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Specs for Interex PCS540TF Surge Protector


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#1 curious24

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 03:36 AM

Hi. I didn't see a category for this, so I hope this is close enough.
I have an Interex System Power Control Surge Protector - PCS 540 TF. I've heard about unplugging electronics or plugging into a power strip and switching that off to save money on standby power. I was going to buy a new power strip, but my husband reminded me that I have the Interex device. I've had it for years and thought of it more as a 'one place to turn off ' rather than a power control/surge protector. In my ignorance, I've had it plugged into a battery back-up surge protector, but that needs to be replaced.
I want to know if this older Interex device is as good as newer power strips, but I can't find any specs for it. (Interex went out of business and I can't find a manual or specs online). I've looked on the unit itself but can't find anything except ''330 volts''. It doesn't say what amount the surge protection is, etc. Is the Interex device good enough or do I need to plug into a new power strip?

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#2 garmanma

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 11:09 AM

I've had it for years


During that time, how many times has it tripped?
More than twice, I'd replace it
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#3 westom

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Posted 31 March 2009 - 02:44 PM

I want to know if this older Interex device is as good as newer power strips, but I can't find any specs for it. (Interex went out of business and I can't find a manual or specs online). I've looked on the unit itself but can't find anything except ''330 volts''. It doesn't say what amount the surge protection is, etc.

Such devices do not even claim protection in specs. That 330 volts is a let-through number required by safety standards. Basically, it says any surge less than 330 volts (on 120 volt power) will be ignored.

However all appliances already contain effective protection. Some appliances are even better than others. A 30 some year old standard required appliances to withstand even 600 volts without damage (other numbers apply). Today, computers must be resilient to thousands of volts.

Your home is now full of transistors. During surges and bad weather, other critical devices also need protection including smoke detectors, furnace, bathroom and kitchen GFCIs, etc. What protects them?

Instead we install one 'whole house' protector so that everything is protected for about $1 per appliance. Also necessary is earthing at the breaker box that both meets and exceeds post 1990 National Electrical Code. Effective protection means a surge does not even enter the building. Effective protection means energy even from direct lightning strikes get dissipated harmlessly in earth. Effective protection means you did not even know a surge existed.

Last sentence refers to that protector tripping. No protector must trip out. Protectors must be so robust as to withstand direct lightning strikes and no even be damaged. But no damage does not promote more sales. Therefore the naive are quick to recommend plug-in protectors that too often rather than provide protection.

Direct strikes? A lightning strike to utilty wires down the street are a direct strike to your household appliances.

Does that Interex stop and absorb what three miles of sky could not? That is what others claim. Notice why you have a shortage of specs that claim protection. Obviously that 2 cm part inside that power strip does not provide that necessary type of protection. Will it absorb lightning - the typically destructive surge?

Take a $3 power strip. Add some $0.10 parts. Sell it for $25 or (ie Monster Cable) $150. Notice its purpose. Not protection. Its purpose is profits.

As noted up top, all appliances contain internal protection. Protection that may be overwhelmed by the rare and typically destructive surge. So we earth one 'whole house' protector so that all electronics are not overwhelmed. Why earth? Because the protector does not provide protection. A protector is simply a connecting device to what provides protection - what absorbs surge energy harmlessly - earth ground. Why does that Interex not have the so essential 'less than 10 foot' connection to earth? Notice its specs do not even claim protection.

Only more responsible companies sell 'whole house' protectors. Names that anyone with electrical knowledge would know - Intermatic, General Electric, Siemens, Leviton, Cutler-Hammer, Square D, Keison, etc. The effective protector is located where is can make that always necessary short (ie 'less than 10 foot') connection to earth.

Meanwhile, the next poster who recommends a plug-in device: ask him for those manufacturer numeric specs that claim protection from each type of surge. Only silence will follow. Get the essential earthing inspected or upgraded. And install one 'whole house' protector. Then never even know that surges existed.

