How Much Does a Whole-House Surge Protector Cost to Install?
Whole-house surge protectors prevent damage to the appliances and electronics in a home caused by power surges. Installation cost can range from $70 to $700, or $300 on average.
- The typical cost to install a whole-house surge protector ranges from $70 to $700, with the national average cost at $300.
- The exact cost homeowners pay to install a whole-house surge protector depends on the type and brand of surge protector chosen and the cost to hire an electrician.
- A whole-house surge protector can help defend a home’s electrical system, appliances, and other devices against electrical surges; it can also help prevent electrical fires.
- Due to the dangerous nature of working with electricity, homeowners are advised to hire a professional to install a whole-house surge protector.
A whole-house surge protector prevents damage to the electrical wiring in a home as well as appliances, TVs, and other electronics caused by internal and external surges in electrical power. These surges may happen due to a lightning storm, electrical utility work, or faulty wiring, among other reasons. While not every homeowner will experience an electrical surge in their lifetime, those who do will wish they had whole-home surge protectors to keep their appliances and electronic devices from malfunctioning.
How much is a whole-house surge protector? According to HomeAdvisor and Angi, the typical cost range is between $70 and $700 with the national average cost of a whole-house surge protector at $300. There are many factors that affect the cost, including the type of surge protector installed, the brand, and any additional electrical work. Detailed breakdowns of these cost factors, the benefits of installing one of the best surge protectors, and tips to hire the right professional for whole-house surge protector installation are all explained in this cost guide.
Factors in Calculating Whole-House Surge Protector Cost
Whole-house surge protector costs depend on the type, brand, and labor required to install them. Each of these factors is described below to help homeowners choose the best whole-house surge protector for their home.
Surge Protector Type
There are three different types of surge protectors. Each one offers power surge protection but at varying levels of protection and for a varying number of devices. The different types of surge protectors include the following:
- Type 1 – External Sources: This electrical surge protector is installed at the base of the electrical service meter before the main circuit breaker box, and all power that enters the home flows through it. Type 1 has the highest surge protection, must be installed by a professional electrician, and typically is the most expensive.
- Type 2 – Internal Surges: This type is the most popular, installed either on a single circuit as a breaker surge protector or on the entire electrical breaker box as a panel surge protector. Type 2 protects against internal surges, both large and small, and is best installed by a professional electrician. The price will vary depending on how many circuits are protected. The price to protect the entire panel will be comparable to the price of a Type 1 surge protector.
- Type 3 – Device-Specific Surges: This surge protector is usually a wall outlet or a power strip and is typically used to plug multiple devices into one outlet. It provides some level of protection against surges but should be used in conjunction with a Type 1 or Type 2 device for the best whole-house surge protection. The limited protection of the Type 3 will come at the lowest price of all types.
Surge Protector Brand
The cost of power surge protection devices varies depending on the brand or manufacturer. This is ultimately due to the fact that the quality will vary from brand to brand. Popular surge protector brands include Eaton, Siemens, Leviton, Square D, and Intermatic. Since a large portion of the cost for a whole-house surge protector is labor, homeowners will not want to skimp on the quality of the surge protector itself. Homeowners are advised to read reviews, request recommendations from electricians, and choose a long-lasting, trusted surge protector brand.
Labor will likely make up more than half of the cost of a whole-house surge protector. The installation requires a qualified electrician, who will typically charge $50 to $100 per hour in addition to material costs and travel fees. While the process is relatively simple for a trained professional, it does require working with the incoming power to a home, which can be more dangerous. Additionally, other electrical work could be required to update the electrical box or circuits in order to install the surge protectors, further increasing the labor costs.
Additional Costs and Considerations
In addition to the cost factors explained above, there are a few more that may apply in certain situations. Homeowners can keep reading to determine if an electrical panel upgrade, wiring replacement, or additional outlet installation may increase the cost of their whole-house surge protector installation.
