Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to common questions about our products are below. If you are unable to find the answers here, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help.


General Panamax Product Questions

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Q. I did not receive a warranty registration card. Is registration required for my equipment to be protected by the warranty?

A. No, product registration is not required for warranty purposes. Please retain a copy of your original proof of purchase for your surge protector. Your receipt is required for any warranty claim. If your protector is damaged by a surge, spike or lightning, call 1-800-472-5555 (this phone number is printed on all Panamax products) and a customer service representative will assist you.

Q. There is a gray cover on my Panamax plug. It's too big to plug into the wall. What should I do?

A. The gray protective cover needs to be pulled off the 3-prong plug. This plastic cover prevents the plug from scratching the unit.

Q. I just bought a new Panamax product and only half of my outlets work. Why?

A. The on/off switch needs to be turned on. This switch is found next to the cord on the end of the unit. Push the white line on the switch towards the unit to turn on outlets. If you look closely at the outlets on the left side of the product (when the lightning bolt is on the bottom), you will see they are marked “always on”.

Q. What is the “always on” outlet?

A. The “always on” outlet has power all the time, regardless of the on/off switch, which controls the other outlets. Our customers like to use them for lamps or vcrs that need a constant power source for memory.

Q. Is there a serial number for my surge protector?

A. Many of the AV style components have serial numbers located on the bottom of the product. Most of the other products do not have serial numbers.

Q. Do surge protectors have to be turned on in order to protect my equipment?

A. No, as long as the surge protector is plugged into a properly grounded wall receptacle, all outlets are protected regardless of the position of the on/off switch.

Q. Do the older clip-on modules work with the new M8-EX line?

A. No, they are not compatible.

Q. Do the lightning bolts on the module need to be lit for my surge protector to be working?

A. No, they are for cosmetic purposes and to distinguish between the modules. Only the base unit (ac) will include diagnostic lights.

Q. Can I use a module as a stand-alone surge protector?

A. No, the module needs to be attached to a base unit (i.e. MAX® 8 allpath, towerMAX® 8 ksu, etc.) in order to provide a single point ground and to have a warranted application.

Q. Why can only a Panamax extension cord be used?

A. A good ground connection is important for our surge protectors to work properly. Not all extension cords have good ground wiring and we cannot guarantee that our products will work properly. Our standard 10 ft, 14 gauge extension cord is Part # GEC1410.

Q. My Panamax component product has an “RS232” port. What is it for?

A. RS232 is a common connection for many home automation systems. Your component product can be interfaced and commanded to do a variety of functions such as scheduled shutdown/turn-on and sequential outlet bank power-up/power-down.

Q. What is the 12-volt trigger on my Panamax product used for?

A. The 12 volt trigger can be used to turn on and off your switched outlets on your Panamax product. Obtain a 1/8” mono jack cord, plug one end into your Panamax product’s 12 volt trigger input port. Plug the other end into your source component’s (stereo receiver for example) 12-volt trigger output port. When the source component is powered on, the 12-volt trigger will automatically turn on the switched outlets on the Panamax product. If your Panamax product has a 12-volt trigger output port, you can use it as the source component to trigger other components.

Q. Are the coaxial connections for satellite and cable bi-directional?

A. Yes, our coaxial connections are bi-directional, meaning they will pass both a receive and transmit signal.



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Q. Why do you need lightning protection at all?

A. EDF transmitters are vulnerable to lightning-induced surges from the AC power line, as all AC-powered equipment is. But there is an extra vulnerability for EDFs, because the loop acts as an antenna, and can pick up lightning-induced currents/voltage from lightning even hundreds of feet away. Lightning currents can be up to 100,000 Amperes, with voltages into the millions! Experience shows that in difficult sites (frequent lightning, large loop, hilltop locations) transmitters will be damaged several times per year unless they are protected.

Q. Why can't I just use an ordinary AC protector?

A. As stated above, EDF transmitters need to be protected BOTH on the loop side and on the AC side. The loop protector needs to be specially designed for the EDF frequencies/voltages.

Q. Can I use separate protectors for the loop and AC?

A. You can, but it won't work, unless the installation is very carefully done. It is MUCH better to have the loop and AC protectors in one package. That eliminates interconnection issues, and is a less expensive approach as well, because only one housing is needed.

Q. Can't I ground the loop to a ground rod and protect the loop that way?

A. No. People tend to think that "Ground is ground." The reality is far from that. Depending on soil conditions, the resistance of an 8 foot ground rod can be from 20 ohms or so to 1000 ohms, or even more in rocky or dry earth. The resistance of a short (say 2 foot) rod would be about 4 times larger- say 1000-4000 ohms! This can be easily measured with an ohmmeter. Lightning currents coming into the loop from direct lightning can be several thousand amperes. Ohm's law tells you that a 1000 ohm ground isn't going to take much current away from the loop.

Note that the NEC Article 250-52C requires that ground rods be AT LEAST 8 FEET long. The NEC also requires (250-50) that all grounding electrodes be bonded (i.e., connected together) with a heavy conductor(Table 250-66).

Q. Don't I have to worry about lightning currents being brought into the house by the loop?

A. Yes, you do. The EDF loop is one of the many paths that lightning can take to get inside the house. CATV, AC wiring, phone, and TV/DBS antenna wires are other paths. The NEC describes how these various lines have to be protected- basically, by passing lightning currents into the building grounding system. That's what the Panamax protector does.

