Buying surge protector for pinball machines?

Started 2 years ago by pinmister in forum Tech > Tech: Generic.


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Buying surge protector for pinball machines?

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By pinmister

2 years ago

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  • Started 2 years ago
  • 40 posts
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  • Latest reply 1 year ago by robotronjohn

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2 years ago

I am curious what kind of surge protector should I be getting for my machines? I have been going to Wal-Mart and buying $12.00-GE brand 6 outlet- 1500 Joules? Other places have same price but only 600 Joules? How many Joules do I need for 2-3 pinball machines-per surge protector?


2 years ago
pinmister said:

I am curious what kind of surge protector should I be getting for my machines? I have been going to Wal-Mart and buying $12.00-GE brand 6 outlet- 1500 Joules? Other places have same price but only 600 Joules? How many Joules do I need for 2-3 pinball machines-per surge protector?

No strip-style suppressor will protect against lightning. I think you might need a whole-house type suppressor, or you just have to be good about unplugging your electronics during a lightning storm.

The strip-style suppressors (as well as the personal UPS devices) will do okay to protect against normal power surges as a result of, say, a blackout/brownout or if your main trips.

With server room power failures, if your main trips, best practice is to shut off all your breakers on the panel, turn the main back on, then bring on each breaker one at a time. It's probably not a concern for a private residence except maybe if you're having a pin party with 20 games and suddenly power goes out. Kill all your circuits before you flip your mains back on, or all 20 games firing up at once could cause a surge and stress or fry some electronics.


2 years ago

Because I have a lot of home automation (HA) stuff hooked up and running I stay away from surge strips and go with a whole house unit.

http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-Breakers-Distribution-Load-Centers-Whole-House-Surge-Protectors/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbm05/R-203540660/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051#.USeKl6Xvh8E

Something like this.

Individual surge strips work by placing a MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) between your hot and ground. These don't know the difference between a mini spike or a HA command being passed over the powerline. So if you have any HA going on you want to steer clear of this little vampires and go the house route. Otherwise, go with quality strips and not those 3 for $10 Wal-Mart specials. When you pay $10 for 3 strips, you get 3 crappy cheap strips.


2 years ago

as someone who is more into "home theater" than pinball...

whole house is the ONLY way to go, and it's cheap... it will keep "normal" spikes from getting in in the first place... against a direct lightning hit, nothing will work... keep your homeowner's insurance up to date...

point of use surge protectors border on worthless... also, do you plan on putting "protectors" on all your appliances in your house (dishwasher, washer/dryer, oven, etc.)...

frankly, the scare tactics of many years ago have made people spend money on surge protectors that they do not need...


2 years ago

Your pinball machine already has a surge suppressor installed, there is a Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) inside the metal switch box. This is the exact same thing that will be inside any plug strip you buy. MOVs wear out over time due to spikes. If you want good protection for your games when they are on, replace the MOVs. You can order them from Big Daddy or GPE, get the 130v MOV.

As others have said, there really isn't any fail safe protection from lighting other than unplugging the games.


2 years ago

Newbie question but is it a good idea to hook up a B/W to a surge protector? I know it's a "no no" to use an extension cord or have them on an outlet with another appliance also on it...


2 years ago

what is a "b/w"?

as far as extension cords go, as long as they are appropriately sized for the application, it's not relevant to the device... a device has no way of knowing that it's plugged into an extension cord vs. being plugged into a socket connected to romex... basic electicity there... note that is NOT an endorsement for permanent use of extension cords... extension cords are temporary devices, and outlets are easy enough to install...

what pinball would require a dedicated circuit? curious about that... that implies a huge draw...


2 years ago

B/W is Bally Williams. I'm by no means an expert on things electrical but I can tell you it's not a good idea hooking up those pins to an extension cord, hello resets...


2 years ago
MinusWorlds said:

I'm by no means an expert on things electrical but I can tell you it's not a good idea hooking up those pins to an extension cord, hello resets...

You can hook a bunch of machines up to a strip plugged into an extension cord no problem.


2 years ago
TheLaw said:

You can hook a bunch of machines up to a strip plugged into an extension cord no problem.

Unless that extension cord also happens to be a string of christmas lights.