Electrical Panel Upgrade
Installing a new surge protector in an outdated, faulty electrical panel doesn’t make a lot of sense. Before wiring up a whole-house surge protector, an electrician may recommend that the homeowner update the home’s antiquated electrical panel. Electrical panels typically last 25 to 40 years, so any panel older than this range will likely need to be replaced. The cost to replace an electrical panel is between $526 and $2,010. Additionally, residential electrical panels typically have 100 to 200 amp service. If 100 is not enough for all of the devices in the home, upgrading the amperage could be another reason for a homeowner to swap out their old panel. A 100-amp panel will cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500, while a 200-amp panel will cost from $750 to $2,000.
|Electrical Panel Amperage||Cost Range|
|100 amps||$500 to $1,500|
|150 amps||$500 to $1,750|
|200 amps||$750 to $2,000|
|400 amps||$1,500 to $4,000|
If the home’s electrical wiring is old and outdated, it will likely need to be upgraded before a homeowner has a new whole-home surge protector installed. New electrical wiring can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,300 depending on the extent of the project. Homeowners can have their electrician evaluate their home’s current wiring and determine whether an upgrade is necessary. If the home has knob-and-tube wiring, an upgrade is absolutely necessary for safety reasons alone.
Additional Outlet Installation
Installing a new surge protector may require adding a new outlet. An additional outlet installation typically costs around $200. The actual cost will depend on where the nearest power source is located and whether the outlet is a standard one, a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), or a higher-voltage outlet. If the home requires any outlet or switch modifications unrelated to the new surge protector project, it is always a good idea for homeowners to group their electrical projects together to save money and have all the work completed at once.
Types of Whole-House Surge Protectors
There are three different types of whole-house surge protectors. Details about each type, from where they are installed to what they protect against, are explained below.
Type 1: External Sources
Type 1 surge protectors help prevent damage against surges from external sources, like lightning strikes, power outages or blackouts, and faulty wiring. This type of surge protector is installed at the base of the electrical service meter before the main circuit breaker box. All power that enters the home flows through the surge protector. Type 1 has the highest surge protection of any type and should be installed by a professional electrician.
Type 2: Internal Surges
Type 2 surge protectors are the most common type and are built to protect against internal surges. This type of surge protector can be installed on a single circuit in the breaker box or on the whole electrical panel itself. Depending on the model, it will protect against large surges and smaller ones. Since there are electrical panel modifications required to install a Type 2 surge protector, a professional electrician should complete the work.
Type 3: Device-Specific Surges
Type 3 surge protectors are either wall outlets or power-strip surge protectors. Both kinds are very common, since they allow the user to plug multiple devices into one plug. A power-strip surge protector will protect against most excess power surges, but they are not impenetrable. Ideally, these types of surge protectors are used as a second line of defense with a Type 1 or Type 2 surge protector also installed in the home.
Benefits of a Whole-House Surge Protector
A whole-house surge protector prevents power surges from entering a home. It will protect appliances and devices and the home’s electrical system, and it will even potentially prevent an electrical fire. These benefits are further explained below.
Appliance and Electrical Device Protection
A surge protector’s number one job is to protect the appliances and electrical devices in a home from electrical surges. Without one, devices subjected to an electrical surge can become damaged. They will either immediately stop working, or their lifespan will be shortened by the surge. Appliances and electrical devices are often expensive and vital to the function of a home; without functioning appliances, the home might have no air conditioning in the summer, no heat in the winter, or no refrigerator in which to store food. This small investment in a whole-house surge protector is well worth it, so a homeowner is less likely to have to replace any appliances or electrical devices due to a power surge.
Electrical System Protection
A whole-house surge protector will also protect the electrical system itself. Preventing an electrical surge from traveling through a house safeguards electrical wiring, outlets, and circuit breakers. If a home experiences an electrical surge without a surge protector in place, the entire electrical system could need to be replaced, resulting in thousands of dollars in cost.
Electrical Fire Prevention
Electrical power surges can cause overheating, sparks, or even fires when they reach faulty wiring, outdated outlets, or damaged circuits. A surge protector will prevent the surge from reaching any of these potential problem areas and reduce the risk of an electrical fire in the home.
Whole-House Surge Protector Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
The only type of surge protectors homeowners can safely install themselves are Type 3. These are outlets or power strips that simply plug into an electrical outlet. Type 1 and Type 2 whole-house surge protectors require modifications to electrical wiring that should be done only by a qualified electrician. If the surge protector is not installed correctly, not only will it not work, it could also cause electrical safety concerns in the home from faulty wiring or overheating.
A trained electrical professional will know how to properly work with electrical power to install the whole-house surge protector. Since all incoming power to a house will likely travel through the new surge protector, it is important to install it per the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, most electricians will offer a warranty on their work, so if an issue does arise, the electrician will come back and make the necessary corrections without the homeowner needing to shell out additional repair costs. To start the process of finding a qualified professional to install a whole-house surge protector, homeowners can search “electrician near me” and also ask friends and family for recommendations.
