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Old 09-27-2014, 10:35 AM   #1
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Lightning damage - surge protector shot?

We were in an RV park in Austin, TX last week when a lightning strike took out the power pedestals 4 and 7 spaces down from us. We were awakened by the loud sound, and we also smelled something electrical inside our coach.

I noticed that our IntelliTech Energy Management System (EMS) monitor in the hall was not lit, as it usually was. Other lights or indicators appeared to be as normal. However, although the air conditioning controls and the water heater switch were illuminated, I discovered neither the air conditioners nor the water heater were actually working.

Our coach was plugged in to a 50-amp SurgeGuard 35750(??), and when I went outside to see if there was anything I could discern from it, the display was normal.

We had a mobile tech come by the next day, and he discovered the EMS modules were blown. He jury-rigged the wiring so that we could make it home and have the rig looked at by an RV shop, as he didn't think he'd be able to get new modules in by the time we were leaving Austin. I'm scheduled to bring the rig in to the shop on Monday.

My question is actually two-fold, I guess: 1) does the fact that the EMS fried indicate the SurgeGuard probably also fried - even though it showed no indication of this, and how do I/the shop test for a blown surge protector? 2) what other tests on the rig should I have the RV shop run? As I understand it, the EMS is for big-amp items like the ACs and water heater, and manages the draw of current to make sure it doesn't exceed 50 amps; none of the regular electrical circuits seem to be blown.

Thanks for your input. I realize it could have been a whole lot worse, and we were lucky that the damage is perhaps fairly minimal.
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Old 09-27-2014, 04:31 PM   #2
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Hi LandN,
If the Surge Guard is working (passing power to the coach) then it is working. If it is "fried" it would not be passing power to the coach. With surge protectors, there is not much one can do or test. Either they pass power or they don't. Make sure the protector is passing power on both 50 AMP legs and that neutral and ground wires remain connected through the protector.

Tell the shop what happened. They will know whet to test/run. Basically, make sure all the 120 AC breakers are reset and check all the appliances to be sure they work. Don't forget the W/D. Their control board(s) can be a bit sensitive.
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Old 09-27-2014, 04:40 PM   #3
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Just a ponder...I don't know the answer for sure....Might want to check with SurgeGard as I think it covers damage if it fails to protect your system. They may pay for the repairs??
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Old 09-27-2014, 04:45 PM   #4
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I am guessing that your Surge Guard 34750 did nothing to absorb the energy from the lightning strike which took out the other pedestals. I am assuming that it just passed it through but not sure. You should contact TRC and talk to their technical services department to explain what you have discovered.

The excess energy obviously took out the Intellitec EMS Control board and possibly other 120 VAC stuff that needs to be checked closely to see if it got fried also.

Items such as your Inverter/Charger, Air Conditioner's, TV's, microwave, residential fridge(if you have one), clocks, coffee maker, toaster, chargers, etc. all will need to be looked at closely.

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Old 09-27-2014, 04:47 PM   #5
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There are surge guards and there are surge guards. The device you have is a REAL surge guard, it also offers SOME spike supression.. more on this later.

Those cheap surge guard strips with the six outlets, Hit one of those with a genuine surge and ... Well when Detroit Edison did that to me it sounded a bit like the fireworks festival with all the MOV's popping like firecrachers in my basement (Several of those)

So what is the difference between a SURGE and a Spike?

A spike usually lasts less than one cycle (1/60th of a second) But a SURGE can go on for quite some time.

So what happened.

The lightening strike blew the MOV's (Spike supressors) out of the surge guard, those can be replaced, but the spike was not long enough to trip the surge portion of the surge guard..

What can protect you from a lightning strike?

NOT MUCH. Basically the only thing is pulling the plug and putting some distance between it and the post. Even that might not work.
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Old 09-27-2014, 05:00 PM   #6
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The surge guard could indeed be ruined and still pass power. Read up on MOVs (metal oxide varistor). They will shunt voltage spikes once. After that they continue to pass current, but the surge protection is gone. Now with all that said, the surge guard could have some sophisticated circuitry to detect this condition, but I don't think it does.
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Old 09-27-2014, 05:34 PM   #7
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Well, after reading through the entire owners manual for the Surge Guard 34750 I found online it states nothing about what happens after sustaining a lightning surge or any type of surge.

Pretty lame if you ask me. At least the EMS units from Progressive Industries will give you an error code E-10 which is to Replace Surge Protector Module .

Your only recourse is to call TRC and talk to them or buy a new one.

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Old 09-27-2014, 11:29 PM   #8
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Please post the outcome after speaking with TRC. I have an EMS from Progressive Industries, but I am also interested in your situation.
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Old 09-30-2014, 10:30 AM   #9
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Talked with Surge Guard tech support today

Called Technology Research Group today, spoke with a Shawn in Tech Support. He told me that if the lightning had gone through the power line (and therefore through the surge protector), it would definitely have fried the surge protector, and it would now not work at all. If it powers up as normal, and shows power coming through both legs as normal, it's working. So, per Shawn, the fact that the surge protector still powers up indicates that the lightning in this case did NOT travel through the power line.
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Old 09-30-2014, 05:54 PM   #10
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That's great. So the malfunction was probably caused by the intense electro-magnetic field close to your coach.
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Old 09-30-2014, 07:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasA View Post
That's great. So the malfunction was probably caused by the intense electro-magnetic field close to your coach.
Too funny!

Surge suppression circuits generally will not survive a surge. MOVs, as mentioned earlier, are typically used, but not exclusively. The bottom line is that if you get enough of a surge the surge protection circuit will be toast. That doesn't mean power won't pass through the device that has the surge protection, just that surge protection is no longer present. This is why there is an indication of the surge suppressor still being active or it has failed.
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