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Can Surge Protectors Work Without Ground

author
Ava Flores
• Saturday, 19 December, 2020
• 10 min read

For over 100 years, protection from potentially destructive surges has always been about what absorbs those hundreds of thousands of joules. Informed homeowners spend maybe $1 per appliance for a 100+ year proven solution.

(Source: the-power-of-it.com)

Contents

A 'whole house' protector, rated at least 50,000 amps, means current connects to earth BEFORE getting anywhere near an appliance. Nobody knows a surge existed when a less expensive and superior protector remains functional.

Protection is about where hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly dissipate. 'Art' of protection and what should have most of your attention is earthing electrodes and a low impedance (i.e. less than 3 meter) connection to them.

I was able to determine that the metal work boxes had a ground wire attached to them that went back to the panel. This made it easy enough to just replace the outlets and use a short ground wire of the proper gauge from the green lug to the box.

They may absorb reverse EMF from appliances that have AC motors but won't handle large current surges that come in through your service panel. There are surge protectors that bind to terminals in your service box but adding such might entail replacing the panel itself.

Is there a product that provides surge protection for computer/TV/tech where only two prong (no ground) power outlet is available? The wiring in my house is old, and existing three prong outlets do not show up as properly grounded when I plug in a surge protector or UPS.

surge protector need electrical
(Source: www.davidgrayelectricalservices.com)

I realize that would make warranties invalid, but I'm thinking that, short of rewiring the house, I'm at least getting surge protection via the fuse. I should have been more specific, and didn't realize the distinction between the fuse and the MOVE.

I've got a Welkin surge master which has “130v Oversized Metal Oxide Various which absorb excess electricity across, hot, neutral and ground lines, preventing harm to your equipment.” The whole point of a surge protected is that it dumps excess voltage to ground.

I don't know about your breaker panels, but mine have the neutral/return/common (whatever you want to call it -- the larger of the two non-round terminals on a polarized 5-15R) wire connected to the ground bar. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but it seems that you're saying that the common wire is connected to something that goes back to the utility pole, which is a configuration I've never seen. The whole point of a surge protected is that it dumps excess voltage to ground.

Neutral does not have to be tied to ground (although it is usually, in my experience), but it certainly does not go back to the power station. A little story:I built a wood shop in CT 4 years ago and wired 100amps of service out to it.

I installed all the electrical components according to code- individual neutral, hot and ground lines. I pulled the 100amp line off of my house's main panel (thus the shop had its own subpanel).

(Source: www.flickr.com)

I added a ground stake to the shop and wired it up. Remember that my line pulled off of the house, so my ground stake ran directly back to the neutral ground bind in the main house panel and gave me this result: Twenty minutes after completing the job I went in to eat, it started to rain very lightly and my house got struck by lightning.

It went through my arm as I was holding a metal skillet on an electric stove (numb for over a day) all electronics got fried including my well pump which resides 350ft underground ! I disconnected the ground stake... and lost a ton of money in repairs.

MAJOR oversight on my part!BTW, that was not even a storm, just light rain for a few minutes. Incorrect, neutral is at ground potential. Please consult “how stuff works” before spouting misinformation.

Quote:Originally posted by Carole:Older wiring schemes often have the “common ground arrangement where the neutral and ground line are one and the same or bound in the panel. A little story:I built a wood shop in CT 4 years ago and wired 100amps of service out to it.

I installed all the electrical components according to code- individual neutral, hot and ground lines. I pulled the 100amp line off of my house's main panel (thus the shop had its own subpanel).

electrical symbols basic dc surge source software following fuse shapes transducer plug extended such etc display some
(Source: www.edrawsoft.com)

I added a ground stake to the shop and wired it up. Remember that my line pulled off of the house, so my ground stake ran directly back to the neutral ground bind in the main house panel and gave me this result: Twenty minutes after completing the job I went in to eat, it started to rain very lightly and my house got struck by lightning.

It went through my arm as I was holding a metal skillet on an electric stove (numb for over a day) all electronics got fried including my well pump which resides 350ft underground ! I disconnected the ground stake... and lost a ton of money in repairs.

MAJOR oversight on my part!BTW, that was not even a storm, just light rain for a few minutes. The general idea of a ground prong is that if a device fails in a way that current is directed to the chassis of the device rather than out the “correct” path, then it still has a route out other than “through the operator who may be standing in a puddle or touching something that is grounded”.

In fact, in many setups (like mine), both wires go to the same bus in the fuse panel. In fact, I think you might have some problems if they weren't connected and one happened to develop a different potential than the other, like if the ground prong or the chassis itself made a more attractive path out of the device than the neutral, you could get bad things happening (this is what FCI outlets protect against). That said, I have no idea how it would affect a surge suppressor.

Typical surge suppressors contain components called Metal Oxide Various (Move) that shunt the surges to the ground line… an extremely dangerous situation in an ungrounded environment. Zero Surge products are also compatible with ground fault circuit interrupter outlets.

surge protector
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

My help is free, but if you wish to help keep these forums running please consider a donation, see this topic for details. The simplest way is to go to a hardware store and get a 3 prong to 2 prong “cheater” adapter, plug it into the outlet, and be certain you attached the small ground wire to the center screw on the outlet cover.