Want to see one? See a Cutler-Hammer 'whole house' protector in Lowes selling for less than $50.

Edited by westom, 31 March 2009 - 02:46 PM.


#4 Sneakycyber

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:24 PM

However all appliances already contain effective protection. Some appliances are even better than others. A 30 some year old standard required appliances to withstand even 600 volts without damage (other numbers apply). Today, computers must be resilient to thousands of volts.

Where are you getting these facts? Thousands of volts to a Computers power supply would FRY it in seconds. While I will admit the computer is no longer the most expensive piece of hardware in a home now that contains delicate circuitry. A new Refrigerator can cost several thousands of dollars. So a whole house protection is a good Idea but it requires Professional installation and its cost is significantly higher than a standard Surge protection system.

Also since I am the next poster which type of surge would you like me to comment on? The 2 most common types of power surges ( or Transient Voltage) are an increase in voltage over the standard 120 volts. Now if the Voltage increase last longer than three nanoseconds its considered a surge, less than that its a spike. Depending on the rating of the Surge suppressor these should be covered. The other type of Transient Voltage is when the power drops below the standard 120 volts more commonly called a brown out. These can be just as dangerous as a Surge and with this type of Transient Voltage you need a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) which depending on the model will condition the power coming out of the unit to provide constant 120 volts regardless of the input voltage.

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#5 westom

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 06:24 PM

Where are you getting these facts? Thousands of volts to a Computers power supply would FRY it in seconds.

Numerous sources. Let's start with Intel ATX specs for power supplies. Or from specs from power supplies that provide those written specs (because that supply actually conforms to ATX standards). Don't take my word for it. Go read those specifications.

Nobody is talking about seconds. Destructive surges are microseconds. Another fact that one knows long before making any recommendations. Specs make that further obvious. Transient protection devices are rated by the classic 8 x 20 microsecond surge. Did your protector manufacturer forget to include such numbers or just not bother to claim surge protection in numeric specs? Don't feel taken. Many others have accepted protection claims without asking for specifications. No numbers is how junk science gets promoted.

Does not matter how expensive any home hardware is. Any surge damage to any household appliance is unacceptable. Especially when a superior solution costs tens or 100 times less money than the numerous above posted plug-in devices.


Voltage is not the measurement of a destructive surge. Current is the dominate value. A protection concept demonstrated by Ben Franklin in 1752. That current will flow no matter what tries to stop it. Voltage increases as necessary to permit current to flow even through a conductive material like wooden church steeples. Franklin's lightning rod simply conducts that same current on a more conductive and therefore not destructive path. Surge protection is about conducting that current in a way that the current does not create a voltage.

One 'whole house' protector, if properly earthed, does same. What does that surge bar or UPS try to do? Stop and absorb a surge. Cannot happen. Effective protection has always been about dissipating surge energy harmlessly - in earth - so that a surge need not even enter the building.


A classic myth exposed when basic electrical principles are learned: a brown out is not destructive to any electronics. A standard even documented in charts that have this phrase in the low voltage (brownout) area: "No Damage Region". Who should I believe? Charts from international standards organizations even in 1970? Or you? (Your post says acceptance testing of my designs destroyed those designs. Really?) Brownouts are not destructive as well documented in numerous standards from ANSI, IEEE, and ITIC among others.

Brownouts are destructive to electric motors. But industry specs require a computer to start and work even when voltage is so low that incandescent lamps are at only 40% intensity. Either a computer starts, or a wire from every power supply called "Power Good" causes a harmless shutdown. That wire with that signal name even existed on the original IBM PC. Why do I even know the name attached to that wire and what that wire does?

The question was how do I know all this. Have I answered it yet? Did a few generations of knowing and doing this stuff get demonstrated?

One effective protector for everything has a Cutler-Hammer name in Lowes selling for less than $50. But a protector is only as effective as its earth ground. Better protection means upgrading a building’s single point earth ground (and not receptacle safety grounds). A concept well proven even 100 years ago. A protedtor is only as effective as its earth ground.

