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Do i need an expensive surge protector or would a cheap one do?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by Funtoss, May 12, 2011.

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  1. Funtoss

    Funtoss New Member

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    I have been using a cheap one since 2008 lol and i dont even know if its a surge protector but it has 6 outlet for power (switch) :p

    I m thinking of getting a good surge protector now.. but the question is do i really need one?
     
  2. freebie

    freebie

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    I always recommend a surge protector, but i don't personally think price matters as long as you are using one it will help, but i suppose the more you spend the more protection you do have.

    Some of the more expensive ones come with warranties for your goods though, mine was £24.99 and covers for goods up to £1000 if damaged my a surge.
     
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  3. Fourstaff

    Fourstaff Moderator Staff Member

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    I would say depends on the electricity supply of your place. For example, here in London, the electricity is really reliable, so its not as important to have a surge protector than, say, in Philippines where typhoons can wreck havoc in the power supply. I would just use an el-cheapo one, its better than nothing. Depends on how anal you are, and how expensive your rig is.
     
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  4. silkstone

    silkstone

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    I wouldn't bother with anything overly expensive, a basic one should do and a decent PSU should also offer some sort of surge protection anyway.

    I wish i could find a decent surge protector.. i believe i lost some household appliances to big surges.. luckily my computer has been safe so far (touch wood) i just have a powerstrip with a fuse.
     
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  5. lilhasselhoffer

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    Surge protectors, at least the cheap kind, are basically RC tank circuits that take voltage spikes, and make them (under ideal circumstances) disappear. Higher prices generally mean higher capacities and warranties attached to the parts (though it could also mean active power factor correction and microcontrollers).

    Ideally, capacitors last forever. Unfortunately, we know this is not true in the real world. Dielectric fries, overvoltages pop capacitors, and continuing stresses (even within tolerances) eventually fatigue parts. Their failure is inevitable. This is why an observant person sees that those surge protection warranties generally have a life span.

    This said, I have to ask you how much you are willing to spend and how much of a problem are surges? $50, 50 euros, or 50 pounds (yeah, US english keyboards lack the symbols and I'm too lazy to look them up) spent every five years will insure a continued level of performance and safety for your hardware. This is a very sound investment if you have regular (monthly, every other month, or more frequent) power losses. The surge as power is restored screws with sensitive electronics. If power failures are far less frequent (yearly or fewer) then you are throwing money away with the continued expense of surge protectors. The gray area in between is discretionary. Power surges occur, but the likelihood that they fry a system in 4 years (likely replacement cycle for a 2+ hardware generation gap) is low. The added expense may not justify the protection they deliver (two more surges killing a system doesn't matter if that system is already recycled.


    In short: look at where you live and how the power supply stands. Fourstaff was entirely correct in saying discretion is the right path. Unless you're completely paranoid, have a very high end rig that is meant to last through several (5 or more) years, or live in an area where the power is out often then a surge protector may not be a reasonable expense. Btw, most multiple outlet power cords aren't surge protectors. They may have overheating protection via a thermocoupling, but do nothing to suppress transient surges.
     
  6. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    @lilhasselhoffer

    I was gonna reply, but after having read your really super one, I don't think I can top it. :respect: :toast:

    Funtoss: take his advice! :)

    I'm lucky, in that where I live, my mains power is really reliable and never has any spikes, so I don't need one.
     
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  7. Arctucas

    Arctucas

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    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Funtoss

    Funtoss New Member

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    okay so i guess i'll just get a good quality surge protector :) thanks everyone! :D
     
  9. westom

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    Take a $3 power strip. Add some ten cent protector parts. It sells for $7 in the supermarket. Or gets hyped with a fancy box to sell for $25 or $60 under names such as Belkin, APC, or Tripplite. Same protector circuit. But many call it 'quality' only because it costs more money.

    Monster has a long history is identifying these markets. Then selling the same product with even more hype for $80 or $150. Same circuit. But they are selling to people who know only what advertising and hearsay tells them to believe. Who do not even view manufacturer spec numbers.

    Any answer without numbers and other fundamental facts is how scams get promoted. If your protector is that good, then it lists protection numbers for each type of surge. Good luck. It will claim its hundreds of joules will absorb surges that are hundreds of thousands of joules. And say nothing more. A majority will tell you that is 'quality' because numbers are ignored. Because so many others said so.

    Protection is always about where energy dissipates. If you do not connect a surge harmlessly to earth (ie a 'less than 10 foot' connection), then it will go hunting for earth destructively via appliances. Nothing inside a house will avert that hunt. Nothing even claims to.

