As a landlord, you want to make sure that your rental property is adequately equipped with all the right features. This way, you can be certain that your unit is always in mint condition and your tenants are always satisfied.
Without a proper surge protective device (SPD) all of the electronics located in your property are at risk for power surges. A whole home surge protector is typically wired to an electric service box to secure all of the appliances and electrical systems in the unit. Not only do these devices block out excessive voltage, but they also help increase your appliances’ lifespans.
Why You Need a Whole Home Surge Protector
As society and technology continue to advance, residential properties are in more need of whole home surge protection today than ever. People have many more electronics and are using them much more often. Most lighting systems, like LEDs, and appliances, like washers and dryers, use circuit boards to operate, meaning they’re highly liable for power surges. Your tenants likely have an abundance of electronic devices — people are plugging in more gadgets now than ever — so it’s important to ensure your electricity is protected.
While power surges can sometimes happen because of lightning strikes, they usually occur because of internal malfunctions. 80 percent of surges come in short, intense bursts and primarily caused by the device users. It’s rare for transient surges to make the property’s entire power go out or break a whole appliance, but they do add up over time and degrade electronics’ performance.
Power surges tend to happen in machines like AC units and appliances, so you may be wondering why you need a protector for the whole house. The answer is simple: a whole home surge protector will block the surges from affecting other devices in the property, thereby protecting every outlet and all the wiring. By redirecting the power surge to the breaker panel, the whole home surge protector will defend all aspects of your rental’s electricity. Considering all of the benefits whole home surge protectors provide, every household should be equipped with a suitable one.
How to Choose a Whole Home Surge Protector
When deciding on the right whole home surge protector for your rental property, consider the following factors:
- Your property’s outlet volt service. Most homes in the United States are equipped with basic 120-volt power outlets. These have been in use since the early 1950s and are the standard outlets for residences in North America. They have two parallel rectangular slots and a round hole for the ground wire. Most outlets are “duplex” receptacles, with two places to plug in electrical devices. Devices that require 110 volts can still be plugged into 120-volt power outlets. Larger appliances may need 240 volts of power; outlets for these machines tend to be configured differently to accommodate them. A home with standard 120-volt service can be adequately protected with an 80kA-rated surge protector. Chances are your property is not going to see large spikes of 50kA to 100kA.
- Whether or not the SPD is UL Certified. It’s important that the whole home surge protector you choose is certified under the UL 1449 3rd Edition and listed as a Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor (TVSS) on the equipment label.
- The Voltage Protective Rating (VPR). Check to see what the VPR is for each mode of protection. The VPR represents how much voltage is still let through to your property’s equipment after the surge protector has done its job. When comparing VPRs, remember that the lower the rating, the better.
- The Maximum Continuous Operating Voltage (MCOV). The MCOV is probably the most important factor to consider when evaluating a whole home surge protector for your rental. The higher the MCOV, the better, and it should never be lower than 115% of the system’s nominal voltage for both Line to Neutral and Line to Line. For example, if you’re looking at a 120V/240V unit, the L-N MCOV should be at least 138V and the L-L MCOV should be at least 276V. If it’s not, then the surge protector isn’t well-suited for your property.
- The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) enclosure type. A typical NEMA enclosure might be rated to provide protection against environmental hazards such as water, dust, oil or coolant or atmospheres containing corrosive agents such as acetylene or gasoline. You can learn all about the different types here.
- Warranty. Of course, you will want to know what type of warranty is offered for the whole home surge protector you choose to make sure you will be covered in the future.
- Value. Last but not least, you should consider the overall value of the SPD. Look for a product that provides the most protection and features for a price that fits your rental business budget.
The Three Types of Whole Home Surge Protectors
- Type 1: A Type 1 SPD is the first line of defense for power surges from the grid. They protect against external power surges, such as those caused by lightning or when your power company switches capacitor banks on your power grid. Type 1 SPDs are installed on the “line side” of your main service entrance, between the utility pole and your power meter, right where electricity comes into your property. The main drawback of these whole home surge protectors is that the power company has to get involved with installation. This is because your service panel needs to be shut off while it’s being installed.
