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Surge Protectors and House Surge Protection: What You Need To Know

A voltage spike occurs in 1 to 30 microseconds, increasing the electricity in your home by over 1,000 volts. Voltage spikes can lead to blackouts, damage electrical appliances beyond repair, and cause sparks and fires. This transient event can be caused by many factors: a motor turned on or off can reach 1,000 volts easily. With hurricane season approaching, storms and lightning hitting a powerline can reach well over 100,000 volts.

Voltage spikes may be an inevitable part of electrical systems, but their damage does not have to be. The only way to protect your appliances and home from these spikes is a surge protector or whole surge protection. Here’s what you need to know about surge protectors and how to get the best out of whole house surge protection.

Surge protectors come in a variety of types, many including different features. Not all of these are created the same, either. Power strips and surge protectors (also called surge suppressors) are different appliances. Power strips are generally inexpensive expansions of a wall outlet. Most power strips offer little to no protection from electrical surges and voltage spikes. Surge protectors offer more protection than power strips, but the amount of protection varies by type.

The amount of protection a surge protector offers is measured in joules. A product with a listed 1,000 joules of protection is capable of guarding against 1,000 joules of electricity in any capacity. This means a single spike of 1,000 joules or a sum totaling 1,000 joules will keep your appliances safe. A joule is approximately equal to 6^18 volts, meaning a surge protector can handle a lot of power. Compare that to a bolt of lighting and that number is put in proportion. A single bolt can generate 10 billion joules. Look for surge protectors that are insured. These come with a warranty that ensures the gear attached to the surge protector, protected up to a certain amount of money, will be replaced if that gear is damaged due to a failure of the protector.

No matter how much a protector is insured for, or how many joules it protects against, it will eventually wear out. Some protectors give a warning when they are about to become obsolete, but many won’t. If there is a big electrical failure near your neighborhood, it is likely worth replacing your surge protector afterward.

Many of the power surges that cause your appliances to be damaged are not caused by big power outages or blown transformers. 80 percent of surges in a home are generated by homeowners. Instead of purchasing surge protectors for every plug in your home, consider installing a whole home surge protector device (or SPD). These devices are typically wired to the electric service box and protect all of the appliances and electrical systems within the entire house.

Unlike surge protectors, SPD’s are made to last for years and to protect from large surges. With the growth of appliances in the home, surge protectors of any kind are needed more than ever. Not only are the number of these appliances growing exponentially, but they are also growing in complexity. Many appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc. now have LED circuit boards. These appliances can now be destroyed by surges, requiring more protection than ever before.

With the growing necessity for protection from power surges, consider installing a whole house surge protection system with Electrical Plus. Our Electricians have extensive experience designing and commissioning residential and commercial electrical installations, as well as upgrading and improving existing installations. We offer routine maintenance and diagnostics to protect your home from surges and much more; we’ll inspect the electrical distribution system and wiring to determine if a replacement or an upgrade is in order.

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