What's inside surge protectors?



Surge protectors have always been a mystery to me. I'm sure you've been told time and time again that you need them to protect electronic devices during a lightning storm. The more Joules the better. For the most part they don't seem to do anything. They are more like glorified extension cords. It's hard to imagine that they can even stop a lightning strike. This is where misinformation run rampant. The fact is no surge protector can stop a direct lightning strike which can be millions of volts in magnitude. They will be blown to smithereens. That's why it's required by law to have a ground wire outside your house by the service panel. If your place is properly wired a direct lightning strike should simply follow the ground wire and flow down to earth. But during a lightning storm, relatively smaller power surges may be induced on power lines, telephone lines, cable, satellite, outdoor antenna or what have you that enter the house and reach your electronic devices. These power surges are what surge protectors are designed to stop. They don't really stop as much as redirect. Power surges can also originate from within the house, whenever you run the microwave, air conditioner, vacuum or other power hungry machine. They're smaller in magnitude by nature.



Ever since Schneider Electric acquired APC in 2007 their product offerings have been lack-luster as of late. They've cut production costs and it shows. The P8T3 looks like your run-of-the-mill surge protector. What infuriates me is the misinformation on APC's website: they listed the P8T3 Let-Through Voltage as 330V. Take a look on the back of the device, clearly, it states 400V for L-N, and 500V for L-G and N-G. Even on CSA's website confirms what is stated on the label. I lose confidence on APC when I routinely see this kind of misleading specs on their products.

The construction has definitely drifted on the cheap side compared to its predecessors.



APC PRO8T2 (1998)

This was APC's flagship surge protector for home use over fifteen years ago. It's what introduced me to the company. Along with the CSA marking on the back this model is UL listed. I bought this in 1998. Construction and design is high quality. The case is made of ABS plastic. The outlets allowed smooth insertion of plugs unlike cheaper models.

The specs were top-notch at the time. Let-Through Voltage is 330V. On APC's website it says 85V, however. I don't know how they arrived at that number. Notice the size of the inductors and capacitors used are beefier than what's used in the P8T3 as well as in later productions of the PRO8T2. The circuit board is dated 1998.

APC PRO8T2APC Pro8t2APC Pro8t2APC Pro8t2


APC PRO8T2 (2013)

This is the current production of the PRO8T2. It's had a makeover and the results do not look all that impressive. It no longer bears the UL mark. Let-Through Voltage has gone up to 400V for L-N and N-G and 500V for L-G. APC's website does not reflect the current production specs and still shows the specs from the earlier productions. This will confuse many consumers.

A look inside you'll notice the smaller inductors used compared to earlier productions. The green LED is very faint and hard to see. This is not the same product I bought years ago. It's a downgrade.




This is similar to the old PRO8T2 model minus the two telephone input.







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