Can a home surge protector be installed loose in the bottom of an electric panel box?
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
A surge protector is electrical distribution equipment, so it is allowed to be installed inside a panel. Occasionally we see them sitting loose in the bottom of a panel or leaning against the inside of the box; but manufacturers design them for installation outside the box on the side (through a knockout) or front (through a twist-out).
The primary reason is that they have small status lights that indicate that they have not been damaged by an electrical surge—or simply stopped working—and are still functional. Any sense of security gained by having surge protection for the appliances and circuits in your home would be terribly wrong if the device was not working, and you didn’t know it, when the next surge hits.
There are other options, such as a surge protector designed to install directly to the bus bar with the circuit breakers, which is manufactured by Square D and shown below. Larger surge protection devices can also be mounted next to the panel box. But just laying them loose in the bottom of the panel is not recommended by manufacturers.
Also, see our blog posts What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector? and Why is an undersized wire between a circuit breaker and a whole-house surge protector device acceptable?
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