How to choose the best surge protector for your house


When choosing a whole house surge protector there are a few basics that you must know in order to get started. First off you need to know the brand of your electrical panel. Secondly you need to know the size of your service i.e. 100 amp, 200 amp and so on. Thirdly you need to make sure there is space in your existing electrical panel for the surge protector, most surge protectors require two spaces. After knowing these three basic things you are now ready to start your search for the surge protector that is right for you.

Now of course there are going to be different brands and price ranges and it might seem a little confusing at first. Just remember that with a little research you can do this job yourself. The first step is understanding what a surge protector is, what it does and why you need it. A surge protector does exactly what it says, it protects your home from a surge of energy. Rolling surges occur occasionally and usually are harmless enough. However on occasion they can damage your electrical panel, breakers, appliances, computers, and televisions. The protector detects a harmful surge and shuts down your panel to protect your home. Living in an unsure economic time when computers and televisions and appliances are becoming more and more sophisticated and expensive, you need to protect your investments in the easiest most cost effective way possible. When you weigh the cost against the benefit it is well worth the time and effort to buy and install or have installed a “whole house” surge protector.

The protector itself installs in your electrical panel. You may want to have an electrician install it after you purchase it, but with a little know how and caution it can be a do it yourself project. In order to install it yourself you must remember that even after you turn off the main breaker that the lugs on top of it and the wires coming in from the meter outside will still be energized so you will want to avoid them. Also it is a good idea to remove any jewelery such as watches, necklaces, and wedding rings while working in an electrical panel as these items will conduct electricity. After purchasing your surge protector by making sure you have the right size for your panel and that you have the two empty spaces you need, follow these steps to install.
1. Turn the Main Breaker off in your panel box and remove cover.
2. Install the appropriate 220v two-pole breaker in the panel (usually 20 amp)
3. Install the wires from the Surge Protector on the 220v breaker that you put in the panel box. The 2 black wires will land on the 220v breaker, the white wire will land on the neutral bar, and the ground wire (either bare copper or green) will land on the ground bar… most modern panels the grounds and neutrals land on the same bar. Like anything else there are exceptions so it is wise to follow the current scheme in the panel box.
4. Turn on the 220v breaker added for the surge protector. All other breakers should still be on.
5. Turn Main Breaker on and replace cover.
6. Check the indicator lights on the surge protector to make sure it is working properly. Usually all green lights means it is working and your home is now protected.

You may find when shopping for your surge protector that not all of them are made to go inside your existing panel box. That is okay, you may prefer one that mounts next to your existing panel box for easy access to monitor if it is working properly. That is all there is to making and keeping your home and appliances as safe as you can. Good luck and happy shopping!

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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