jump to example.com

If you don’t own a surge suppressor for your whole house or building, the next best thing might be surge suppressors built right into key outlets around your home or office.  There’s less clutter without the power strips, and you’re protected even if you plug your electronics right into the wall.

Leviton makes the Model 7280 just for this purpose.  It’s a duplex outlet with built-in commercial-grade surge protection that covers all three line pairs: Line-to-Neutral, Line-to-Ground, and Neutral-to-Ground.  It’ll handle surge currents up to 24kA and a total surge energy of 720 Joules.

The Model 7280 also offers noise filtering for those sensitive electronics that are susceptible to power line interference.  A diagnostic LED shows the outlet is powered and protected, and the 15A Decora-style outlet will emit an audible alarm if the surge protection has been tripped.

Leviton’s Model 7280 comes in a variety of colors, and the price varies widely from $15 to $60.

Surge Suppressor Outlet [Leviton]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

18 Responses to In-Outlet Surge Protection

  1. Frank Townend says:

    I used these in finishing my basement. So far, so good.

  2. Zeros says:

    These are ideal when you have to protect equipment that can not be plugged into a surge strip. Wall mounted TV’s and ceiling mounted projectors come to mind.

  3. fred says:

    Anyone have any experience regarding how these perform in coordination with an upstream arrestor?

    I’ve heard that some power-strip surge protectors have been implicated in house fires. Is this type any better or worse in this regard?

  4. ff11 says:

    I had my surge protector burst into flames once, luckily I had a fire extinguisher handy. They were working on the lines and apparently connected a 240 line to the 110 line that came to my desk.

  5. bob says:

    Sounds like you’re on a multi-wire (shared neutral) circuit and they cut your neutral.

  6. paganwonder says:

    ff11- under the heading of “No matter how unlikely…” WOW

  7. Toolaremia says:

    I’m an Electrical Engineer working in the communications industry (systems subjected to /real/ surges, i.e. direct lightning strikes), and I remained convinced that these outlet and power-strip surge suppressors are the greatest fraud foisted on the unsuspecting public in the last 50 years. They make Bernie Madoff look like a two-bit three-card Monte grifter.

    Good surge suppression has value, but a treble of MOVs and an LED do not a good surge suppressor make. And MOV’s failure mode is open-circuit with no physical or electrical indication they have failed. You’ll get more value for your $15 out of a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon headwreckers. (And using the byproduct to wet the soil around your house ground rod. 😉

    And about noise filtering for those “sensitive electronics”: More fraud. The dirtiest electrical noise in your house is coming FROM the electronics! They are not “sensitive”. They use switching power supplies which have low power factors and generate buckets of noise. Your computer is electrically the noisiest thing in the house.

    • Josh says:

      Filtration is more to keep the electronics from backfeeding noise onto the rest of your house wiring. I use powerline ethernet adapters and it is noticeably worse if your computer and other small dc inverters are plugged directly into the wall, although devices like tv’s generally do a good job at removing noise from their circuits.

  8. Benjamen Johnson says:

    @Tooleramia:

    You’re right to question the effectiveness of surge protection because there has been some bad junk sold to the public in the name of it. I think you have to look at what its intended for though. Devices like these are not designed to withstand direct lightning strikes (or probably even a really close by strike no matter what the company claims). They are intended to shunt higher than normal voltages away from the electronics to keep them from being damaged in a limited set of circumstances.

    This particular surge suppressor has the UL 1449 2nd edition certification which should address the loss of neutral issue mentioned above and at least give you a point of reference to see exactly what these devices are intended to protect against.

    I’m not a huge fan of surge protecting outlets strips myself so I installed a whole house surge suppressor so I didn’t have to worry about one for each individual device. Line spikes do happen and it was much cheaper than a new TV or computer, and I also understand that it isn’t going to do much for my if my service mast is hit.

    —–

    On the whole noise suppression issue, there’s also a lot of snake oil sold out there. I’m not in a position to judge whether this device has any merit in this regard. A good engineer I knew where I used to work claimed that a noise filter helped clear up some issues he was having with his TV, but I personally haven’t seem much difference when I’ve tested them.

  9. Toolaremia says:

    Certification doesn’t necessarily mean something is any good. Consider OOXML – an industry standard, but widely accepted as complete garbage. Or aluminum wiring, say.

    The spikes MOVs are designed to shunt last /microseconds/, and MOVs can only tolerate a handful of them before they fail. When they absorb the kind of spikes they are designed for, they fail open without any easy way to identify that they no longer work.

    The loss of neutral situation is *exactly* the kind of situation where MOVs are DANGEROUS and will catch fire. They will do *nothing* to protect the equipment and will instead catch on fire. Under that situation you want the equipment fuse to blow and an MOV nowhere to be found. See “Hazards” section here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varistor

    Ultimately, most well-designed electronics will have power supplies that will easily tolerate the spikes these cheap “surge suppressors” claim to suppress, and will tolerate them repeatedly without damage. Buying these simple suppressors is what we should call “safety theater” (apologies to Schneier) because they provide little if any increased safety or reliability but make the consumer feel good because they spent money on them.