How to Save Money on Whole-House Surge Protector Cost
While installing a whole-house surge protector is not the most expensive of projects, you still may be looking for a way to save some money. Follow these tips to keep more of your money in your pocket while still protecting your home.
- Get pricing from multiple electricians. By obtaining more pricing quotes for your whole-home surge protector installation project, you can compare the cost of services and choose the option that best fits your budget.
- Group together all of your electrical work at the same time. It is always cheaper to hire an electrician to complete all of your electrical work at one time than to have an electrician come on multiple occasions. While your budget might take a hit initially, you will save money over time.
- Request a whole-house surge protector when buying your home. If you are buying a new home in a buyer’s market, you may be able to negotiate with the sellers of the house and have them install a whole-house surge protector as part of the sale.
Questions to Ask About Whole-House Surge Protector Installation
While most electricians are qualified to install a whole-house surge protector, homeowners can weed out those unsuitable for the task by asking each company the following questions.
- Do you offer free estimates?
- Will you provide a written quote and contract?
- Are you licensed and insured to complete this type of work?
- How long have you been in business?
- What kind of training do you offer for your employees?
- Will the work be completed by an employee of your business or by a subcontractor?
- Can you provide references from similar projects?
- What type of whole-house surge protectors do you recommend?
- What brand of whole-house surge protectors do you recommend?
- Do you offer a warranty on your work?
- How soon can you schedule the work?
- How can I get in touch with you while the project is in progress?
- How do you handle disputes or disagreements?
Installing a whole-house surge protector can be confusing to a homeowner who isn’t sure where to start. The answers to the following frequently asked questions can help homeowners feel more confident before they start their surge protector project.
Q. Why should I install a surge protector?
A surge protector helps prevent damage to the electrical devices and appliances in a home as well as the overall electrical system during a power surge. Surges can “fry” unprotected devices, causing them to stop working immediately or sooner than expected. Installing a surge protector protects a home from power surges caused by lightning, faulty wiring, and even internal appliances.
Q. Will a whole-house surge protector really work?
Yes, a properly installed whole-house surge protector will work by protecting the electrical devices and systems in a home from power surges. A power surge caused by lightning storms, power grid malfunctions, faulty wiring, and so on can damage appliances, electrical devices, and electrical panels. The surge protector stops a power surge from traveling through the home and negatively affecting these devices.
Q. Can I install a whole-house surge protector myself?
A whole-house surge protector should be installed only by a qualified electrician. These surge protectors are installed on the electrical panel and therefore affect all of the incoming power to the house. If the surge protector is installed incorrectly, there could be a ripple effect of issues with the electricity throughout the home. Additionally, electricity is dangerous and can cause shocks or even electrical fires, so only trained professionals should work with it.
Q. Are whole-house surge protectors effective?
Whole-house surge protectors are effective at stopping power surges from negatively affecting a home. Power-strip surge protectors are not as effective, since they protect only those devices that are directly plugged into them, but all the power coming into a house will travel through a whole-house surge protector, preventing damage to all of the appliances and electronic devices throughout. Whole-house surge protectors prevent power surges from lightning, appliance draws, and faulty wiring, all of which can fry a home’s devices.
Q. How long does a whole-house surge protector last?
A whole-house surge protector will last 2 to 3 years. These surge protectors are always working, and even if the home does not experience any large power surges, they will stop small surges from entering. Small surges will wear out the surge protector over time, so it is important for homeowners to have them replaced every few years.
Q. Where is a whole-house surge protector installed?
A whole-house surge protector is typically installed on an electrical panel breaker box. It can be installed inside or outside the box, depending on the exact model’s specifications. Since a whole-house surge protector protects the entire electrical system in a home, it must be located where all of that power is sourced at the panel.
Q. How much electricity can a surge protector handle?
The minimum recommended electricity amperage that a surge protector can handle is 40,000 amps. Since a typical lightning bolt is around 30,000 amps, it is important that the surge protector can handle that and then some. There are surge protectors available that can take on much more, but 40,000 amps is usually enough for a residential home.
Q. Will a whole-house surge protector protect the AC unit?
A whole-house surge protector will protect an AC unit and other HVAC equipment in your home; it will protect the AC unit from incoming power surges and protect other appliances from a potential surge caused by the AC unit itself. Whole-house surge protectors are essential to keep the home’s appliances protected from unexpected power surges.
Sources: Angi (1 and 2), HomeAdvisor, HomeServe