Surge Guard FAQs

Protecting Your Electrical Equipment From Harmful Surges
Did you know that many of the appliances and electronic equipment you use everyday could be severely damaged by even the slightest surge in electricity. That’s because items like flat screen TVs, washing machines, stereos, desktop computers and DVD players are very sensitive to any change in electric voltage. If any of these items are damaged by an electrical surge, you will have to repair or replace the item.

Electric Power Surges Can Be Caused By Many Factors, Including:

  • Lightning hitting power, phone, or cable lines
  • Trees, birds or animals coming into contact with a power line
  • Vehicle or other accidents involving utility equipment
  • Poor grounding and improper or faulty wiring
  • Cycling on and off of large motors

Palmetto Electric already has lightning and surge protection built into its system of power lines. However, Surge Guard® protection is an added measure you can choose to help ensure your electrical equipment is as safe as possible.

What is a Power Surge?

Minor voltage fluctuations are normal on any electrical system and typically are harmless. However, a power “surge” or “transient” is when there is a rapid rise in the voltage and flow of power, which usually causes damage (often unseen). A surge or transient surge is a spike in voltage that typically lasts for less than 1/60th of a second. Surges are a significant contributor to poor power quality. Surges increase the electrical stress on connected equipment, no matter the source. The cumulative effect of repeated small surges (or perhaps one large surge) may cause undesirable operation at best, and complete device failure at worst.

What causes a Power Surge?

Downed power lines, accidents involving power lines, lightning and other weather events, birds, squirrels or other animals coming in contact with power lines, poor wiring, and even the normal cycling on and off of large appliances or equipment can cause a momentary surge that can be damaging to your household equipment.

What is the main purpose of the Surge Guard Meter-Based Surge Protection Device (MB-SPD)?

Homes today are network environments where all kinds of electromechanical devices have to share a common ground and, in many cases, interact with other types of equipment. In order to prevent high magnitude surge currents from entering a home’s electrical wiring, it is necessary to install a surge protection device (SPD) at the power entrance or electric meter to the home.
The MB-SPD at electric meter is your first line of defense against these disruptive and damaging surges that couple on to power lines and flow directly into the home. Like the seatbelt in your car, surge protection is there to lower risk and minimize damage.
Because there are other areas that a surge can enter your home and surge generators inside the home, it is recommended that secondary protection also be used throughout the home.

What is a Meter-Based Surge Protection Device (MB-SPD)?

MB-SPD is a primary Type 1 listed surge protector for use in an IEEE category C, the area from the load side of the utility transformer to the main breaker located on the home.

What surge suppression technology is used in the Surge Guard MB-SPD?

Surge Guard Meter-Based SPD uses large diameter MOVs (metal oxide varistors) as the surge suppression element. This technology has seen decades of use and has been field proven for performance and longevity. MOVs are cost-effective and provide the necessary reaction time and energy handling to protect the electric service entrance of a modern home. The MOVs in the meter-based SPD react within nanoseconds and have a joule rating of 2000 joules per phase (for IEEE Category C).

How does the MB-SPD work?

Basically, SPDs utilizing MOV technology: Conduct when voltage is too high. Send current where voltage is lower. Divert, store or use the energy associated with the surge. Divide surge energy among conductors. Equalize voltage across conductors. Keep voltage below survival levels of the equipment.
Note: Good grounding and bonding are required for the best SPD performance. Grounding should be within the guidelines of the National Electric Code.

What makes a SPD device credible?

Surge protectors are one of the most tested and controlled products in the electrical industry.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that surge protectors be tested and certified by a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory). They also requires that all SPDs meet the 4th Edition of ANSI/UL 1449 which is the current industry test standard. As proof of successful testing, all SPDs must be marked with the logo of the testing NRTL. The NEC (National Electric Code) Article 285 also requires that SPDs shall be Listed for purpose.

Where does MB-SPD install?

The meter-based surge protection device installs directly into the electric meter box. The installer simply removes the electric meter from service and connects the MB-SPD in the meter box. The process routinely takes about 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish.
Note: Only qualified utility personnel wearing personal protective equipment are allowed to enter the meter box.

Who installs the Surge Guard MB-SPD?

Installation of the meter-based SPD is done by qualified personnel authorized and approved by Palmetto Electric Cooperative.

Will a Surge Guard Meter-Based Surge Protection Device protect everything?

MB-SPD protects against surges that come down power lines and enter byway of the electric meter. This device (like any other surge protection product) is not designed to handle direct or nearby lightning strikes, will not prevent a power outage or save energy. Devices making such claims are likely a scam and should be avoided. To date, no one product can completely protect you from all the forces of nature!
Note: A Meter-Based SPD alone may not provide enough protection for your electronic equipment. Electronic equipment is becoming more complex and sensitive to power surges. Surges can enter via phone, cable or internet lines and other paths. For this reason, we highly recommend using both a meter-based SPD for general protection and quality point-of-use SPDs for added protection for costly and sensitive electronic equipment such as TVs, DVD players, garage door openers, and computer systems.

What are the protection limitations of a Surge Guard Meter-Based Surge Protection Device?

The MB-SPD can only prevent power line surges that come in through the power line. It cannot prevent surges that enter through other paths like phone lines, cable TV or internet lines, or outdoor electric circuits (i.e. well pumps, driveway lights, pool pumps, sprinkler systems etc.). It is not designed to handle direct or nearby lightning strikes. It will not prevent power outages, sustained/continuous over or under voltages, harmonics, or RFI/EMI noise.

Will it protect me from something as severe as a direct lightning strike?

No. Nothing is a complete guarantee from a direct lightning strike. No product on the market can effectively handle such a high level of energy.

