SurgeX, ZeroSurge, Brickwall, TrippLite... or....? What kind of Surge Protector do you use?

Todd Anderson

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Curious to know what kind of surge protection everyone is using?

I've been meaning to move away from sacrificial MOV (metal oxide varister) surge protectors to something along the lines of SurgeX. MOVs can only take one major hit before failure, but also deteriorate every time they take a surge hit. For years I've been using TrippLite surge protectors, but SurgeX, ZeroSurge, and Brickwall all employ similar non-sacrifical technology. SurgeX is expensive, there's no way around it. A six outlet unit can run in the $400- $500 range. I've covered the company for years, and they have this convincing trade show demo that pumps 5500 volts/3000 amps into a an MOV... and it instantly blows. More importantly, the MOV attempts to shunt or redirect as much energy to ground, which isn't ideal for other gear on the circuit. SurgeX (and the other two brands mentioned) absorb the entire blow without flinching, and it doesn't redirect energy to ground. The equipment connected to the SurgeX demo receives the exact amount of power its expecting without fluxuations.

Several years ago, I started a review with SurgeX... they sent me an outlet monitoring device called Envision. It recorded detailed power information about the dedicated circuit my amps are on and ultimately found nothing – zero issues – which probably helped kill the review. ;-). Long story, but after rotating through several different PR folks, SurgeX hasn't been eager to forge forward, which is unfortunate because there's some interesting info to relay (so, while it's shelved, it isn't dead yet).

Yesterday, I decided to finally pull the painful trigger ($$$) and buy new surge devices. Taking into account what I'd want to protect (projector, subs, gear rack), I was looking at several grand in SurgeX products. That's a big hit. So, after doing some shopping around, I took the leap and bought ZeroSurge. I have three 2-outlet 15A models coming direct from ZeroSurge, and two 8-outlet models (6 on switch, 2 always active) from Amazon (which was charging about $30 than the ZeroSurge store). It looks like ZeroSurge is the original patent holder of the technology that SurgeX uses (possibly vice-versa... I've read conflicting accounts), and Brickwall is an offshoot of ZeroSurge (I *think*). ZeroSurge and Brickwall are priced similarly...

Anyhow, I'd love to know what others are using and why (be it budget or performance).
 

Jim from Zero Surge

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Hi Todd! Thank you for your orders.

To clear up the company history. Rudy created and patented the technology. He founded Zero Surge in 1989. SurgeX started later as a product from New Frontier (1995). Zero Surge made the "guts" of their product until 2009. Rudy also designed and built the trade show demo unit that you saw. We have one here as well. Today, SurgeX makes their own products and has no business relationship with Zero Surge. Brickwall is a separate company with separate owners. Zero Surge is their manufacturer.
 

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Hey there Jim, what a nice surprise to have you drop in! Welcome to the forum.

Thanks for the background info... it seems that bits and pieces of history have been awkwardly stitched together across the internet. ;-).

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on your product vs SurgeX... is there a substantial difference in fuctionality?
 

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Thanks.

First, one has to compare their "Advanced Series Mode" products. Anything else is likely to be MOV based. The current version of SurgeX is a combination of ESP, SurgeX, and PowerVar all under the parent Ametek. ESP and Powervar used MOVs.

Our current product is identical to the ASM product up to the 2000 volt range. Depending on the specific event, the difference above 2000 volts is around 5% lower level of suppression than what ASM can do. It was something Rudy developed but it more expensive to make for very little practical gain. Today's electronics are more sensitive to changes in current than changes in voltage anyway. The durability and effectiveness are similar and overall better than any MOV product.

For example, we have an 8R15W that protects the computer that runs our in-house surge generator. We can surge each product before it leaves the door because it will not degrade the product. But the computer needs protection from the tester so of course, we use our product. One day I asked how long that 8R15W had been protecting the computer. We did a calculation based on the serial number and how many products we have made that it had seen 186 years worth of surges! Since then, I tell people it will outlive all of us.

Another example happened this month when someone sent in a 25 year old unit. He was concerned because his home had a lightning strike. Of course, nothing can take a direct lightning strike but he felt that the unit was not physically damaged so he asked us to test it. We ran it on our tester and it met all of the performance tests we ask of our current products!
 

