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Old 03-04-2005, 01:11 PM   #1
Taz_abx
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How Many Joules are Enough? - Surge Protection

I'm shopping for a UPS and one of the important things I want to consider is the level of surge protection. I've looked at several different models from several different vendors, and thought I'd finally settled on a model. However, the level of surge protection offered on the model I'd selected was around 450 to 460 Joules. Other manufacturers offered 800 to 1100 on a UPS of similar size.

Now...I realize that in the hands of a marketeers, specs for just about anything can be quoted in such a way as to mislead the uninformed (such as yours truly when it comes to this subject). Quoting wattage for amplifiers without discussing THD, for example. In other words, I realize that a higher number of Joules quoted may not necessarily be better.

What I'm wondering is...what else should I be looking at in terms of the Joules specification. Are some manufacturers quoting them correctly while some are playing marketing games? For instance APC makes some great UPS', but they are definately lower in the Joules specification than any other manufacturer for a similar size UPS.

How 'bout it....anyone with an electronics background care to do a little educating on the subject?

Thanks,

-Taz
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:31 PM   #2
mpparent
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As far as surge suppression goes, in many cases, it can be a "snake oil" sales pitch. Many times, the manufacturer will say, "our product can take "x" amount of joules", but as you've pointed out the comment is misleading. Good supressors use MOV's or metal oxide varistors to clamp the surge voltage. Other, not so good, companies will use fuse-links which are definitely not the way to go. I would get as much of the product spec's as you can and compare them. That's the only way you will really know. If you really want to safeguard your equipment, I'd try to get the highest energy rating you can (realistically), and make sure MOV's are in the product.

Good Luck,

Mike
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:00 PM   #3
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Surge supression is cumulative. If you are worried about the UPS's rating, put a cheap supressor power strip in front of it. Buy the UPS for the KVA rating.

Just a reminder, no surge supressor will protect you from a direct lightning strike.

Nowadays, it is a good ideal to put a whole house supressor on your load center.
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:11 PM   #4
Taz_abx
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Hmmm...thanks, guys. Both of you told me a couple of things I didn't know. I didn't know about MOVs and I certaintly didn't realize that surge protection could be cummulative. Due to my particular setup (distance from wall plugs, other wiring, etc) it would make life easier for me if I could hang a surge protector off of the UPS and then plug a couple of things into that.

-Taz
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:17 PM   #5
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I would have to say that it is cumulative to a point. I am not sure what that point is, I haven't looked into the design in a long time.
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:20 PM   #6
mpparent
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Also look for 3 way protection, eg from hot to neutral, hot to ground, and from neutral to ground. That way you are fully protected.

Mike
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Old 03-06-2005, 02:20 PM   #7
mpparent
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Taz,

Another thing,...DO NOT plug a surge suppressor into the output of a UPS as it can create a hazardous condition!

Mike
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Old 03-06-2005, 08:13 PM   #8
Taz_abx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpparent
Taz,

Another thing,...DO NOT plug a surge suppressor into the output of a UPS as it can create a hazardous condition!

Mike
Hey, Mike...thanks again. I suppose as Rick says, it's alright to put one ahead of the UPS, just not behind it...right?

Just a little off topic to my original post, I've been doing more reading on what tiny surges do to the various electronics in the modern home. Seems a lot of effects build up over time. It looks like a whole-house surge protector as Rick suggested is a good starting point. I found out they are not all that expensive...at least not in comparrison to the money invested in appliances and electronics in the home.

Once again...thanks to you both.

-Taz
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Old 03-06-2005, 09:02 PM   #9
wonderwrench
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here is some info on joules
http://nam-en.apc.com/cgi-bin/nam_en...cGFnZT0x&p_li=
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:35 PM   #10
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Hello Taz,

Your wise to be concerned about surge protection. MOV are however sacrificial and have a finite life as your probably have already figured out. A nice MOV based surge protector will probably serve you well and accomplish your needs.

However, when considering a computer, and the importance of the data, something better than an MOV based surge protector comes to mind.

