Non-Grounded outlet (work with surge protector??)

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  #1  
Old 11-29-05, 07:17 PM
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Non-Grounded outlet (work with surge protector??)

I am in the process of moving into a new house I just purchased.

It is an older home and only a section of the house has been updated to include new outlets with are three prong and GROUNDED (most importantly).

However there are several locations in the house where I will likely want to place both a TV / DVD.....and another location where a computer and fax will be set up - Currently these locations have the older "two prong" NON-grounded outlets -

What are my options? (without having to rewire the whole situation right off the bat)

Will a quality surge protector be helpful still? - Will it still protect by comptuer / TV from power surges and low surges??

Thanks for any help -
 
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  #2  
Old 11-29-05, 07:44 PM
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Sounds like the house is quite a poor match to your electrical needs.

Without rewiring, all you can do is provide GFCI protection so that you can plug this stuff in. It won't have any grounding. Computers will then be subject to possible eratic operation, and surge suppressors will be mostly ineffective. These are risks you'll have to live with, but I don't think that they are huge risks.

A better idea, short of rewiring the whole house, would be to have an electrician install new circuits to just those areas of the house where you will be using electronic equipment.
 
  #3  
Old 11-29-05, 08:11 PM
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Thanks for the reply -

So, surge protectors work basically off the outlet itself being grounded (first and foremost) - I figured that -

Though I am somewhat surprised the surge protector still wouldn't provide protection against brownouts and electrical surges to some extent (even without the outlet being grounded).


Having an electrician come in and install new circuts to just those 3 outlets I need is probably what I will do then.

Thanks again for the advice.

Any idea off the top of your head on costs for a job like this?
 
  #4  
Old 11-30-05, 04:58 AM
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The inexpensive surge suppressors work by shunting the surge to the ground wire. Without a ground there is no where for the surge to go but to your equipment.

As for the erratic operation that John eluded to, it is mainly computers that might behave erratically. This is more of an issue with older computers and more of an issue with connecting the computer to peripherals (mainly printers using a parallel connection). Newer computers are less subject to this erratic behavior.

However, newer computers (desktops anyway) still need either a grounded plug or a GFCI protected one. These computers have a metal power supply and exposed metal on their cases. You don't want to run the risk the metal will become energized and shock someone.

As for the cost of adding new receptacles, that's a tough call. It all depends on the labor involved, as the labor will be the big item. To get an idea how tough it might be, look at your residence. Think about how difficult it will be to run new cables from the locations you want the receptacles back to the circuit breaker panel. Are these second floor rooms or first floor rooms? IS the basement finished or unfinished? Is there an attic above the second floor?
 
  #5  
Old 11-30-05, 07:24 AM
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Surge protectors provide absolutely no protection against brownouts. They are designed to protect electronic equipment from VERY HIGH VOLTAGE spikes of very short duration ( microseconds.) The joule rating is so low ( even a good surge surpressor is probaly under a thousand joules) that in the event of a voltage surge by the power company, the MOV in the surge surpressor will immediately burn up.
 
  #6  
Old 11-30-05, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft
The inexpensive surge suppressors work by shunting the surge to the ground wire. Without a ground there is no where for the surge to go but to your equipment.

As for the erratic operation that John eluded to, it is mainly computers that might behave erratically. This is more of an issue with older computers and more of an issue with connecting the computer to peripherals (mainly printers using a parallel connection). Newer computers are less subject to this erratic behavior.

However, newer computers (desktops anyway) still need either a grounded plug or a GFCI protected one. These computers have a metal power supply and exposed metal on their cases. You don't want to run the risk the metal will become energized and shock someone.

As for the cost of adding new receptacles, that's a tough call. It all depends on the labor involved, as the labor will be the big item. To get an idea how tough it might be, look at your residence. Think about how difficult it will be to run new cables from the locations you want the receptacles back to the circuit breaker panel. Are these second floor rooms or first floor rooms? IS the basement finished or unfinished? Is there an attic above the second floor?

Thanks for the comments and advice - appreicate it -

The three areas where I need new plugs are all on the first floor and I do have a somewhat finished basement....underhalf the house...and the other half where there is no finished basement does have a good size crawl space (meaning you can easily "duck-walk" your way through -
 
  #7  
Old 11-30-05, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by meade95
Currently these locations have the older "two prong" NON-grounded outlets -
If it is safe to do so, you may wish to verify that there is no ground available in those 'two-prong' boxes. For example if there's a receptacle with a metallic box and raceway or conduit that is continuous to the service panel, that may serve as a ground. Under some circumstances rated flexible metallic raceway (aka Greenfield) may serve as a ground, for example if the distance to a ground wire or rated raceway is something less than six feet. In other cases you may find type AC cable (aka BX) that is rated for grounding. In still other cases you may find type AC cable that is not rated for grounding but is sometimes used as a "better than nothing" ground.

If there is an acceptable ground, and local codes do not prohibit it, you can use a self-grounding receptacle such as the Leviton BR15 or 5300 series. The only definitive answer will be found after you compare your situation to what is acceptable in local and state codes and the NEC.
 
  #8  
Old 11-30-05, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by meade95
Though I am somewhat surprised the surge protector still wouldn't provide protection against brownouts and electrical surges to some extent (even without the outlet being grounded).
Very few surge protectors will work without a good ground; the ones that are effective without a ground are prohibitavely expensive in most cases.

If you want protection from both brownouts and surges (as well as many other power anomolies), you need to buy an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) from a company such as APC or Tripp-Lite. These feature both surge protection and backup battery power for safe computer shutdowns during brownouts and outages. However, all UPSs I have ever seen require a grounded outlet so you will need to have one installed anyway.
 
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