  10. Benjamen Johnson says:

    @Toolaremia:

    Certification doesn’t necessarily mean something is any good. Consider OOXML – an industry standard, but widely accepted as complete garbage. Or aluminum wiring, say.

    Straw man argument. You’re picking some weak/bad standards and claiming you can’t trust certifications because of them.

    UL doesn’t screw around. If they have a standard and they certify you that means they tested, simulated, and analyzed the hell out of it before they gave you the certification. Sure you can claim you meet the standard, but unless you are some foreign fly by night company you don’t make false claims. We used to cancel products that we thought might need UL certification unless there was a real compelling reason. The process can be long, fraught with revisions, and ultimately expensive.

    Fine, you’ve made your point with MOVs. That’s why most surge suppressors have failure lights that tell you you are no longer protected, I haven’t taken one apart to figure out how they do it, but off the top of my head you could measure leakage current and if the leakage current disappears because the MOV failed you light/unlight the indicator.

    You can also combine MOVs with breakers or fuses so that if they are tripped, the other components take the brunt of the load or switch it off completely.

    And ultimately, most electronics are cheap and to tolerate spikes is one thing they probably aren’t designed for.

  11. Toolaremia says:

    You are right on the straw man argument. Not valid. Sorry.

    What I was trying to say is that certification doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appropriate or complete solution for the application. UL certifies for /safety/, not for efficacy, I think. They certify your blender won’t kill you, not that it’s any good at blending. A quick look at UL 1449 confirms that they are primarily interested in the things not exploding or igniting when subjected to severe surges. In fact, I found “To comply with UL 1449 2nd edition, many manufacturers have employed designs that may negatively impact the performance of their surge protectors.” which seems to confirm that compliance and performance are not related.

    Not trying to make you mad or be a pain, I’m just trying to make it clear that these things are largely ineffective and mostly sold under false pretenses. Their primary purpose seems to be separating consumers from more of their money by scaring them and then making them feel better that they’ve “done something”.

  12. Benjamen Johnson says:

    Not trying to make you mad or be a pain…

    No not at all, discussion is good for getting the juices flowing in the morning. 🙂 You’ve definitely given us all something to think about, I know I have.

    What really burns me is that I have to pay a ton of money to actually look at the standards. I’ve always found this practice deplorable whether it be ISO, NEC codes, or standards such as this UL 1449. It is fundamentally wrong that you have to pay (especially exorbitant amounts) to get the rules that you need to comply with or even as a consumer that I can’t get the rules that companies are claiming to follow. I can only find some sites that quote parts of the standard — probably parts that make their product or argument look good.

    —————-

    I think the real lesson is that you need to be aware of the limitations of what you’re buying. Cheap surge suppressors are disposable, why else would they tell you not to use them if the light is off (or on as the case may be). The burden is on the customer to make sure the thing is still operating. I’m still of the opinion that if used within their limitations they ARE better than nothing.

  13. Benjamen Johnson says:

    I have to take one thing back:

    And ultimately, most electronics are cheap and to tolerate spikes is one thing they probably aren’t designed for.

    If the electronics device has the CE mark on in (I’m not positive about FCC, but most companies go for CE because if you pass CE, you pass FCC) then is was probably tested to a surge standard. At the time I was doing it (5 years ago), it was optional, but I remember talk that it was probably going to become mandatory.

    From what I remember the surge tests were plus or minus 2kV for some very short period of time — like less than 1/2 a wavelength of 50Hz. It was serious enough that the guys at the test labs said they had seen things go up in flames and were ready with the fire extinguisher.

  14. Keith says:

    I’m also an electrical engineer and a licensed professional engineer
    (nearly 29 years in the business, 26 years as an engineer).

    Any time there is a shunt transient voltage suppression device (MOV,
    Transorb, Sidactor, whatever) across the supply, the circuit should have
    a current interrupting device (fuse preferably, breakers just aren’t fast
    enough) between the suppressor and the voltage supply.

    Many of the less expensive surge suppression power strips omit the fuse;
    those are the ones most likely to catch fire in a sustained overvoltage
    event such as the loss of the neutral connection or a line cross with
    a high voltage line (both can happen).

    ===

    Oh, and if you ever have to replace a fuse (in anything) please use a
    replacement with the same current _and_ voltage ratings…equipment
    designers spend a lot of effort to choose the correct fuse for the
    application (and testing the fuse/equipment combination with regulatory
    agencies such as UL); don’t try to second guess them.

  15. Patrick says:

    About ten years ago the utility transformer supplying my electrical system had a loose neutral, and this caused higher than normal voltages to be delivered to my 120v outlets. The high voltage fried my surge protector, but left my computer unharmed. About six months later I discovered the electronic equipment controlling an actuator in my pool equipment was smoked. The circuit supplying the controller was not surge protected, so that should prove the legitimacy of a surge protector.

  16. WIN10 says:

    I have dozens of serge protected power strips so i do not think i going to get any of outlets any time soon

    • WIN10 says:

      CORRECTION: I have dozens of serge protected power strips so i don`t think i am going to get any of these outlets any time soon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *