HVAC Pro Blog
The #1 Item Missing from High-Efficient HVAC Installations

Imagine this: you go out to your local entertainment big-box store and purchase the top of the line “HUMONGOUS” television. When you get home, you don’t think anything about it and just go ahead plugging it directly into the wall socket, right? What’s that you say, ludicrous? Of course, we would only plug that piece of beautiful technology into a UL rated surge protector!


So, I gave it away in the first paragraph: a UL rated surge protector. But, don’t you want to know why? Or what happens if you don’t? Anyone that knows me has heard me say that I usually ‘learn the hard way – at least once!’ So, when a high quality ductless installation went wrong after months of perfect operation, I had to ask the question, why this one?


You see, poor Mr. Jones’ house lost power during an electrical storm. The fact his cable box and other minor electronics failed should have been a giveaway as to what happened. Everyone knows when these electronic boards are put together in the factory they come with little canisters attached. In these canisters is a specific amount of smoke, and power fluctuations have a way of letting this smoke out. 


Unfortunately (depending on the view here), this high end ductless system was resilient. The unit would turn on, operate for about a minute or two, and then shut down with no error codes or reason. Frustrating, right? So, we call the tech support line from the home and they determine I must replace the main control board – parts and labor (my generosity as part of the install) warrantied.


Two days later, and yes it snows in New England, I return with the part. Install the latest and greatest control board, smearing white heat sink paste all over anything within eyesight, and…no luck! Another call determines a combination of control boards should be replaced together. Thanks for that one OEM Rep! Another few days later, replace the boards, and once again the same symptoms. This time, I have to offer the customer a new condenser.


So I start to think, what could I have done differently to avoid an act of god? Boy, if I had a solution to all of those questions. But then it hit me, a surge protector! In order to pass the electrical inspection, and my anal electrician, said surge protector must be UL listed (this adds to the price). There are many models that attach to either the outdoor disconnect (weather tight casing) or into the main panel (whole-home surge protection). I prefer the models that have an indicator light, telling the homeowner if they are still protected. Either way, this would take the surge and not your new high-efficient HVAC equipment. This is not a code requirement, so often gets overlooked. Besides, your equipment that just cost you at least three times your big screen television is not sexy and tucked away in some basement, or behind the overgrown shrubs. Spend the extra few dollars and protect the investment in your comfort! I think I may start tying my labor warranties to the installation of a surge protector, or just make it part of the installation price. Just like condensate traps on furnaces, or liquid line filter driers in condensers, if this becomes commonplace why would an OEM not just install these at the factory? Imagine how many ECM or condenser control boards they warranty over the years?!




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