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Ah, so you're saying that above 2000V is less important because the actual surge event (rapid spike in current) is more hazardous to gear than voltage?

Your example of the 8R15W (I purchased two of these) is exactly why I want the product. The benefit of knowing it's always at the ready despite past hits completely eliminates any concern or worry that a MOV product is slowly progressing toward being a problem.

I'm not going to need to do this, but what's the rule of thumb for running something like a power strip off one of your two plug models?
 

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I mean two aspects. One - at the high voltage surges, there are so many other factors. A power supply will break down above 2000 volts just from the dielectric material breakdown. That is why lightning is so destructive. But at high voltages, the wire in your home acts as impedance to the surge so it is mostly a theoretical exercise. Like saying my car goes 150 mph and you say yours goes 160 mph. Both are way too fast for a neighborhood road!

The second part is that in general, the current change or dI/dt is what kills today's electronics. Voltage is easier to measure and MOVs only act on voltage so the discussions always center on voltage. But it is the current change that needs to be addressed. Since we use a frequency filter, we take care of both voltage and current.

According to the most current National Electric Code, a power strip can only be plugged into a "permanently mounted" receptacle. That is why we offer mounting brackets for the 2R series. It is not daisy chaining to plug into our 2R series but it is against code to daisy chain to an 6R or higher series.
 

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Ok. That all makes sense.

Funny enough, guess what just arrived at my doorstep? Two boxes from ZeroSurge! I placed the order for these yesterday around lunch... they basically arrived in 24 hours with free shipping.

What a surprise!

They feel heavy duty in the hands... The 8R version must weigh 6 or 7 pounds.
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Todd Anderson

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Jim, is there a reason why ZeroSurge uses a permanently attached power cord versus one that can be unplugged? Is that cost savings in manufacturing?
 

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I do not know the exact reason but I can think of a few beyond cost.
1. IEC cords can be rated for lower current than our product so someone could unintentionally de-rate the product and cause fire.
2. One could plug accidentally into 240 volts and blow some components.
3. One could use cord that is too long and de-rate the unit.
4. Someone loses cord.
5. IEC plugs will eventually get loose over the decades our product lasts.
6. IEC cords can get noisy over decades in service.
7. Someone picks it up by cord and it disconnects and falls on a toe - OUCH!

As with most product safety issues, one has to design for the worse case that can be prevented. That is why we say if you don't use our product, then use a non-surge protector power strip because that would be safer than using MOVs!
 

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I just got four Furman PST-8's, to replace MOV-based devices. I think their design is similar to Zero-Surge.
 

Jim from Zero Surge

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I just got four Furman PST-8's, to replace MOV-based devices. I think their design is similar to Zero-Surge.
Sorry Skid00 but it is not similar to our design. They still use MOVs. You can see the "MOV" printed on the board on their website "deep dive" into their technology - furmanpower.com/series-multi-stage-protection-smp/ You can also see the iron core inductor which saturates.

It is the inductor that helps with the dI/dt reduction that is critical in protecting today's switch mode power supplies. If it saturates quickly, then it can't do any work.

When one looks around for claims about technology, you will see a ton of conflicting information. One that seemed to pop up when I poked around today was that Zero Surge sued Furman. That never happened. Surgex may have sued them but I can say 100% that Zero Surge did not.

Sorry to dump on you like this. I don't jump on forums much so when I get a chance to spread some knowledge, I do.
 

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@skid00 I know that WireCutter gave your Furman Surge protector a top rating and Best Buy. Yes, they are MOV, but they do something slightly different than most MOV-based surge protectors.

Assuming their testing methods were sound, I’d say you’re probably in good hands.
 