The Panamax protector is UL Listed (approved) as an AC protector, and ALSO tested and approved as an "isolated loop protector" for the EDF loop.

The Panamax protector contains fusible links on the loop side to limit the amount of lightning current at can come in, to values the protector can handle without damage. (About 20,000 ampere surge on each loop wire.)

Q. What is the expected field life of the Panamax protectors?

A. The few protectors that have been damaged suggest a field life (MTBF) of AT LEAST 500 YEARS, and probably more, even in high-lightning areas.

Q. If I bury the loop, do I still need a protector?

A. YES! Lots of field experience shows that even with burial 3 feet deep, wires and cables can be struck by lightning. This occurs, once again, because soil is not a good conductor. So the lightning current keeps going down until it finds something metallic. Shallow burial (less than 1 foot deep) provides very little protection.


Panamax Lifetime Warranty Questions

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Q. When is the best time to call the customer service department for assistance?

A. Panamax is very busy in the summer, as we receive many lightning related calls. We are open Monday-Friday from 6am-4pm Pacific TIme. The best time to call is later in the day and later in the week. 

Q. What is covered under the lifetime connected equipment warranty (also known as the Connected Equipment Protection Policy)?

A. All electronic equipment that is properly connected to a single Panamax surge protector that has been damaged by a surge. Please see our warranties section for details.

Q. I did not receive a warranty registration card. Is registration required for my equipment to be protected by the warranty?

A. Our products do not require a registration card. If your protector is damaged by a surge, spike or lightning, call the toll free number found on the back of the unit and a customer service representative will assist you. Please keep a copy of your Panamax receipt.


Damaged Unit Questions

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Q. My connected equipment has been damaged. What do I do?

A. To set up a claim if you have sustained damage to your equipment, call Nortek Security & Control customer service (800-472-5555) to report the damage to your unit and connected equipment. The customer service representative will need additional information from you at that time: what equipment was damaged, what happened at the time of damage. You may also leave your fax # on the customer service voice mail. One of our representatives will send a Return Authorization Request form to you to fill out and send back.

Q. Do I need to send you my damaged protector before you send me a replacement?

A. Yes, please call customer service (800-472-5555). They will issue a return authorization (RA) number and inform you of the proper return procedures.

Q. What is the turnaround time for a claim to be processed?

A. Upon our receipt of the Panamax surge protector and completed claim documentation package (including all receipts, technical reports and estimates of repair) in our office, it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to complete the claim evaluation process. Occasionally the process is shorter, but during lightning season (June – Nov.), it may be somewhat longer.



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Q. What is proper grounding? For my house? Signal protection?

A. Grounding is a very involved subject matter, always refer to NEC (National Electrical Code) or CEC (Canadian Electrical Code) for specific information, but the short of it is you need to create a COMMON GROUND! First the AC has to be properly grounded upon entry to the building.  All signal wires that are to be grounded as they enter a building (per applicable code) need to be bonded to this point. Thus, the coaxial cable sheath entering the building needs to be bonded to this point. Your telephone line should be run through a primary gas tube or carbon block protector and the ground wire from this needs to be bonded to the house ground. Antenna masts, DSS dishes,C/KU band dishes are no longer an exemptions to this rule. They all need to be grounded, and bonded to the same common ground location: the building ground electrode.

Q. What is a ground loop and what is ground hum?

A. A ground loop occurs when a piece of equipment or a system is connected to different grounds (e.g. AC and coax or data lines). When the data lines, coax lines or AC lines are not connected to the same grounding point there can be a difference in voltage between them when they enter your electrical equipment.  The differing ground lines are interconnected within the system components. (TVs, Amplifiers, Receivers etc.) Thus, the differences in voltage between them result in small amounts of AC current traveling in a "ground loop" through your equipment. A low voltage "ground loop" appears in your system as interference causing a decrease in performance (known as a "ground hum") in audio/video equipment or horizontal black bands on your TV screen.

Q. I have a 2-prong outlet; will a Panamax surge protector work?

A. The Panamax surge protector works to redirect transient surges and spikes. Our surge protector will still provide substantial protection, but our connected equipment warranty is not valid, because the protector's effectiveness is reduced. But a Panamax protector used with a two wire outlet is still very effective at preventing lightning/surge damage!

Q. Can I “daisy-chain” my equipment by using outlets provided on the back of any components?

A. The Panamax warranty requires the use of equipment manufacturers’ power line cords only, with no extension cords or adaptors. However, the Panamax Warranty will not be violated by “daisy-chaining” equipment together using switched or unswitched outlets provided on the chassis of any components within the system.

Q. Can I use Panamax overseas?

A. A 120 Volt AC Panamax product can only be used overseas on 220 Volt AC if you use a step-down transformer before the protector. Please note: the connected equipment warranty does not apply outside the U.S. and Canada.



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Q. Where can I find literature for my Panamax item?

A. For current products, the corresponding literature is under the Resources tab on each product page. Enter your product model number in the seach bar in the site navigation, or select one of the links below to begin:

Rackmount and Component Power      |      Compact Power      |      Battery Backup

If you have an older model, view our Legacy product literature.