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Whole House Electrical Surge Protection – Panamax Surge Protector

Bob Jackson
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by Bob Jackson

This article is continued from Whole House Electrical Surge Protection – Part 1.

Whole house surge protectors can be a first line of defense for stopping power surges before they enter the house. However, many don’t guarantee protection for sensitive electronics (TV, computer, etc.) nor can they stop surges entering the house over alternate pathways through the cable TV or phone wires. Therefore, point-of-use surge protectors are needed to protect the home electronics and the Panamax surge protectors are a good choice here.

Panamax Surge Protection Products

After studying the Panamax product line specifications and a bit of comparison shopping, I bought a couple of the Panamax surge protectors from Amazon. (Editor’s Note: since this is an older article, the current recommendation is for this surge protector that is much more robust and well worth the additional cost to protect your sensitive electronics)

Panamax M8-AV Surge Protector
Panamax M8-AV Surge Protector

I chose the Panamax M8-AV because it:

  • UL 1449 3rd Edition rated – meaning it passed the 3,000 Amp surge testing.
  • Provides surge protection for power, cable/satellite TV and telephone lines.
  • Has an automatic over- and under voltage shutoff feature to disconnect the power. This is excellent! Remember, over voltage conditions are different than surges/spikes.
  • Has status indicator lights for Power On/Protection OK, Ground OK and Unsafe Voltage.
  • Has a less than 1 nanosecond response time to stop the surge before it damages your equipment.
  • The eight power outlets have “transformer spacing” – meaning the outlets are spaced extra far apart so those “wall warts” don’t cover up adjacent outlets.
  • $5,000 connected equipment lifetime warranty.
  • Nice price – about $70 from online retailers.

The Panamax has a lot of other nice features, such as power line conditioning, but the above features were the most important to me.

The Panamax M8-AV is a Type 3 Surge Protective Device (SPD) as represented by the yellow rectangle in this surge protection wiring diagram. Notice the power, TV and phone lines are connected to the M8-AV.

House Surge Protection Diagram: Panamax M8-AV Surge Protector
House Surge Protection Diagram: Panamax M8-AV Surge Protector

Panamax DSL Service Compatibility

The Panamax M8-AV product specifications didn’t specifically mention DSL compatibility for the phone line protection. To confirm the surge protector wouldn’t interfere with my DSL modem service, I connected the my SpeedStream 4200 ADSL modem power and phone lines to the Panamax unit and ran a dozen Internet speed tests.

Panamax M8-AV Surge Protector and DSL Modem Speed Test
Panamax M8-AV Surge Protector and DSL Modem Speed Test

DSL Internet service worked great through the Panamax M8-AV unit! My Internet speed tests were the same with- and without Panamax phone line protection. I also didn’t notice any difference in response times while surfing around the Internet.

Update: I’ve since switched to Comcast cable modem service and have the coax cable routed through the Panamax M8-AV coax ports with great results, getting the maximum advertised download and upload bandwidth.

Panamax Home Theater Installation

The Panamax M8-AV will be an upgrade for the power-only surge suppressor in my home theater cabinet.

Panamax M8-AV Home Theater Installation
Panamax M8-AV Home Theater Installation

The Panamax outlet “transformer spacing” is a nice feature. Too many home electronic devices have those bulky transformers (aka “wall warts”) that cover up or crowd out adjacent outlets. The transformer spacing means you’ll always be able to use all 8 outlets.

Panamax Surge Suppressor - Outlet
Panamax Surge Suppressor – Outlet “Transformer Spacing”

I plugged in all the power cords for the HDTV, home theater receiver, Roku player, TiVo DVR, DVD player and subwoofer into the Panamax unit, followed by the phone line for the TiVo DVR and coax cables for DirecTV.

Panamax M8-AV Surge Suppressor Home Theater Connections
Panamax M8-AV Surge Suppressor Home Theater Connections

The “Power On/Protection OK” and “Ground OK” LED are both green. Life is good.

Home Network UPS Battery Backup

My DSL modem, WiFi router, ethernet switch and computer are connected an APC SmartUPS 750 Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that provides several hours of battery backup for my home network during power outages.

Why bother with battery backup for your home network? Here’s why: My neighborhood lost power for several hours recently. The family continued to surf the internet and watch NetFlix on the laptop PC and Apple iPad because the DSL/cable modem and WiFi router were on battery backup! Yes! We were online!

The APC SmartUPS 750 is a robust 600 watt unit that keep a desktop computer running for about 40 minutes – which is nice so I don’t lose my work during a thunderstorm. However, if I turn off the power hungry desktop computer and power only my DSL modem and WiFi router, the APC 750 will keep my Internet connection alive for at least 4 hours!

Thanks for reading,
Bob Jackson

home network ups battery backuphome surge protection diagramPanamax M8-AV protects DSL and cable modemsPanamax M8-AV reviewSurge protective device (SPD)
Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson
Technology product manager by day and a prolific handyman in the evenings and over the weekends. Bob was the founder of the original Handyman How To website and that tradition continues on this site with excellent new handyman content into the future.
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