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Author Topic: Whole House Surge Protector  (Read 6056 times)

Posts: 38

« on: March 31, 2011, 06:23:41 AM »


I am thinking about buying a whole house surge protector - one that connects into the home's circuit breaker box.

There are many to choose from.

I am currently leaning towards the Leviton 51110-PTC
because it can also protect the telephone line and cable tv/internet line.

Any opinions or recommendations?



Posts: 1418

« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2011, 06:40:14 AM »

I would be leery of any 'do it all' tvss unit. I am unfamiliar with Leviton's equipment so I cant really pass judgement other than most likely they are manufacturered for Leviton by someone elese most likely out of china. I will look at it when I get a chance.

These guys are offering some of the best service entry TVSS available on the market. Made in the USA. No I don't work for them.

Also note they have separate devices for telephone and cable TV. (Pepole still have telephone wires into their homes ?)

Be very wary of the claims of any manufacturer when dealing with TVSS units there is a lot of smoke and mirrors and flat out bull out there.

Also follow a few simple guidelines when installing the unit regardless of what you end up with.

Keep the wire leads as short as possible with a minimum of bends ! Ensure that the system ground has low impedance (less than 25 ohms).

I went and looked at the product sheet for the leviton unit and a few things jumped out at me.

First it is a NEMA1 enclosure which means it is for indoor installation only.

It has no disconnect so a 2 pole breaker will have to be utilized (assuming your house is single phase).

Second I did not see the clamping voltages listed anywhere. Yea its rated for 48KA which is probably suitable for a 'house' but the real important factors are clamping voltage and rise time. I dident see either of those mentioned.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 06:48:27 AM by KE4JOY » Logged

Posts: 491

« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2011, 07:43:01 AM »

JOY, I clicked on the link and looks like a nice website, but I didn't see any models listed with just a quick casual look.  Could you recommend a model suitable for a typical whole house of 200 amp serivce here in USA?

Where to buy?  The big box hardware stores (Lowes, Home Depot, etc) have a limited selection.

Thank you for any suggestions and guidance.

73 de Ken H>

Posts: 1418

« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2011, 08:20:17 AM »

Wow I went back to SSI's website and your right. You cant get specific data without a 'request'. That is absurd...

I have specifier disks here which have all the data for their entire product line but that doesent help you much.

As to where to get them? I don't believe SSI sells through any of the big box stores. Oh and there not cheap when compared to some of the junk thats out there. Let me see what is available.

Some good manufactures (in no particular order) include Intermatic, SSI, Square 'D', APT (Advanced Protection Technology), and Current Technology.

This is APT's residential line of equipment.

I don't know what lines the box stores carry. Im headed to one at lunch time I will look around in that section to see what is offered.

I am not saying that the device the OP listed is "Bad" its just that I cant get any real concrete data on it to compare. That and the fact that it is a 'all in one' sort of a swiss army knife suppressor raises an eyebrow.

One thing is certain though it would be better than nothing (if installed properly).

Posts: 364

« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2011, 08:55:25 AM »

I have an Intermatic PanelGuard model IG1240RC bonded to my main panel. So far I am pleased with it, whatever that means. It is for AC power only. You can Google Intermatic and see the models available. Living in central Ohio, I think my greatest risk from electrical storms is through the power grid. So I chose the panel surge protection. And most important all cables and coax come into my common point ground panel which is also bonded to the mains and a network of ground rods connected with 1/2" copper tubing.

And in shopping for whole house protectors I believe that electrical distributors rather than the big box stores is the way to go.

73 and stay safe,

Posts: 6750

« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2011, 09:28:59 AM »

A ham friend and I just got off the telephone after talking about this very subject!  He couldn't remember the brand or rating of the surge suppressor he has on his electrical system (goes across the 240VAC line at the entrance to the breaker box) so he made a logical suggestion which I pass on to you.

Go to your local electrical contractor, preferably one that works in industrial electricity, and get his recommendation.  No doubt he would also install it, which I also recommend!

While I do all of my own wiring there are some things I leave to the pros!!


A Pessimist is Never Disappointed!

Posts: 2483

« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2011, 09:48:10 AM »

I live on a 700 acre farm and the 14.4KV primary power line that feeds my house is over one mile long.  It runs through an open field.  That means there is NOTHING around it - no trees, no hills, no nothing.  I am the only house on the line and of course I am at the end of the  line.  When lightning strikes, that combination often means trouble.  After getting two devastating lighting hits in 5 years, I installed a whole house surge protector that mounts between the power meter and the meter base.  It is grounded to the power line ground via a short, straight, length of #2 copper cable.