    Informed consumers earth only one 'whole house' protector. Good reason why more responsible companies sell them. General Electric, Siemens, ABB, Leviton, Intermatic, Keison, and Square D are only some of the more responsible companies. Is your protector manufacturer listed? An effective solution sells in both Lowes and Home Depot for less than $50.

    A protector is only as effective as its earth ground (ie 'less than 10 feet'). A plug-in protector has no earthing, will not discuss it, and that same protector circuit selling for $7 in a grocery store also sells for how much under hyped brand names? Where is that numeric spec that says it will stop what three miles of sky could not? Why do so many recommend by ignoring every spec number? Effective protectors mean no destructive energy anywhere inside the building. Earth a protector that costs about $1 per protected appliance. Then everything has the same and superior protection.

    Quality is never about the protector. Quality is about where hundreds of thousands of joules dissipate. Quality is defined by what a protector does: a protector is only as effective as its earth ground.
     
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  10. Fourstaff

    Fourstaff Moderator Staff Member

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    The way I see it, the surge protector can do one of the two things: funnel the energy to ground as what you said, or, break the circuit. Given that you will need to drill your house up if you are going to install thicker cables for the ground cable and earth it, we can discount that alternative, leaving us with the option of breaking the circuit. From my understanding surges takes a few milliseconds to build up, so a good surge protector will break it in less time. What do you recommend then?
     
  11. FreedomEclipse

    FreedomEclipse ~Technological Technocrat~

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    I use a 25quid surge protector. not at home at the moment but its one of the ones with lifetime warranty and 1000cash if any of your hadware gets fried while using it.
     
  12. lilhasselhoffer

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    I agree with you on the Monster front. Their products have been shown to be absolute crap whenever compared to other manufacturers.

    I don't agree about the protection and circuits. Through your same abstract logic, the same circuit exists in my $30 PSU rated at 300 watts as in my $200 PSU rated at 1000 watts, so the later is a waste of money.... This may not be the conclusion that you meant to draw, but it is how I read your post.

    Circuits are not a good way to judge anything. Components within the circuits differentiate them, and are often one of the selling points. As I stated, an RC tank circuit can be made by anyone. Where there is differentiation is the quality and tolerances of the components. Steel is cheaper than copper, which is why some people use it in power strips. You notice a difference when the steel heats up due to internal resistance, which justified spending more money on the copper.

    Addressing your protection issues, unless underwritten the quoted figures are about as reliable as a random guess. If produced in a foreign country (and most part are unless you're in China or Taiwan), the quoted materials may be substituted. Copper and brass can be made to look similar, but have very different real world performance. On top of part swapping, the rated figures are with new products. As fatigue sets in performance decreases. Your magic numbers may well experience exponential decline as time passes, making the discounted products (assuming their performance is constant) look like a sound investment. This all travels back to my earlier point about lifespans on warraties/guaranties.

    To put all of this into Latin, and so I get to sound like a know-it-all prick, Caveat Emptor. Name brands may carry a higher price, but they have more financial clout to fix your problems should anything happen. No names are cheaper, but the likelihood that you get anything replaced is about as high as finding an actual address (woo hoo PO boxes).
     
  13. trickson

    trickson OH, I have such a headache

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    No ! Surge protectors are really ( IMHO ) Junk ! What I would get ( If you are wanting to protect your computer ) Is a battery backup UPC this is really the only way to protect your computer and the hardware inside . Surge protectors are not at all good for this , They will let small surges and dirty voltage through this will cause damage and if the power drops or goes out it will do nothing at all in protecting your computer .
     
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  14. Fourstaff

    Fourstaff Moderator Staff Member

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    That's why you have a quality psu ;) Surge protectors are only good for protecting your psu.
     
  15. trickson

    trickson OH, I have such a headache

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    But a power supply will not protect you against power outages and dirty power not at all . Nor will as serge protector protect against this .
     
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  16. Fourstaff

    Fourstaff Moderator Staff Member

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    Decent PSU will not protect against power outage, no, but it can sure "clean up" the dirty power. Check the TPU power reviews for a better picture. UPS can protect against power outage, but that is horribly expensive and your computer can take a few power cuts just fine. At least, my computer did take quite a few and was still alive.
     
  17. westom

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    Nothing stops a destructive surge. If it did, then the superor protector (galvanic isolation) is already inside every electronic appliance. Galvanic isolation is thousands of volts. OP's concern is the surge that can overwhelm existing protection. That type of surge cannot be stopped by breaking any connection. No plug-in solution claims any such protection.

    Where are these massive wires? Protection means no surge is inside. Why are you discussing massive wires inside walls when protection is done outside a house? Please stop confusing people with contrarian assumptions.