2 years ago

Unless that extension cord also happens to be a string of christmas lights.

citty.jpg


2 years ago

double


2 years ago
MinusWorlds said:

B/W is Bally Williams. I'm by no means an expert on things electrical but I can tell you it's not a good idea hooking up those pins to an extension cord, hello resets...

thanks for explaining the acronym...

i can tell you that if the cord is appropriately sized (and not an excessive run), the machine has no way of knowing there is an extension cord there (even the resets don't tell you that the machine "knows" the cord is there, it's just "seeing" a power drop that is causing an issue)... an inappropriately sized cord will cause issues, no doubt... many household extension cords are 18 gauge, and that would be a big ask for any type of run... 15 amp circuits in a residential unit are wired with 14 gauge wire... and if they are done according to code, "drops" aren't an issue... if they aren't according to code, and the run is excessive, then you will see a drop (and get resets/issues) regardless of whether there is an extension cord there or not...

similarly, other things on the same circuit can cause issues if they also are high draw units... for example, try firing up a compressor on a circuit that is running something like a vacuum cleaner as well...

but again, none of this is unique to a pinball machine... it's all electricity 101... the device has zero way of telling what wire it's hooked up to... wire is a passive device...

christmas tree lights aren't extension cords, and electricity 101 (again) tells us why you can only hook up so many on one circuit/connected together before you have issues...


2 years ago

you could have them on a surge protector strip, that would make it easier to unplug during a storm just unplug one plug and all are done.


2 years ago
ccotenj said:

thanks for explaining the acronym...
i can tell you that if the cord is appropriately sized (and not an excessive run), the machine has no way of knowing there is an extension cord there (even the resets don't tell you that the machine "knows" the cord is there, it's just "seeing" a power drop that is causing an issue)... an inappropriately sized cord will cause issues, no doubt... many household extension cords are 18 gauge, and that would be a big ask for any type of run... 15 amp circuits in a residential unit are wired with 14 gauge wire... and if they are done according to code, "drops" aren't an issue... if they aren't according to code, and the run is excessive, then you will see a drop (and get resets/issues) regardless of whether there is an extension cord there or not...
similarly, other things on the same circuit can cause issues if they also are high draw units... for example, try firing up a compressor on a circuit that is running something like a vacuum cleaner as well...
but again, none of this is unique to a pinball machine... it's all electricity 101... the device has zero way of telling what wire it's hooked up to... wire is a passive device...
christmas tree lights aren't extension cords, and electricity 101 (again) tells us why you can only hook up so many on one circuit/connected together before you have issues...

Thanks I appreciate the knowledge drop!


2 years ago

I use these instead.

97e0cc44-1b83-43ba-a413-725559441d42_3.jpg

It also makes it harder for you to put more than 3 on and outlet. Whereas I've seem folks put 6 machines on a powerstrip.


2 years ago

I never realized those whole home surge protectors were so cheap. For some reason I was thinking they were $1000+. Pretty sure I'm going to pick one up, they look really easy to install.


2 years ago

I have lost two Dell desktop computer motherboards and a pool chlorine salt generator board- due to lightning storms now. Colorado gets some intense storms-I will look into full home system-Thanks


2 years ago

You guys are all scaring me.

Would turning off the switch on the surge protector when games are not in use offer any protection? Or does the machine need to be completely unplugged?


2 years ago

^^^

completely unplugged... lighting won't care whether the strip is on or off... there's about a gajillion joules of energy in a lightning strike... it won't even bother to giggle at the point of use strip, it'll pass right through that...

as noted, nothing will really work against lightning, short of unplugging the device... at least in a residential environment... it would be extremely cost prohibitive to truly "lightning proof" a residence...


Slate

Pinball addict
4y
810,750
2 years ago

Unplugging does nothing for appliances with a direct cut off switch.

All pinball machines are direct cut off so when its off its unplugged. The neutral white does not open circut when off but thats connected to ground so it would never enter the house.
And electricity will not flow down a wire with no end connection.


2 years ago
sturner said:

You guys are all scaring me.
Would turning off the switch on the surge protector when games are not in use offer any protection? Or does the machine need to be completely unplugged?

don't be too scared though... i have enough money tied up in my theater to buy several a-list titles and still have some left over... i have full house protection at the box... and i sleep well at night...

you are probably more likely to get run over crossing the street than you are to lose your pins to a lightning strike...

and as far as whole house goes... many electrical companies will install one for you at point of entry, all you have to do is call and ask... if not, it's less than an hour labor for an electrician to install if you aren't comfortable working at the breaker box...