I am not one to think this device (bunch of MOV's) will shunt a direct lightning strike to ground, but in the 9 years since it was installed, I have only had one minor lightning indicent.  I think that one came on the TV antenna, not on the power line.

BTW - this device was recommended and sold and installed by the local power company.  They even added $10 a month to my power bill until it was paid for.  It comes with (I think) a million dollar liability guarantee, if lightning damages your house via the power line.  Collecting damages may be another matter, but so far I have not needed to try.

Dick  AD4U
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 12:17:05 PM by AD4U » Logged

Posts: 2358

« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2011, 10:53:45 AM »

Dick  AD4U has a good point there. I had a house in Forest County Pa that was  located close to a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 480 foot tall radio tower. Matter fact there transformer vault was in my yard. Any ways the state(Commonwealth) had the local co-op (power company) install one those surge protection devices installed on my meter. I can not prove it worked although i assume it must have because i use to sit back during thunderstorms and watch the tower get hit. I never had any problems during a storm. Now i have a place in Latrobe i contacted the power company here and they installed the same type unit here and for the same cost and liability cost Dick  AD4U stated. They check the unit and maintain it and if it does get smoked they will replace it i think that is a great deal. Jeff

Posts: 680

« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2011, 03:29:11 PM »

A couple things to be aware of:
1) How it's mounted is important. They *do* occasionally catch fire, and you don't want molten transient suppressor bits falling down inside your wall.   

2) These are often a limited life item (i.e. it needs to be replaced periodically) (unless it's something like a spark gap), so what's the expected life and how will you know when its at end of life?

3) The clamping voltage isn't particularly critical, unless it's too low.  Most, if not all, consumer electronics these days can take a short 400V hit without damage (there's a study out there that actually talks about >1kV), particularly if it's common mode.  If the clamp level is too low, then line surges and swells (a slow rise in voltage, not a spike) causes the suppressor to go into partial conduction, which makes it hot.  Each of those little swell events consumes some of the life, as well.

There *are* industrial standards for power quality which you can reference.

Posts: 2415

« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2011, 09:28:21 PM »

Here is a Delta on Ebay for
36 bucks plus shipping.

Decent whole house surge arrestors can usually be had at discount type home supply stores in the 75 to 100 dollar range.

Posts: 82

« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2011, 10:33:17 PM »

My two cents worth.
I use a TVSS at my home location and also in the distribution panel in my barn/radio room.
The product used is manufactured by Eaton. There web site has some pretty good referances and info on surge suppresion.
I found out about this company many years ago from a sales company who sells these to the US Navy and others. The company I work for also use these on some of  the oil rigs...
Reading with interest the big box stores selling something for 100 buck to protect the whole house, the units I purchased, even with brother in law pricing was over 250 USD.....
Anyway, no issues on my end with these in 15 years.

good reading men, 73 de LA1BRA aka KB5VWZ tom

Posts: 1418

« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2011, 07:13:11 AM »

Yea I overlooked Eaton. They make a pretty good product too (they bought out another manufacturer). They had some quality control issues at first but are rolling out good products now.

Just met with the Eaton 'powerware' rep yesterday  Cheesy

Posts: 6252

« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2011, 07:45:36 AM »

If you want a good unit, don't go to a home center like Lowe's or Home Depot.  Go to an electrical supply house.  They DO serve the general public.  Furthermore, the counterperson there has had some training and has heard opinions on different electrical add-ons, such as the whole house suppressor.  He may be able to show you data sheets and recommend a unit from what he knows about what the contractors buy.

Yes, you will pay more, but what is your and your families safety worth to you?
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 07:47:12 AM by K1CJS » Logged

Posts: 3746

« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2011, 06:04:05 PM »


when I worked at our local hospital they used the
square D cubes that attached to the outside of the panel.

this Eaton model is also available (aka Cutler Hammer)

and the Leviton unit mentioned in the original post

Be sure to shop around, the markup on these devices varies,
Home Depot or Lowes can get you any of the above by special order.
Disclamer: I work for Home Depot.

73 james

Posts: 3202


« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2011, 07:18:31 PM »

Have you talked with your electric utility?  In Berkeley County, SC, we have Berkeley Electric Cooperative.  One call to them and they come and put the unit on your meter AND let you pay for it in installments on your monthly bill!
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