Making a Case for Residential Surge Protection
Your customer calls you after they have awoken to a failed HVAC system. Upset and in a panic, they start to shift the blame to you, their installer, after their new heating and cooling system suddenly isn’t working anymore. They insist there were no overnight storms, so what gives?
You, an experienced professional, calmly explain that their home likely experienced an overnight power surge.
Power surges are one of the leading causes of HVAC system damage, but in-home damage from power surges can impact a host of other electronic devices. From computers and garage door openers to critical equipment such as security and burglar alarm systems, almost all in-home electronics are at risk of damage from power surges and spikes.
The good news is that surge protection solutions can help prevent damage to these electronic devices when properly installed. For your customers, home protection goes beyond just preventing damages, it could end up saving them thousands and may even be required under local fire codes.
For you, surge protection can be an easy add on sale that boosts your profits. Here are 4 ways you can make the case for residential surge protection to your customers. Plus, we will include 3 tips for installation.
1. Power Surges are Common and Originate from Many Sources
Power surges are only caused by large storms and lightning, right? Your customer may think so, but that is not the case.
External power surges can come from a number of sources, including direct and indirect lightning strikes, but smaller power surges are much more common. Utility power switching and large power draws from neighboring homes or facilities are a common external source of residential power surges. Power surges can also infiltrate a home via network and communication lines, and CCTV/CATV cable feeds.
The idea that power surges largely originate from outside the home is another common misconception. The fact is, the majority of residential power surges come from inside the home. These internal surges and spikes occur when high-powered electrical devices are turned on or off. HVAC systems and refrigeration units are the biggest culprits, but other pumps, electrical heaters, motors, and even small power tools can cause damaging surges. Most homeowners don’t understand just how prevalent these internal power surges are.
2. Power Surges Can Degrade Equipment All at Once or Over Time
If an electronic system is damaged by a power surge or spike, its life can be significantly shortened. It may even fail all at once without warning, taking the system out of service until it can be repaired or replaced. However, smaller everyday surges have the potential to gradually degrade equipment over time and typically go unnoticed. Homeowners may not realize their system has been damaged until it is too late.
These small transient surges, whether caused by internal or external sources, degrade equipment, shortening their lifespan and making them less reliable. Whether your equipment is damaged quickly and dramatically, or slowly over time, the results are the same – unexpected failures and downtime on electronic systems that are depended on daily for comfort and safety. Surge protectors’ self-sacrifice, both in the event of a single surge or by absorbing everyday surges, so your customers’ electronics don’t suffer the same fate
3. Replacing Damaged Electronics is Expensive
HVAC, security, and home entertainment systems represent a significant financial investment made by homeowners. Surge damage to these systems may require whole or partial system repair, which can result in substantial bills and frustration. In the worst-case scenario, surge damage requires entire system replacement, making simple power disruptions an expensive risk. Such repairs and replacements are often not covered by insurance policies or warranties, leaving homeowners to foot the bill.
Protecting your customer’s investments is simple through the thoughtful application of surge protective devices (SPDs). The cost of surge protection is often less than the sales tax of the devices they are protecting, making SPDs an attractive, practical sell. When further compared to the cost of an entire system replacement, the case for a proactive surge protection plan is even more compelling.
4. Fire Codes may Necessitate Surge Protection
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a non-profit organization that publishes over 300 consensus codes and standards meant to reduce the risk of fire and other hazards in residential, commercial, and industrial facilities around the world. The NFPA updates their recommendations to the National Electric Code (NEC) every three years, most recently in 2020. This new update directly affects homeowners by requiring whole house surge protection. Specifically, Section 230.67 necessitates the installation of SPDs for all dwelling unit service entrances, further noting that SPDs, “shall be an integral part of the service equipment or shall be located immediately adjacent thereto."
Read more about NEC 2020 residential requirements here.
The adoption of the 2020 NEC code updates are still in progress with many states already enforcing these new requirements and others well on the way. The NEC’s focus on whole house surge protection only underscores their commitment to reducing financial losses caused by power surges as well as recognition of the increasing number of sensitive electronic systems within all residences. State and local adoption may be irregular, so it is recommended that homeowners abide by all NEC codes regardless of applicable state and local adoption status. In doing so, homeowners are following recommendations backed by the research of experts, and protecting themselves and their home in the process.
Read more about applying surge protection to meet 2020 NEC regulations here.
Three Tips for Installing Whole House Surge Protection:
1. Deploy in Layers
Protecting your customers’ home from damaging electrical events requires a layered approach that will help combat power surges originating from both internal and external sources.
The first layer is to protect the incoming utility power, because this is the primary entry point for power surges and spikes that originate outside the building.
The second layer is to protect important equipment such as HVAC systems, security and burglar alarms, pool pumps, motors, and other large residential systems at the branch or equipment connection level. This will protect against power surges that are generated from within the home, as well as providing extra protection from external and accidental sources.
The third layer is to protect all point-of-use electronic devices that could carry damaging power surges. Examples of these include computers, home entertainment systems, CCTV/CATV and garage door openers.
2. Advise Customers to Buy, Not Rent, Surge Protective Devices
Unlike commercial property owners, residential property owners are often offered the option of renting or buying their Type 1 SPDs. This offer is typically extended to homeowners by local power companies under a subscription-based model. Under this model, the Type 1 SPD is installed by the power company at the service entrance and the owner rents the device for a monthly fee. Monthly fees range widely and are often subject to installation and other one-time fees.
On the surface, renting an SPD sounds like an attractive offer, but may not make the most financial and logical sense for your customer. As mentioned above, the only way to protect the entire house is to apply surge protection in a layered approach. If the power company is not offering to rent all SPD Types, the home owner could be missing a large layer of protection that negates the benefit of having an SPD applied only at the utility box.
Furthermore, let’s say the power company charges $10 a month for a Type 1 SPD, $4 a month for Type 3 SPDs, and a $40 installation fee. The first-year charge to rent devices would be $208. On the other hand, purchasing an SPD can cost anywhere between $100-$400 depending on the type. In this case, rental costs would have paid for the purchase of the SPD’s within the first 6 months to two years. Presenting such calculations may better help your customer understand the benefits of purchasing surge protection
Read more about renting vs. buying surge protection here.
3. Work With the Right Partners
Selecting the right surge protection plan for each unique residential facility can be overwhelming. DITEK provides professional surge protection solutions that are ideal for all residential installations. A full range of application-specific models are available, all designed for ease of installation, effectiveness, and longevity. Our products are made in the USA and backed by comprehensive warranties.
Contact us today to learn how you and your customers’ can benefit from DITEK Surge Protection.