If you are concerned, you can get an inexpensive polarity/ ground tester at many hardware stores for about $5-10. With the box grounded, you can actually get a 3 prong outlet for a few dollars and replace the 2 prong outlet (with the fuse pulled or the circuit breaker off), but you need to find the ground wire in the box (sometimes it's a chore to find) and connect it (it's generally green) to the ground screw on the outlet.

If you rent, I would check first to see if it's ok to do, or simply insist that they upgrade the outlet. These devices definitely work, when some years ago, the local power company crossed a leg of 440-vac 3-phase onto the normal 125v circuit.

The MOVE on the television shorted, opening a quick acting fuse, interrupting power to the device, and minimized damage. On the other hand, Move are a consumable device despite that they are “solid state”.

Numerous small surges, as are often found on power mains, that do not normally affect operation, tend to reduce the device's capacity to respond to all surges, as well as its current carrying capacity when called upon to do so. I came across this thread via Google, and it raises a question relevant to me. I am in UK and use a Welkin SurgeCube on international travel for laptop and battery charging.

surge protector why need readability
(Source: readability.news)

I assume I get surge protection because the product details say '300V Oversized Metal Oxide Various (MOVE’s) absorb excess electricity across live, neutral and earth lines'. No, you are fine, but the truth is that in 99.999% of cases, anything other than what is already built into power supplies as they are designed is superfluous.

The whole “power surge business is just a racket, since Move have been routinely used in electronic power supplies since the mid 1970s.Similarly, with the whole 2-wire--3-wire debate, for the truth here is that anything that is designed with a three-prong plug is designed to operate satisfactorily with a two-wire connection, period. The only function of the third “earth” wire is to act as a shunt in the case of a fault to a metal case (such as a power tool) or as an element in a complex radio-frequency filter.

But even this is completely dependent upon the safety ground or earth being properly installed on site to begin with, for failing this, the third wire in some circumstances could actually be dangerous. Bottom line: stop fretting and have fun with your computer.

No, you are fine, but the truth is that in 99.999% of cases, anything other than what is already built into power supplies as they are designed is superfluous. The only function of the third “earth” wire is to act as a shunt in the case of a fault to a metal case (such as a power tool) or as an element in a complex radio-frequency filter.

But even this is completely dependent upon the safety ground or earth being properly installed on site to begin with, for failing this, the third wire in some circumstances could actually be dangerous. Bottom line: stop fretting and have fun with your computer.

inspection milwaukee 2314 scope spector kit 9ft tool
(Source: www.toolauthority.com)

This is an incredibly naive post...sorry I hate to come down on anyone but this is true. While this should be the case it is in fact NOT 100% true. Moreover, in OEM power supplies from companies besides Delta, Zippy, EMACS etc.

This can result in high voltage surges flowing into the computer for a short period of time before shut down. Just look at any power supplies made by the allied/deer/pow max, they are complete garbage, overspend (meaning they say that are better than they are), produced as cheap as possible etc.

I wouldn't In all honesty I wouldn't trust a computer to anything less than an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) with automatic voltage regulation, because not only surges bad but running at low voltages (100V) are hard on the equipment too. Often times if your ground isn't true you end up with a charge on the surface of the PSU.

Strangely enough todays local evening paper referred to a distribution cable fault which led to very serious problems in a street. From that time (which caused some issues with audio equipment) I have used protectors.

Also, I don’t share your view that equipment that should be grounded is safe when not. @PedroDaGr8 The application is for foreign travel with ungrounded stuff like laptop and camera battery chargers which have two-wire figure-of-eight connectors on the mains flex.

Some places we are planning to visit (like Mongolia) apparently have erratic supplies and advice is to use surge protection with laptops. Strangely enough todays local evening paper referred to a distribution cable fault which led to very serious problems in a street.

From that time (which caused some issues with audio equipment) I have used protectors. Also, I don’t share your view that equipment that should be grounded is safe when not.

@PedroDaGr8The' application is for foreign travel with ungrounded stuff like laptop and camera battery chargers which have two-wire figure-of-eight connectors on the mains flex. Some places we are planning to visit (like Mongolia) apparently have erratic supplies and advice is to use surge protection with laptops.

OK if the PSU is designed to not have a ground then just a regular surge protector should work just fine. If all goes well any loose power wires making contact with the case of the Laptop will not conduct electricity to you.

Grounding has to do with giving an alternative path for electricity to flow. Take your nice metal cased appliance (Desktops included) and Two wire plug.

If a power wire makes contact with that case, and you give it a touch you will see the light. Its sole purpose in life and yours is to send electricity through it away from you should you touch that electrified case.

Real important when you go to get that wet laundry out of the washing machine. Then attached to an earth ground, pole, water pipe by a single wire from the distribution panel.

In short double insulating came about because of the lack of grounding in lots of situations. Transient Voltage Surge Suppression (TOSS) devices use Metal Oxide Various (Move).

In the conductive state, the MOVE temporarily discharges the voltage transient to the neutral line. Surge protectors need to be grounded, even if the laptop is double insulated.

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Sources
1 hasbropulse.com - https://hasbropulse.com/products/heroquest-game-system
2 www.polygon.com - https://www.polygon.com/2020/9/22/21449264/heroquest-board-game-remake-release-date-price-hasbro-haslab
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