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I think its time to install a surge protector at my house panel. My electrician (who is a friend) and also wired my house has been on me about installing one since we built the house two years ago.

Anyway, he doesn't know that much about the product itself but is going to hook me up with someone that sells the systems to get some info.

I know there are a couple guys on here that are pretty knowledgeable so I thought I would toss it out there.

What prompted this was we had a small storm early Monday morning and must have had a lightning strike in the area. I woke up and showered and got dressed. Everything on the upper floor seemed fine but once I came down to make coffee something didnt seem quite right.

To make a long story short one of our 200 amp breakers on the outside of the house was tripped along with a total of 8 breakers inside the house and every GFI outlet.

As far as damage our Geo Thermal HVAC doesnt work, fireplace on first floor wont ignite, 55" Sony on wall has lost internet, desktop PC no internet, network switch fried, network camera fried, network printer fried, two peices of my ham gear have issues.

No physical signs of damage anywhere. A lot of the damage must have came across the Network cable when the switch got hit. The only thing that survived hooked up to CAT 5 was the computer in garage.

The house has a 400 amp meter panel on the outside with (2) 200 amp breakers. One feeds a 200 amp panel in the basement that feeds the HVAC, water heaters and most of the first floor of house. The second one feeds a 200 amp panel in the garage that feeds the garage and the second floor of house.

Everything is well grounded (least I think so). Has the required UFER ground and the panels are grounded to that as well as two ground rods outside.

Like I said, just thought I would toss it out to my friends here !

By the way insurance will cover everything with replacement cost. Course we have to swallow the $1600 deductable.
 

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It's been on my mind as well, looking forward to hearing what others have to say, I know member Arlen is a electrician, hopefully he will comment. Perhaps a PM to EEPete would be in order as well?
 

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Sorry to hear about your "hit". I've had a surge protector wired to my panel for about 12 years now without any problems. I picked mine up at an electrical supply house, but now days they are available at your run-of-the-mill home improvement stores. They are easy to install... they just connect to the ground, neutral, and both hots. I piggy backed the hots on the breaker for my well pump.

Shopping specifications is just like buying a surge protector outlet strip... the more "joules", the better. That gives you a measure of the amount of energy that they can clamp. In your case, I would probably go with 2; one for each panel. Since the 2 panels are electrically connected, the 2 surge protectors will help each other out.

The fact that you know what a Ufer ground is puts you ahead of the average guy:good2:. With the 2 ground rods and the Ufer ground, your power system ground is probably OK. I would look closely at inter-system BONDING. This is what gets people in trouble. Your phone, cable, satelite, ham equipment, internet systems all should have their own grounding electrodes, and all of those electrode systems must be BONDED together. If they are poorly grounded, or not bonded, large voltages build up between these different grounding systems. The result is arcing across the circuit boards. A satelte system for instance, has a power ground, a coax cable ground, and a telephone ground all coexisting on the same circuit boards. If those different grounding systems are not bonded together with a nice fat copper conductor, differences in potential will commonly be in the several hundred volt range during atmospheric electrical disturbances.

You indicated you have some ham equipment. I'm a ham also, AA0SG:drinks: Antennas can be bad. Since they are stuck up in the air, you can count on large voltage potentials with respect to ground. Make doubly sure all of that stuff is grounded and bonded. I would also make sure that your coax (or other antenna leads), are hooked up to "poly phaser" lightening arresters.

If you have a well, the well casing is a great thing to bond to. Mine is 560 feet deep; makes a good ground.

If all of your bonding and grounding is good, then a couple of surge protectors would be a great investment,
 

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Here my DA question of the day: I have a 400 amp service, so I have two 42 space CH panels-then a third generator panel. Would one device work for me?
 

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Arien had great advice!

Every house should have a whole house protector on it. IMHO, one per panel. So Kenny needs 3 for his setup. Here are my rules for protection stuff in a house and workshop:

Whole House protector per panel.
Anything that's not a light bulb should be on a surge protected and filtered power strip.
Any wire coming into the house needs protection, and when possible all wire should come into the house at the same place.
All those different protectors need to be on the same ground. And the ground wire connecting all the protectors needs to be at least a number 6 gauge.

As we saw with OP, you have a $1600 budget for this. You're going to spend it one way or another.