2 years ago
Slate said:

Unplugging does nothing for appliances with a direct cut off switch.
All pinball machines are direct cut off so when its off its unplugged. The neutral white does not open circut when off but thats connected to ground so it would never enter the house.
And electricity will not flow down a wire with no end connection.

try that with a lightning strike and then come back and tell us how it works out...


Slate

Pinball addict
4y
810,750
2 years ago
ccotenj said:

try that with a lightning strike and then come back and tell us how it works out...

I all you had in the house were pinball machines then maybe some weird thing could happen.

But in todays household there are a ton of active devices that will be sacraficial to the lightning gods way before it gets to the pinball machines.

But when in doubt. Surge Protect.


2 years ago

I grew up in Washington State. We had some hellacious storms there. And when those tall tall evergreens fall, they take powerlines with them. We were without power once for nearly two weeks because of multiple tree falls along the lines. During that time, we had also had a lightning strike hit our chain link fence at the far end of the property. Blew out every appliance in the house, the hotwire box for the horse pasture, the warming thingies they had on their automatic waterers....

We figured it hit the fence, travelled to the hotwire fence controller, from there down to the main circuit breaker and out to the rest of the house. Thank goodness for heavy rains, there was no fire.

I've also been in a vehicle durning a severe thunderstorm....strikes all around us, we finally stopped and shut off the truck. Not 5 minutes later, the brightest bright and the loudest loud I've ever experienced as the truck was hit. There's always one person that doesn't understand.....'don't touch the doors!, she said".

Take whatever precautions you feel will help, when you are buying a surge protector for a television, it only has to be higher rated than the output of the TV, I would assume it's the same with anything else. Just be aware that there are surges - like when you run a vacuum and a hair dryer and any one other thing and trip a circuit, and there are SURGES, like the 10,000 to 200,000 of a lightning bolt.


2 years ago

Last spring, lightning hit my best friends house in the middle of the night. Various things were fried, including ALL of his pins. Of course, none were powered on at the time. All were on "surge protectors". I always unplug when a thunderstorm is eminent.


Slate

Pinball addict
4y
810,750
2 years ago
PinCrush said:

Last spring, lightning hit my best friends house in the middle of the night. Various things were fried, including ALL of his pins. Of course, none were powered on at the time. All were on "surge protectors". I always unplug when a thunderstorm is eminent.

Wow that crazy. So no surge protectors protected any of his pins? What happend to the pins?


2 years ago

What does fried mean? Are we talking some minor replacement parts or basically everything in the machine being shot? That would be horrible.

Having some electrical work done shortly and I think I'll have them install one of the home surge protectors. While I guess I can get in the habit of unplugging before a storm, I might as well step up the prevention as much as I can.


2 years ago
Slate said:

Wow that crazy. So no surge protectors protected any of his pins? What happend to the pins?

I don't recall everything, but STTNG lost an opto board and ball trough board. SlugFest wouldn't boot at all. Don't remember the others.

He filed a claim on his insurance and sent them all off for repair. A local guy sent a box truck to pick them up and return them when fixed. Cost to repair was $500 per pin. Suspiciously round number, so who knows exactly what it took to repair. I suspect much less than $500 per.


2 years ago
Slate said:

All pinball machines are direct cut off so when its off its unplugged. The neutral white does not open circut when off but thats connected to ground so it would never enter the house.

Most machines have DPST switches that also cut the neutral when off. Ground is always connected. However, you are missing the point, a direct lightning strike or one very near by will jump over the contacts of a switch. It can jump over a tripped breaker. If the game is unplugged, there is no chance of this happening. Best to unplug.

Slate said:

But in todays household there are a ton of active devices that will be sacraficial to the lightning gods way before it gets to the pinball machines.

Lightning doesn't obey any "Easy sacrificial appliance rules". It is strange how it acts and what it destroys, and it is indiscriminate. Best to unplug during a storm.

Slate said:

So no surge protectors protected any of his pins?

A surge protector is worthless in a nearby lightning strike. It will protect you from a strike further down the grid, but if the pole outside your house is hit, all bets are off. Again, unplug.

Should I say unplug any more?


