A power surge is a quick and sudden increase of voltage that can damage sensitive electronic equipment. Surge suppression equipment protects your electronic devices and appliances from potential power surges caused by lightning or damage to power lines and utility poles from fallen branches or a car accident.
Protecting electronics from surge damage
Almost every home has them — kitchen appliances, television, computers, or gaming systems. We often spend a good deal of time and money in our purchase of these products. Safe Electricity recommends also investing some time in learning how to protect such appliances and electronics from surge damage.
If not protected, some electronics can be immediately destroyed by surges, while others can sustain damage that will shorten their lives and decrease functionality. The amount of damage may not be visible initially, but over time it can result in equipment failing to work properly.
Safe Electricity suggests these options to protect appliances and electronics:
Use surge protector strips or devices. Most surge protectors are no match for lightning’s wallop, however. During a severe storm, it is best to unplug your computer, televisions, and other electronics. Look for a surge protector with lights so you can easily tell that it is working properly.
For electronics, consider investing in the surge protector’s big brother: uninterruptable power supply (UPS) devices. They work like a surge protector but have battery backup to keep them running during surges, power reductions or brief outages.
Consider having a whole-house surge protector installed by a qualified electrician. Typically installed to the electric service box, it offers greater protection for your appliances than individual surge-protecting devices.
If you do not have them already, consider updating outlets with those that feature ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Today’s electrical code requires them near a water source for new or remodeled homes. They help prevent electrical shock and fire, and they are reset with the push of a button after they have been tripped.
People who elect whole-house surge protection can still use the individual plug-in versions for their most sensitive electronics, providing two levels of protection. For more information about electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.