A power surge can have a detrimental effect on homes and businesses in the United States. Power surges are sudden, brief, and very strong. In most cases, they are disruptive.
You may have thousands of dollars worth of devices at home and in business. Even a split-second power surge can damage your device. Sometimes, you will not realize the damage has already happened till it is too late.
Surge protectors are essential to shield essential devices from a power surge. Once installed, they can protect systems from externally generated surge events and smaller daily power surges that may be generated due to starting up and other internet sources.
What Do You Mean by Power Surge?
As the name suggests, they are surges of electrical power higher than the normal range. The standard voltage range for electronics and household appliances is between 110 and 220 volts in most countries worldwide.
In the United States, it is 120 volts on average. A power surge occurs when significantly more voltage comes through the wires into the devices. These surges can be small or large – possibly damaging any plugged-in devices or reducing the performance of your devices.
What Causes a Power Surge?
The primary cause of a sudden power surge is lighting, but it is quite uncommon. Other causes are the operation of high-power devices like refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions, dishwashers, dryers, heating and cooling systems, computers, etc.
The motors and compressors within these need a lot of energy to turn on and off. When you switch either of these devices, it creates a sudden demand for power that upsets the current steady voltage flow.
The damage usually happens in the building’s electrical system. The damage can occur immediately if your electrical system is not protected. These damages can also be gradual and may occur over time without you knowing.
Other causes include faulty wiring, utility company equipment, or downed power lines. Since there is a complex system of power lines and transformers bringing electricity to your home, there are many reasons for an error to happen, resulting in a power surge.
How Often Do Power Surges Occur?
Power surges are common in the United States. Even though the standard U.S. voltage is 120 volts, the actual amount of voltage oscillates is around 169 volts.
But, when the voltage crosses 170 Volts, a harmful surge happens. Most homes can go without any significant power surges, but even then, you need to protect your home from any possibility.
What are Surge Protectors?
Surge protectors are devices that protect your electrical appliances from any power surges. It passes electrical current along with the outlet to different devices plugged into your power line.
If the voltage rises above the acceptable level, the protector diverts the extra voltage into the outlet’s grounding wire. These grounding wires run parallel to the neutral and hot wires.
They offer a pathway for the electric current to follow in case of a breakdown in the neutral and hot wires that usually carry currents.
Why are Surge Protectors Necessary?
Power surges are not always a fire concern. Thus, they are not mandatory by your homeowner insurance or the building inspector. But, installing surge protection can help keep your home safe and offer several other benefits –
- Protect Electrical System – Surge protectors can protect your electronic devices. Anything plugged into the outlets like computers, television, tablets, and other devices can get damaged due to a sudden surge. A surge protector absorbs the excess power rather than transferring it through your devices. It ensures your devices are protected against power outages.
- Reduce Repair & Replacement Costs – Since power surges can shorten the lifespan of your electronics and appliances, surge protection can help decrease the damage. It helps reduce how often you need to pay for repairs or complete replacement of such items.
- Reduce Maintenance Costs – You already have to pay to maintain your home’s systems like cooling and heating. You may encounter more maintenance expenses if there is a power surge. Installing a surge protector can help put a limit to the number of service calls you have to make every year.
- They are Affordable – Surge protectors are highly affordable and cost just a few hundred dollars. They can also be installed within a day, meaning they can start protecting your home instantly without the need to spend thousands on repairs or new appliances.
Are All Power Strips Surge Protectors?
Many people confuse surge protectors with power strips. While they may look similar, not all power strips are surge protectors. Older power strips offer little to no protection from power surges.
Only devices specified as surge protectors can protect your electronics against power surges and voltage spikes. To differentiate a surge protector from a regular power strip – look at the packaging.
If it has ‘joules’ word on it, they are surge protectors, which shows the maximum voltage they can handle. On the other hand, power strips are extension cords with extra outlets and will not have any joules rating.
Who Pays for Power Surge Damages?
Payment for any power surge damages will depend on the cause of the surge and the type of insurance you have.
Homeowner’s insurance policies usually cover any damages caused due to external events such as lightning strikes and excessive external voltage.
However, if the damage is due to faulty wiring or even overloading circuits, especially those that come with warning signs, you are liable to pay the damages.
Stay Safe from Power Surges
With the increase in the number of lightning and thunderstorms, your home or workplace will experience hundreds of power surges and potential lightning strikes.
Keep in mind; you need to have the appropriate protector best suited for your needs. Professional electricians can recommend the best surge protection to buy, no matter the budget.