Whole-house Surge Protection

A couple of weeks ago, my pool pump started failing.  The bearings were wearing out and it was getting louder by the day. So I discussed replacement with the pool guy and he asked if I had any house protection insurance, which I didn’t think I did.  He said that I should look into it because the new motor would be easily damaged by power surges.

To take a step back, it’s been a few years since you couldn’t get a simple, dumb, single-speed motor for your pool.  The law now says you have to have a variable speed pump.  It should save money because you can slow it down during off times.  Whatever.  They’re more expensive and more susceptible to damage because they’re chock full of circuit boards.

That got me to thinking of something I wanted to get on the house anyway – whole-house surge protection.  The electric company offers this as an option or you can install one yourself.  I looked up the one offered by the utility company and they don’t sell it, you lease it.  Like $30 for installation, then $8/mo for as long as you want.  Well, that’s never good in my book.  I need to own something, not lease it.  So I called a couple electricians to get quotes.

The first guy says he installs them, but not right now because he’s too busy.  He referred me to someone else and I set up the appointment.  On the call he said I could choose from a range of different devices.  He couldn’t give me much specifics on them, so I just said, what can I get for under $500?  He said, you can get this.  So we agreed on it, and off we went.

Just to mention, I do understand that $500 is like five years of leasing the electric company protector.  But ownership is very important to me and is just one more line item for if I ever choose to sell the house.  Apparently, this is standard for all new construction.  It should be!

On the appointment day, the contractor was pretty much behind schedule, like a hour and a half.  Whatever.  He looked over my breaker panel, which was full and said he could just install it on the meter box.  I actually preferred that option, so that was good.  Within half an hour, he was all done.  I came out, saw the new box attached to my meter and said, ok.  Now for the billing.

I had a recollection he quoted me on the phone something like $425, and so I assumed he would have labor on top of that, so I budgeted $600.  Nope, the total cost was $425.  Well, that’s not too bad.  I happily paid and off he went.

The new device is by SquareD and is the model HEPD80.  I went inside and researched the device.  It is very highly rated, which was great, but the cost of the device kind of hurt me.  It’s only $120 at the most.  So I did get charged for labor, but like $600/hr.  Just typing that out hurts even more.

But I try to keep everything in perspective.  The total was less than I expected.  I am helping an independent contractor survive and thrive.  The installation is not something I could do myself.  Well, I could, after watching a few videos, but I wouldn’t have a lot of faith in myself.  And the product is still highly rated and installed by a professional.  Hopefully it never needs to sacrifice itself for the house.

But, if it does, this device will save me from having to buy another $1500 pool pump, plus a $1500 chlorine generator, plus whatever appliances would get blown up, plus whatever UPS’s didn’t survive the blast.  For a $120 device, that’s pretty well worth it.  Next time, I’ll buy the device and just have the contractor install it.  Knowledge for next time.