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Been using Furman protection since the late 70's... Pro musical instruments and amplifiers then and now telco and audiophile gear... Life's been good to me so far... :cool:
 
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I just got four Furman PST-8's, to replace MOV-based devices. I think their design is similar to Zero-Surge.

here’s what WireCutter said about the PST-8:

“Overkill unless you have high-end home theater, office, or media equipment, this unit knocked down surges better than any other model we tried, including surge eliminators costing twice as much….It turned a 5,000-volt surge into just 40 volts, thanks in part to a shutdown circuit that turns off all power when a surge is detected. The PST-8 actually let less voltage through in our tests than high-end series mode surge eliminators that can cost hundreds more….Any surge that gets through before the shutdown passes through a series of capacitors as well as a large inductor meant to filter the extra power. The large MOV, similar to those found in less-expensive units, sacrifices only part of itself as a last resort after the filtering stage. This is why you won’t find a joule rating listed for the PST-8, according to Furman—since other surge protectors rely solely on MOVs to absorb energy, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.”

So, it sounds like a solid product, but it’s still sacrificial. IMO, it seems like a product that strikes a great balance of performance and bang-for-buck.
 

SRW1000

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I own multiple 2R15W and 2R20W units and have been very happy with them for the peace of mind they provide.

I especially like that you can use them in front of a UPS, for an extra layer of protection.

TIP: They do offer special pricing from time to time, so if you feel you can hold out, there will likely be some sale prices coming up in the next three months.

Scott
 

Jim from Zero Surge

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here’s what WireCutter said about the PST-8:

“Overkill unless you have high-end home theater, office, or media equipment, this unit knocked down surges better than any other model we tried, including surge eliminators costing twice as much….It turned a 5,000-volt surge into just 40 volts, thanks in part to a shutdown circuit that turns off all power when a surge is detected. The PST-8 actually let less voltage through in our tests than high-end series mode surge eliminators that can cost hundreds more….Any surge that gets through before the shutdown passes through a series of capacitors as well as a large inductor meant to filter the extra power. The large MOV, similar to those found in less-expensive units, sacrifices only part of itself as a last resort after the filtering stage. This is why you won’t find a joule rating listed for the PST-8, according to Furman—since other surge protectors rely solely on MOVs to absorb energy, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.”

So, it sounds like a solid product, but it’s still sacrificial. IMO, it seems like a product that strikes a great balance of performance and bang-for-buck.
The key point is that they have to interrupt power during a surge. That creates a situation where the power has to be restored. The power supply will then pull a lot of in-rush current in order to resupply power which can damage the power supply over time. They are called "power" supplies, not "voltage" supplies. Power is voltage times current. If the voltage drops, the power supply will pull more current to meet the power demand of the device. It is why a refrigerator or AC motor fails in the summer. When the power company can not support the voltage (brown out), the current will rise to meet the power demand of the motor. Too much current equals heat which causes motors to die. The same principle happens in your AV equipment but at a much shorter time scale. The total energy is really low but the power is large. It is an erosion of the power supply. So it may protect but in the end, it shortens the life of the equipment.

They don't report a Joule rating because there is no meaning in a Joule rating after the first surge. Plus, being sacrificial, one would rather have a lower Joule rating anyway. The MOV companies missed the point of their own products. Being sacrificial, you want their surge protector to die before your equipment. You want it to be the canary in the coal mine. A higher Joule rating means it will survive more energy but that energy is passed through to your equipment!

Again, the review only looked at the voltage. They never looked at the current which is more important.
 

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I own multiple 2R15W and 2R20W units and have been very happy with them for the peace of mind they provide.

I especially like that you can use them in front of a UPS, for an extra layer of protection.

TIP: They do offer special pricing from time to time, so if you feel you can hold out, there will likely be some sale prices coming up in the next three months.

Scott
Thank you Scott for being a customer!

If we do offer a sale, it will only be around Cyber Monday. Prices for raw materials have been rising like crazy this year. It is not just cars that will be in short supply... We do offer a military discount (past and current military). Go to our site to learn how to get it.
 

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I have (10) Zero Surge units which have saved my equipment in these FL storms for sure. My neighbor lost a bunch of stuff when I did not. Heck, I even have one on the garage door opener, washer/dryer 120VAC lines. Love them!

 

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Front Speakers
Carver Amazing Platinum Mark IV
...

Again, the review only looked at the voltage. They never looked at the current which is more important.


