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How many 'joules' do I need for my surge protector?

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Showing 1-18 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 1, 2010 1:03:03 PM PST
flgafl says:
I don't know about techno stuff:
I need a surge protector (for 2 plugs) for a $550 t.v. I also need one for an expensive home theater that has many components hooked up to it. I see they range $20-$100 for same amount of 'joules'. ??? Best Buy is wanting me to purchase the Monster for $79. I have older surge strips that have 6 outlets. Would this suffice?
Any help is truly appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2010 4:06:19 PM PST
No, get a better unit that protects against voltage sags and brownouts on top of spikes, and preferably voltage regulation as well. sells a couple brands, Belkin, APC, CyberPower. Best Buy sells Monster and Panamax, and they certainly look cool. I think you could get the highest joules you can afford, but if lightning strikes at ground zero, there's probably no product on the market that could adequately protect your equipment. Best way is to unplug your expensive equipment during storms.

Another alternative -- check out one of these Brickwall surge protectors.

Posted on Mar 1, 2010 4:14:03 PM PST
Audiolad says:
Flgafl: No matter what the package says, you are at the mercy of the company's reliability (are they telling the truth). This has been brought up before about protections, but one way you might want to approach this a battery back up (even a 5 min backup) to filter your equipment from surges. Even there, I would buy a protection strip to give the battery protection as well (my strip was a $14.95 Dynex). You might also check at staples, who carries a lot of different ones (and the battery pack).

Posted on Mar 6, 2010 5:17:33 AM PST
Junster says:
The best rule of thumb is you have to spend at least $25 to get a decent surge protector. Oh and those strips? worthless.. for real surge protection. If you can find a "isobar" buy it. they are very good. If a lightning hit is bad enough, nothing will save your stuff. Most damages come from pud switching anyway.

Posted on Mar 6, 2010 5:38:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 6, 2010 9:49:12 AM PST
Audiolad says:
Junster: "Strips are worthless", I'm glad those companies that use fuses and circuit breakers are really ripping you off. I guess if you bought yours at Big Lots that might be true, but it saved my computer at work more than once. The building had electrical problems much of the time and the type I bought were one and done with a gas filled breaker(not sure what the gas was), but whenever a surge hit the unit blew and that was it. I always kept extra units (usually had two in the drawer). Might have been expensive, but it did work and yes it was a strip.

Posted on Mar 6, 2010 6:41:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 6, 2010 6:50:23 AM PST
One answer to your question would be "the more joules" - the better. No one can tell you how strong your next voltage surge will be or how many surges you will receive weekly.

Surge protectors have a finite life. They should be replaced regularly. Typically a device known as an MOV is used and these "wear out" over time.

Also look for a rating such as UL1449.

Your question is quite difficult and there are no easy answers. In my case I recently went with a high end APC box. Prior to that I purchased any strip with a UL1499 rating and threw them away at regular intervals

Probably more info than you want:

The APC box I purchased : APC H15BLK 12-Outlet H-Type Rack-Mountable Power Conditioner (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (note - there was a closeout on the same box with a silver face plate and I payed only $99.00)

Posted on Mar 8, 2010 6:21:41 PM PST
B. Hughes says:
Besides the usual surge protectors and UPS systems, you need to install a good surge protector at your electrical panel. Visit:

Posted on Mar 9, 2010 7:10:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 9, 2010 7:11:18 AM PST
The best way to help you survive surges is to follow this path of culmulative surge supressors (from my limited research/understanding).

Lightning Arrestor (powerline/phone line) > Whole house surge protector/surpressor (circuit box) > Surge strip/box (outlet) > UPS (surge strip/box)

Not sure if a line conditioner is really necessary beyond the UPS, but it might? The lightning arrestor is probably up to the utility company in your area. I know in south Florida, FPL does put them in to avoid blown transformers, which are time consuming and costly to replace.

Feel free to correct any errors I may have made.

Posted on Mar 9, 2010 7:29:05 AM PST
Audiolad says:
I'm skeptical that anything sitting on the box will stop the lightning, it may save appliances on the other side of the fuse box, but it won't stop lightning. Good chance that a hit is already put your home in jeopardy such as fires.

Posted on Mar 9, 2010 7:29:06 AM PST
Audiolad says:
I'm skeptical that anything sitting on the box will stop the lightning, it may save appliances on the other side of the fuse box, but it won't stop lightning. Good chance that a hit is already put your home in jeopardy such as fires.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2010 7:45:20 AM PST
A lightning arrestor will bypass the transformer that feeds your house and ground the electricity at the powerline. If it gets into the home, there is little to nothing you can do. The safest bet is to unplug everything during an electrical storm.

