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Has Anyone Here Ever...

GrimSurfer

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#1
... received compensation for blown audio gear covered by a surge protector?

I've never lost gear, but have had surge protectors sacrifice themselves. I don't spend crazy money on these things but do buy brands such as Furman and TrippLite -- brands that cost around $100-200 and advertise loss protection.

So I guess the question is whether anyone ever benefits from these protection guarantees?
 

DonH56

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#2
Here is APC's US policy: https://www.apc.com/us/en/tools/epp/

I have limited personal experience, and the experiences of coworkers and friends is mixed. One or two were partially compensated for damages after a lot of paperwork and jumping through hoops, but at "blue book" rather than replacement cost (check blue book for a two-year-old top-of-the-line AVR or processor and weep). One took advantage of their data recovery service and got most of the data for his business back; a drive I had that failed when a power surge got through a surge strip was unrecoverable. APC did pay for the service, which is expensive, and their estimated value of the server (I think we got like $2k for a server that was $20k a few years before). Several did not meet all the criteria for coverage, either failing to fill out the warranty form and return in ten days or some other reason (one had his APC surge strip plugged into a 6', 10 AWG with ground extension cable and they said that was clearly not covered).

So based on a few experiences over a number of years I do not trust them. This does remind me I need to grab more pix of my stuff, get all the model and serial numbers written down, and review my homeowner's insurance. There are riders available for stereo gear and musical instruments that aren't a lot of extra money.
 

GrimSurfer

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#3
Here is APC's US policy: https://www.apc.com/us/en/tools/epp/

I have limited personal experience, and the experiences of coworkers and friends is mixed. One or two were partially compensated for damages after a lot of paperwork and jumping through hoops, but at "blue book" rather than replacement cost (check blue book for a two-year-old top-of-the-line AVR or processor and weep). One took advantage of their data recovery service and got most of the data for his business back; a drive I had that failed when a power surge got through a surge strip was unrecoverable. APC did pay for the service, which is expensive, and their estimated value of the server (I think we got like $2k for a server that was $20k a few years before). Several did not meet all the criteria for coverage, either failing to fill out the warranty form and return in ten days or some other reason (one had his APC surge strip plugged into a 6', 10 AWG with ground extension cable and they said that was clearly not covered).

So based on a few experiences over a number of years I do not trust them. This does remind me I need to grab more pix of my stuff, get all the model and serial numbers written down, and review my homeowner's insurance. There are riders available for stereo gear and musical instruments that aren't a lot of extra money.
That's the sense I get, @DonH56. Most consumer contracts are written so full of loop holes that their only purpose seems to be advertising. That and they very good points you raise wrt depreciation.

As an aside, I had a spike a few years back that fried a few inexpensive (plastic body) surge protectors. HT and stereo were A-OK, so it was a feel good experience.

After taking them apart, the heat and flame damage (burnt MOVs, melted plastic, carbon) was apparent. So the replacements were metal bodied to better contain "the blast". Paid a few more bucks for them but nothing crazy because I consider them to be sacrificial components anyway.
 
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amirm

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#4
Point of use surge protectors don't do much. They attempt to shunt the surge into safety ground but that wire is many, many feet from the breaker panel. As a result the "let-through" voltage is quite high, allowing the full brunt of the surge to be experienced by the equipment in use. In addition, many electronic products have such protections internally.

The best protection for surges is at the breaker panel where a good safety ground exists. Power companies can install these cheap ($300 to $400 in our area) as they put them in the meter itself. Or you can get external ones that do better but require installation and space right next to your breaker panel.

Note that if a real surge from a lightning comes, nothing stops it. There is so much energy there. It like trying stop a tornado with an umbrella. :) You are really trying to limit much, much lighter version of such surges.

For lightning then, you need to use your homeowner's insurance policy. They are usually a lot easier to work with than any surge protector company.

Also, the surge protection devices (MOVs) in these units age and eventually can short. If there is no fuse in there, then they can catch on fire and smoke. They may do the same when a real surge comes. So overall, not a good idea.
 

RayDunzl

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#5

GrimSurfer

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#6
Point of use surge protectors don't do much. They attempt to shunt the surge into safety ground but that wire is many, many feet from the breaker panel. As a result the "let-through" voltage is quite high, allowing the full brunt of the surge to be experienced by the equipment in use. In addition, many electronic products have such protections internally.

The best protection for surges is at the breaker panel where a good safety ground exists. Power companies can install these cheap ($300 to $400 in our area) as they put them in the meter itself. Or you can get external ones that do better but require installation and space right next to your breaker panel.

Note that if a real surge from a lightning comes, nothing stops it. There is so much energy there. It like trying stop a tornado with an umbrella. :) You are really trying to limit much, much lighter version of such surges.

For lightning then, you need to use your homeowner's insurance policy. They are usually a lot easier to work with than any surge protector company.

Also, the surge protection devices (MOVs) in these units age and eventually can short. If there is no fuse in there, then they can catch on fire and smoke. They may do the same when a real surge comes. So overall, not a good idea.
My electrician (a commercial guy, working for a well respected firm) told me that whole house surge protectors aren't as good as they are cracked up to be. Apparently, the let through voltages are high due to the low impedance on the supply side to the panel. That was his story, and he was sticking to it, even though it would have obviously cost me for the parts and installation (which would have been a small fraction on the electrical work he was doing as part of my kitchen reno).