Unfortunately, there's very little test/review data on surge protectors. I've considered putting in a whole-house unit, and have religiously used separate units at the TV and house PC's. Since MOVs degrade constantly from line noise, I replace those units about every 5 years. I feel the Furman units are better than the large Belkin units that otherwise 'rate' highly.

We had lightning hit a tree 10 feet from my computer room. It blew out my stand-alone firewall, the modem chip on the mobo, the TV on the other end of the house, and all the landline phones. (The phone line was buried 3 feet deep, and only popped above ground at the entry to the house, 30 feet away from the lightning strike. Electric service is also buried, and also enters at that point. ATT needed to replace above-ground components almost 200 feet away from the strike.

Conversely, I had an unspecified power line over-voltage explode -one- wall outlet on a clear blue sky day. Nothing else in the house was damaged. All the connections in the box were tight (I looked this over very carefully), and this was in new, a few years old construction.
 

Jim from Zero Surge

New Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2021
Messages
8
Location
Frenchtown, NJ
More  
Main Amp
Roland KC-200
Other Speakers or Equipment
Zero Surge 2R15W and 8R15W-I for surge protection!
Other Equipment
Yamaha V50 and Casio WK7600 and a Kohler&Campbell Spinet for creating music
Sorry about the lightning Skid. It can induce current on metal without ever "touching" it. We never claim to protect against lightning just the maximum rated surge as agreed by the IEEE (6000 volts / 3000 amps).

When lightning hits the ground, there are rings of voltage that radiate outward like ripples in a pond. Each progressive outer ripple is a lower voltage. If the inner higher voltage and outer lower voltage connect with a wire, current can flow along the wire. Sort of like when we get solar storms that blow out long distance phone lines. Eaton engineers tell of a time when these ripples caused a potential difference between two of their buildings and blew out communication lines.

The "clear sky" over-voltage could be caused by a neutral line drop (say from a car hitting a pole in the area) or something in the wiring. Arc Fault protection is now required for most circuits which helps to reduce that issue.

Another source of weird stray power can be a water heater. How? The hot water leaving and the cold water entering the heater can create a potential in the copper pipes. I believe it is code everywhere (it is in my part of NJ) to bond the two pipes together electrically so that potential can not be created. It can actually be so large that it can hurt people.

Whole building surge protection is very limited to the point of not being useful in the way one would think. First, 80% of surges originate from inside of a building. Second, they let through so much energy (their voltage protection rating can be from 600 - 1000 volts), that they claim one needs to have inside protection as a "layered" protection scheme. But that just puts all of the work back on the inside ones because they will react first before the voltage gets to 600 to 1000 volts.

When you are ready to replace your old protectors, please consider Zero Surge.
 
Last edited:

Sonnie

Senior Admin
Staff member
Joined
Apr 2, 2017
Messages
4,684
Location
Alabama
More  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
StormAudio ISP Elite 24 MK3 Processor
Main Amp
McIntosh MC1.25KW Monoblock Amps
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA-Eleven
Computer Audio
Intel NUC w/ Roon ROCK
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Panasonic UB9000 4K UHD Player (for media discs)
Front Speakers
MartinLogan Renaissance ESL 15A
Center Channel Speaker
MartinLogan Focus C-18
Surround Speakers
MartinLogan EFX Surrounds
Surround Back Speakers
MartinLogan ElectroMotion ESL
Front Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Rear Height Speakers
MartinLogan EM-IC
Subwoofers
SVS SB16-Ultra x6 + PB16-Ultra x2
Other Speakers or Equipment
VTI Amp Stands for the Monoblocks
Video Display Device
JVC DLA-NX9
Screen
Elite 128" Screen
Remote Control
Universal MX-890
Streaming Equipment
FireCube for movies and Lenova Carbon X1 for Roon
Streaming Subscriptions
Lifetime Roon Subscription
Tidal
qobuz
Netflix
Amazon Prime
Satellite System
Dish Joey 4K
Other Equipment
Zero Surge 8R15W-1 | Salamander Synergy Equipment Stand
I have the Zero Surge 8R15W-1 myself and about to order a couple of the 20 amp boxes, one each for my monoblocks that will be on dedicated circuits.
 
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