Does MB-SPD pose any risks to health or property?

No! With more than a quarter of a century of service and millions of circuits in the field there has never been an incident involving a life or health issue. However; with the severe and unpredictable nature of the weather, there can be no assurances that damage from a direct lightning strike or other such event will not adversely impact a residence.

Will the Surge Guard Meter-Base SPDs lower electric bills?

No! There is no meter-based SPD technology available on the market that is capable of lowering an electric bill by as much as one cent.

What’s the difference between the Surge Guard’s MB-SPD and others on the market?

Meter-based SPDs are uniquely designed products, unlike most other devices on the market, because they connect directly in series with the incoming power line and install in the meter can. This enables them to intercept surges before they can ever enter the residence.

If the Surge Guard MB-SPD fails, will it cut off power to my house?

No. The MB-SPD will self-sacrifice if affected by a surge larger than its rating. When this happens, the SPD goes off line. The Meter-Based SPD will not cut off power to your house but the unit will become inactive. If the device fails, the RED indicator lights at the meter base will go off. In the unlikely event of this happening, the SPD will need to be replaced.

How long will the Surge Guard MB-SPD last?

The number, duration and intensity of surges that the device sees over its lifetime determines the lifespan of a surge protection device. However, if the Surge Guard MB-SPD fails, Palmetto Electric will replace it free of charge as long as you continue to pay the monthly service fee.

What do the red lights on the Surge Guard Meter-Based SPD mean?

The MB-SPD status light(s) are RED not green. Red lights are easier to see in bright sunlight. The red status lights indicate that the unit is working normally. If you notice that one of the red lights is off, please contact Palmetto Electric for service.

If my electricity goes off, will the Surge Guard Meter-Based SPD help?

No, the SPD does not provide backup power nor will it prevent power outages. It is designed only to help prevent power line surges that could cause damage to appliances and equipment within your home. However, the Surge Guard program offers UPS systems that can provide backup power for critical point-of-use applications.

Is Surge Guard an insurance policy?

No. Surge Guard is NOT an insurance program.

Does the Surge Guard MB-SPD come with a warranty?

Yes. The MB-SPD utilized through the Surge Guard program is backed by the Manufacturer’s (M-Ti) Residential Extended Surge Suppressor Limited Warranty. This warranty covers consequential damage to “standard residential equipment”. Coverage up to $5000 per occurrence is available only for damage caused by a power line surge that passed through the SPD at the electric meter. The SPD’s light must be off and surge activity must be verified for a claim to be valid. See MFG warranty for complete details. Other than the manufacturer’s warranty, no warranty is made, expressed or implied by Palmetto Electric Cooperative.

Is there a warranty for electronics?

Electronics like TV, computers, etc. must be properly connected to a separate warrantied point-of-use SPD in order to be cover by a MFG warranty. All point-of-use products sold through the Surge Guard program come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Product Warranties are available in each SPD box sold and may vary, so please read warranty carefully to understand coverage. Other than the manufacturer’s warranty, no warranty is made, expressed or implied by Palmetto Electric Co-op.

What happens if I cancel Surge Guard MB-SPD or move before the three-year commitment is up?

If you request for the MB-SPD to be removed before the three-year commitment period expires, you will be charged a cancellation fee. However, if you move, you may cancel or transfer the service to your new home and there will be no fee.

Why do I need a primary SPD at the meter? Can’t I use point-of-use surge protectors throughout my home?

Most point-of-use protectors are not designed to handle the intensity of a large power surge. The high capacity rating of the Surge Guard Meter-Based SPD will suppress large surges and provide a layer of protection that is adequate for most major appliances within the home as well as the wiring. However, sensitive electronic items such as TV’s, computers, microwaves and garage door openers can be affected through the communication lines and by low-level surges that coming from within the home. For this reason, point-of-use surge protection devices are recommended as the second layer of the surge protection for these sensitive items.

What is a point-of-use SPD?

It is a secondary surge protection device that is designed to be placed downstream of primary or MB-SPD where there are fuses or other circuit breaker protection elements. Point-of -use surge protective devices provide additional surge protection at the point of connection. They can help stop damage from surges that enter through paths other than the power line.

Why do I need point-of-use surge protectors if I have the Surge Guard MB-SPD installed at electric meter?

The primary MB-SPD helps protect major appliances and equipment like your washer/dryer, stove, refrigerator, air conditioner and water heater from surges that come in through the power line. Point-of-use protectors will help protect sensitive electronics from low-level surges and surges that enter through other paths like outdoor circuits, cable TV or telephone lines. We recommended that point-of-use SPDs (plug-in devices) be used to protect products like TVs, DVR/DVD players, computers, printers, modems, low voltage lighting, microwave ovens, garage door openers, and security and irrigation systems. Other costly and sensitive products like pool or well pumps, elevators, and golf cart chargers should have special SPDs for the protection. You should have a point-of-use protector for each electronic item for the best protection.

Will Surge Guard help protect a pool/well pump or sprinkler system?

The MB-SPD will help protect against power surges that enter through the electric meter. However, it can’t prevent damage caused by direct or nearby lightning strikes. Costly and sensitive products like pool or well pumps, sprinkler systems, elevators, and golf cart chargers should have special SPDs for the protection.

How can I compare SPDs performance for different products?

The design, performance and safety of today’s SPDs are pretty much defined by the ANSI/UL 1449 standard. If the product is listed for purpose then it will meet the requirements for the operating environment and will provide protection to the equipment.

Is there a difference between lightning protection and surge protection?

Yes. Lightning protection is designed to protect structures and structural wiring, not electrical devices. Surge protection helps prevent damage to appliances and electrical equipment from power surges.