The let thru voltage for point-of-use surge protectors is supposed to be pretty good because of the relatively high impedance on the supply side from the panel. The standard seems to be roughly double (330V) of line.

I agree on a direct lightning strike. That is a "game over" scenario as the voltage will arc over anything in its path to find ground and the amperage will vaporize wiring. One's only hope is that the house doesn't catch fire... but it's going to be a massive repair bill.
 
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DonH56

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#7
As Amir says depending on the safety ground and point-of-service protection is risky. I have whole-house surge and lightning protection (two different devices). The only evidence I have in their support (other than their technical specs) is that a few years ago a tree near the house was hit by lightning. The protector tripped and showed a strike; it self-reset and everything was fine. Our neighbors, a fair bit away (maybe 50-100 yards, lost several electronic components.

High let-through is a problem for most devices. Another thing to check is what clamping devices the inexpensive surge protector strips use. Usually MOV's that are essentially single-event or low-energy devices that will fail (open) after an event or two. The poly devices are much better but cost more, natch. In addition to the whole-house protection I have most all electronics on UPS units to add a bit more protection as well as ride out short power glitches (have them several times a year, sometimes more, in addition to longer term -- hours or days -- every few years).
 

GrimSurfer

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#8
Good point about surge and lightning protection requiring two different solutions. Many think the former will do both, when all it really does is protect against problems at the utility level.

My older, less expensive power strip surge protectors failed closed. Thankfully.
 

Xulonn

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#9
Does this advice make sense? LINK

Basically, the advice is to use something like a 700v "let through voltage" whole house unit, and 330v "let through voltage" units at the mains outlets for sensitive electronics when 700v might till cause problems.

I live in a place - the mountains of Western Panama - where there are surges, sags and power outages almost daily, and the mains voltage is on the high side - normally 125-127vac. I use Tripplite battery backup units with AVR and surge protection for my A/V gear and computer/monitor/printer location, and because I rent my house, I will likely stay with the Tripplites and don't plan to spend $400 for whole house protection.

Tripplite.jpg


I lost two cheap Topping PA3 class-D amplifiers (rated @55wpc/8Ω) in the past year - the second one after the first one died at less than one year old. The first PA3 was a new unit on sale, second one was an Amazon refurbished unit, and it only lasted three months - in spite of surge protection and AVR, so no more PA3's. (My 12 wpc, $149 Trends class-D Tripath mini-amp still works great after 10 years of almost daily use with my computer, relying on Tripplite surge/AVR protection - .)

About 2-1/2 years ago, a lightning strike hit the utility pole in front of my neighbor's house - while I was sitting at my desk looking out the window in that direction. It took out my cable modem, router and the big $180 Tripplite UPS/surge protector, but my LCD TV, Intel NUC computer and the my Teac A-H01 DAC/Amp continued to work after the strike, although the Teac died a few months later. I replaced it with a the above-mentioned Topping PA3, a cheap 55wpc class-D mini-amp, using an SMSL Sanskrit 6th DAC to feed it. After having the two Topping PA3's die within a year, I bought a used Class AB amp - a mint 25 y/o, 70wpc, 30 lb. Classé Model Seventy for $400, and a Topping DX7s DAC/HA via MassDrop ($370) to feed it (The DX7s a much larger, heavier and more robust unit than their mini-component line.) I'm 77 y/o and expect the Classé to outlive me - and perhaps the DX7s will outlast me as well.
 

GrimSurfer

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#10
Based on what I've read online, there are two distinctions in UPS operation. True Sine Wave and Stepped Wave Power. True Sine Wave power is generally preferred but comes at a cost to the consumer. Stepped Sine Wave units are cheaper to manufacture but their power characteristics can be hard on electronics.

My APC UPS is a cheepo unit (around $250) purchased several years ago, so I doubt it is a true sine wave unit. It powers my service provider's cable modem, which I don't care too much about (being the POS it is).

Audio is important to you and your components likely difficult to replace in your locale, so you may wish to confirm the output of your UPS.
 
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DonH56

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#11
For an off-line UPS, the type most of us use, the only time you are using the UPS is during a power outage. To ride out a brief outage or give you time to turn off your equipment, that (basic stepped-sine UPS) is plenty. If you are running your equipment longer-term you may want to consider a more expensive "true sinewave" unit. Since APC was mentioned, most APC BackUPS are stepped-sine approximations, while the SmartUPS series is closer to a pure sine wave. However, most power supplies have very high rejection of line noise, so the difference may be inaudible.

HTH - Don
 

GrimSurfer

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#12
One of thes days, utilities will adopt a cellular approach to power generation and distribution, where small generators and battery systems provide a high degree of redundancy. I read that Tesla and Ballard were offering "community batteries" that would store power in low demand times and release it during high demand times... or during power failures.

This is pretty cool technology, with high efficiencies and sophisticated DC-to-AC conversion. I can see gated communities getting these things in the not too distant future. Others having to wait some time until prices come down.

Having lived (but certainly not suffered) through the massive power failure in the NE in the early 2000s, I can appreciate how our "networked" national power grid has its limitations. It must be far worse in older bits of Europe and underdeveloped parts of Central/South America.
 

g29

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#14
I had an Adcom surge protector take one for the team. Adcom/dealer even fixed it under warranty. What ever took the hit inside, could be heard rolling around when you rotated the unit.
 
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