30 Years, 5 Cities, Many Storms - Not One Failure

As I am tempted by offerings for the newest crop of expensive, high end surge suppressors and power conditioners, I thought I might share with the Audiogon community a particuarly inexpensive one which I have been using since 1978.

Through the years, I have moved at least 8 times, lived in 5 different cities through all seasons including stormy Northeastern winters, Summer "brownouts", total blackouts and countless late Summer, high humidity thunderstorms.

I have owned tube gear, solid state gear, televisions, video devices, LCD projectors - the works - typically leaving all my components on 24/7.

In my latest house, I reported in another thread that the village infrastructure is not so robust; my wall voltage fluctuates from 114 - 124 volts, and we reguarly see brownouts in the summer and power outages in both winter and summer when storms knock branches into the above ground power lines.

Would you like to know my low cost secret for protecting all these components?


That right, I have NEVER used a surge suppressor or power conditioner of any kind. I have never unplugged any equipment during a storm - in fact I usually didnt even turn it off.

So as much as I am always seeking new ways to throw money at this lifelong hobby of mine, I am little confused about all the fuss on power conditioners and in particular, surge suppressors.

Does this thread surprise any of you?
Well, congratulations. All that suggests to me is that you have been VERY fortunate. Unlike other audio accessories, the effects of which may be subjective and psycho-acoustic, surge suppressors either work or they don't- either your equipment gets fried or it doesn't. If you are suggesting that spending money on surge protection is frivolous, I would suggest that there are many people on this forum who have lost BIG-TIME $$ on lightning strikes, etc. You have dodged a bullet or two. Don't try to convince others to live dangerously, as well.
No it doesnt surprise me at all, but then again if you ever loose equipment from an electrical surge from storm, car accident near your home or any number of others possible reasons because you have no protection, well that wont surprise me either.
This is like spending years on car insurance premiums and never having one single claim, it onlys takes one time to make it ALL worthwhile.
I am also skeptical of all the hype about "conditioning" the AC power. Maybe I am just lucky to live in a rural area, and have audio equipment with good power supplies, but I have been unable to hear any degradation as a result of noise on the ac power. I have cell phones, cordless phones, fluorescent lights, dimmers, and even a device designed to repel mice by deliberately putting HF on the power line, and nothing seems to affect the audio system. Or the TV for that matter.

A surge arrester is quite a different matter. During thunder storms we do get spikes, and I have had unprotected electronic equipment damaged, although the audio system was not affected. By the way, turning things off does little good, as the voltage spike will jump right over the switch contacts. Unplug to be safe.
Luck is a good thing to have!!!
I am not trying to convince anyone to "live dangerously".

I am hoping someone will provide me with sufficient justification to add more expensive gear to my audio collection.

But as you can see from my experience, this has not yet been easy to do.

Thank you,
Just to pitch the other side of the coin... I was listening to my stereo when a lightning storm rolled in... I saw the bolt out of two different windows that were, respectively, on the south and east sides of my house. Took out the CATV box, fried the output transistors inside a powered sub, and destroyed an ARC LS-9. I now use some power products...

My PS Audio Power Director also does improve the sound--here I have some actual objective data as well as the usual subjective "deeper blacks, etc." I used to have a pair of ARC D240s wired up (and on 24/7) to a pair of Martin Logan Prodigy speakers. The speakers had these strange blue ML logos behind the panel that glowed, and which I thought were on all the time. Well, I put in the PS Audio Power Director--which doesn't really claim to be a filter--and the lights disappeared. The speakers worked, so I went back to the manual and discovered that the lights were an indicator of a signal being present on the speaker inputs. In the absence of a signal being detected, the panels shut down.

Net takeaway... There was enough noise on my power lines to cause my speakers to think a signal was actually present. When I swapped in the PS PD, it cleaned up the lines enough that it went away. Made me a believer.
I'm skeptical of power conditioning as well. And yet, I own a power conditioner/surge suppressor. I also unplug the damn thing at the first crack of thunder. I live under alternating sieges of superstition and hokum.
It doesn't necessarily have to fail during a storm or event. If the power supply isn't up to all the surges, sags, and spikes that come through over the course of time, the cummulative affect can cause failure on a bright sunny day.
I have had equipment destroyed by lightning strike, though it was many years ago. I have since added surge protection and power conditioning. Power conditioning is a matter of choice. I suppose surge protection is, too, but the difference is that no harm will come from not having power conditioning.
Unfortunately, the only thing that makes a believer is to experience the unfortunate event. I put a burglar alarm in my house after it was robbed. I got hurricane shutters after being hit by hurricanes. I'm guilty of the same attitude.
Sometimes you can learn from other people's experiences. Sometimes you don't want to learn.
I've got a pc and ss, but I love to ride motorcycles and sometimes I run with scissors.
Putting a scare into folks with dire predictions is always a good tactic.

I gambled and lost ... cable box, two PC's, Nakamichi amp, garage door opener and a TV.

AND I MEAN it melted them down ... nothing could even be repaired. It was a total loss.
Are those Furman surge protections in some of the pictures of your systems for displaying or for surge protection ?
I take it you don’t work in the insurance industry. Your reasoning, if you can call it that, is completely flawed. You can't take the data from a very small sample (you) and apply it to the masses when doing a statistical analysis of risk vs. cost. That is completely backwards. You have to look at the percentage of systems that do get hit and then the cost of your system vs. the cost of protecting it.

