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The situation:

I am looking to install a whole-house surge suppressor as part of my electrical upgrade.

I'll be going from a 100a to 200a service, moving the meter location, changing from an overhead drop to a buried line, and installing a meter/main at the new drop point.

I have a new 200a panel that will be installed as a sub-panel from the meter/main, and my existing main (only) panel will have the neutrals & grounds split so it can be a sub-panel off the meter/main, as well.

I have zero space available in the existing panel, but plenty of space in the new (40 space) panel. I don't yet know what the electrician will be supplying as the meter/main and how many spaces will be available in it.

The Question:

Can I install a whole-house surge suppressor in the new sub-panel and expect it to work properly, or does it have to be installed in the meter/main panel?

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  • I do not know, but think closer to the source(meter/main) of surges coming in is better. Might be possible to have another one in the sub panel also but need the experts.
    – crip659
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 17:28
  • I don't either, @crip659. That's why I'm asking... :)
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 17:31

2 Answers 2

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The data sheet for an example GE unit lists it as suitable for subpanel applications. Certainly a subpanel surge protector will provide at least some protection. Since subpanels are listed as an application for surge protectors by several brands, it seems quite unlikely that they are disallowed.

Of course if you have room in the meter/main you would ideally install one there as most surge sources will be outside of the house. Get the surge protector either close to the equipment or close to the surge for the best results.

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It's perfectly fine to put it there. However its protection will be localized.

It will not do as good a job of protecting loads in the main panel from surges from other loads in the main panel or from outside.

However it will protect loads in the main panel from loads in the subpanel, and will protect loads in the subpanel from each other and from loads in the main or outside. If that makes sense.

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  • That it does. Sounds like my best bet is to wait until the electrician tells me what meter/main he's getting, then get the SS for that. Don't seem to get a lot of surges from within the house...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 15:45
  • @FreeMan well there's nothing wrong with more than one surge suppressor. Having them near surge-generating loads never hurts. Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 20:25
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Say I have a main panel and two sub panels. Would it be silly to put a surge protector in all 3? Giant waste of money? Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 13:37
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    @BrianLeishman Depends where your surges are coming from. Most people assume "MY equipment doesn't add spikes and surges to the line!" (it may be your most threatening source actually). Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 21:00

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