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Need a whole house surge protector

johndoe74

Member
I am planning to install a whole house surge protector soon and wonder what brand should I get? Intermatic, Leviton or Panamax? I saw them on Smarthome, the Intermatic is $79.99 and claim to protect up 1200 joules/48000A, but the Leviton costs $189 and $279.99 and protects up to 950 joules/50000A, while the Panamax is $99.99 and protects up to 2700 joules/60000A.

Anyone has experience on one of them? Seems like Panamax is the best choice, but I kinda doubt their specs.
 

bfisher

Active Member
I have a Panamax whole-house. I assume it's working... lights are still on it and haven't lost any equipment to surges yet. It's one of those things that are tough to measure how well it works until it fails...
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
what about some sort of 'warranty'? My house just got hit by lightning, so I am interested in any good whole house protectors which will offer to replace your equipment if it doesn't do its job.
 

johndoe74

Member
Panamax has $10k warranty. I am also currently leaning towards Panamax.

bfisher, did you install the Panamax yourself? I am wondering how easy is it to DIY on this.
 

WayneW

Senior Member
As I recall, some of these warranties were on top of (or after) your homeowners insurance and really only covered your homeowners deductible, so read the fine print carefully.
 

wuench

Senior Member
I had the Leviton in my previous house. Like it was mentioned above, I assumed it was working.

Most spikes I have experienced that fried stuff have been through the phone line.

Also, make sure you install it correctly. The surge protector needs to be the only device on the first breakers in the box, so you will most likely need to move breakers. At least that is what the Leviton specified.
 

bfisher

Active Member
johndoe74 said:
bfisher, did you install the Panamax yourself? I am wondering how easy is it to DIY on this.
No, I paid an electrician to do it. After watching him, it wasn't hard - but I felt better having it done professionally. Seems to me it cost less than $75 for him to come out and do it.
 

johndoe74

Member
wuench said:
Also, make sure you install it correctly. The surge protector needs to be the only device on the first breakers in the box, so you will most likely need to move breakers. At least that is what the Leviton specified.
Is this true for all whole house surge protectors? I saw the Panamax's instructions, it didn't mention this, and from the instruction picture, it is OK to install other breakers on the same line. Intermatic's instruction just say put the breaker as close as possible to the surge protector, which implies could be anywhere in the panel.
 

Steve

Senior Member
I did some research on this after losing 10 UPB switches which was not even during a storm or anything apparent. First, some experts feel that some of the ratings given such as Joules is meaningless (see this post).

They also say if your wires are longer than just a few inches then you are diminishing the effectiveness of the unit. The best whole house protector is one that fits behind your meter, it has essentially no wire leads and protects the point of entrance. Some utilities will sell them to you, some rent them. While renting costs more, you do have the benefit of the utility maintaining it and replacing it if it ever goes bad. Next best would be a unit in a NEMA-3R enclosure at the service entrance. Last choice would be a unit by your main panel. If you only do your panel, SquareD makes a circuit breaker replacement that eliminates the wire leads. It is important to wire it in as close to the service entry as possible, so in a breaker panel, it should be near the top.

As far as warranties, the ones that do come with them have more holes than swiss cheese with all kinds of requirements and outs for them. And then then usually only cover 'white goods' which is major appliances like kitchen stuff, not electronic switches and devices.

Anything with a plug should also have a local surge suppressor in addition to the whole house.

Also, many, if not most surges actually come from WITHIN your own house from devices with motors like your AC, Fridge, Dishwasher and Vacuums. These surges build up over time and act as 'electronic rust' and slowly degrade your sensitive electronics, hence the need for local suppressor where you can. Of course these do no good for wired in switches.

Bottom line, do the best you can but nothing is perfect.
 

Gemini

Active Member
I installed one of these Cutler-Hammer a couple of years ago and have been kind of surprised at the lack of strange failures with the electronic stuff in the house..... now I may have bought better electronics or just have been lucky, but I just don't remember anything failing since the install. I like it because it does deal with the power,phone and cable connections.
 

JeffVolp

Member
We live up on a ridge, and I am concerned about nearby lightning strikes. I added the Leviton 51110 Surge Protector directly adjacent to our main distribution panel. It may not do much if we receive a direct strike, but I hope it catches any surges induced when lightning hits the street lamps down the street. The electrical distribution itself is underground.

I selected the Leviton 51110 because it was compatible with X10 communications. Many have reported problems with plug-in surge protectors causing problems with X10 communications.
 
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