Finally, these surge suppressors grab hold of the extra energy on the copper and need a place to dump it. That's what your ground is for. The weenie 4' copper plated ground rod in disturbed soil protects the power and phone company, not you. You need at least two 8' copper clad ground rounds in undisturbed ground. Go 8' out from the house for the 1st, then 8' more for the next one.
How serious am I about this? My old house had 8 ground rods. Current house has only 4, but, when putting in trenching for lighting, security cameras and other stuff I have 1000' feet of copper wire in the ground as part of the ground system. Hard to do on a retrofit, but a win and what a great excuse to get some backhoe time.

Here's a picture of some protection devices called MOVs. There's a big honking one that is what is used for whole house protectors, and smaller ones that are used in power strips. Finally, there is a solid state protector. These go from ground to a wire to protect it. The wire must be fused since often these protectors fail to a short. A whole house protector has two of the big honking ones and fuses.

I'd brag about how well these work, but, we all know what happens when you temp Mother Nature...

Pete
 

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Another DA question for you smart sparkies. What's a UFER ground?

An old electrician told me never to drive a ground rod into the ground. He used a cup of water pouring down the rod and initial hole drilled for it and worked the rod up and down. I was amazed to see it work it's way down into the ground in just a few minutes. He claimed better conductivity with the earth. Is there any truth to that?
 

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dieselshadow, I think there is some sort of material one can buy designed to hold moisture in very dry ground when installing ground rods. I have know idea what it is, maybe someone can comment of this also.
 

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dieselshadow, I think there is some sort of material one can buy designed to hold moisture in very dry ground when installing ground rods. I have know idea what it is, maybe someone can comment of this also.
The Ufer ground is basically a concrete encased electrode. The rebar in a slab or in your footings as it turns out is waaaaaaaaay better of a ground than a driven rod. Concrete is hygroscopic (likes to retain moisture), and has large amounts of surface area in contact with the ground. If you do a little "googling" you will see volumes of information. In a nut shell a fella named Ufer developed this method while working for the military. They had a problem grounding munition storage areas in dry soil. IIRC, it was back in the 40's and he may have worked for UL. Anyway, he found that using concrete encased electrodes was way better than the elaborate grounding grids driven deep into the ground.
To answer Gizmo's question, it's a salt brine that you treat the ground with to improve conductivity.
Proper grounding is a deep subject. Several years ago I had a 3 day class on just industrial grounding.
 

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Another DA question for you smart sparkies. What's a UFER ground?

An old electrician told me never to drive a ground rod into the ground. He used a cup of water pouring down the rod and initial hole drilled for it and worked the rod up and down. I was amazed to see it work it's way down into the ground in just a few minutes. He claimed better conductivity with the earth. Is there any truth to that?
No. The NEC requires that the rod be DRIVEN to a depth of 8 feet. The water would temporarily improve conductivity. In the end, you would have a loose ground rod with poor contact to the earth.
 

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Thanks for shedding some light on the subject eepete and arlen! :drinks:


Sent using Tapatalk.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the great info guys. Arlen KD0ZV here.

I have to say the UFER system doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Hard for me to believe that concrete is a good enough conductor and the fact that code allows you to do it is pieces and bond it together by laying it side to side and using tie wire makes it worse. The County inspectors were picky about it and didn't seem to care what I did with the ground rods outside the house.

Mine is a 20' piece of rebar that has been bent at about 9 1/2' to come up the wall. The rest of course is incased in the footing.

My grounding wire is well bonded and I checked it the day after the strike. I actually helped with that and double clamped the wire where they were bonded together.

My only concern is the quality of the ground outside. I have two 8' ground rods and both are near the house under landscape fabric where the soil is well drained because of the foundation drainage tile. Its been a drought this year so soil conductivity is at a minimum.

I have ground rods for the ham equipment on opposite end of the house as well.

I think I will add another ground rod to the system in the basement. I have a sump pump next to the wall right below the panel. The pit is currently dry and I think I might pick up another 8' ground rod and just drive it through the bottom of the plastic pit until its below finished floor and run another ground wire up and bond it with the current ground wire in the panel. I would feel better about at least one being in moist soil.

