What is a Power Surge & How to Protect Your Home

By Ebony Porter, August 9, 2018, Home Improvement

Our lives orbit around the use of computers, appliances, and other tech gadgets, so when a power surge strikes, protecting their infrastructure is paramount.

Surge protection is an investment in your electronics and appliances, and in your safety. It safeguards your valuable equipment during a power surge that can crash hard drives and modems or ruin appliances.

Let’s see what happens during a power surge, why surge protection is important and how to choose the right surge protection for your home.

What is a Power Surge & How to Protect Your Home | Bounce Energy Blog

What is a Power Surge?

The power we get from the wall outlet is known as 120 volts AC power. The voltage is not delivered at a constant 120 volts, but can fluctuate between 0 and 169 volts.

During a power surge, the voltage exceeds the peak of 169 volts.

How Do Power Surges Happen?

Power surges can originate from an electric utility company during  power grid switching. Lightning is one of the most powerful forms of a power surge.

Surges can also occur from inside the home. When a high-powered electrical appliance such as an air conditioner or refrigerator turns on or off, a power surge can occur. Because these appliances’ motors and compressors require so much energy to switch on and off, the brief power demand disturbs the steady voltage flow in the electrical system.

How Do Power Surges Cause Damage?

A boost in voltage above a device’s normal operating voltage can cause an arc of electrical current within the device. The heat that is generated as a result can cause damage to the electronic circuit boards and other components within the device.

What are the Signs of a Power Surge?

There are a few signs that may indicate your appliance or device experienced a power surge:

  • The device’s clock or lights are flashing
  • The device is off or does not work
  • There is an acrid, burnt odor around the device or power source
  • A surge protector or power strip may require resetting

What is a Power Surge & How to Protect Your Home | Bounce Energy Blog

How to Prevent a Power Surge from Damaging Your Appliances and Electronics

You can’t prevent what happens on the outside, but you can protect what’s on the inside. Purchasing a quality surge protector, also called surge suppressors and surge diverters, can help protect your home from damage caused by power surges.

A surge protector diverts voltage spikes safely to the ground rather than letting it enter the sensitive circuits of your appliances or equipment.

Choosing the Right Kind of Surge Protector

The type of surge protector you choose will depend on how you’re going to use the surge protector and what you can afford.

  • Whole-house surge suppressors, or Panel-mounted surge suppressors, connect directly into your home’s fuse box and prevent power surges from entering your house wiring. Cost is determined by the suppressor’s power capacity, rated in joules, but can run from $50 to several hundred.
  • Power strips with surge protection is the most common and accessible type of surge protection available. The average consumer assumes that their power strips have surge suppression capabilities, but that is not always the case. Surge protected power strips will show their abilities rated in joules. Inexpensive surge protectors run between 400 and 600 joules and higher-end protectors are rated at 1,000 or more.
  • Transient Voltage Surge Supressors (TVSS) are hardwired directly into one of your home’s outlet boxes and can provide excellent protection for anything plugged into them. Various models will provide different levels of clamping (300-400 volts) and capacity (290-900 joules). They come with a light or alarm to indicate a power surge has occurred. While they will continue operating after a surge, its capacity may be reduced. The average cost wavers between $25 and $100 depending on capacity, amperage, and lights/alarms.

Don’t wait for lighting to strike. Install or purchase a surge protector today.

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