Whole House Surge Protection

So many data centers are planned for our county (as many as 120) I have wondered lately about power outages and subsequent power surges.

While these centers are said to have their "own" power stations, they take huge, huge amounts of electricity (a 2MW center can use as much power as 34,000 houses), and their efficiency varies from center to center. Their PUE (Power Use Effectiveness) is based on how much of their total electrical use goes to the servers.

Ideally the PUE is 1, but a good center has a PUE of 1.5 to 1.85. What will the PUEs be of the centers in our area? Who knows. But power outages and surges are common among data centers. Electrical companies can change grids from time to time to gain more power. This can cause surge disruptions.

Surges are really the presence of an over-voltage traveling through a line. A lightning strike on a power line, or data center, can cause such transient power surges. Homes can experience small power surges multiple times a day. But a large surge can be devastating to a home's electrical equipment and appliances.

May I recommend that you protect your home with a good, and I mean GOOD, whole-house surge protector? I did so in 2020. For my house, in Bristow VA, I chose the Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA. My electrician agreed it is the best. With it you will need a dedicated 50amp breaker. The breaker you buy should be the same brand as your electric panel box.

If you investigate the pros and cons of whole-house surge protectors the cons include that the devices can be expensive and you "may" need professional help to install it. Um, duh? A good device costs money. And always get a professional! To paraphrase Red Adair, if you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.

Be smart. Get one online, and not in the electric supply store or from your electrician. Online you can get the Eaton for about $160 and the breaker $25. My electrician charged me $195 to install it.

That's cheap considering the potential electrical problems your home could have. And when you deal with electricity of course you want to do the best thing.

In the photo the red arrows point to the protector and the dedicated breaker in my panel box.

Two very good surge protectors made by Eaton follow.  The first link, here, is for single-phase houses, and the second, here, can be used in either one or two-phase houses.  The second link is the protector I have in my house.  And you can get either of these by clicking on the links cheaper than you can at any hardware or electric store. 

In addition to the whole-house protector, you also want surge protectors for receptacles that power important appliances like computers, computer equipment and TVs.  The wall protectors are very good, as are the surge-protecting strips.  Be sure to use protectors that provide 400 - 600 joules defense for proper protection.  Above 600 joules provides maximum safety.  Look for the joule defense rating when you purchase the surge protector.

One more thing - do it now.


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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!