2 years ago
Sharon said:

Take whatever precautions you feel will help, when you are buying a surge protector for a television, it only has to be higher rated than the output of the TV, I would assume it's the same with anything else.

????? nope, it has nothing to do with the "output" (whatever that might be?) of a device...


2 years ago
stangbat said:

Most machines have DPST switches that also cut the neutral when off. Ground is always connected. However, you are missing the point, a direct lightning strike or one very near by will jump over the contacts of a switch. It can jump over a tripped breaker. If the game is unplugged, there is no chance of this happening. Best to unplug.

Lightning doesn't obey any "Easy sacrificial appliance rules". It is strange how it acts and what it destroys, and it is indiscriminate. Best to unplug during a storm.

A surge protector is worthless in a nearby lightning strike. It will protect you from a strike further down the grid, but if the pole outside your house is hit, all bets are off. Again, unplug.
Should I say unplug any more?

yup yup and yup... lightning won't care one bit about that switch, and it will follow multiple paths to ground... it would be nice if it followed some type of rules and took out a 100 dollar microwave instead of a $10k projector or pin...

there's really on two options when it comes to lightning... unplug or don't worry... that's about it...


2 years ago

Wow! I learned something today! Cool, thanks guys!


2 years ago
sturner said:

What does fried mean? Are we talking some minor replacement parts or basically everything in the machine being shot? That would be horrible.
Having some electrical work done shortly and I think I'll have them install one of the home surge protectors. While I guess I can get in the habit of unplugging before a storm, I might as well step up the prevention as much as I can.

for anything electronice, it can vary, and there's a lot of variables involved... but generally speaking, it's not usually a cheap repair...

as noted earlier... there are many "not inexpensive" devices in your house that are subject to the same risk as your pins... which is why i have a whole house for anything "reasonable" and i don't worry about anything more than that... at least where i live, we have t-storms on a very regular basis in late summer... i never unplug anything... that is what homeowners insurance is for...

important note on homeowners insurance... don't just keeps receipts/pictures of your items... talk to your agent and ensure that you don't need a special rider for items of high value (and no, i'm not an insurance agent )...


2 years ago
ccotenj said:

^^^
completely unplugged... lighting won't care whether the strip is on or off... there's about a gajillion joules of energy in a lightning strike... it won't even bother to giggle at the point of use strip, it'll pass right through that...
as noted, nothing will really work against lightning, short of unplugging the device... at least in a residential environment... it would be extremely cost prohibitive to truly "lightning proof" a residence...

Exactly ^^^ +1
From flat head screws to lightning bolts.

Nothing will stop lightning,but unplugging devices is the only way to stop the damage of your electronic equipment.

Watch the weather reports and if you feel that lightning may come near your home then start unplugging. Better safe than sorry.

All suppressors rely on a known grounding system starting with grounding rods,a soil resistance sample which in turn should provide a low resistance minimum of two ground rods with as many as eight rods.

For power line issues a whole house suppressor along with point of use units are fine but for lightning no thanks.

A myth >>> http://stormhighway.com/surge_protectors_ups_lightning_protection_myth.shtml


2 years ago

What I hate aboot electricity is, no matter how much I've learned or how much schoolery I went through, it's just so damn complicated to me!


2 years ago

If you're serious about power line quality, you really need a power conditioner rather than just a suppressor. They start at about $500. These are particularly helpful if you have devices for which signal quality matters.

http://www.emersonindustrial.com/en-US/egselectricalgroup/products/control-power-solutions/power-protection-conditioning/power-conditioning/cvs-hardwired/Pages/default.aspx

This three minute video outlines some of the applications for various electrical quality management devices.

http://www.emersonindustrial.com/ImagesEGSElectricalGroup/multimedia/shd_mulitmedia/factory_narrated_v1.swf


2 years ago
Pin-it said:

Exactly ^^^ +1
From flat head screws to lightning bolts.

i have a diverse set of interests...


1 year ago

I've gone this route:

amazon.com link »

Volatage Regulator (in addition to whole home surge protector). The VR maintains a steady 110v throughout spike or brown outs. Your internal MOV's will love you for it, and last longer. In my little town you have to have one of these.


1 year ago

what the copiers use...they are super sensitive to power issues...

http://realpowerprotection.com/

I have about a dozen of these

http://espei.com/products/esp-digital-qc/



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