Q. Does a surge protector installed in the service panel eliminate the need for individual surge protectors throughout the house?

A.Rex Cauldwell responds: No. If you’re serious about protecting electrical equipment, you should use both types of devices. I’d recommend installing a secondary lightning arrestor inside the main service panel and providing a transient voltage surge suppression device at the equipment’s point of use.

The suppression system in the service panel will handle the surges that enter via the ungrounded conductors feeding the panel (a lightning hit, for example). The point-of-use suppression device will squash spikes that enter through the utility’s neutral conductor and also take care of smaller spikes that make it past the service panel protection.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the $20 surge strips you see in the hardware store will provide adequate protection. Point-of-use surge suppressors should meet UL standard 1449, and you should expect to pay more than $100 for one that meets this specification.

For in-panel protection, I prefer the Tytewadd Power Filter (Tytewadd, 704 W. Battlefield Rd., Springfield, MO 65807; 417/887-3770). It costs around $150 and installs under the lugs of a 240-volt breaker.

Rex Cauldwell owns Little Mountain Electric Co. in Copper Hill, Va.