- Type 2: A Type 2 SPD is installed at your “branch panel” (more commonly referred to as your breaker panel). It’s called your branch panel because it “branches” the power coming from your service panel out to all the circuits in your house. A Type 2 SPD (sometimes called a “panel protector”) wires directly to a dual-pole breaker in your panel, and can protect all the circuits in that panel, as well as any sub-panels that might be connected downstream.
- Type 3: Type 3 SPDs are installed at “points of use” around the home. This means you plug the device(s) you want to protect directly into an outlet on the Type 3 surge protector, then plug the surge protector into a standard power outlet. Most people use Type 3 devices as their first and only protection against power surges, but they’re actually designed to be the third and final option to provide security to your property’s devices. Type 3 SPDs are great to supplement another type of whole home surge protector since they are inexpensive and effectively prevent damage to equipment.
Whole Home Surge Protectors
Our Rating: 8.5/10
- This is a Type 2 SPD with UL 1449 certification and it’s rated for 14,000 amps with a maximum surge current of 20kA.
- It comes with a limited 10-year warranty for the SPD and the connected equipment in your property.
- The device provides 900-volt protection for line-to-line surges (L-L), and it provides 600-volt protection for line-to-neutral (L-N), line-to-ground (L-G), and neutral-to-ground (N-G) surges.
- Its dimensions are 10 x 6 x 4 inches.
- It has three types of commercial class notifiers:
- An audible alarm
- LEDs for status updates
- A flashing red LED to notify you when the electric service or wiring is compromised
- The device has a response time of less than 1 nanosecond.
- It can be used both indoors and outdoors.
- Customer service is attentive and knowledgeable, allowing you to handle installation with ease. Keep in mind, however, that a service technician is recommended to install the SPD unless you are completely comfortable with handling wires and electric panels. Although, with a basic understanding of electricity, you should be able to follow the installation instructions with no problem.
- The device is very well-made and durable. It also offers a minimalistic appearance despite its size.
- This device is definitely on the pricier side, but it works like a charm and many consider it “the Rolls Royce of SPDs.”
- It’s quite large and may be difficult to fit under your breaker box.
Siemens is a trusted, well-known brand that will surely keep your property and your appliances protected. With a variety of visual alerts, you will always know the current status of your power. If you don’t want to rely on LEDs alone, this SPD is great because it also has an audible alarm for notifications. This way, you can troubleshoot any issues without having to be directly in front of the unit. It’s a very robust product that is extremely sturdy and dependable. This product takes all the guesswork out of knowing when it is time for equipment to be replaced. While the Siemens FS140 is quite expensive, it’s worth it for highlh-rated protection and reliability.
Our Rating: 9/10
- This is a UL approved Type 2 SPD with a maximum surge charge of 180kA. It’s also rated as a NEMA 4X.
- The dimensions are 2.38 x 5.25 x 7.5 inches and the device weighs about 1 pound.
- Universally connects to any manufacturer’s breaker box and defends all electronics in the home.
- Offers modes of protection for Line to Neutral (L-N), Neutral to Ground (N-G), Line to Ground (L-G) on both incoming lines and Line to Line (L-L).
- It has an SCCR of 22kA.
- Great price considering the features and the quality.
- Very easy to use and install.
- It’s equipped with really bright LED lights to notify you of your power’s status.
- You may need to purchase a new 50 amp double pole (ganged) circuit breaker that fits your power panel.
- Some of the wires are very short, making it difficult to connect to the 50 amp breaker and/or the neutral and ground bars.
The Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA is a highly popular Type 2 SPD, even earning the title of “Amazon’s Choice.” It is a great value for the price, considering all of its unique features and outstanding efficiency. The device is also equipped with modes of protection for 4 different kinds of voltage. It also has a variety of LEDs to notify you of any changes in the system. The installation process is quick and easy and the device’s functionality is fairly straightforward. It can be used both indoors and outdoors and has a maximum surge per phase of 108 kA. If your rental property has a larger breaker and is equipped with #14 wire, then the Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA is the ideal choice for you. Keep in mind that you may need to purchase another circuit breaker to make sure the SPD fits your power panel. All in all, this SPD is an excellent choice for your rental property when factoring in budget and reliability.
Our Rating: 6.5/10
- Type 2 SPD with UL certification and a maximum surge current of 20kA.
- Modes of protection include L-N and L-L.
- 50kA per surge current with a corresponding SCCR of 200kA.
- Its dimensions are 3.25 x 3.25 x 3.3 inches.
- This is a compact surge protective device that can be used as a replacement secondary surge or lightning arrestors.
- The device mounts external to electrical distribution equipment and is designed to connect and protect 120/240-Volt single or (split-phase) panels.
- Effectively protects against transient voltage spikes.
- It’s the perfect replacement for low voltage surge and lightning arrestors, which became obsolete around 2009.
- The fuse box is a bit larger than the average one, so finding the right place to put it may be tricky.
- You need to use a double pole 30 amp fuse.
This SPD by Siemens is very straightforward to operate. It provides the basic coverage that an SPD should without being ridiculously expensive. WHile this is a solid product, it definitely isn’t as reliable as its brother, the Siemens FS140, which offers a variety of features and notifiers. However, these features do come at a significant price. This SPD is also quite large and it needs supplemental equipment for it to work properly. However, it does effectively protect your devices and is the perfect replacement for old lightning arrestors that were common in the 2000s and earlier.
Our Rating: 7/10
- This is a UL listed Type 2 SPD.
- The dimensions are 2.9 x 5.4 x 11.7 inches and it weighs about 7.1 pounds.
- Provides 4 modes of protection: 150V for L-N, 300V for N-G, 150V for L-G, and 300V for L-L.
- Offers maximum surge suppression and includes HEPD80 for a solid defense against more powerful surges.
- The device is covered by a 5-year warranty with $75,000 downstream equipment protection.
- It has removable modules (cable, Ethernet, and telephone) that allow quick and easy installation customization.
- It’s very easy to install. All you need is a few screws and the modules simply snap into place.
- It’s compact, sleek, and discreet, meaning it saves space and blends seamlessly with your breaker.
- The removable modules add increased flexibility to the device’s functionality.
- The product’s modules may be difficult to locate, but the instructions are very well-written and easy to understand.
- It might be a bit too big to install on your own, depending on your handiness skill level.
This SPD by Schneider is sleek, compact, and minimalistic and offers optimal protection for every electronic in your rental. It is super easy to install; only requiring you to use a few screws and snap the modules into place. The device also offers amazing flexibility for functionality and application, allowing you to customize the SPD any way you want. For 200 bucks, you can adequately protect your property and elongate the service life of all your gadgets and appliances. You also get a 5-year warranty with up to $75,000 in coverage.
Our Rating: 8/10
- Type 1 SPD with UL certification and NEMA 4X rated for both indoor and outdoor usage.
- Connects to any brand of electric panel.
- It has 80,000 amps Surge Current Rating (SCR) along with 25,000 amps SCCR.
- There is a green LED to show the device’s status and ensure proper protection.
- Covered with a 5-year warranty.
- The dimensions are 2.7 x 3.8 x 3.6 inches and it’s extremely lightweight (weighs about 2 pounds).
- It’s super easy to install and offers excellent output.
- The device is very affordable and it will save you money in the long run. It’s a lot cheaper than replacing entire appliances or electric panels.
- Each of its Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs) are fused individually.
- Suited for both indoor and outdoor use.
- The LED indicator is too dim for anyone to see that the surge protector is working or not.
- Many people claim the warranty does not provide adequate coverage.