Your line of reasoning is akin to these pearls of wisdom I’ve heard over the years.

“I drive drunk all the time and I’ve never had a problem.”
“I’ve been smoking for 30 years and it’s never hurt me.”
“Chester married his sister and their kids seem normal.” (I live in TN)
“Seat belts will just trap you in the wreck; I would rather be thrown free.”

OK, that last one doesn’t apply but it’s just as dim-witted.
My brother lives in the country and he can expect 2-3 lightening hits ,to his house, a year.
This pattern has been repeated over 14 years.

He has fried,besides eggs,two CDP,amp,pre ,too many clocks to count ,cordless phones and several modems.

So ,yes, you are very luck and playing Russian Roulette.
I wish you continued good luck.

Ha - well spotted! This is actually a very recent development mainly for the new PC system.

I thought I would give those a try but mainly because they were
a) < $200 and b) convenient with cool lights

But I have never used them for my Levinson amp or ARC preamp, which remain plugged naked and direct into the wall.


No, I don't work in the insurance industry, but I work in the investment industry and have at least a bit of statistical analysis in my background.

Yes, you cite several dim witted examples which I will try not to take personally as an insult to my thinking.

From an investment perspective we like to describe risk as positively or negatively convex, where I might agree that not having a surge suppressor is a negatively convex risk, provided one is not spending the mega bucks on surge suppressors from say, Transparent, which is one of the brands that inspired this thread.

So easy enough to understand that just because it hasn't happened to me, doesn't mean it wont happen to me or that I should drive around with no seatbelt.

But to be honest, until this thread I had never heard of anyone losing a component, while more and more manufacturers seem to be jumping on the bandwagon with high margin products.

So what I was driving at really, was the amount of snake oil and fear mongering that goes into the marketing of these devices.

I do wear a seatbelt and I dont smoke. But I drive a motorcycle(with helmet and protective gear while sober always), drink red wine and I particularly love cheese and red meat.

Thanks for the advice as I try to find a similarly appropriate place on the risk/return spectrum with surge suppressors.

Thank you
Thefalls1117..."Hits to his house". Really? Not just a surge/spike on the line? If so insurance might cover damage. It did when a tree about 30 feet from my house was hit. Although no audio equipment was damaged, TV sets, VCR, control module on refrigerator, microwave and some other things were zaped. Insurance bought me new replacements.

I too have lost equipment to lightning strikes, but this is all anecdotal evidence, as is your experience in not losing any equipment. You said:

I am hoping someone will provide me with sufficient justification to add more expensive gear to my audio collection.

What would be sufficient justification? I'm not sure any of us are providing the information you're really looking for. If you give us a better idea, maybe we can be of more help.

In personal discussions with two Companies who's gear I own - Krell and Musical Fidelity - they both said, without allowing me to quote them, over the phone, to not use any type of conditioner or suppression device, unless you have massive interference problems(not storms, etc, but RFI Interference). We are fortunate to live in the countryside outside of Pittsburgh, and have our own transformer for power for our log home. Many, many storms, etc, never a problem, leave equipment on 24/7. I do, however, have photos and a DVD of all my equipment in the fireproof box, and talked with my insurance company - that's why you pay all those homeowner premiums that never get utilized - hopefully you never need them. I encourage all to review their policies, however, periodically, to ensure(no pun intended) that you receive purchase/replacement value, not current market value - under most circumstances.

Some areas do need them, I understand, and to each his own, but from my experience, for my system, an unnecessary expense. If I had a completely irreplaceable piece of gear, akin to a '58 Les Paul, I might change my tune(again, no pun intended), but that is rare in the audophile world. An insurance settlement would be an upgrade, as this stuff depreciates faster than a new Pontiac. Good luck in your quest.
"[I]nsurance settlement would be an upgrade, as this stuff depreciates faster than a new Pontiac." There's the rub. I thought insurance usually pays FMV, not replacement value. Are you *sure* your policy is replacement value?
In my case, yes. I also have a fair amount of automobiles, vintage parts, and other equipment that I purposely photographed/documented, and discussed with my agent, just to be safe. I am sure all policies are different, so it is wise to check. And maybe my statement was a bit incorrect - I am sure many of you have more vintage equipment that is much more difficult to replace, in that case, definitely check with your Company, just in case! Let's hope none of us need such measures......and for the record, one of my closest associates has a fantastic Krell/Thiel system, and thinks I am crazy for not using any of these devices, even though he also heard from the techs I mentioned. Whatever makes you sleep at night, esp during those storms!
The insurance industry has no shortage of scummy underwriters, who will gladly cash your premiums for years, but in the event of a claim, do whatever they can to pay you nothing, or in their worst case, a deeply depreciated so called fair market value.

Good insurers - not necessarily easy to find - will gladly underwrite things at full replacement value, in the same way that a full service auto policy will have less of a deductible than a lesser or more dubious policy.

I have had great experiences with USAA which unfortunately is not available to everyone. But any good insurance company should - at least - allow you to request full replacement value, even if they raise your premiums accordingly.
Over a forty year period my parents home has been hit by lightning three times. Lost all TV's, phones, radios, etc. each time.