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#186061 - 04/14/09 08:10 PM Whole house surge protection  
ChicoC10  Offline
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 169
I have a customer who installed a tankless well pump. A board controlling the motor speed regulates the pressure. Pretty neat except that she is now on her third control board for this thing and the well guys are blaming power surges.

Probably the case as she is a long way from the transformer serving her and the overhead lines get windblown pretty bad.

Any suggestions on a decent panel mount surge suppressor that wont cost more to replace than her well controller?

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#186069 - 04/14/09 10:36 PM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: ChicoC10]  
gibbonsseabee80  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 40
Chesapeake, VA
Hello All,
Sorry I have not posted a reply in a LONG time. Been very busy with a new job. I am curious about the controller. Is is physically located at the well or is it back at the house? Does it have its own control circuit just for the board or is it powered of the well pump feed? How far roughly is the feed from the panel to the well? Post a link to the controller because I am always looking at new products on the market. If by some chance the board was powered off the well pump ckt(again I dont know how it is setup), maybe the conductors are under-sized. When the pump turns on, there is a voltage drop and the board gets damaged? How about current flowing through the grounding electrode conductor the the well casing if there is a bad Nuetral(grounded conductor). Just looking at other possibilities besides line surges. As far as TVSS units, I like Intermatic TVSS units. Keep us posted and I am sure someone else on here has a better idea than what I wrote smile

Brian Gibbons

#186076 - 04/15/09 12:12 AM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: ChicoC10]  
JoeTestingEngr  Offline
Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 790
Chicago, Il.

I have installed a couple Intermatic units in loved one's panels. But these units have fairly high clamping voltages. I'm a firm believer in adding additional transorb/fuse protection in the 130-150Vrms range at sensitive equipment. With a well controller, it would be nice to get a component failure analysis to see if the hit was on the front end or back end.

Last edited by electure; 04/15/09 09:43 AM. Reason: repaired link

#186078 - 04/15/09 01:23 AM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: JoeTestingEngr]  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,124
A surge protector *might* help but I wouldn't bet on it.
I bet you fix this with bonding.
Is the ground electrode system in good shape?
That is always the first stop on a lightning call.
Do you know what failed on the board and what the fault path was?
I am betting it is a ground shift between the well and the ground electrode system. If it is not a metal well casing (that should be part of your Ground Electrode System) you could try driving a rod next to the well and bond that to the GES and the control board (hit that first).
Snap ferrite beads on all circuit conductors.

Greg Fretwell

#186081 - 04/15/09 04:42 AM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: gfretwell]  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,223
SI,New Zealand
I'm with Greg on this one.
What I would do, is get some test gear out and start making some tests around this installation.
To blindly go installing "whole house" surge diverters where they may not be required, would be an horrific waste of time and money, especially if it does not solve the problem.

We had over here a run of washing machine control boards, that blew for no apparent reason, this was put down to a voltage spike/disturbance.
It turned out that there was in fact an MOV on the board that after being replaced, bought the board (and the machine) back to life.

#186089 - 04/15/09 07:16 PM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: Trumpy]  
Sandro  Offline
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 444
Stoney Creek, ON, Canada
This is a thread I will be watching closely as we have had an exact same problem with our customer. She too was on her third board.

The electronics guy that she hired, along with the well people suggested we add another surge protector right at the well pump controller in the basement (this controller works the remote pump in the well). This is in addition to the whole house panel surge protector that we installed at the panel.

We did all those about 2 months ago and I haven't heard anything from her since.

#186091 - 04/15/09 10:42 PM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: Sandro]  
ChicoC10  Offline
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 169
Thanks for the replies.

I haven't been out there in over a year and I'm going off of what she told me over the phone for now. I won't be able to get out there until (hopefully) next week.
I talked to her again after I posted this and found out that this time the "cause" was that after she had a solar system installed, somehow switching out the meter blew the board. Oh, and it messed up her direct tv too, but several hours on the phone with tech support fixed that. ?????
She, as with so many other customers, doesn't have the first clue as to providing complete info for a diagnosis. But shes nice and she pays on the spot.
A very patient game of 20 questions is in order here.

The well guys have replaced the boards so I haven't had to be there until now and I don't think my poking around inside their listed (I'm assuming) unit is a good idea. Well, I might look but I won't touch:) Maybe there is a MOV on the board and she is interpreting "changing the board" for replacing the MOV. If it blows again I will ask her to call me first so I can have a look at what failed.

As I recall the controller mounted right on the the well casing, which is PVC, and is a complete unit made of plastic. The thing is a relativly small unit and hangs right off of a pipe fitting if I remember right. All I did was pipe into it with a 20A 240V ckt. No neutral as I recall, and I pulled #10 to it. The panel is on the shop 15 or 20 feet from the well, but I hear a well house has been added (they assured me there would not be one) since I was last there so it is no longer in direct sight of the controller. I will have to add a disconnect, or more likely, a small sub panel inside the well house somehow.

When I get out there I will get the info on the controller and post it here.


#186098 - 04/16/09 03:35 PM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: ChicoC10]  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,124
When I was doing installation planning at IBM we did a lot of lightning mitigation (SW Florida).
Grounding and bonding was always the first place to start. We fixed more with a roll of wire than everything else combined. (sounds like an ad from doesn't it)
My next favorite thing was the ferrite bead. The theory was to shunt out all you could with as short a wire as you could run, then slow down/soften the shot on the signal lines with a ferrite.

Greg Fretwell

#186111 - 04/17/09 12:16 PM Re: Whole house surge protection [Re: gfretwell]  
sabrown  Offline
Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 302
Ogden, Utah, USA
I agree with everyone on verifying the bonding/grounding on the system.

We have wells installed all over the place, most with minimal electronics, but others with varying degrees of electronics. Our well casings are metal and in most cases properly bonded and surge protected with cheap systems.

I have only heard of problems on one system (a water treatment plant) as far as losing electronics which occured reportedly everytime a lightning storm came by. I finally made it to the site last year to find the poorest excuse for a grounding electrode system at the storage tank location (hardwired transmitter electronics located at that location).

Though I have not followed up on the system, I usually hear immediately if things did not work.

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