Conditioner vs. Surge protector

Looking for a whole house surge protection. 

Siemens seems to be the best company out there but its most recommended item (Siemens FS140 ) is out of stock everywhere. 

Here ia an alternative: 

Siemens FirstSurge Power 60 kA Surge Protector Bundle 


What about this product? Looks like a circuit breaker with surge protection. 

20 Amp 6.5 in. Whole House Surge Protected-Circuit Breaker


which product makes more sense? Circuit breaker has some MOVs. I understand this can potentially limit current.  


Do any of the above limit current to my amp? 

What about a power conditioner that has built in surge protection? 


Whole house surge protectors do not affect power to your components.  They are not in series, they are in parallel.  some (including one popular poster here) will tell you they aren't good enough.  I say they are certainly better than nothing.  However, I live in a location where I am comfortable with my amp plugged into the wall with no protection.  Of course, I, like most posters here, can also afford a new amp.

Power conditioners require some research and I haven't done it.  I do know that some power conditioners limit current and negatively affect your amp (but not other components).  Some power conditioners are good.  do your research.  I'd buy much more capacity than I thought I needed.  



Look at the vinylvalet's web

He lived overseas where these were mandatory.

He had one for around $1k. Goes in your panel.

No influence on SQ. Just protection.


If you have a Siemens panel, the Siemens BoltShield is the preferred kind.

In any other case if your maker has an in-panel, brekerless surge protector it's better.

MOV's do not limit current, BTW, they are used in parallel.

In all cases, the panel surge protectors should be used alongside surge protectors at the devices.  Furman with LiFT and SMP, or Tripp Lite Isobar are my recommendations there. 

Make sure that anything you expect to be a surge protector is actually UL rated.  No big deal for Square-D, Siemens or Furman but some boutique brands never get this.

Unless you need whole-house surge protection, I’d go with one of the better conditioner/surge protectors (Audience, Core Power, Synergistic, Shunyata, etc.) because you get cleaner power that often provides meaningful sonic benefits along with surge protection.  I’ve got an Audience AR1p with a Wiremold 9-outlet power strip that takes care of all my needs and no MOVs that’ll self destruct if they’re ever needed to work.  The only thing I miss is that I can’t put my digital components on an isolated outlet that the larger conditioners offer, but for the low $$$ spent I’m ok with it.  Best of luck in whatever you decide. 

My 2 cents:

Buy and install a whole house surge protector first.

You can always add more protection down the line. 

This way all your electronics have a minimum of protection, not just your stereo.


Please be aware that as of 2020, the NEC requires a whole house surge protector.  They are relatively inexpensive and effective.

Here's a wholesale link to FS140 if you are going to have it professionally installed.

Not familiar with the company, but it was in the first 5 hits I got with a WWW search.

I live in the Los Angeles area and surge protect everything that needs it.

I second Mapman's recommendation for Siemens BoltShield.  I installed two of them since I had two free spaces on each side of Siemens Panel.  Total of 60kA x 2 = 120kA.  In addition I plan to add Siemens QSA2020SPD. (about $80) replacing two circuit breakers with one leading to audio system.  The reason for it is that protection element is always protected by circuit breaker.  When circuit breaker switches off during high voltage spike protection element won't protect anymore, but since audio system is connected thru the breaker it will be also discontinued.  It is only 10kA, but it adds important protection for audio system alone.

Please take a look at this App. Note on MOV surge protectors:   
In short, MOVs do pretty well once their breakdown limit is reached (~400V and up for 120VAC systems, ~600...900V for 250VAC); they don't do much at all when the surge peaks are under that voltage.  A spike of 300V can get through to your equipment unimpeded if all you rely is MOVs  Also, watch for MOV's "expiration date" of a sorts - with every absorbed spike they wear out a bit until becoming essentially non-functional.


Years ago I found that the varistors commonly used in surge protectors tend to squash system dynamics. and do not allow them any where near my rig. YMMV.

@pesky_wabbit  Amp or all equipment?  I totally agree on amps.  Other equipment, I'm ok with a good protector.

My Naim CD player definitely didn’t like them. I can‘t really be more specific as I then removed them from the equation and stopped doing any more low power consumption A-B testing. Definitely worth you pursuing though.

I run a Furman elite 15 for my 2 channel and a Panamax 5400 for my home theater and a Panamax 4000 for my office.  There's pros and cons to all of it.  If you have a noisy line, they will pull out the noise.  The 5400 and Furman elite pull out almost all the noise from the line, the 4000 has about a 90% reduction.  The cons to this is reduced dynamics.  The Panamax units have a tendency to compress sound under heavy load.  Not really that big of a deal in a home theater w/ efficient speakers as I'm not going for extreme detail.  The Furman does a much better job at resisting compression, but it still does when you push it hard.  Thankfully I'm just running a pair of MC275s in mono and it doesn't draw too much power, though it's very noticeable when running a larger 450w stereo amp.  More expensive unites come with much larger capacitators so they can handle those dynamics, but you're looking at 3-4x the cost of the Elite 15.  

Thanks for all the feedback. 
I hired an electrician, he will install whole house protection. 
I will also add higher end conditioners with protection before any stereo component.  

@jundaku Thanks for the great review.

" The cons to this is reduced dynamics. The Panamax units have a tendency to compress sound under heavy load. "

I know you’re talking about your AV system.

In my 2 channel system especially, but also in my AV system, I would not accept this. As much money as I, and many people here, throw at this hobby, I can’t accept even tiny degradation. My amps are always plugged directly into the wall and if it is damaged, I’ll buy another one. (I do live in a lightning free area).

Everybody has their own personal priorities. YMMV.


A couple of quick thoughts. While I cannot comment on the affects of whole house surge suppression, I can say that the upper end Audioquest Niagara units do not compress dynamics in power amps as they’re specifically designed to offer current reserves.  Worth a try.  And, they provide protection for the gear, too.

I was a skeptic of power conditioners as I had tried several with not great results.  I had assumed I needed the protection and would have to accept the negative affects.  My local Audioquest dealer suggested I try a Niagara 5000.  He did warn me that all his customers who auditioned it in their system ended up purchasing a unit. It took me all of 30 seconds to conclude I’d be buying one too.

I’ve had the Niagara for about 2 years, but recently came across an interesting interview of Garth Powell on YouTube done by Audio Excellence Canada for those curious as to what he’s doing in the Niagara.  Can’t say I understood it all, but he does specifically address needing wholly different circuits for power amps (which can draw very large current over very short periods) than for other gear which has a stable draw. 

In any case, for those who haven’t tried a Niagara for their power amp because experience suggests bad outcomes - though YMMV, it’s worth a try.