Importance of surge protection for your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. HVAC Surge protection is the topic for conversation in this article from written by local business owner, Mark Powell with Climate Control in Portland, Oregon. You can see a do it yourself video on this subject here on this site or at our Portland HVAC DIY YouTube channel.
There are more issues with this today, particularly more so now with the electrical grid that is being over taxed, because they are not adding to the facilities to handle the extra load from the rapid growth of cities. Also the electrical grid is a structure designed and built from over 20 to 30 years ago and we are starting to see the result of that effecting HVAC systems. Things that are heavy load appliances, major appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and particularly HVAC systems. The consumer knows to protect their flat screen TV against surge but often make the mistake of not protecting the large investment made on their heating and cooling system mainly because its hidden, out of sight, out of mind, in a wall or in the back yard and they don’t see it every day so they don’t think about it.
When you have an electrical issue, a surge, a spike, it is usually caused by there being too much of a load connected to the utility grid and the system can’t handle it. Newer equipment is a lot more sensitive, everything has got a circuit board on it. Those sensitive circuits are looking for voltage drops and when there is an issue with the voltage, whether too high or too low, it’s going to damage the the tiny circuits and eventually its is going to damage your air conditioner or furnace or other HVAC components and those are going to be very expensive repairs. The biggest problem here, it’s not going to be covered under the warranty by the manufacture and it’s not for them to take care of, it’s the consumer’s issue.
They call it an “act of God”.
Warranties have a clause called ‘act of God’, it is something out of your control as well as the manufacturers control. The manufactures recognize this and the utilities recognize this and on both their websites they talk about surge protection, but they don’t do anything directly about it because it’s not their liability, it’s the end users liability. So what we recommend is that the consumers have a surge protector on each piece of equipment like, the furnace, the heat pump, the air-conditioner, compressor, or whatever HVAC equipment they have.
How do Surge Protectors work and how are they installed on HVAC Portland systems?
Surge protectors are looking for ranges that are out of standard range that would affect the piece of equipment and it will become a sacrificial device when these electrical spikes occur. So in other words when we get a catastrophic problem surge, droop, brown out, lightning strike, or whatever it may be, this device will sense that immediately and give itself up. So it’s not going to be reusable when that surge event happens. Sacrificial means it’s gone. But, that is what it’s going to do. It’s going to protect all the connected load to that and it happens so quickly there is no other way to do it. These devices have been designed to do this in milla seconds to protect the device.
A really important piece of advice is to purchase surge units designed specifically for the HVAC industry, ones designed for the furnace, or an electric fan coil, or a central air conditioning unit, or a heat pump unit, etc. These are not the same kind of products like the power-strip your TV is plugged into. These devices require a skilled professional to do a hard wire instal.
Modern systems are running, for each component, the furnace could be in a $5,000 range to replace it and up from there. The air-conditioning or heat pump unit on a split system could run into the 5 to 7 or even in the $8,000 range. So when we combine that we are at 10 to $15,000 system investment. Again without a surge protection unit the manufacturer nor the utility companies will cover the damage done and you will be left with a hefty bill in the end.