The Myth of "Whole House" Surge Protection
● A “whole-house” surge protector provides protection from about 20% of the electrical surges the average home experiences. These come primarily from the electric utility and are caused by lightning, normal utility maintenance, trees falling on wires, cars hitting utility poles, wind damage, etc.
● The other 80% of electrical surges come from INSIDE the house when electrical equipment cycles off and on. Air conditioning, cooking appliances, pumps. compressors, even hair dryers create surges during normal operation. And while these surges are not as immediately devastating as a lightning strike. they occur much more frequently and have a debilitating effect on sensitive electronics over time.
● Exterior wiring to detached buildings, automatic gates, landscape lighting. pumps, fountains. irrigation systems and even “invisible” dog fences provide paths for lightning currents to enter your home. These paths most often do not pass anywhere near the electrical service making a “whole-house” protector useless in preventing them from damaging equipment inside the home.
● “Whole-house” protectors do not protect communication lines such as telephone, cable and satellite television. This makes any system connected to them vulnerable.
● Home automation and lighting control systems often require advanced protection on both power and communication circuits to prevent damage. “Whole-house” protectors do not provide the required level of safety.
● Without a low resistance path to earth ground, the effectiveness of all surge protectors is limited. Some utility companies offer a ‘free grounding inspection” with their units. This means the installing electrician looks to see if there is a ground rod and if it’s connected. They do not test the resistance to earth or provide any additional grounding if needed.
● All major electrical testing and standards groups (UL, IEEE, NEMA, etc.) recommend a multi-tiered surge protection system. This consists of service entrance, branch circuit, and point of use protection. “Whole-house” units provide only service entrance protection.
So you see, a “whole-house” surge protector does NOT provide whole house surge protection. A properly designed system is required to provide adequate protection from the many paths lightning and electrical surges can ﬁnd to damage your computer, security, automation and entertainment systems.