Secrets of Surge Protection!

(Or:  How To Increase The Life Of Your Electronics)

    Electronics     Reviews & Guides


No matter if they cost $10 or $100, regular surge protectors are all based on the same cheap part.

That's a metal oxide varistor (MOV).  The MOV is supposed to re-route surge currents to ground.

MOV's go bad.  And when they do, voltage spikes go right on through to your electronics.  And you won't even know, usually.  Most MOV-based "protectors" won't shut off when the MOV stops working. 

On a clear day, your electronics can get power-line spikes from refrigerators, air conditioners, even tree branches falling on the lines many miles away. 

MOV's pollute the ground wiring with voltages that shouldn't be there.  Start messing with the GND reference, and weird stuff happens.  An old power strip almost ruined the motor on my refrigerator.  I have a feeling that a lot of hard drive failures and data losses are due to this fact, also.  

Power line spikes are extremely common.  So much, that multimeter companies have to design their meters assuming you'll be testing something when a spike happens.  That is why there are Cat II, III, and IV ratings. 

Many "wall wart" power supplies fail from voltage spikes that otherwise go undetected.  These failures can cause fires.   However, in almost 20 years I've never seen one fail when it's been plugged into a series-mode surge protector.  That doesn't mean you can't have a defective "wall wart" that fails anyway... but from everything I've seen, I believe that a series-mode protector will reduce the likelihood of failure.   A SurgeX is not cheap, but the outcome of a failed wall-wart could be a lot more costly, especially if you're not around when it fails.

Stray voltages can burst capacitors, burn out semiconductors, and wreck lots of other things.  I have an old tube radio where someone must have had it plugged in during a surge;  the disc capacitors are literally bubbled.  

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Problem, Solved

Put your open hand slowly into water, and it's easy. 

Faster, and it gets more difficult.  At high enough speeds, it's like hitting pavement. 

That's a great way to think of reactance.   The faster a surge tries to rise, the more reactance it encounters. 

That is how a series-mode surge eliminator works.

Inductors have low reactance to low frequencies.  They have high reactance to high frequencies.  Power line spikes behave like high-frequency AC.  So, an inductor will impede the flow of current.

It lets the correct "mains frequency" right on through.  But as soon as it gets hit with a surge or spike, it acts like a wall.  

With MOV's, I used to have electronics going bad all the time.  I'd buy something new, and in a few months it would be toast.  After switching over to series-mode, there's been not a single failure, except the usual "bad capacitors" that wear out with age.  I found that series-mode surge protection wasn't just a little better;  it was fantastically better. 

Series-mode surge protectors are available here.  (I also put a few more links at the bottom of this page.)  '

Series-mode protector from '04;  still going strong in 2020.  Lightning storms and everything, no failures. 

I can't even begin to describe how great these things are.  They are completely unaffected by surges.  They don't go bad, so you don't have to replace them.

These are used at Carnegie Hall, Yankee Stadium, and other places that take their equipment seriously. 

Get Yours Here

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6,000 Volts at 3,000 Amps?!

These protectors can stop a surge of 6,000 volts at 3,000 amps without any difficulty.

Years ago, I saw the equipment that was used to test these devices.  It could generate 6,000 volts with enough "juice" that 3,000 amps would flow, if the test item could handle it.  Or, if the test item couldn't handle it.

They used to blow up metal-oxide varistors with it.  Often it took a lot less than 6,000 volts @ 3,000 amps to do that.

That same type of MOV is what's in most "surge protectors". 

Now, get this.  When they applied the same power to the series-mode surge neutralizers... NOTHING. No smoke, no explosion;  everything was the same as it had been.  The surge ran into the massive reactance of the device, which canceled it out. 

These surge neutralizers are probably the safest place you can plug anything. 

Get Yours Here

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Power Supplies, No Longer Toasted

I used to see a lot of power supplies with a particular type of failure.  A low-ohm resistor would go bad with scorch marks around it.  The surge that fried that resistor would take out other stuff, too.  Some people were getting these failures repeatedly. 

I lost track of how many power supplies I've seen fried like that. 

Almost all of them were plugged into "surge protectors".  And all of those were built around that same 25-cent MOV that fails. 

Since I began using series-mode surge protection, I don't think I've had so much as one power supply go bad.  (Except for one recently, that was not plugged into the surge eliminator.)  Hard drives can still fail because of moving parts, and capacitors can still fail because that's just what they do... but nothing has gotten fried.  No surge-related damage.

Get Yours Here

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Anyone who values their electronics needs one of these things.  

If you really want to do it up right, throw out all the MOV-based power strips and replace them with these.  Then, you won't have to worry about MOV's polluting your ground wire.

The SurgeX SA-82 Flatpak has 2 outlets and is rated for a draw of 8 amps.  That's sufficient for an average computer workstation, or any other combination of things that draws less than about 760 watts.  

The larger SA-1810 has 10 outlets and allows a draw of up to 15 amps, which is the maximum current provided by a standard North American household circuit breaker.  That means you can run just about any piece of equipment through this unit, as long as it can be plugged into a standard outlet. 

(Get your SA-1810 through this link and it helps to keep my website on-line.) 

Both units filter EMI/RFI noise, making them great for protecting your vital electronic equipment. 

This technology is the best thing I've seen in surge protection, ever.  I would highly recommend it if you care about your electronics.

I hope you've found this article helpful.  Please help me out by purchasing your gear through any of these links.  Thanks for reading!


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