Computer Help

General discussion

Life expectancy of surge protectors?

by MarleneV / November 1, 2004 6:30 AM PST

I am trying to find out how long a good quality surge protector could be expected to last? Thanks.

Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Re: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
by roddy32 / November 1, 2004 6:38 AM PST

That would depend on what is plugged into it and how good it is. Prices vary greatly and so does quality. I use APC which has a lifetime warranty for both the surge protector and whatever is plugged into it but there are other good brands too. A better option is a UPS (uninterupted power supply) anyway.

Collapse -
One lightning stike.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / November 1, 2004 6:41 AM PST

Most are built to sacrifice themselves and take the brunt of the strike.

If no hits, then many years.

Bob

Collapse -
I don't buy the assumption that a surge protector will...
by trytohelp / November 12, 2004 10:12 AM PST
In reply to: One lightning stike.

take a direct lightning strike. I don't care how good the surge protector is or how expensive. My grandmother had a lightning strike at her house come in through the electrical wires and it burnt up her furnace tv and almost burnt up her whole house. Lightning jumps from half a mile in the sky to the ground as easy as sparks go across a spark plug, do you really think a little surge protector will stop it? Put it this way "if lightning strikes directly the only thing that will save a computer is a call to the insurance man to replace it".

Collapse -
The purpose of a surge protector
by Gonner16 / December 7, 2013 10:51 AM PST

A surge protector is designed to turn off in the result of surges...or aka lightening stricks. So obviously no, if the house burns down you SOL. However in the event of a lightening strick and power going out the surge protector goes out instead of the electiricity hit straight to your electronics. So if you don't believe in using a surge protector on a an expensive electronic. I would say that is idiotic. P.S this forum was asking the expected live span of a surge protector and not your life stories.

Collapse -
Couple of things
by Jimmy Greystone / December 7, 2013 9:55 PM PST

Couple of things

1: You do realize you're arguing with someone about a post made roughly 9 years ago, right?

2: That's not what surge protectors do. Most surge protectors are very simple circuits that just shunt everything through a resistor with a really high rating. That's what you see in power strips and the rest that claim to have power surge functionality. It doesn't matter how many joules it says it can block, in the event of a lightning strike, they're completely and totally useless. Lightning strikes would be probably in the tens of millions of joules if not more, most surge protectors that you see in stores might protect against the first 1500 joules.

3: Surge protectors do absolutely nothing against something that's probably equally dangerous to expensive electronics, which are mini-brown outs. Electronics are designed with the idea of a nice steady sine wave of power coming in. In the US, that would be about 120V AC @ 60Hz. However, depending on the quality and/or condition of the electrical equipment in your area, there can be a wide variance in those things. It often happens that there will be little dips and surges all during the day. A surge protector may help a little against those, but it won't do anything about the cumulative damage done from the dips in power. Which is why if you're truly serious about protecting expensive electronics you'd get a UPS that gives a pure sine wave, since some electronics will not run properly with a simulated sine wave UPS, though even those are better than your average surge protector you buy for $10 or less. Those cheap power strips claiming to be surge protectors are only better than nothing in an academic sense. Practically speaking, they're just as useless as having no protection at all.

Collapse -
Here is a link. Simply read the first
by Ray Harinec / November 1, 2004 8:29 AM PST

short paragraph to see why you should buy a surge protector with the highest possible joule rating. Get one with at least a 3000 Joule rating.

http://www.mailarchive.ca/lists/comp.dcom.telecom.tech//2001-07/0206.html

With a poor quality electric service Your protector can get hit with surges relatively frequently. Additionally the breakdown voltage of the protection devices increases after hits to the point where the breakdown voltage gets so high that they offer no protection. No easy way to predict the life, but certainly consider replacing them after about six years.

A few years ago I had a link to an article that was much more specific. The key is that they get hit with surges that degrade them at levels that don't really get noticed by you.

Collapse -
Re: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
by Willy / November 1, 2004 12:09 PM PST

A surge protector takes on *all comers of problems* so expect if you have real problems and the surge protector is doing its job, it may last once on a real bad hit or multiple times. And if multiple times, it degrades little by little until overcomed. One good feature are "taddytale LEDs" which remain lit until not as thus the surge protector is no longer effective. The better models offer higher joule rating are simply effective to not only stop a hit but prevent serious damage or fire outbreak. The cheaper the model, the level of protection degrades quickly. Thus stick with good brands like APC or Triplett. Others abound, but for simple home systems look the the joule rating spec. somehwre on the box or protector.

good luck -----Willy ":)"

Collapse -
Re: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
by caroltchr / November 12, 2004 2:36 AM PST

I don't know if this is true, but I've read that you should replace your surge protector each year. The reason, as I've "heard," is that your surge protector absorbs multiple "hits" or "surges" over a year that don't compromise your computer's performance; however, the surge protector loses is ability with each "hit." Again, I've read this "somewhere," but can't remember where and don't know if it's true. Someone else????