    Effective protection means no new wires or protectors inside a house. Effective protection means a surge dissipates outside. In any location where all surges (including direct lightning strikes) cause no damage, then no plug-in protectors are used. Earthing outside a building is properly installed and maybe upgraded.

    A so-called 'quality' protector contains a 2 centimeter part that will somehow break a connection? Nonsense. 1) Destructive surges are done in microseconds. Nothing opens, breaks, or disconnects fast enough. 2) That 2 cm will block what three miles of sky could not? Again, nonsense. 3) If it opens that way, then a house fire may result. Subjective claims about protection that, well, read their numbers. Because protection is just above zero, then advertising can hype it as 100% protection. Why is a profit center also called 'quality'?

    Informed consumers earth one 'whole house' protector because even plug-in protectors must be protected.

    Item that best stops surges is already inside dimmer switches, bathroom GFCIs, and digital clocks. Protection means earthing hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly outside a building so that nothing is harmed. By using wires that already exist. For tens or 100 times less money. So that protection already inside every appliance is not overwhelmed.

    If anything disconnects to protect from a surge, then every circuit breaker inside a power box / board is the surge protection. Reality: nothing opens to stop or block a destructive surge. For over 100 years, protection has always been what is sold even in Lowes and Home Depot for less than $50. Go touch and view that Cutler-Hammer solution. View a critical number - 50,000 amps. Verify its dedicated wire to connect short to earth. Protectors are only effective when connected short (ie 'less than 10 feet') to single point earth ground. Even that Cutler-Hammer solution is useless without earthing.

    Provided were more responsible companies who provide these superior and less expensive solutions. An informed consumer addresses what actually does protection. Not a protector. Earth ground gets the most attention. Because hundreds of thousand of joules must dissipate somewhere.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  18. niko084

    niko084

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    Surge protectors wear out, and when they wear out most of them stay working... The good ones stop working once they wear out and the REALLY good ones are REALLY expensive but don't wear out, they absorb and contain the power vs burning it up, issue if it's hit too hard they can start fires.

    Anyways, do some reading up on different types of surge protectors, there are some big differences and a lot that claim to be great and cost the buck and aren't worth a dime!

    I will probably take the time in the nearing future to do a full write up on surge protectors, why, how and what.
     
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  19. Fourstaff

    Fourstaff Moderator Staff Member

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    I am not quite sure whether we are talking about the same thing anymore. Diagram will help here, I think.

    [​IMG]

    This is how I see it: The main surge protector (yours, bought for $50 etc) is outside the house. It does well against your usual high power, high current surges. I believe all house have one of this (or at least, in where I live, because the power company will not grant license if you don't have one of those). And then the one labelled 2 is what I am talking about. My problem is not a big surge, but rather a small one which will not trigger the main one from breaking but will cause the smaller one (surge protector 2) to break. Or at least, that is the picture I had in mind before you tried to correct me.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  20. westom

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    Surge protectors wear out. Either are so grossly undersized as to fail catastrophically (sometimes in a house fire). Or are properly sized as to only change their threshold voltage (Vb) by 10%. So we put numbers to what was only a subjective claim. From one datasheet are testing numbers:
    > The change of Vb shall be measured after the impulse listed below is applied
    > 10,000 times continuously with the interval of ten seconds at room temperature.

    A protector is installed so that typically destructive surges do not overwhelm protection already inside appliance. These surges occur maybe once every seven years. Protectors must conduct numerous surges. And remain functional. Grossly undersized protectors, with obscene profit margins, wear out.

    Why does an informed consumer earth a 50,000 amp 'whole house' protector? Because a direct lightning strike is typically 20,000 amps. Because properly sized protectors remain functional after all surges; even after a direct lightning strike. And because protectors are installed to remain functional even ten years later.

    All effective protectors do same. The NIST (US government research agency that studies this stuff) discusses protectors:
    > You cannot really suppress a surge altogether, nor "arrest" it. What these
    > protective devices do is neither suppress nor arrest a surge, but simply
    > divert it to ground, where it can do no harm.

    Another type of protector was defined previously. Take a $4 power strip. Add some ten cent protector parts. Sell it under the Monster label for $80 or $150. Read its numeric specs. It does not even claim to protect from typically destructive surges. It does protect Monster's quarterly profits. That other type of protector is quickly identified by one missing part. The always required short (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to earth. Monster is not on a list of more responsible companies. A list defined by facts with numbers. A list defined by what defines protection. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground.
     
  21. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Linux Advocate

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    lmao! a post about surge protectors and westom comes in and ruins in with his informative posts which are at the same time completely unneccesary. surge protectors have been highly documented on this site and i think the original OP question has been answered. no need to debate anymore.
     
