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True Stories: Power Protection Saves the Day

When lightning strikes, one house has to replace two surge protectors while the unprotected neighbor must replace four TVs and a surround-sound system.

Julie Jacobson · July 30, 2010

The easiest time to sell power protection is right after lightning strikes a house and torches all of the electronics. The homeowner never wants to be vulnerable again.

But that’s not very helpful, is it? The best time to install protection is before a giant surge strikes.

We asked CE pros to share their power protection nightmares and triumphs, and a few of their stories are below. If you’re having trouble getting your clients to invest in power protection, send them the link to this story.

And then take a cue from Electronics Design Group. The Piscataway, N.J., integration company offers a full array of power protection products and services at The products and services are marketed just as EDG markets automation, lighting, home theaters and other staple A/V systems.

Back Yard Torched, But Electronics are Safe

Bill Reynolds, Audio/Video Awakenings, Beaverton, Ore.

Our client has three racks full of electronics gear, including Runco, Krell, Kaleidescape, Crestron and DirecTV products. 

She mentioned that her wireless Internet was having a reliability problem, so I went out to investigate.

I noticed that her gigabit switch wasn’t functioning properly. While doing some testing, the switch shut itself off, as did other equipment. About 30 seconds later, items powered themselves back on, after a series of relay clicks.

I went around to the front of the racks, and three of her APC H15 power conditioners showed either Voltage Boost, or Trim, and the voltage readings were all over the map. One showed 108V input, and two showed 132V input. They quickly shut down again. 

We had our client call Portland General Electric (PGE), and they came out to check the meter and feeds.

It turns out a second feed from service had been run into the house during the remodel, and it was under-gauge and not wired at the meter correctly. 

PGE ran a new secondary service, the same day, and tested the meter feeds to work properly. Once they turned the second feed on, immediately sparks flew and the client’s backyard started on fire.

The client sent me a text message: “Good news, PGE got the new feed working. Bad news, my backyard is on fire and they’re running around looking for buckets.”

During the remodel, the first electrical subcontractor had made countless mistakes in wiring, both inside and outside, resulting in getting fired off the job. 

It would seem that a few things still weren’t fixed properly, thus leading to the yard fire! 

The end result:  Her APCs ($450 suggested retail) now all show 119-121V input, no trim nor boost required. None of her equipment was damaged in any way, and the conditioners and UPSs are still in service, in great working order.

And yes, the backyard fire is out!

Two Homes, True Story

David Wexler, The Little Guys, Mokena, Ill.

We had two customers who lived next door to each other and lightning hit directly between the two homes. We had done work in both homes.

One of the homes was all ours and completely protected with Furman and Monster Cable power protection devices on everything we had done. They had a dedicated theater room as well as several systems throughout the house. 

The other had a single system we had done, along with work from a previous dealer that included a surround system as well as several TVs.

We were called by both to come out as almost everything electronic in the house was affected by the lightning strike.

The home where we had done all of the work needed two Monster units replaced, and the rest of the power protection products simply had to be reset.

There was no damage to any gear.

The other home – in which some of the gear was protected, and some wasn’t – only needed a Monster unit replaced on the system we installed; however, on the section we did not install, the lightning strike blew out four TVs and the surround system.

When we installed our system in the second home, we tried to get the homeowners to protect the previously installed gear as well. They didn’t want to spend the money. It would only have cost a few hundred dollars.

I think the insurance claim for the non-protected gear was in the $15,000 range.

The end result: We walked out of one house with two burnt surge protectors, and the other house with wheelers full of gear.

A page from EDG

Share your power-protection triumphs and tragedies in the Comments section below.

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

News · AV Awakenings · EDG · Surge Protection · All Topics
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