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issue: August 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Electronics Report
Built-In Surge Protection


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A patented surge protector from SurgeCord Inc. has surge protection built into the power cord to provide a value-added feature to appliance designs.

The SCM-1 from SurgeCord provides appliance engineers with an a.c. power cord that has built-in surge protection and a removable surge circuit module. Response time is said to be less than 1 nsec, and EMI/RFI noise filtration is 50 dB from 100 KHz to 1 MHz.

Jerry Callaway, CEO of SurgeCord (Robinson, IL, U.S.), says surge protection is especially relevant to today’s electronics products, which use sensitive electronic circuit devices that need to be protected from voltage surges, spikes, transients, continuous and sustained overvoltage, and noise. While many outlet surge protectors on the market today protect against surges and spikes coming from the a.c. power line, Mr. Callaway says most do not protect from surges and spikes that are equipment-generated.

As a result, he designed the company’s flagship SurgeCord™ product, a transient voltage surge suppressor (TVSS) that integrates surge protection into a power cord set that can be attached and replaced by the consumer. The device was designed as a direct replacement for the detachable power cords used in electronic equipment such as printers, copiers, and fax machines.

Recognizing the same need in products that have hard-wired power cords, Mr. Callaway has invented a new in-line surge protector with a replaceable surge circuit module for OEMs looking to offer surge protection as an added feature in their product designs. The latest SurgeCord model, the SCM-1, is designed to protect 120-V a.c. products with 3- to 15-A load requirements, including washing machines, refrigerators, microwave ovens, televisions, vending machines, and medical equipment.

As with most surge protectors, the SurgeCord circuitry uses metal oxide varistors (MOVs) for load limiting, an X2-type capacitor, and torridial coils for noise filtering. However, Mr. Callaway says that because the SurgeCord TVSS is an integral part of the a.c. power cord, it is the only product of its kind. The device is so unique, he says, it required a revision of the UL 1449 standard for compliance, and patent approval took almost 2 years.

The original SurgeCord design uses a 6-ft power cord set that is split in half. The surge protector circuit is soldered to the power cord and contained in a plastic enclosure. “We molded strain reliefs to the power cord so it could be attached to the plastic enclosure,” Mr. Callaway explains. “The SurgeCord has a NEMA plug on one end of power cord and an IEC connector on the other end.”

In the SCM-1 model, the surge protector is still an integral part of the power cord, but it also includes a removable surge circuit module, which contains all of the electronic components and can be replaced by the consumer. This means the consumer no longer has to replace the entire power cord, and it eliminates the need for a service technician. “The appliance engineer can always be sure that his or her product will always be surge protected,” Mr. Callaway notes. “This will increase the reliability of the product and reduce service calls.”

In fact, he says a marketing survey completed by his company revealed that consumers would rather have surge protection built into their products as opposed to buying individual surge protectors. “The survey indicated they are even willing to pay more for the product with surge protection,” he says.

To offer surge protection in other applications, the company is currently developing a SurgeCord model for 220- to 250-V a.c. products.

 

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