Surge Protection for Clarity: Is it Needed? How to best achieve?

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Texas22Step, Jan 22, 2019.

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  1. Texas22Step

    Texas22Step Well-Known Member

    While reading a posting on this forum recently, a "side" topic of interest to me was briefly discussed. This included various posters' efforts to help protect the electronics in the Clarity PHEV from electrical surges.

    Since our local electric utility system had a significant power outage last night, accompanied by a surge that toasted a couple of 110V power strip surge protectors I had on a TV, computer, and etc., it motivated me to try to figure out whether a whole home surge protector is needed as a precaution (for our home in general and the Clarity specifically).

    So far I have more questions than answers and thought that a thread specifically on this topic might be helpful.

    I investigated whether my EVSE, a Siemens VersiCharger, had any built-in surge protection. The answer seems to be "no" (at least from lack of mention of that as a feature in the documentation). I also looked through the Clarity manual and could not find references there to surge protection, so I assume the Clarity's charging system doesn't have this feature either.

    On reading more information online, it seems that a minority of damaging electrical surges (maybe < 1/3) originate on the utility side (whether from a nearby lightning strike or substation problem), while the majority are actually of in-home origin (maybe > 2/3) from the start-up of heavy equipment such as A/C compressors, clothes dryers and the like.

    So, I ask for your collective thoughts on (1) whether electrical surge protection is needed to protect a Clarity PHEV's electronics from damage while plugged into an EVSE, whether it is actively charging or in "standby" mode; (2) if so, how best to achieve that protection at an affordable cost; and (3) does that protection cover the bases of both utility side surges as well as in-home surges for the Clarity as well as other devices in the home (such as TV's, fancy new refrigerators, dryers, dishwashers, treadmills, etc.)?

    Thanks in advance for your information and views.
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  3. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    Surge protection is a good idea, whether or not you have a plug-in vehicle. Basic protection from in-house surges can be achieved with a whole house device in the main breaker panel, similar to the one below. I have one in the breaker panel in my house. You mentioned lightning.....nothing can fully protect your electrical system against a direct strike, but proper grounding can mitigate the worst damage. Surges from more remote strikes can be handled with a whole house device.

    In addition to the whole house surge protector, I have the device below installed on my solar charging station to intercept big surges that might zap the car.
    Texas22Step likes this.
  4. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    FWIW, this could be an interesting question to present to your insurer. With 26 years in insurance claims I can assure you different companies interpret the same event differently with regard to their policies. FREQUENTLY

    We all know that your homeowners insurance will likely buy you new tv and fridge or whatever if they are taken out by a power surge. But cars are excluded from most homeowners policies. And most auto policies have an exclusion that denies “electrical failure” except in the event of theft of the vehicle. So how will your insurance company handle a power surge that requires an expensive electrical repair to your car? The answer is simple...a few claims managers will consult and make a seat of pants decision cuz they’ve never seen the situation before. And each company will make a different decision until policies are rewritten and reworded. This takes years. And this is simple fact.

    So to protect yourself? Ask the hypothetical question in writing to you’re insurance agent or company. And save their response, as it will be binding. Don’t trust verbal words. Do it by email. Or ask your agent to mail you his/her verbal commitment in writing. This always trumps everything no matter how they later interpret it.

    My belief is that most companies will see it as an auto comp claim. So it would fall under your auto comprehensive coverage, and you would pay your comp deductible and insurance would pay the remainder of repair costs. But I could be wrong...

    Just another consideration.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  5. 4sallypat

    4sallypat Active Member

    Line noise pollution and power quality has always been an issue in So Cal.

    Since I charge overnight using the OEM L1 charger, I plug it into an automatic line voltage regulator (AVR).

    The unit protects against: brownouts by boosting voltage, overvoltage clamp down, noise, spikes, etc...

    This item or a battery backed up UPS are great ways to protect your equipment.
    I'm an IT person so naturally all my computers at home and work are all protected on either line conditioners, AVR, UPS....