My antennas are all balanced line at this point and get disconnected when not in use. Or at least I try. The two pieces of ham gear that now have issues are my Icom 7800 <sigh> and the factory power supply for my TenTec Hurcules II amp. Both are heave and not looking on shipping them off.

The device I was looking at cost about $250 and is manufactured by Square D which is what I have for a panel. The rating on it is 3000 Joules which I think is pretty decent for one of the devices that taps on the breaker.

I have read that its a good it to tie it on to a breaker thats being used for something else so if you do take a surge and the breaker blows you will know it. Kinda makes sense.

So still debating/researching whether I should go with something larger in the 400 amp meter panel where my 2 breakers are or two devices at the panels in the house.

One nice thing about the square D unit is it has an 8 wire suppressor in it for phone and one for cable.
 

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Yes, thanks guys.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
An old electrician told me never to drive a ground rod into the ground. He used a cup of water pouring down the rod and initial hole drilled for it and worked the rod up and down. I was amazed to see it work it's way down into the ground in just a few minutes. He claimed better conductivity with the earth. Is there any truth to that?
Thats funny. I learned that in ham class. I had drove a lot of ground rods with a hammer starting on a ladder before that.

When they told us that in class I was thinking this guy must be an idiot. Turns out of the idiot was me!

Just dig a small hole that will hold about 1/2 gallon of water. Fill the hole with water and let it drain off. Fill it again. Then just start ramming that rod up and down not trying to do to much at once. Amazing how quick and easy that works !!
 

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Hilti Hammer Drill, using the adapter and hammer only they drive right in.
 

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Thats funny. I learned that in ham class. I had drove a lot of ground rods with a hammer starting on a ladder before that.

When they told us that in class I was thinking this guy must be an idiot. Turns out of the idiot was me!

Just dig a small hole that will hold about 1/2 gallon of water. Fill the hole with water and let it drain off. Fill it again. Then just start ramming that rod up and down not trying to do to much at once. Amazing how quick and easy that works !!
The Ufer ground is far superior to the ground rods at your house. The high PH of the concrete improves conductivity and actualy "dopes" the surounding soil. No other system even comes close.

The best way to drive a ground rod is with a hammer drill, such as a Hilti. It will drive a ground rod very quickly. The second best is a post driver. Nothing wrong with dumping some water into the hole to loosen the soil a bit, but the constant working the rod up and down is not good and in fact, is a violation of the NEC.
Are your ham ground rods bonded to the power ground system?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Why is the working it up and down a violation of NEC?

My ham grounds are not bounded with other grounds. I know they should be but they are not.
 

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Why is the working it up and down a violation of NEC?

My ham grounds are not bounded with other grounds. I know they should be but they are not.
The code says it must be DRIVEN to a depth of 8 feet.
Getting those other ground rods bonded, will do more for protecting your ham equipment than anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So moving it up and down must not be considered "driven"?

Actually, what I should do (and may today) is bond my water line to the ground system. My water line is 3/4" copper that was horizontal bored 300'. It went down underneath the creek and back up to the street. It's 7' deep at the creek bed and 25' deep where the hill is on the other side. That should make a good ground.

I assume I need something like #6 to go from one side of house to the others to bond the rods together.
 

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So moving it up and down must not be considered "driven"?

Actually, what I should do (and may today) is bond my water line to the ground system. My water line is 3/4" copper that was horizontal bored 300'. It went down underneath the creek and back up to the street. It's 7' deep at the creek bed and 25' deep where the hill is on the other side. That should make a good ground.

I assume I need something like #6 to go from one side of house to the others to bond the rods together.
I don't think of it as driven. When I think driven, I think of a nail. Of course, such symantics would be between you and the inspector.
I agree that you definately need to bond to your water main. You should "jumper" around the water meter also.
 

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I don't think of it as driven. When I think driven, I think of a nail. Of course, such symantics would be between you and the inspector.
I agree that you definately need to bond to your water main. You should "jumper" around the water meter also.
I just finished grounding the water line to the main ground system.

I did not jump the water meter and not sure it would help in my case. Let me know if I am wrong.

I grounded to the line where it exits the house. The meter body is bronze and there is not a lot of copper piping on the other side of meter before it turns to PEX. Basically my water heater piping is copper where my GEO de-superheater attaches and everything else is PEX.

Picture attached.
 

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