I did some reading and ran across Series Mode Surge Protectors. They have been around for about ten years and are not designed to be sacrificial. One company in particular, www.surgex.com, offeres a ten year warranty on their surge protectors. Interestingly enough there's no equipment guarantee, but that's marketing more than anything. Those manufactures that are hiding behind an "equipment guarantee" are also hiding behind a team of lawyers. Something really weird would have to happen in order for them to pay out. Not to meantion the time it would take to settle the claim.

Series Mode Technology was started with a company www.zerosurge.com and if I recall the inventor of the technology moved over to www.surgex.com. At any rate, there are three websites to look though.

1) www.surgex.com (look at the stand alone units the SA-1810 or the SA-15 for running behind a UPS. Before you get caught too much off guard I'll tell you that these units cost between $200 and $300. They're kinda hard to find EVEN if you google them.

2) www.zerosurge.com Cost between $180 and $250

3) www.brickwall.com Same cost as zerosurge.

I realize that this is an INSANE amount of money to spend on a surge protector. I'm really just passing this along for your information. I have one and it's already survived several surges where other surge protectors died. It's certainly not a replacement for a UPS. Surgex is to my knowledge the only Series Mode Surge protector that is A-1-1 certfied which is allegedly the highest standard.
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:51 PM   #11
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I guess I'd like to know why this company doesn't see use in the industrial/commercial electrical scene. I've never heard of this technology (of course I admit that doesn't mean much). The only technology I've heard of protecting expensive electrical equipment, eg large 2000A - 3000A UPS systems for data centers, etc. is the MOV technology.

Mike

Last edited by mpparent; 03-07-2005 at 05:53 PM..
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:05 PM   #12
Holartic
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MPParent, your right actually. I dunno why these are not marketed toward computers. For some reason they seem to be prevalent in industrial high end audio systems.

This is an education for me as well, so any further information that anyone has to add would be interesting indeed.
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Old 03-08-2005, 09:41 PM   #13
Taz_abx
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Wonderwrench:

GREAT link...just the kind of stuff I was looking for. Granted, it's on APC's website, but the information seems sound none the less. Thanks again for posting that.

Holartic:

Great info and links as well. SurgeX actually sounds familiar, although I'd never been to their website before. The other two sites are equally interesting.

I thnk I've finally decided that I'll be doing a whole house type of protector as a first line of defense. My next step will be to install my UPS devices. This way, even if I wind up with a UPS with a lower Joule rating, I won't need to be as concerned. At this point, I'm liking the looks of the APC brand.

BTW, Holartic, but you and I have almost the exact same rig. This Intel D875PBZ board has been a pleasure to own. So much so that I built a second rig around it for my wife. Now I just gotta keep them protected.

My thanks again to all who jumped in here to offer advice.

-Taz
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Old 03-08-2005, 09:50 PM   #14
Holartic
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Hello Taz,

I ran across a whole house surge protector. It's an intermatic IG1240RC. Note: I read about this surge protector on internet forums, I haven't tried it for myself, so investigate at your own risk. Here's the link:

http://www.intermatic.com/?action=prod&pid=339

This unit is MOV based but MOV's are MUCH more effective when run behind a breaker box because they are right next to the earth ground. I think it has a five year warranty and a finite life, but it should last ALOT longer than a standard MOV plug in protector. It also will not contaminate the power of other surrounding appliances like a standard plug in MOV. I froogled it under the terms "IG1240" and it came up as $60. The only unknown cost is how much it will be to hardwire it into the house.

One thing I did forget to meantion. If you have a MOV based surge protector, and it encounters a surge, the surge is sent back into the power cables enabling the surge to do damage to other surrounding appliances. UNLESS of course this it is a Series Mode Surge protector. This is my understanding of this phenomenon. Anyone please correct me if I am misrepresenting this.
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Old 03-08-2005, 10:00 PM   #15
Taz_abx
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Very interesting stuff...thanks again.

I've had some work done before on a couple of occassions by an electrician who happens to be an audiophile. I'm planning on running a couple of these products by him and see what he thinks.

Amazing what all we get into just because we like to fiddle around with our computer and electronic gear.

-Taz
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