Edited by westom, 01 April 2009 - 06:29 PM.


#6 Sneakycyber

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 07:20 PM

My apologies I stand corrected. But if the brown out doesn't hurt the computer what happens<br />At that time that does? I did not mean to insult you only wanted to know where your information<br />Came from. Since I have heard apparently wrong information<br /> <br /><br />Also we apparently hijacked this thread. Sorry to the original poster.<br /><br />

Edited by Sneakycyber, 01 April 2009 - 07:24 PM.

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#7 Sneakycyber

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 07:29 PM

Sorry for 2 windows I am posting from my BlackBerry. Since you are unable to find the specs for the old unit I won recommend being safe than sorry and purchasing a newer unit.

Chad Mockensturm 

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Certified CompTia Network +, A +


#8 curious24

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:52 AM

I am the original poster. This was the first time in my entire life that I have posted anywhere. You both have given good suggestions. I appreciate your courtesy.

#9 westom

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 08:45 AM

My apologies I stand corrected. But if the brown out doesn't hurt the computer what happens ... wanted to know where your information Came from.

No insult was observed. You needed to know the underlying whys. The OP needs same. An answer without underlying 'reasons why' is a symptom of junk science.

For example, one said a UPS is better than a power bar. Not a single reason why he should be believed. But if we look at the number (manufacturer specs), the UPS has the same protector circuit as the power bar - typically just smaller. Again demonstrates 'why' (especially the numbers) as important to technical answers. The OP is encouraged to keep that concept in mind when judging which answers are based in urban myth and which are based in science. Not just here. But in every technical mystery.

#10 Concerned

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 12:53 AM

For example, one said a UPS is better than a power bar.

Why? "Better" is a relative thing. A UPS is a lot better at preventing your data from being lost during a brown/blackout than any type of surge protector.

Also, can you point out where it states in this ATX spec that power supplies conforming to ATX v2.2 need to withstand thousands of volts? I can't seem to find it. Not to split hairs, but Intel published a separate power supply design guide which covers form factors from ATX to SFX to CFX. But the only input voltage ranges that they list include 90-135 VAC rms for 115 VAC and 180-265 VAC rms at 230 VAC, with the single caveat that it should start under peak load at 90 VAC. The only other requirement for under voltage is that the power supply should contain protection circuitry to prevent a low input voltage from causing damage. There are no other maximum voltage requirements listed beyond that of the normal operating range. In fact the only other AC input requirements revolve around current - over current protection in the way of fuses, and inrush current protection that is "limited to a level below the surge rating of the input line cord, AC switch if present, bridge rectifier, fuse, and EMI filter components." And if you look at the datasheet for most any ATX-compliant power supply, the only thing they will state regarding maximum voltage is "full range", which comprises that 90-265 VAC range from Intel's recommendations.

I'm not sure where you pulling some of these numbers from, but if you're going to offer specs like this in the future they really should match their supposed sources.

#11 westom

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 02:55 PM

Why? "Better" is a relative thing. A UPS is a lot better at preventing your data from being lost during a brown/blackout than any type of surge protector.

First read what the OP asked. Context here is hardware protection - not time to save data. One mistakenly claimed a UPS is better than a surge bar at hardware protection. Manufacturer specs say otherwise. And brownouts do not cause hardware damage - only data loss.


ATX specs defined a power supply must withstand 2.0 kV; both common mode and normal mode transients. Those ATX specs also defined IEC 801 and IEC 1000-4 that further defined surges without damage.

Standards before the IBM PC existed required 120 volt computers to withstand 600 volts without damage. Over the decades, that routine internal protection has improved. International standards even require interface semiconductors to withstand 2000 or 15,000 volt transients without damage. ATX power supplies must withstand a thousand volts without damage. If a surge is properly earthed before it enters a building, then protection routinely found in all appliances is not overwhelmed.




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