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Whole house surge arrestors, installed at the meter base, are the critical first line of defense against damaging lightning and power surges entering your home through the electric meter.
As important as they are, however, whole house surge protectors do not clamp voltage to a level low enough to protect microprocessor-operated equipment, such as computers, which need high quality plug-in surge protectors.
What causes power line surges, and how do they damage my equipment?
Thunderstorms and lightning are the most dramatic and destructive causes of power line problems. However, downed utility poles, squirrels, birds, snakes, or even large motors switching on and off can create power surges.
Damage occurs when too much energy goes through a sensitive circuit causing a breakdown in the insulation. This can happen instantly from a high-energy surge or, over time, from several low energy surges. Surge protection products reduce the risk of premature equipment failure caused by circuit breakdown.
Can a surge harm my equipment if I am not using it?
Yes. Many electrical devices have electronic timers, clocks, or remote controls that remain in operation even when it is not in use. Also, some appliances cycle off and on at random and they could be on during a surge.
Why do I need surge protection?
Because electronics have become increasingly sophisticated and, as a result, more sensitive. Even slight power surges can shorten lifespan of DVRs, game consoles and computers. And now, even refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers are full of sensitive microprocessor circuitry take makes them as venerable to surge damage as home computers and LED televisions..
Most people have insurance to cover replacing damaged appliances, but there is no compensation for the inconvenience in replacing these appliances, such as a refrigerator or its contents. Surge protection is an investment that reduces the risk of such unpleasant experiences. The cost can be recovered simply in protecting against just one catastrophic impulse that might destroy or damage appliances in a modern home.
Won’t my circuit breakers protect my equipment?
No. The reaction time of the circuit breakers in your electrical service panel are much too slow. Our Meter-Treater® acts within nano-seconds, a nearly immeasurably amount of time. Circuit breakers are designed to protect the wiring in your home from over current. It is the over voltage that is blocked by the surge protector.
Will these devices prevent my digital clocks from blinking after an outage?
No. Surge protection devices are designed to “stand by”, waiting to block any unusually high voltage. They do not provide uninterruptible power. If a lightning strike somewhere downline causes a circuit breaker on the distribution line to trip momentarily then you will see your lights blink off for a moment while the circuit breaker resets. The surge protector will have protected your appliances for any possible voltage surge but not from the brief interruption of power.
Only a uninterruptible power supply. (UPS) can step in to maintain the voltage during a “blink” or a brief outage. A UPS backup powersupply is highly recommended for your home computer, even your satellite receive or DVR. Affordable models are available at office supply stores and online retailers. They are sold based on the load, or combined wattage, of the appliances they will power. Smaller models my provide uninterrupted power for just a few short minutes. More expensive units, with greater battery capacity, can power applianced longer. These units also have built in surge protection.
What does a surge arrestor do?
A surge arrestor acts like a trapdoor to divert excess electrical energy (sometimes called over voltages, transients, or surges). Unwanted bursts of electricity are diverted to the trapdoor because it is a low-impedance path to ground. The trapdoor is a metal oxide varistor (MOV) which automatically activates when the voltage exceeds a certain level, safely diverting most of the excess energy to the ground.
When the over voltage or transient is over, the MOV automatically resets and is ready for the next one. It is important to note that with lightning or other fast acting impulses, the leading edge of the impulse will pass the first MOV, even as the majority of the surge is racing to, and through, the trapdoor, hence the need for a second stage Point-of-Use arrestor inside the home or business.
Where does it install? How long does it take?
Meter-base devices go between the electric meter and the meter box on the outside of the house and it takes only ten minutes to install. A trained Coastal Electric Cooperative representative will install the unit free of charge.
Will this protect me from all kinds of power disturbances?
No, though they do handle the most frequent and destructive ones. Very few people with both the Meter-Treater and a second stage internal plug-in arrestor have suffered damage.
However, there are many variations of power disturbances, and we can’t handle all of them with just surge arresting, even with second stage arrestors with filters used inside. More sophisticated technologies, i.e. hybrid power conditioners or true online dual conversion uninterruptable power systems, are available to handle complex power problems.
Will Surge Guard also protect against Temporary Over Voltages (TOVs)?
Meter-Treater’s have been documented by some utilities to have helped prevent damage to systems from utility TOV’s.
However, the units are not specifically designed for that purpose. Rather, they are designed for electrical transients, such as are associated with lightning, electrical grid switching, motors starting and stopping, furnace igniters, etc.
Faced with a TOV, Meter-Treater’s will act just as if a large transient is occurring and clamp on it (diverting it to ground), but at a certain point the coordinated safety fusing will take effect, and the Meter-Treater will take itself out of the loop.
Will Surge Guard protect me from a direct lightning strike?
No. Nothing is a complete guarantee from a direct lightning strike. No product on the market can effectively handle such a high level of energy.
What happens if Surge Guard fails?
MOVs self sacrifice in a ‘dead short’ mode. When this happens on a Meter-Treater, the MOV ruptures and goes off line. The Meter-Treater will not cut off power to your house. Only the MOV surge circuit becomes inactive.
I have a ground rod outside at my meter won’t that help?
Proper grounding is important in all phases of power transmission and distribution. Typically, the final grounding responsibility for Coastal Electric Cooperative is the grounding bond at the distribution transformer.
The homeowner is responsible for his meter socket ground rod, and it is normally inspected and regulated by building code inspectors.
During a surge, Meter-Treater reduces the surge voltage across any power leg with reference to ground and neutral. Damage to appliances typically occurs when the surge voltage on the hot or neutral leg exceeds some internal BIL (Basic Insulation Level). The MOVs in Meter-Treater are placed between each hot leg and the neutral/ground bond point. Conduction of the surge current is through each MOV thus placing, in parallel with the appliances, a desirable path for the surge current.
A good ground is important for the regulation of voltage, surge path and customer safety. Meter-Treater installers test the customer’s ground before installation.
If the test results are somewhat less than 100 ohms no additional ground rods are driven. If greater than 100 ohms, the Meter-Treater® installer will drive up to two additional rods. Seldom is a customer’s ground any lower than 25 ohms (low is better) whereas Coastal Electric Cooperative’s system ground is often as low as 5 ohms at the substation and not over 25 ohms downline – depending upon soil and other conditions
Where does Coastal Electric buy its whole house surge arrestors?
Meter-Treater®, Inc., the originator and inventor of the meter-based surge arrestor.
Since 1986 Meter-Treater has been working closely with electric utility companies throughout the country. Meter-Treater is the pioneer in the field of Whole House surge protectors and currently holds several patents in meter base surge protection with many more pending.
Meter-Treater whole house surge protectors were first introduced and placed into service in early 1987. Many enhancements have evolved through continual testing both in house and in the field.
The heart of almost all modern surge protection devices on the market today is the Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV). Meter-Treater, unlike others, uses the larger more durable 40mm varistors because of their superior reliability and safety. The disks are “distribution grade” and normally used only in more expensive commercial applications.
Because of Meter-Treater’s unique designs the unit is capable of safely reaching service limits well beyond other products. Meter-Treater has been repeatedly tested to 57,000 amps and has been tested by several major power companies.
The unit safely disengages due to the unique patented fuses and it does this without interrupting customer service. The Meter-Treater® has repeatedly passed critical end-of-life testing without catching fire.
Of all the products we’ve seen, the Meter-Treater ranks, in our opinion, as a MUST HAVE for anyone.
It simply provides too much protection, for too little cost, to not have.