Posted on Mar 9, 2010 9:12:43 AM PST
Audiolad says:
ACP: Up plug and run.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2010 1:38:03 PM PST
flgafl says:
Thank you for all your suggestions. I'm totally confused now! I think I'm going with a conditioner on one tv and a high joules surge on the other. I will definitely look into what the power company suggests.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 9, 2010 1:40:31 PM PST
A line conditioner will only deal with the small surges that constantly exist in an electrical network. You're definitely going to want surge supressors for when there are more damaging spikes present.

Posted on Mar 9, 2010 2:21:09 PM PST
Audiolad says:
There are other problems that exist besides voltage spikes. There has been a lot written about Marantz receivers that have gone out of service for no apparent reason. It seems that our friends at the cable companies have a practice of sending death signals through the system to kill unsuspecting illegal boxes that steal channels. Turns out Marantz didn't account for this in their design and have some of unhappy owners. I'm sure they've designed fixes now, but that has caused a bunch of negative reviews (even on Amazon).

Posted on Mar 9, 2010 4:17:50 PM PST
MikeT says:
A few other suggestions. Good surge protection, lightning strikes, line conditioning, etc.. goes back to the basics and is best dealt with in multiple tiers. IOW, don't rely on ONE device to handle it all.

Your main electric panel (and both/all circuits) should be well grounded. The typical suggested ground is a (minimum) 8 foot copper spike (or relatively thick copper pipe), pounded into the ground with only three inches above ground level to attach the ground wire from your panel. Often builders cheat on this by using either much shorter spikes (who is going to dig down 8 feet to check?) or they use cheaper metals (which is ok, but not as good as copper), or worse yet a combination of BOTH of these cheats. :)

Surgebreaker® Secondary Surge Arresters$file/surgeprotectionFrameset.htm

FYI: I had both 1 & 2 installed by a licensed electrician for under $160, they are not expensive.
The idea is for the Surgebreaker to take the "bigger hits", better protecting your location surge protectors, as well as providing basic surge protection for all devices in the home.
Even the best ground and surge supressor won't protect you from a direct lightning strike hit. The better the ground and surge supressor the more they can help, but a direct hit will fry most everything regardless. These are really better defences against indirect or nearby hits (far more common than direct hits). And these certainly help in man made surges like when the power is restored after an outtage, or a contractor working next door really screws up. Talk to any insurance adjuster and they'll tell you they get FAR more claims from man made generated surges than from lightning strikes (direct or indirect). :)

3. LOCATION SURGE PROTECTION (and Line Conditioning if desired)
With 1 & 2 above you still need local/location surge protection at your devices (tv, dvd, computer, etc..)
I use the more expensive Surge/Line Conditioner units made by for my two HDTV's and my AV rack, but any good surge suppressor will suffice. I have no real line interference issues (this can cause audible or visible "noise" on audio and video gear if it is bad enough), nor do I think my audio "sounds better" with line conditioning as some profess. My desire for line conditioning is solely to lengthen the life of my electronics. Every electronic device you plug into an electrical outlet is bombarded with voltage fluctuations, it's a natural occurrence in electricity. For very sensitive electronics like audio & video gear this can have a direct impact on the life span of the device. How many times have we heard "the power supply went" on most any type of electrical device.

Even with line conditioning power supplies do go bad, they don't last forever. But such conditioning can certainly reduce the likelihood of such occurrences.

And remember, most any type or technology of surge suppression does eventually stop protecting your devices against surges.
After getting hit by a gazillion surges large and small, dealing with voltage fluctuations, and just plain electronics wearing out, they must be replaced over time. Maybe the power supply will give out? :)

Posted on Mar 9, 2010 8:38:14 PM PST
A/V guru says:
The only way I've ever seen to avoid lightning strikes and other surges reliably is to use a UPS.

connect two UPS (one to the other) and make sure all of your stuff is actually running through the batteries. IF (and I do mean IF) a lightning strike makes it through 2 UPS where everything was actually running off the batteries...your house is burning down...

Posted on Mar 11, 2010 7:08:53 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2010 6:33:40 AM PST
Whether you use whole house surge protection ( I do) - it is wise to use multiple stages (tiers). Whole house plus individual surge protection is the way to go.

However what is not appreciated is these surge protectors wear out.
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Discussion in:  Home Theater forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  18
Initial post:  Mar 1, 2010
Latest post:  Mar 11, 2010

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