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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Thanks Pete.

Yea I am with you on tying it all together. I will get a ground wire from my shack ground rod and bond it with everything else this week.

I am leaning towards something like this. Any thoughts?

SURGE PROTECTOR


Well lets see how long Icom keeps my 7800. I sold my other 3 rigs before building the house so now I am off the air. TenTec is good about turning stuff around so doubt I will be without the amp PS long. I could probably fix the power supply myself as that's pretty simple technology but since insurance is involved I will let the boys in Sevierville take care of it.

I wish I had the time when I built the house to do everything I wanted for future technology and toys in the house. I would have piped conduit everywhere and buried a radial system for antennas when I did all the final excavation. Time and money. Never enough of either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I am leaning towards a off the shelf unit for simplicity. I really not worried about what the inspectors or my insurance company has to say as my experience with both is not that impressive. I think with a little research I can find a better solution than what they offer. Which is why I am talking to guys like you (Arlen and Pete).

I would not be opposed to buying components and installing them if I thought for sure they would give me a better rating which in this case I don't think they are.

I would like some type of an indication they are working though. Need to think about that a little bit.

mjncad, I also found out this weekend that my new Davis Vantage Pro is not working. Seems that it took a few days for some of the failed stuff to showed up.

I am way over my deductible on this deal. I am sure $5k at minimum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Pete,

I thought about a neon bulb but the panels are in a spot I wont be checking on a regular basic. Was thinking about adding a relay and a buzzer on the normally closed set of contacts so I knew if that breaker was tripped.

But I am probably over thinking it. If I can get something in the house that we used often to the top of the panel I can add the surge protect off those two breakers and I would have a better idea when it went out. You know like the coffee pot. LOL

I am not against home brew at all. Heck the three of us are hams so that goes without saying.

I guess if I buy the Square D unit I am probably going to have to buy two right? 400 amp meter panel with two 200 amp breakers that each feed a 200 amp panel.

This is the last house I will live in. God Willing. That said, I doubt there will ever be an inspector in here anyway :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Agreed. I just want to protect 90% of the house, 90% of the time. For less than $250 is seems like a good solution.

The power comes up the back of our property overhead and we have our own transformer on the pole. I buried the cable myself and yes it hooks to a meter panel with the two circuit breakers are. So the circuit is common above the breakers.

I am going to put some secondary protection at my Demarc for the modem, routers, switches, etc. I think the largest damage so far was from what ended up on the Cat V cable. Anything with a network interface lost the interface.

Just got a call from the Geo guys and they are on their way. Their first guess is the blower motor. Geez, I would have guessed main circuit board ! They say the variable blowers are often fried with a surge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Well we have heat again. Even though it was been dipping down into the low 30s at night I am glad the house stayed in the 60s.

The HVAC guys replaced the blower motor. The control unit that attaches to the motor was toast. The unit didn't start the Geo pumps a couple times so they replaced the main board as well to be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Good news. How long before your back on the air? You can always resort to the 2 meter handheld:laugh:
I am not sure. I would guess Icom will have it 3 weeks possibly. And regarding the handheld... Uuuuh how about no ! haha. When I did operate 2 meters it was 20 years ago and only simplex. It was actually kinda nice but the group fell apart. Never used repeaters much and definitely not handhelds :)

You should post some pictures of your fancy geo thermal setup.
I just snapped a few pictures of the GEO setup with de-superheater piping and water heaters. The grey tank is for garage in-floor heat. Its a waterfurnace brand Synergy 3D. Has Honeywell fresh air system and April Aire for humidifier. The two pumps mounted to the wall are the loop pumps.

Diesel, I will get pics of the surge stuff when done !
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
I have checked everything but garage. PC in garage is fine and I think the only things that were plugged in that need checked are the dewalt chargers and the Miller syncrowave welder.

The thing that worries me is I have had at least a couple things fail in the following days. I am pretty sure we used the fireplace the day after one evening, I know I used the cable card modem on the media center PC and it worked except I now see my recorded shows were not recording and my Davis Weather station worked until Thursday.

So hoping I dont have future electronics problems on the horizon !
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Things you learn the hard way in life: The stove is hot, backup your files, protect your AC, don't go down a hill with a big load in the FEL unless your in 4WD.

Pete
LOL, check on all of those !

I dont know if I have a certain amount of time with insurance company finding issues or not. I should ask them that question. they have not had an issue with me adding stuff over the period of a week but wondering if they will cover something in a month.

I need to get the TenTec power supply sent off. I think I am going to build a plywood shipping box for it. A solid state transformer type power supply is HEAVY for a soild state amp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Just finished reading this entire thread and I'm really impressed with the efforts you guys are making to provide surge protection. Sounds like you really have a handle on it!

From a fellow ham in NE Tennessee . . . :hi:

73 de N4TI . . . :thumbup1gif:
Welcome to the thread old man !

We have a couple smart guys in here so lots of good info !
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
Only a couple . . . ??

I count more!
Well there are a few but Pete and Arlen have lots of good info in this thread. Both from slightly different perspectives so that really helps.
 
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