1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

October 30, 2008

:304 Surge Protection

Take the 1:5:10:365 challange: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:304 EcoTip: Rather than merely surge protecting your computer – consider having a whole house surge protector installed at your breaker panel to help protect your whole house.

Source: NOAA


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The following is an excerpt from my book – Extreme Weather Hits Home – Protecting Your Building From Climate Change

My family moved to Prescott, Arizona, in the late 1980s. Our home was a two-story on high ground near the middle of town. The public utility lines for our home ran along an alley at the back of the property. A transformer on the power pole served our home and our neighbors on either side. Arizona is known for some spectacular summer lightning storms.

Since the power poles were clearly the highest point in the vicinity, I was concerned about lightning strikes. Shortly after we moved into the home, I had lightning surge protection installed at the service panel for our home. Within that first year it proved to be a wise decision.

While our youngest daughter was in the bath one summer evening an unexpected lightning bolt (literally out of the blue) hit the power pole transformer at the back of our yard. Plumbing is typically grounded to the earth, but that does not always guarantee that the lightning will dissipate harmlessly. The house shook, the power went out and the transformer caught on fire, but in spite of my daughter being in the tub she was fine.

Many additional strikes quickly followed with brief but heavy rains, typical of Arizona summers. The rains, fortunately, extinguished the flames from the power pole. Other than no power for a few hours and the fried lightning protector that we had recently installed, everything else was

Our neighbors weren’t so lucky. The neighbor on one side had their refrigerator and some small appliances blown out. The neighbor on the other side had their television’s picture tube explode sending sparks into their living room. This lightning was probably a type known as “anvil to ground lightning” since the strike originates in the anvil-like head of thunder clouds. These lightning strikes frequently occur without warning well ahead of the main thunderstorm. This firsthand experience convinced me that lightning and surge protection were important additions and had probably saved our electrical appliances and possibly my daughter’s life.


Lightning flowed through the plumbing and electrical system and fried this laundry sink. Courtesy of www.lightningrodstuff.com

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