected device in his home. Scads of damage was done and everything was on surge protectors.

At my home I still have a twisted pair Telco line that provides my voice and DSL service. Bonded to my power panel ground I have a Polyphaser telephone line protector. The Polyphaser can take a strike that will vaporize the 24ga wire into it and not pass more then ring voltage out. I have no fear of any damage from my Telco line. I do inspect the MOV modules from time to time in the Polyphaser. The photo below shows a Polyphaser Telco protector with its replaceable shunt modules. This piece of mind costs about $75

For any of us with large amounts of sensitive equipment a panel mounted impulse suppressor only makes sense. I like the idea of catching the transient and shunting it to ground ASAP instead of allowing it to run roughshod through the home. Remember that we can't stop the energy, all we can do it to divert it away from sensitive equipment. This is better accomplished at the panel as there is less ground resistance there.

Finally, expecting any compensation from the power company for damage is ludicrous. I'd bet that somewhere in the fine print they absolve themselves from any liability. This will fall under home owners insurance in most cases. Its really up to us to protect what we have as best we can and rely on insurance after that.

Post# 688709 , Reply# 27   7/11/2013 at 10:02 (1,559 days old) by vintagekitchen ()        
Monarch range..

Actually sad to say, I did the unthinkable, and traded in the Monarch. I got another vintage range, but not quite as vintage. The Monarch had the old style oven racks with te chrome rails in the oven for the racks to slide in on, and the oven liner had rusted out around the bolt holes for the chrome rails to the point they would fall out, which made the oven difficult to use, to say the least. Also the matching GE fridge was going downhill fast, the seal was no longer properly sealing, so nothing was as cold as it should have been. I will post pics in a new thread.

Post# 688711 , Reply# 28   7/11/2013 at 10:11 (1,559 days old) by mark_wpduet (Lexington KY)        

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We had storms in Lexington yesterday but there were no power outages at least here where I am. But the other week we had a REALLY BAD one like 1 am. I was still up and on the computer and the power went out for 3 seconds, then came back on.......Everything was plugged in and nothing was damaged. I was amazed. The only thing I have plugged into surge protection is washer, TV, Computers, everything else is on its own. This area of town I'm in is newer and the all lines are underground. Back in 2003 ( I think ) we had a major ice storm and a lot of the city was without power for over a week. This area of town never lost power during that. That's actually the first time I've noticed a power flicker since I've lived here even in terrible storms.

I guess if there is a bad storm coming I will unplug everything I can think of.

Post# 688712 , Reply# 29   7/11/2013 at 10:12 (1,559 days old) by mark_wpduet (Lexington KY)        

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Lightning struck a tree beside my dad house and ended up blowing holes in the cement driveway a few years ago.

Post# 688717 , Reply# 30   7/11/2013 at 11:06 (1,559 days old) by mattl (Flushing, MI)        

I rarely have power outages around here, but when I do I flip off the main breaker. I think one of the riskiest times for equipment is when they attemp to reconnect the mains. Everyone in my neighborhood has lamp posts for lighting at night so if its dark I know when they power is on. During the day I just listen to hear when the generators are killed.

I think it's funny, we have very few outages, we've gone 5+ years , yet many do have generators. I do have a generator but I'm leary of using it with all the electronics I have, it's old from the early 90's and I think the power may be quite dirty.

Post# 688817 , Reply# 31   7/11/2013 at 19:40 (1,559 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        
Old generator

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Matt, just because your generator is old doesn't make bad. The only thing that it could do to cause serious damage to electronics is have voltage regulation problems, especially over voltage. Generally old engine driven altranator gensets have very "clean" power although the frequency may vary a bit. Most loads are pretty insensitive to minor line freq variations.

If you have a Kill-A-Watt meter plug it in and see what you get. For really sensitive loads like a PC etc use a UPS in front of the load to provide protection.

I like your suggestion of isolating your house during a failure by turning off the main breaker. Only trouble could come from it tripping from inrush when you turn it back on if you have a lot of active loads.
Indeed the bouncing power that goes with many outages causes a lot of damage. All air conditioners should have a delayed relay for the compresser to prevent stalls and possible damage from trying to restart with head pressure.

Post# 688834 , Reply# 32   7/11/2013 at 21:07 (1,559 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Thanks, I do have a Kill-a-Watt meter, will try it and see what I get. 


I think flipping the main breaker does two things, one it prevents surges when the power comes back on and two it helps clean the contacts.  I recall hearing or reading that the main and I'd guess other breakers should be flipped perhaps annually to prevent corrosion.  True or not, I don't know, but ti does not hurt anything.

Post# 689518 , Reply# 33   7/15/2013 at 11:09 (1,555 days old) by DaveTranter (Central England)        
Constant Voltage Transformer

One of these may help to limit 'spike' energy fed through to the load, and will minimise the effects of short 'brownouts' and/or longer 'sags'. Obviously, no protection from actual 'outages'.....

Still far cheaper than a generator/UPS. Can be had from Ebay, etc.

All best

Dave T

Post# 962222 , Reply# 34   10/12/2017 at 21:54 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
--And the Audio-Phile!

daveamkrayoguy's profile picture
I wonder how, or at least if my stereo is on, and my washer or dryer should "cycle on", if there is any loss of power going to it...

A lot of worry, yet the music never really skips a beat!

So, I guess that's where "how" comes in... Does anyone know more?

-- Dave

Post# 962241 , Reply# 35   10/13/2017 at 01:32 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Real, real, real protection.... and low cost... and really reliable

Unplug absolutely everything. AND NEVER PLUG THEM!

ducks and runs

Post# 962263 , Reply# 36   10/13/2017 at 08:09 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

daveamkrayoguy's profile picture
I have a multiple-plug outlet that actually has surge-protection for my stereo equipment, so reeling back a little, I think I can rest assured that my stuff is safe (even given that there is one plug unused, and saved only for my occasional window fan)...

--Yes, I am at the point of over-load: I have a portable CD that operates via AC adapter and a DVD, that occasionally gets unplugged for my "video tree" plugged into a small power bar that's hitched into that thing, in addition to my mainstream, consisting of my stereo rig, phono (plugged into an aux. equip. outlet in the amp/tuner), cassette, a table lamp and CD...

Just wondered & thought back if there were ever a time I would have gotten a "clipped" sound, or if even the cheapest, modest equipment (audio & video) might have any built-in protection (well, an old TV screen could get fuzzy) from that...

-- Dave

Post# 962422 , Reply# 37   10/14/2017 at 08:21 by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

I had my bedroom TV and VCR plugged into a plain old power strip, one summer we had a lightning strike right outside and it got the TV but not the VCR, the power strip was fine. I also had a real surge protector on my computer, but an inexpensive one, the computer and printer were fine, but we were still on dial up and though the line was plugged into the surge protector, it still got the modem.

After that I got better APC surge strips for the computer and all TV locations. Haven't had any issues since. I usually keep the surge strip for my bedroom TV, VCR, DVD turned off so they aren't using power since I never really use them. I guess there is no protection since it's turned off, but just before the storm I unplugged them all anyway and still haven't plugged back in. All electronics use a small amount of power when turned off so they're ready to turn on when you need them (kind of like a pilot light on a stove or furnace). I figure no sense in wasting power for that on the ones that rarely get used, so keep the supply switched off. It may not be much power but still if it saves a few dollars why not.

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