A couple of hundred million dollars of harmful damage to property occurs every year as a result of power surges. A power surge can create an instant overload on a circuit and cause shorts. Even small surges can cause damage that builds in electronic devices and significantly decrease the lifetime of a stereo, computer, television or any electronic device that plugs into the wall.
How Power Surges Cause Damage
In the US, homes use 120-v electrical power. Generally, it’s provided in single phase, 60Hz, AC current. That power however isn’t necessarily at a consistent 120 volts. Instead, it rises and falls from 0 volts to 169 volts. This is not any problem for most electronics sold in the country because they are designed to work with this form of electricity. In the event the power exceeds the 169-volt maximum voltage, there is said to be a power surge. The surge or spike in voltage may damage lots of the electrical devices located in the home. The electric current within the electronic device may arc. This produces a lot of heat and can damage printed circuit boards as well as other components in the device. While computers, televisions and stereos may continue to work after a small power surge, the spike affects the device, and one day it breaks down altogether.
How to Protect Electronics
SPDs are simple to install devices that lots of people may confuse with a power strip. These devices don’t arrest the surge, however when combined with a very good grounding system diverts the surge to the ground. Not all power strips are surge protectors. Unless the strip you are using says that it’s a surge protector, assume it is only a power strip with no protection. An electrical contractor can put in a special outlet that provides protection from surges. These outlets are an excellent choice in the kitchen for the microwave or other places that strip protectors don’t work well.
Surge Protection at the Service Entrance
An electrical contractor can also install a device to safeguard the home at the service entrance. This device installs on or perhaps in the electric circuit main panel or on the electric meter base. The device ensures the whole home is better protected from power spikes. Whether the surge is generated by lightening or a power fluctuation coming from the electric company, this device reduces the power to a safer level before it reaches the home.
Points to Keep In Mind
• Look for surge protectors that have indicator lights or other alarms to alert the user when to replace.
• Read the warranty for that device carefully. Does it cover the electronic device along with the surge protector?
• Surge protectors should meet the UL Standard 1449.
• In a thunderstorm, even the best protection could very well be overwhelmed. The safest choice is to unplug devices if you expect a potential surge.