You’re about to learn more about how a surge protector works than you ever wanted to know. There is so much more to these devices than most people realize. You probably have one behind your entertainment center and another one underneath your desk. You keep your most precious electronics plugged into those strips, trusting them to protect your assets day and night with no second thoughts.
Lots of folks think of surge protector strips as a convenient way to plug more stuff into one outlet. Sound familiar? Your days of taking surge protectors for granted are over. There’s also an excellent chance you’ll be ready to upgrade your surge protectors by the time you’re done reading this article. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how a surge protector works.
What Does a Surge Protector Do?
In addition to expanding your plug-in capabilities, surge protectors are designed to prevent damage to your devices in the event of a power surge. When excess voltage passes through to an appliance, it causes the wires inside the device to heat up and possibly burn. If the excess voltage isn’t high enough to cause wires to burn, it can still damage the device and cause it to meet an early demise.
With a good surge protector between your electronics and the power grid, these surges are halted as soon as they start. A surge protector will simply block the flow of electricity to the devices plugged into it.
What Causes Power Surges?
There are many conditions that can cause a surge in power coming from the electrical grid. One of the least common but most familiar causes is lightning. A lightning strike near a power line will cause an immense power surge that no surge protector can withstand. During a lightning storm, your only real protection is to unplug your electronics.
Other causes of power surges include the starting and stopping of large appliances, such as your air conditioner. When your AC unit suddenly shuts off, the power it was drawing just a split second ago can be briefly directed elsewhere in the house. This is the most common source of power surges, but they can also be caused by damaged power stations, lines, and transformers.
How Do I Pick a Good Surge Protector?
Keep in mind that there are tons of cheap and ineffective surge protectors on the market. The first rule to remember is, if it costs less than ten bucks, it’s probably a dud. Next, check for an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating; no rating means you have no business buying it because it’s nothing but an extension cord. Also, ensure that the product is described as a “transient voltage surge suppressor.” This title means that the product meets UL’s basic surge suppression standards.
How Long Do Surge Protectors Last?
Even high-quality surge protectors wear out eventually. After several power surges, the indicator lights often burn out. At that point, there’s no telling whether your electronics are being protected. A burned out light is a definite indication that it’s time to get a replacement. But if you know a surge protector is a few years old, or has been through a series of power surges, we strongly recommend replacing it.
Can I Protect My Whole House from Power Surges?
Yes, you can. A device called a surge arrestor will protect all of the electric devices in your house in the event of transient power flow. Surge arrestors are typically installed next to the home’s electrical panel. Almost all surge arrestors are designed for outdoor installation. The superb models will protect against a 20,000-volt surge. That’s pretty good, considering the average indoor surge protector can handle 6,000 volts.
There are many surge arrestors on the market, and each model brings with it pros and cons. Some monitor the weather and shut off power to sensitive electronics if lightning is nearby. Others only protect against surges outside the house and do nothing to protect against appliance-caused power surges.
Arc Angel: Your Surge Protector Pros
The safety and security of your home are of paramount importance, both to you and your electrician. Arc Angel Electric provides peace of mind for homeowners all over the greater Atlanta area. Our clients know they can count on us for excellent service and workmanship, even for big jobs like surge arrestor installations. We also routinely perform panel upgrades, whole house generator installations, and home rewiring.
Have more questions about how a surge protector works? Arc Angel is here to help. Call us today at 770.889.9243.