    Here's what I use for my L1 Honda charger:
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  6. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Excellent points by @Sandroad and @craze1cars.
    I see it as being similar to any insurance product; if you never need it’s protection, you may feel like you wasted your money but the first time it comes to the rescue you feel like an omniscient genius for predicting the future and saving so much money. Then the policy payments or in this case, purchase price, seem like a real bargain. It all comes down to how risk adverse you are and how much you value peace of mind. For me, given the replacement or even repair cost of all the electronic items in my house, it was a no brainer to put surge protecting strips or single plug-throughs on them in thr past. And then I noticed that just about everything nowadays has a digital display (even my appliances) which means they have IC circuits that will don’t even need a lightening type surge event to fry themselves into expensive oblivion. The repair cost on just the control board on my washer is more than what I paid for the washer itself!

    When I installed my solar PV system, I realized it would be $2,000+ to replace the inverter and communications node so that really spurred me to purchase a whole house surge protector. So now I have the cheap and low Joule protection devices on individual items and a quality high Joule whole house surge protector connected to my breaker panel. I think the military calls that a layered defense.
    It Is worth noting that surge protectors cannot protect you from a direct lighting strike on your house or supply line (and say so in the fine print), but they will protect you from just about anything less. The only way to totally protect your self from a direct lightening strike is with a hideously expensive professionally installed lightening rod system which was just too expensive for me.

    I chose an Intermatic Smart Guard whole house surge protector that for a little more money comes with 3 replaceable modules. That way if it dies gloriously in the line of duty, I don’t have to buy a new one and pay an expensive electrician’s bill to install it. All I have to do is replace the plug and play module ($40). I got an open box on Amazon for $200 and paid my electrician $75 to install as a surface mount (it comes ready to flush mount if you want). That’s cheap insurance for the combined prices of electronics, Solar PV, EVSE, and new PHEV.
    It’s the black box above the white inverter.
    Attached are pictures of the packaging showing how easy it is to replace the modules.
    Just for @4sallypat: I have ordered a surge protector for the 80 ft Ethernet run from my inverter communications node to my router. I will install that as close to inverter as possible. Better safe than sorry.

    Attached Files:

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  8. Texas22Step

    Texas22Step Well-Known Member

    UPDATE: After some further research, I decided to follow KentuckyKen's lead and chose the Intermatic Smart Guard as well. I also like the 3 user-replaceable modules a lot (especially after having to pay an electrician to install a whole house surge protector, and to avoid having to pay one again to replace a spent one later). I also learned that use of a middle-of-the-road surge spec device may actually be better than a "big" surge protector, as many of these (while they will stop really big surges) will allow smaller surges to pass right through into your home with the potential of frying individual devices.

    As noted in my original post, something like 2/3 of surges experienced in the home are "internal" in origin and that a whole home surge protector attached to the panel will also stop most "internal" surges as well as the "external" ones, as per the post above from Sandroad ("Basic protection from in-house surges can be achieved with a whole house device in the main breaker panel...."

    The only negative in making the Intermatic Smart Guard decision so far is that one of the three user-replaceable modules was "DOA" when voltage was applied to the product upon installation. However, the manufacturer (Intermatic) is sending me a free replacement for that module, so "no harm, no foul."

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my issue!
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  9. Texas22Step

    Texas22Step Well-Known Member

    Thanks for explaining your set-up. Sadly, I use a L2 EVSE to charge my Clarity, and I was not able to find an affordable "whole house" AVR. Most of the AVR's out there seem to fall into the individual device (such as a desktop computer) category and are affordable OR they cost as much or much more than my Clarity but protect high cost machines such as an MRI where the cost:benefit ratio still works well. So (see below) I ended up with whole house surge protection to help prevent voltage spikes but offer zero protection for under-voltage situations (brown-outs). Fortunately, the utility suppliers in my state don't seem to have many if any of those situations, but I still have a stand-by portable generator to help out if necessary. If you know of some affordable whole house AVR, please send me a private message and, in any case, thanks again!

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