Surge Event this morning - contained protector fire

Old 07-18-15, 02:56 PM
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Surge Event this morning - contained protector fire

This morning we had a significant surge event due to a vehicle vs pole incident about a mile away. Power flickered a few times clearly coming back up at a reduced level prior to failing completely for a while. I have a number of UPS in the house so I heard those for a while until power returned. After it did there was still one alarm which turned out to be my A/V surge protector strip (Monster HT1000, admittedly over a decade old). I tried pressing the reset on the device which caused a small explosion and fire contained within the device. It smoked and gave that distinctive odor of burnt components.

I had put a UPS - TrippLite AVR750 - in a couple of years ago and the HT1000 was connected to a surge protected outlet on the UPS (not battery backed). Based on some research today it seems this may not have been a good decision.

I'm curious though why the HT1000 failed (although everything connected to it was protected mostly, I did lose one hdmi port on my Denon receiver that my fios box was connected to) while there doesn't seem to be any issue with the UPS. Could it be the HT1000 was simple far weaker than the UPS due to age?

I'm also concerned now with my A/V equipment connected to the surge protected ports on the UPS. Since the HT1000 failed I'm wondering if the UPS is doing its job and if my gear is protected. Since it doesn't appear I should daisy chain another suppressor inline am I right to be concerned here?

Hoping for some insight from someone with more home electrical expertise. I'll add we are in a home with underground wiring and in 15 years here we have never had an issue like this. Our power is generally very reliable. I have several computers and a good amount of ham radio gear and never lost a piece of equipment before.
Old 07-18-15, 06:09 PM
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Since it doesn't appear I should daisy chain another suppressor inline am I right to be concerned here?
I wouldn't have any concerns over multiple surge suppression devices, they are all just supplemental protection. I would install a whole house surge protection device at the service panel.

I had put a UPS - TrippLite AVR750 - in a couple of years ago and the HT1000 was connected to a surge protected outlet on the UPS (not battery backed).
It's not a UPS if it isn't backed up with batteries.
Old 07-18-15, 06:47 PM
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Many TVSS are a one shot deal. It will stop a surge, but the device will be destroyed in the process. The Monster HT1000 could be one of those devices.
Old 07-18-15, 07:11 PM
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In this case the AVR series of UPS has both battery backed and surge suppressed only outlets - six of each in this case. I wanted to be clear I wasn't running on one of the battery backed outlets.


My thought was why would there still be enough of a surge after the TrippLite to cause the HT1000 to trip it's breaker, and then behave as it did when I reset the breaker? I'd think power out of the TrippLite would be clean. Although - now that I'm thinking about it - perhaps the surge came from a device backward to the HT1000, for example the surge that took out the hdmi port on the Denon. Clearly something got through!

I am planning on doing the whole house arrestor at the panel asap!
Old 07-19-15, 04:19 AM
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The reset button is a circuit breaker and is not related to the surge protection.

Surge protectors can be built in different ways. The lower cost ones are built the way Tolyn mentioned. Some can have more than one shot, but there usually isn't a way to tell when they are all gone. Given the cost, it probably isn't a bad idea to replace them when they get to be 10 years old.

This is a great example of why you should have surge protectors. This event could have wiped out all of your equipment. It only takes one event.
Old 07-19-15, 04:50 AM
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It may be a good idea to check your service grounding electrode also when installing the surge protector.
Old 07-19-15, 04:24 PM
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That Tripplite does not claim to protect from a type of surge that typically does damage.

View a $10 power strip protector in Walmart. That Monster (maybe selling for $80) is electrically equivalent. And also does not claim to protect from destructive surges.

Worse is a fire threat. Read numbers. A potentially destructive surge is hundreds of thousands of joules. How many joules did the Monster (or Tripplite) claim to absorb? Your answre will be a near zero number. That explains the completely unacceptable and witnessed events.

Monster must contain a thermal fuse so that its near zero protector parts are disconnected as fast as possible. Leaving a surge still connected to attached appliances. Apparently your thermal fuse did not blow fast enough creating a potential house fire. Learn from your near miss.

No reason exists to believe a Tripplite or Monster was effective. In fact, those products sometimes make damage easier. You have good reason (and numbers) to worry. Protection is never defined by a protector. Protection is always about where hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly dissipates. This should have your every attention. Hundreds of thousands of joules must be absorbed by earth ground - not by any protector. Neither Tripplite nor Monster has an earth ground. Will not discuss it. It explains why both desperately need to be protected by a 'whole house' protector - with the all so critical low impedance (ie less than 10 foot) connection to single point earth ground.

Other manufacturers with integrity provide these proven solutions including Siemens, Leviton, Syscom, Polyphaser (an industry benchmark), Ditek, ABB, Square D, General Electric, Keison, and Intermatic. A Cutler Hammer solution sells in Lowes and Home Depot. This superior solution costs about $1 per protected appliance (tens or 100 times less money than you spent).

Destructive surges (ie lightning) can be 20,000 amps. So a minimal 'whole house' protector is 50,000 amps. Because effective protectors must not fail with any surge. All this contradicts what a majority have told you for one simple reason. Most are only educated by advertising - not by engineers and numbers.

Posted is how surge protection has been done for over 100 years. What is found in every facility that cannot have damage. And what you need to protect any more Tripplite or Monster products.

'Whole house' arrestor should not have most of your atttention. Learn about the only item that does that protection - single point earth ground - as Geochurchi noted. All four words have major technical significance. You should have plenty of questions. All others should be concerned having learned what your near zero protectors actually do - and claim to do.
Old 07-20-15, 06:48 AM
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Chances are your AV components were damaged from a voltage differential on the telecom/AV side. The best protection from surges and other power anomalies is to have a good grounding system bonded to your electrical panel ground/neutral bus. This usually includes your metal water supply pipe, ground rods driven in the earth and/or connections to the rebar in the concrete foundation. If you have an older electrical service, the grounding may not be adequate. It is also essential that all conductive paths entering the house use that same grounding system as a single point ground -- Cable TV, Phone, Power, Water lines, Gas lines, Antennae, Satellite Dishes, etc. Most installers these days are pretty good about it, but in older homes grounding of telecom services can be hit or miss.

Once you have a quality single-point ground system with all of your utilities bonded to it, then a whole-house surge protector installed in your electrical panel is the best investment you can make toward preventing power quality problems.

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