The Square D HEPD80 device by Schneider is one of the most affordable SPDs on the market and it doesn’t cmpromise quality. It provides real-time notifications with LEDs at the front of the device. You can have peace of mind with the HEPD80 device since it is UL 1449 certified and CSA 3rd Edition Type 1 SPD approved. This SPD can be used inside and outside and it’s very easy to install and get working. You really can’t beat it for the price, plus it comes with a five-year warranty.
Our Rating: 7.5/10
- The device is a Standard J-Box metal enclosure with a 120/240V capacity and 4 modes of protection.
- It has real-time visual indicators for diagnosis of suppression and power status for all of the device’s phases.
Comes with a 10-year warranty.
- The dimensions are 14.4 x 8.4 x 6.9 inches and the device weighs 4.7 pounds.
- It has one of the highest specifications for any protector for single phase residential use.
- The strong metal design makes the product increasingly durable and reliable.
- Offers 4 modes of protection for ample coverage of all equipment.
- It displays the current status of all the device’s protected phases.
- The device is specifically designed for indoor use only.
- Slightly expensive because of the sturdy metal design.
This durable, well-made SPD is built to last long and keep all your electronics protected. The one thing about this SPD is that you do need to use it inside, unlike other SPDs on this list that can be used both indoors and outdoors. It’s also pretty expensive, considering its hefty metal construction. However, it’s well worth the money with its high ratings and specifications. It also displays all of the device’s information at once, so you can always be in the loop.
Our Rating: 6/10
- This Type 2 SPD is CSA listed and has NEMA 3R rating.
- It can be installed on 120/240V panels and singles as well.
- There is a green LED to indicate whether or not the surge protection is working.
- The dimensions are 6.5 x 8.3 x 8 inches and the product is very light plastic, weighing in at just 2 pounds.
- Covered by a 5-year warranty.
- The device comes with four 30-inch long 12 gauge wires, just in case the existing wires are too short for installation.
- It also has permanent mounting feet for secure placement by your breaker panel.
- Provides all of the essential features of an SPD for just under 100 bucks.
- Some people consider this SPD to feel a bit cheap and flimsy, but for the price it gets the job done.
- The NEMA ratings for this product are a bit low compared to other SPDs on the market.
This Panel Guard from Intermatic is a Type 2 SPD that adds extensive coverage to the appliances and devices in your rental property. It provides all the essential features that you need in an SPD, and at just under $100, it’s an excellent value. The NEMA rating on this product is a bit lower compared to other SPDs and it isn’t the best quality in terms of design, but it gets the job done and it’s cheaper than replacing equipment.
Our Rating: 8/10
- This is a Type 3 SPD that is ideal for supplementing your whole home surge protector.
- It is a 1500-joule wall mount device that converts any standard single wall outlet into a charging station for powering, protecting, and recharging mobile devices.
- Comes with 2 USB ports, 3 fixed and 3 swiveling power outlets.
- The device is covered by a 12-month warranty.
- The device is light, handy and portable. It also offers simple and secure installation.
- Provides you with 6 different outlets and 2 USB ports, perfect for every tech user out there.
- There are two lights at the top of the outlet that let you know if your devices are grounded and protected.
- Besides the status notifications, the SPD also has an LED strip light that glows red when it is plugged in. Many people complain that the light is bothersome, especially if you place multiple adapters in the same room.
- It does not work with every single receptacle.
In addition to Type 1 and Type 2 SPDs, there are also Type 3 SPDs. A lot of people make the mistake of only putting Type 3s in their homes, but those SPDs should be strictly supplemental. After choosing a good Type 1 or Type 2 whole home surge protector, you should place a few Type 3 SPDs in the power outlets of your property. This SPD by OviiTech is one of the best Type 3s on the market. It provides great surge protection for mobile devices and has 6 different power outlets as well as 2 USB ports. The lights also let you know if the plugged in gadgets are grounded and protected, although some people do complain that the strip on top is always lit up. However, it’s a great product and a very adequate charging station for all your tenant’s electronic needs.