Collapse -
Re: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
by Willy / November 12, 2004 8:01 AM PST

If you buy a cheap surge protector, don't expect the world of it. The more costly, the *more likely* it will do its job and on a continuous basis. YES, surge protectors do degrade so its important to have some taltale LED to show its working. Usually, after a serious hit the LED goes out and provides an immedaite need to buy anew. if you want to save money, get a solo AC surge protector for each AC cord, then plug into a strip surge protector then plug that into dual AC wall outlet surge protector, covers both plugs. That doesn't rule out having a line conditioner or UPS if desired, its not a waste of money if you consider your data important.

good luck Happy -----Willy

Collapse -
Re: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
by glenn30 / November 12, 2004 3:07 AM PST

Marlene,
For information I am using an APC Back-UPS 450 that I purchased 9 years ago. Absolutely no problems and I only needed to replace the battery once just recently.

Maybe this helps with the how long question.

Glenn

Collapse -
"9 years"
by drpruner / November 14, 2004 6:28 AM PST

Glenn,
Nice!
However, I would have replaced it by now, due to considerations in my other post here.

Btw, if you have the skills you can replace the items I mentioned yourself, and leave the rest of the circuity intact. You will probably void any equipment replacement guarantee remaining.

Another view is that in 9 years you've depreciated/amortized/paid back your investment, so why not replace all of it for cheap insurance.

I also use and recommend APC

Regards, Doug in New Mexico

Collapse -
Re: "9 years"
by glenn30 / November 14, 2004 8:21 AM PST
In reply to: "9 years"

Thanks Doug, where does one purchased the little red "cough drops"? Grin

Regards,

Glenn

Collapse -
(NT) (NT) Electronic parts stores such as Radio Shack sell MOVs
by Edward ODaniel / November 15, 2004 3:02 AM PST
In reply to: Re: "9 years"
Collapse -
Re:
by drpruner / November 15, 2004 3:13 AM PST
In reply to: Re: "9 years"

Edward O'Daniel's post has it. Should have said they're 'metal oxide varistors.' Usually but not always red. Be careful and neat on the soldering and placement - they'll be connected right to the 120V lines inside.

Still, I would buy another APC box. Cost-per-protection has gone down a lot in 9 yrs; cheap insurance.

Regards, Doug in New Mexico

Collapse -
Thanks to Edward and drpruner :)
by glenn30 / November 15, 2004 6:31 AM PST
In reply to: Re:

I have a good solderer and he is real picky! Grin

Thank you both... now I know what to call them.

Glenn

Collapse -
In conjunction with Ray's post...
by Edward ODaniel / November 12, 2004 8:40 AM PST

i think you might want to look at thei file:
http://www.westwhitelandfire.com/Articles/Surge%20Protectors.pdf

(it can be viewed as html here but loses a bit in the translation.

This might be of interest too - http://www.infinisource.com/features/surge-protection.html

As would this - http://www.hanford.gov/lessons/sitell/ll00/2000-02.htm

For reference, the military has taken to replacing all surge protectors after a maximum of 2 years--after that they are relagated to being used as power strips for non electronic equipment (such as drills, clocks, tree lights, etc.

Collapse -
Re: Life expectancy of surge protectors?
by drpruner / November 14, 2004 6:23 AM PST

Marlene,
And my. two cents worth is:

Inside a surge suppressor are two or (better) three coughdrop-sized items connected to the power lines by wires. (They're usually red.) These are the key surge/lightning items. As suggested by others, they sacrifice themselves a little at a time, so need replacing periodically.

Consumer Reports ran some tests many years ago and recommended a two-year cycle. These days I recommend one year, because the darn things are now so cheap. Get a unit with at least 1000 joule rating. (1 joule = 1 watt-second; 1000 joules = protection against 1000 watts for one second; a considerable hit.)

Here in NM lightning is common in the summer monsoon, small-town electrical is often problematic. My computers are working, so that's my 'badge of authority." Happy

Regards, Doug in New Mexico

Popular Forums
icon
Computer Help 47,885 discussions
icon
Computer Newbies 10,322 discussions
icon
iPhones, iPods, & iPads 3,188 discussions
icon
Security 30,333 discussions
icon
TVs & Home Theaters 20,177 discussions
icon
HDTV Picture Setting 1,932 discussions
icon
Phones 15,713 discussions
icon
Windows 7 6,210 discussions
icon
Networking & Wireless 14,510 discussions

Tech for the holiday

Find recipes for July 4 with these foodie apps

The Fourth of July means fireworks, fun and food. If you're planning on a barbecue this weekend, we've got the apps to help you find holiday-inspired recipes.