Protecting Equipment from Surges


So you have a fancy-pants Home Labâ„¢ with commercial grade switches, Proxmox local “cloud”, 50 Gagillion PB NVMe NAS, and that kickn’ HPE 4U server pillaged from the carcass of your failed startup.

That’s $40K of expensive equipment in a cheap Alibaba rack.

In your basement.


To one hundred year floods.

Dean Winters.

And a $5 garage sale blender going out in a blaze of glory.


Let’s fix that.


I’ll link to some products; none are sponsored or affiliate links. Do your own research.


electrical system

Whole-home surge protectors and electrical ground provide some protection from outside threats - utility issues, lightning strikes, etc. But, only 20% of electrical surges come from external sources! Most surges come from faulty equipment within a facility - driers, space heaters, that garage sale kitchen appliance “fixed” by the previous owner’s nephew in shop class.

Defense-in-depth dictates quality power conditioning and protection at point of use.

uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

You’re home-labbing so I assume you already have a good one and formed opinions on needing a pure sine wave UPS.

If you don’t, expect to pay $500 minimum. As nice as they look, you will pay a premium for anything rack-mountable.

surge suppression

The best surge suppressors have multi-stage protection, non-sacrificial components, and do not use Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs) which degrade over time and must be periodically replaced. The tech is typically rated to 6K volts.

I own products from each of these vendors

Don’t cheap out. Expect to pay $250-$700 for a series mode surge protector.

surgex brochure


The other main conducting point is your Internet modem, likely via coax cable.

Properly installed coax cable is connected to the home’s electrical ground which “should” provide some protection from external surges. However, other surge sources or a faulty ground connection could cause this protection to fail. As coax cable carries signal and little power, surges are unlikely to be internal.

Surge protecting coax is unlikely to matter and I don’t recommend it. If the surge is from a direct lightning strike, no surge protector on earth is going to be effective. Moreover, surge protecting cable/coax can hurt signal.

The solution is to eliminate all conducting connections between your lab and modem stack.

fiber optic barrier at point-of-use

coax -> Modem -> Media Converter -> SFP+ fiber transceiver -> OM4 MMF patch cable -> SFP+ fiber transceiver -> Gateway

the mitigation

Putting it all together…

Network Power Diagram


*dollar estimates as of 2024-02-24, USA


blog adaption of my notes on surge protection.

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