What is this....surge protection device?

I’ve seen this before while studying panels, but now I cannot find any info. I couldn’t photograph or read the tag due to the reflective nature of the tag. It was wired into the dryer breaker. No matter how I google it, nothing comes up that looks close. thx

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Lightning arrester.


Yes, I believe Roy got it again. :smile: :upside_down_face: :grinning:

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Huh, I texted my Electrican friend and he said it was an older surge suppressor. I at least told the client that I’d look into it but said it was most likely an old surge protector. Thanks very much for the info…

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Guess why they put threads and a lock nut on it?

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So are they often installed on the exterior of the panel? Would you say the installation is in an odd place? Thanks for the help.

I never say why unless I can see the manf specs but I would guess that this is not rated to be in the panel. Is it a big deal? Probably not, but what I say with my electrical inspector hat on is not always what I say with my home inspector hat.
In other words, never state something that you don’t know.
I don’t like it where it is and I would say something. - home inspector hat on

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Michael brings up a good point, how would you know if it’s installed according to its instructions and listing? If the unit is very old and made of metal it might be worth mentioning because if may need to be mounted to the panel to ground the metal casing. This one appears to be all plastic so it’s probably safe as is.

In Fla in the past 10yrs or so Ive seen hundreds of the things. Almost always double tapped in a random breaker sometimes double tapped into the mains. I explain its old technology surge protector and I recommend it one be removed and two if your going to keep it, have an electrician install it properly. Its junk and usually a hazard

We don’t have to…We are home inspectors.

Very good advice…this is more for me to continue learning.

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It’s a surge suppressor. They clamp the Voltage. It is similar to when you turn on a heavy motor load and the lights dim. They are not very effective but they aren’t useless either. I wouldn’t bet the farm on one.

They are usually mounted on the box exterior using a 1/2” KO but I wouldn’t worry about it being on the interior of the panelbox.

They were very popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. They are still available but they aren’t as popular as they used to be.

I’d guess that at some unpredictable point in its life that piece of junk would be more likely to start a fire than prevent one. Should a client accept such an incalculable risk?

It isn’t a defect and I did not write it as one. Stepping outside your door is taking a risk, but only an agoraphobic person would advise against it. There have been surge suppressors that have started small fires, but since this has been identified as a lightning suppressor and I’ve found no such issue on the web, I wouldn’t cry wolf. Interesting that a surge suppressor can pull double duty as a doing the job of a lightning suppressor, but the lightning suppressor can not pull double duty.

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I see these all the time. It is a Lightening Arrester. This one looks better than most that I see. They should not be double tapped. They need a dedicated breaker sized appropriate to the particular surge protector. If it is double tapped then I report them as such and recommend evaluation by a licensed electrician.

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Do you have any basis for calling a lightning arrestor “junk”? Or is it opinion?

The manufacturer instructions are clear. They are often incorrectly installed. I have found that same depicted device to have protected a well pump system from a direct lightning strike.

John Paul, the basis for calling it junk is the absence of any indication it’s listed by UL or another approved, third-party testing agency, as required, which we can assume Jenna would have mentioned if it could have been determined. The explicit purpose of such listing requirement is preventing fires. The incorrect installation is also reason enough that some unidentifiable device dangerously assumed by you and others to be a listed surge or lightning protector should be immediately removed.

How you can you tell from the photo that it isn’t a listed device?

You’re serious, aren’t you, assuming it’s listed? I love the passive-aggressive contentiousness here, too. Keep it up, it’s quite entertaining.

Are you serious? You can tell whether or not its listed from that photo?

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