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Posted in: General

Surge protection options for outlets lacking ground? (for use during travel)

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  • kentchristopher

    One follow up question to your helpful reply: I see the PNOTEPROC6 (3-prong version) features 600 Joules protection instead of 180 Joules with the PNOTEPROC8, and I assume this is due to it having a ground wire. Is it safe to assume then that, as per your comments, if the PNOTEPROC6 is used in an ungrounded outlet, it will still offer the same protection as the C8 version?

    My idea is to buy and use the C6 version so that I'll have the added protection when a grounded outlet is available, even if it means using adapter for the connection between the surge protector and my laptop (which wouldn't affect the ground connection between the outlet and the surge protector). But since a grounded outlet is more the exception than the rule in developing countries, if the C8 (2-prong) version is better designed to cope with surges in an ungrounded setup, I'll stick with that. (Hopefully this makes sense.)

  • ipicKedawinna

    Hi again,

    Did some checking and here is the answer I got:

    With the 2 prong configuration, you're only getting the normal mode protection and with the three prong, you are able to achieve both Normal mode and Common mode protection. So, yes, the surge protection would rate higher with the Common Mode normal mode configuration.

    Hope that helps!

  • kentchristopher

    I often travel to developing countries, and it's not unusual that I encounter electrical outlets that don't have a plug for ground -- just 2 prongs, nothing more. In a lot of these places I know that safety isn't much of a concern, and as long as "it works" then it's good enough. I've been looking into single outlet surge protection solutions, such as the APC P1 (for 120V) and P1-GR (for 220V), but I've stumbled upon a good bit of information suggesting that surge protectors don't work properly if they aren't connected to a grounded outlet, which brings me here.

    My primary concern is for my laptop, and I do see that APC has the SurgeArrest Notebook Pro PNOTEPROC8. Noticing that this is made for a 2-prong cord with no ground, I'm wondering if this would be a better solution for my laptop than using something like the P1, despite the fact that P1 has better specs, since the PNOTEPROC8 seems that it must be designed with no ground in mind. Ideally I'd like something with better protection though, and the ability to plug in other devices (smartphone), even if it means finding a slightly heavier, bulkier solution.

    So, my question: Can anyone say definitively whether the majority of APC products which are designed for grounded outlets will offer protection when there is no ground connection? Do I have any option other than using the PNOTEPROC8? Would something like a plug adapter with built-in fuse offer any increase in protection?

    Please feel free to be as technical as you like in your response, as I actually enjoy learning how this stuff works!

  • Techsplosion

    All of our surge units use a multi-layer approach to protect against power events, with a combination of MOV's, thermal fuses and capacitors. Units that have a ground wire, however, have an additional layer of protection by trying to shunt excess energy off to the ground. This is why you'll see surge equipment with a low "joule" rating (which makes a unit seem like it has weak surge suppression), but a low let-through voltage rating (which is the actual excess voltage that's passed through to equipment). There's an awesome knowledge base article written about this here: http://se-vl-167.ebusiness.schneider-electric.com:8226/support/index?page=content&id=FA158814&country=ITB&lang=EN&locale…

    With that being said if you're going to be in a place without a ground wire accessible, the PNOTE would be a better choice for you. If you're using a surge unit that was designed to be grounded in a non-grounded application, you're not getting the full coverage the unit can offer.

  • kentchristopher

    Thanks for that. As for that knowledge base article, I'd love to read it but the link doesn't seem to work. Can you double check it?

  • ipicKedawinna

    Try this -> What is the difference between the industry standards Joules and Let-Through Voltage? | FAQs | US

  • kentchristopher

    Thanks, Angela. For what it's worth, I do think the section in that page defining clamping voltage and pass-through voltage could be made more clear, perhaps with the use of better examples. It's made more confusing by the fact that APC calls the UL1449 330V rating the "effective clamping voltage rating" where others describe a "UL1449 let through rating" (which is often 330V), and then some sources say they're the same thing (i.e. the Wikipedia article on surge protection).

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