Question about power surge protection


One of my customers at my job just told me that just about all of his appliances were destroyed a couple weeks ago from a major power surge. Items such as his TVs and refrigerators were all destroyed and there was not even a storm. He lives a few miles away from me in the next town. We never heard of this problem and it is rare for our area. His wife is devastated at this huge loss since they are having problems with their insurance company. He even plugged them into power surge protection strips too.

This made me alarmed because I use the generic power strips that offer little protection and now I want to buy the high end power surge protectors like the Brickwall surge protector or the Panamax 5300 power box. My question is, do I have to leave them on at all times for maximum power protection or can I turn the power box off when not using my stereo system and still be protected?
Frankly, I never heard of this type of surge occurring without the presence of a severe storm. This is what happens when lightning strikes on or close to your property. Anyway, to answer your question, the gear must be plugged into the surge protector and the surge protector must be on at all times, otherwise there is no protection and it is merely acting as an extension cord from your wall outlet. When the surge protector is on, it is always offering maximum protection, when it is off, there is no protection. Until you buy a surge protector, just keep your gear unplugged when not in use and do not play it when a storm is in the area.
It's my understanding that ZeroSurge, SurgeX, Brickwall (all use ZeroSurge technology) use passive components so I don't see why the protector's outlets need to be powered for them to be protected.

Depending on the type of power switch in the protector, when it's in the off position the outlets could be effectively "unplugged."
as far as I know the best (sound-wise) and actually easiest thing would be to install a magnetic circuit breaker.
This is incorrect information. ZeroSurge, BrickWall, and Torus Power are SurgeX licensees and use old mid-nineties 2-wire SurgeX technology. Only SurgeX has gone beyond the original patents and developed 3-wire zero let-through technology that its 3 licensees are not permitted to use without infringing on SurgeX renewable patents.
fuelie ...
From the ZeroSurge site:

Then in 2006, in answer to two specific application requirements (one military, one audio), Mr. Harford developed and patented Total Surge Cancellation (TSC) Technology®. TSC first filters off the most dangerous surge frequencies and then cancels the remaining residual surge voltage, totally eliminating damaging surge energy from protected equipment. TSC is recommended for ultra-sensitive electronics and where total surge cancellation is required.

So SurgeX's "Advanced Series Mode with zero let-through technology" is better protection than ZeroSurge's TSC technology?

I am very confused. When I spoke with ZeroSurge they claimed to be the manufacturer from which other companies such as BrickWall licensed the product. Now I find out instead that it is SurgeX who is the parent of this technology?
Rockadanny, check the posts from Fuelie; interesting I think. He hasn't replied to an email I sent him nor posted a reply to my question on the Tech Talk forum.
I call them "Power Strips". Not much protection.
Don't surge protectors degrade the sound? I keep all my components unplugged until I listen and only if there are no storms predicted that night.
Some of the folks who have better hearing than I do ( High frequency loss in both ears) claim that a SurgeX SA1810 drops the sound stage about 30%, and SA20 about 15%, but I can't hear the difference. I don't use it on the pre-amp or amp, just the cd player, phono pre-amp, TV, and computer. It sounds like it is best to use the highest amperage rated suppressor to minimize negative impact on the sound stage.
Question here for Fuelie. Why is it that you don't run your amp and pre through the SurgeX? I run everything through my SX1115 for protection's sake, but am I making a mistake and degrading the sound by running the amp and pre through the suppressor? I suppose I could do the comparison myself, and I will, but I am fairly novice and interested in other people's opinions as well. Thanks.
I use Furman Elite 20PFi conditioner and leave system on all the time. It has positive effect on the sound and very good protection. It uses multistage non-sacrificial protection with circuit breaker. In addition it has separate filters for different output banks including high current bank where my power amp (class D) is plugged.

Lightning is something else, since there is no wire in the world that can conduct 1 foot wide plasma to ground. My relative's house was strucked twice (direct hit). All electrical equipment was damaged and insurance paid for it but when it came to renew they canceled because he was statistically too much of a risk. Statistics as we all know prove that motorcycle accidents are caused by tattoos but that's life. I protected my gear as much as as could. (I could install whole house surge arrestor in addition. It is probably not very expensive and is installed at the box).
Juliuskelp, I use a pair of SurgeX SA1810, one for each system, and I power everything through them. Before I went to active speakers I was using Bryston 7B SST (600/900 watt) amps and they were powered through the SurgeX as well. I've not noticed any degradation.
I picked up a Brickwall PW8R15AUD about a year ago after I'd lost a couple of tubes in my Mac on two separate occasions when the power went out and then came back on (the Mac was not switched on either time as I'm not in the habit of leaving it on).

Since then we've had several power outages and the tubes have come through intact each time. Just fwiw, I have not detected any falloff in the audio signal. Since then I've upgraded to better tubes making the Brickwall a break-even component, essentially.