The Electrical Panel Surge Protector: Coverage For The Whole House

Not everyone knows the electrical panel surge protector by this name; most call it a whole house surge protector. Nonetheless, the device protects the circuitry of your home from power surges by stopping them at the point of entry: where your power lines enter your home at the main electrical panel or circuit breaker board. While you can’t always readily find these devices, they are available through several manufacturers online. Or you can call your local power company and see what they have to offer. As you are dealing with high voltage wires during installation, it is not recommended that you install a panel surge protector yourself. Call a professional electrician for the job. It usually takes about 30 minutes.

Prices range in the low hundreds. An average device will be around $250 USD. There are a couple of electrical surge protectors I would recommend: Panamax, Intermatic, Square D, Lexiton. I’ll let you know where you can find them later, but for now just know that all of these manufacturers are reputable surge protection companies that specialize in point of entry protection. I’m only going to talk about a couple of them and then let you know how to find all of them at the end of the article.

photo credit: Panamax website

Let’s start with what most people think of when considering electrical surge protection for their home, Panamax. The Panamax whole house surge protector installs at your electric meter panel one of two ways, meaning there are two systems you can install. One has wires that lead out of the back of the device so that it can connect directly to your service panel, while the other has the connection wires coming out of the side in case you need to attach the house surge protector beside the panel.

Which electrical panel surge protector you get depends entirely on having room on your circuit board. Both devices accomplish the same thing: whole house surge protection. They have clamping voltages of 500V, which is the amount of voltage a protector will let pass into your home before it counts it as a surge and stops it. Each device is rated for single phase panels for 2700 Joules of protection, complete with alarms and indicator lights to let you know they are still working. Panamax promises house surge protection from indirect lightning strikes, issues arising from transformers and fallen utility poles.

Panamax also covers their devices for five years from the purchase date. If anything should happen to the home surge suppressor as a result of defects or workmanship the company will replace it free of charge within that time frame. There is also a $10,000 CEW that guarantees coverage for any damages as a result of the surge suppressor failing under the warranty.

One thing to remember about whole house surge protectors is that they are not the end all, be all of defense against power surges. You should still consider protecting individual appliances and computers with their own plug-in device as added protection.

I used Panamax as an example because they have very good home surge protectors that are trusted by electricians to be not only sound devices but easy to install.

As to where to find these devices, here is a link to a list of retailers that sell them online and if you look at the top right of the Panamax page there is a retailer locator that you can use to search for products in your area.

If you would like to review other manufacturer products in the electrical panel surge protector line, I have provided the manufacturer’s store locator for you:

Square D

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  1. Dollard LeBlanc says

    Why is it suggested to have additionnal protection at individuel appliances when one has whole house propection ?

  2. admin says

    Hello, Dollard.

    Whole house protection is a safeguard against externally caused surges (lightning, power grid issues, outages), whereas individual appliance surge protectors help guard against surges created within the home from large appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners turning on. It’s more of a second line of defense for your electronics.

    Thanks for the question.

  3. KYH says

    Well, we just moved in to a new house and had a power outage. As a result, it blew out the fuse on our AC, the control board on the clothes dryer, and the control board and control panel on the dishwasher as well as several small appliances. We had to get a new dishwasher ($900), $100 to fix the AC, and $200 to fix the clothes dryer (not to mention the lights and plugs TBD). In any event, it costs about $160 to $250 have an electrician to install a whole house panel protector. Personally, it is money well spent and it will save you money down the road.

  4. TX Dude says

    A whole house protector protects against both external and internal surges. A proper unit correctly placed on the incoming service panel protects the entire panels circuits. Many of the major appliances and lighting have dedicated circuits – thus these are directly protected from internal or external surges – internal surges are many times greater in frequency than external – at the panel. Each “breaker” in the panel is protected from the other breakers surge feed-back.

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