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Meter Based Surge Arresters

From computers to microwaves and high-tech entertainment centers, the average home has a huge investment in electronic equipment. Unfortunately, because of microchip circuitry, this equipment can be easily damaged by changes in electric voltage. To protect these sensitive electronics, the best offense is a two-step defense.

First, a meter base surge arrester stops external power problems before they can enter the home. The PUD installs and maintains these devices for just $4.50 a month -- a bargain when you consider the home's investment in electronic equipment.

How vulnerable is your equipment? Up to 40 percent of home electrical problems are caused by external events -- power line switching and "bumps" caused by power lines slapping together, for example. Not to mention line frequency problems, voltage spikes, high-frequency "noise," short circuits, and the ups and downs when there are outages and then power is restored.

All of these can cause surges (elevations in voltage than last longer than 10 milliseconds) that fry delicate electronic circuitry. And a meter base surge arrester can stop all of them.

For added protection, the manufacturer offers a warranty against damage from power surges that come through the home's electric meter after passing through a failed arrester. The warranty covers electromechanical equipment including home appliances (washers, dryers, refrigerators and other motor-driven appliances) and electronic equipment (computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, microwaves and heat pumps). The warranty is good for up to $50,000 for each event, as long as building wiring and other connections to protect equipment conform to NEC codes.

It only takes our serviceman a half hour to install the device. During this time the power to the home must be off.

That takes care of electrical disturbances from outside the house. What about the 60 percent of power problems that come from inside the home? For these kinds of surges, we recommend a plug-in surge suppressor connected to each piece of electronic equipment. Each time an electric device is turned on, transient voltage (either a spike or sag) may be generated. These split-second disturbances come and go sporadically -- sometimes with disastrous results. Surges can also come from ground wires connected to water pipes or telephone and cable TV lines.

To take care of these in-home disturbances, the PUD is encouraging local retailers to offer Panamax point-of-use surge protectors. These surge protection products carry a lifetime guarantee -- if there is ever a problem, Panamax will accept the old device and send a replacement. Should a surge (including a direct lightning strike) get past the plug-in device, any equipment connected to it is warranted against damage, up to $100,000. For the warranty to be effective, equipment must be connected to the device and building wiring and other connections to protect equipment must conform to applicable NEC code.

For more information, contact Sharon, Klickitat PUD's Energy Services Specialist, at 509-773-7622, or toll-free at 800-548-8357.