SurgeX SA-1810 Tear-Down

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Daniel Sauvageau

Daniel Sauvageau is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He’s known for his feature tear-downs of components and peripherals.

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  • hydac8
    Interesting , do they have a European version of this ?
  • Evil_Overlord
    Thank you for this write-up. In my eyes, this article is a shining example of what (technical) journalism should be. It is both worthy of being used as a product review, and reference guide. If I were going shopping for a series-mode surge suppressor, or if I knew someone who was shopping for a power protection solution for power-sensitive equipment, I would -without pause- recommend using this article as a launching pad for any/all research.

    Two things in this article stand out and gave me a reason to write this comment. First: You didn't give up. When faced with equipment that could not perform all the tests you desired, you switched to a simulated circuit. That takes time, research, and effort. Second: You openly admitted the transition from real-world to simulation. Lesser authors might skipped that disclaimer.

    Well done.
  • mortsmi7
    They go to all the trouble of making such a beefy product and then they back-stab the outlets. The cross-section of a stab connection is very low compared to a screw-type. A space heater, which applies a constant high amperage, will kill a back-stabbed outlet in no time.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1876530 said:
    Interesting , do they have a European version of this ?

    They make models for just about every country, you just need to go through surgexinternational.com to pick your country. All they need to do is put the appropriate cord and transformer/reactor in, increase the bleeder resistors' value for 220-240V countries and that's probably it*.

    Edit: *and put 400-450V electrolytic input caps in instead of 250V since 240V crests near 350V.

    130749 said:
    Thank you for this write-up. Two things in this article stand out and gave me a reason to write this comment. First: You didn't give up. When faced with equipment that could not perform all the tests you desired, you switched to a simulated circuit. That takes time, research, and effort. Second: You openly admitted the transition from real-world to simulation. Lesser authors might skipped that disclaimer. Well done.

    Thanks.

    I had already done a fair chunk of the simulation research almost a year ago after getting into an argument with some readers about SurgeX and similar products, so I was basically biting my time to do something with the results and what I learned during that process.

    As for admitting to using simulated results, this simply requires a lot less effort than producing convincing fake results. The main reason I do it though is as a shout-out to test equipment manufacturers: "if you had sponsored me with test equipment relevant to this story, your gear would have probably been shown or at least mentioned here."
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    352059 said:
    The cross-section of a stab connection is very low compared to a screw-type. A space heater, which applies a constant high amperage, will kill a back-stabbed outlet in no time.

    These are not "stab" connection with the crappy leaf-springs snaring wires. They are captive nut connections: the wire gets secured between the captive nut (a piece of cast metal with a tapped hole the terminal screw screws into and grooves to guide the solid copper wires) and screw/terminal by tightening the screw.

    As far as current-passing capacity, those captive slab types should be every bit as good as plain screw terminals: they are basically the same except that instead of the wire being squeezed directly between the screw and outlet metal strip where you need to wrap the wire around the screw just so it does not slip out from under the screw while tightening, the wire is squeezed between the captive slug and the metal strip with the groove guiding the wire in place, eliminating the need to wrap the wire around the screw. These same grooves might actually provide more total contact area with the wire than the screw head does.
  • nukemaster
    Another great writeup.

    Thanks.
  • Blueberries
    Wow, now that's what I call a surge protector.
  • blackmagnum
    Thanks Daniel for the tips. When using $1k plus computer equipment at work or home, it has been proven that you should play safe with reputable power delivery than be cheap and sorry.
  • Nuckles_56
    Great review, I'd hate to know how much it costs in Australia though
  • Jake Hall
    Do one on ZeroSurge
  • WFang
    Emerson Power has an "Islatrol" series of power surge and filtering devices. For example the IE-205 ACTIVE FILER 240VAC 5AMP model which can be found for around $139 through good channels, quite a bit more through various outlets.
    They are quite a bit different than power strips but they might offer another view into the same/similar world, and are great if you make/have panels boxes of equipment.. You could conciveably use an Islatrol active filter in a small nema-style box and build your own 'power strip' for less than the $400 in this article.. This may be more satisfying for DIY readers though not exactly what you would recommend most people doing. ;)

    If you are making a custom PC case, you could even use it as dedicated protection for a PC.
  • WFang
    PS: Why are you still using the picture carousel wheel format for your write-ups? You have too much high quality text to use this format.. Please consider doing a 'regular' article format instead!! I hate that part of this series of write-ups you've done!!
    (If there are other non-obvious reasons you are stuck in this format, feel free to comment.. perhaps you get more compensation from Tom's for this style article? Perhaps something else? -It certainly doesn't do your write up and work justice though,so if you don't have such behind the scenes limitations, you really should switch. :)
  • mctylr
    Quote:
    Do one on ZeroSurge


    I believe ZeroSurge, Electronic Systems Protection (ESP) and SurgeX are all related companies.

    I suspect the multiple brands / companies is either because of legal / tax business structure, or different market focal points (Pro Audio, IT, etc.).

    ZeroSurge products should be remarkably similar in design and manufacturing quality (I think they are manufactured in the same facility).
  • mctylr
    Sorry, ZeroSurge licences SurgeX / ESP's technology.
  • Krusher
    mctylr, that's an interesting find. I have a Brickwall here and was told by Zero Surge that Brickwall re-markets the Zero Surge models...they just put a different sticker on them. So, I bought a few Zero Surges since they far exceeded anything the old MOVs had. But, it would be neat to read where it all came from.
  • Krusher
    ...and Zero Surge claims to have invented this technology:
    http://www.zerosurge.com/25th/
  • Krusher
    ...in 1988. That's before SurgeX started in 1995 with series mode protection. So, maybe Zero Surge was first after all. (Doesn't matter, they all work.) Sorry for the multiple posts. I was just jogging the memory. :)
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1841500 said:
    PS: Why are you still using the picture carousel wheel format for your write-ups? (If there are other non-obvious reasons you are stuck in this format, feel free to comment.. perhaps you get more compensation from Tom's for this style article?)

    You answered your own question.

    The review format rewards character count while the picture story/carousel format rewards photography and image editing. Guess which format makes the most sense for a tear-down which is 90% about the pictures.

    Part of the reason to go picture-story with the SA-1810 was also that I had been undecided between trying the review format or continuing with the picture story format for almost a month while working on the SL300. Once I got done with the SL300, I decided to quit losing sleep over the SA-1810, pick the picture story format and get it finished.

    If I gain access to a proper surge simulator and related test equipment, I will revisit the SA-1810 and other surge arrestors/suppressors for real-world test results, so I am not calling it done yet. It'll be back.
  • nukemaster
    I only wish they allowed zooming on pictures in that article type. Clicking always just sends to the next image and the full screen button just enlarges the website, not the images.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    35532 said:
    I only wish they allowed zooming on pictures in that article type. Clicking always just sends to the next image and the full screen button just enlarges the website, not the images.

    I would be happy enough if they simply bumped the standard from 600x450 to 720x540. It may not sound like much but that's already 44% more detail and devices with resolutions below 800x600 are a dying breed.
  • Evil_Overlord
    I have an APC SurgeArrest Panelmount, Non-modular - Surge suppressor, model number PMP2X-A, attached to the panel of my house. After reading this review, I'm curious if they make a series-mode surge suppressor designed to attach to the panel of a building. Does anyone know?
  • Evil_Overlord
    ...and by "they", I mean any manufacturer that deals with whole-building power protection, not just SurgeX.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    130749 said:
    After reading this review, I'm curious if they make a series-mode surge suppressor designed to attach to the panel of a building. Does anyone know?

    Main or sub-panel series protection probably exists but I do not think you will find it in a convenient panel-mount package simply because the inductors this requires would be far too massive to put on a wall. You are not only stepping the current up from 15-20A to 100-200A (likely more than a 10X size increase here simply due to the wire gauge) but you are also moving up from B-class surges to A-class. With the sort of inrush current this might draw when the SCRs trigger, there may also be additional requirements for inductance to limit current draw from the local power distribution transformer.

    One problem with panel-mount surge protection is that it does not provide much protection to devices connected to the same branch circuit as a device that generates power line surges. You either need to keep your noisy devices on a separate branch circuit from your more delicate stuff or use additional local surge protection and filtering.

    The closest thing to panel-mount protection in SurgeX's lineup (at least that I have come across) is the PF-420 which is basically four SA-20 in a box. Most people and venues that buy those would likely use them to feed outlets dedicated to their AV and other precious equipment.
  • royalcrown
    Swing that thing by the cord and you've got your own "Mjolnir" !