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  22. westom

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    As the NIST said, "You cannot really suppress a surge altogether, nor "arrest" it." And yet that is what your protector must do. Somehow your protector will stop what three miles of sky could not? A damning question asked again. If your protector does that, then you don't need a protector. Circuits found inside all computers have already done superior protection.

    Your concern is a rare surge that can blow through that thousand volts protection already inside electronics. Why spend $25 or $150 for a device that only protects from surges that are not destructive?

    You have probably heard this often. "My protector sacrificed itself to save my computer?" Well let's include some facts we all learned in school. A surge is electricity. If a surge is incoming to your computer from the left, then same current also must be outgoing somewhere else - simultaneously. Appreciate what all surges (including lightning) do. First current is incoming on one wire (ie AC electric) and outgoing on another (ie telephone). Much later, something fails. That current is flowing through your protector no matter what. If a surge is incoming, then it is also outgoing on some other conductor. Nothing stops a surge.

    Recently, a 33,000 volt wire dropped on local distribution. Electric meters were blown even 30 feet from their pans. So many with power strip protectors had failed protectors and damaged electronics. But my friend knows someone who knows this stuff. He had only one 'whole house' protector properly earthed. He had no damage other than to his electric meter. Anything that would stop that surge is now binned.

    But again, follow the current path. Surge voltage increases as necessary to blow through anything that might stop current. Nothing stops a surge current. Voltage increases as necessary to blow through the protectors in your picture. That same current will flow (harmlessly) if connected directly to earth. And will flow even if ten protectors try to stop it. The only difference? Former means no massive voltage created. Latter means massive voltages. And maybe a house fire from a protector that foolishly tried to stop that surge.

    The NIST said what all protectors do. "
    > What these protective devices do is neither suppress nor arrest a
    > surge, but simply divert it to ground, where it can do no harm.

    OP's best solution (that also costs tens or 100 times less money) starts by ignoring anyone who posted a personal insult, no facts, and no spec numbers. Many are so easily manipulated by advertising as to get mad when reality is provided with reason after reason why. Your figure is missing what absorbs massive energy. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. Your picture does not show the only thing that does protection - earth ground. Where does enegy dissipate?
     
  23. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Linux Advocate

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    stop posting or be infracted.
     
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  24. westom

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    Diagram also implies you never learned how a lightning rod works. A lightning rod does not do house protection. Many assume that only because knowledge comes from observation. They never see the earthing. A lightning rod is only a connecting device. Protection is provided by what observation ignores - earth ground.

    How good will a lightning rod perform? This answer demonstrates more myths. Pointed rods are less effective than blunt rods. Many will deny it when knowledge come from hearsay. Not from science and IEEE papers. Meanwhile, both rods are useless without better earthing.

    Lightning seeks each ground. A best connection to earth was via Franklin's wooden church steeple. Yes, wood is an electrical conductor. But not a very good conductor. So a lighting strike (20,000 amps) creates a high voltage. 20,000 amps times a high voltage is high energy. Church steeple damaged.

    Franklin connected his lightning rod to better earthing via a wire. 20,000 amps through a wire is a tiny voltage. 20,000 amps times a tiny voltage is tiny energy. No damage.

    Surge protectors do the same. Any protector that tries to stop a surge current, instead, creates a high voltage. Same current times a high voltage is destruction. Protectors connected short (ie 'less than 10 feet') to earth means same current creates a low voltage. Same current times a low voltage is energy that will not overwhelm protection inside all appliances.

    Every diagram about surge protection always - no exception - discusses earthing. Or from Dr Kenneth Schneider:
    >Conceptually, lightning protection devices are switches to ground. Once a
    > threatening surge is detected, a lightning protection device grounds the
    > incoming signal connection point of the equipment being protected. Thus,
    > redirecting the threatening surge on a path-of-least resistance
    > (impedance) to ground where it is absorbed.
    > Any lightning protection device must be composed of two "subsystems," a
    > switch which is essentially some type of switching circuitry and a good
    > ground connection-to allow dissipation of the surge energy. The switch, of
    > course, dominates the design and the cost. Yet, the need for a good
    > ground connection can not be emphasized enough. Computer equipment has
    > been damaged by lightning, not because of the absence of a protection
    > device, but because inadequate attention was paid to grounding the device
    > properly.

    You figure is missing the only 'system' component that does all protection (even with lightning rods) - earth ground. OP’s best solution is same. One properly earthed ‘whole house’ protector.
     
  25. erocker

    erocker Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Next time, use the search feature and you'll find similar threads like this to answer your questions.
     
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