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Everything You Need to Know About Surge Protectors & Why You Need Them to Protect Your Home

Did you know that #SurgeProtectiveDevices (SPDs) can prevent damage to appliances and electronics in your home and place of business when there is a temporary voltage spike? In Texas, you can expect treacherous thunderstorms during the spring that produce tons of surges leaving residents & business owners with equipment that's damaged, but did you know most surges actually come from inside the home? 80% of residential surges are caused by devices you use every day, including your hairdryer, your A/C unit and even garage door openers!

Every single time you turn on a high-powered device, it forms a mini-surge in your home’s electrical circuitry that reduces the life expectancy of your appliances. Over time, these mini surges can damage the circuit boards in appliances and electronics and may cause them to fail or not operate properly – which could cost you thousands of dollars. Electronics in your home that could be at risk include:

• Heating & Air Conditioning Units

• Televisions

• Computers

• Stereo & Entertainment Systems

• Refrigerators

• Microwaves

• Electric Ranges

• Dishwashers

• Washers & Dryers

• Electronic Vehicle Chargers

How can you protect your home from surge damage?

According to Schneider Electric, you can experience over 100 surges at your home a year! Once you learn the basics of what a surge is, how it occurs, and the factors leading to surge damage, you'll realize how important it is to implement a whole house surge protector! Don't be fooled thinking you're minimizing risk by purchasing a surge power-strip - this product doesn't protect you and we have all the facts to help you understand the level of protection and peace of mind by getting the right product for your needs.

Another way to make sure you're protected is by hiring a licensed electrician to perform your electrical repairs and electrical improvements. Licensed electricians that can work independently are Master Electricians, while Journeyman and Wireman Electricians work directly for an Electrical Contracting company or Master Electrician. When you have faulty wiring that cannot withstand the electrical power of a voltage surge, you are more susceptible to surges!

Ready to learn more? But first - let's start with the basics....(by the way, at this might be wondering if this is something you should really invest your time in reading....YES! YES it is! So read on!)

The Basics of What a Surge is and Why It's Important to Take a Preventive Approach by Adding it to Your Home's Panel Box:

  • "What is a surge any way?" According to Wikipedia, NEMA and Electrical Supply House; Schneider Electric a surge is: “transient voltages” that occur when there is a temporary voltage spike that travels throughout your entire electrical, phone, network and or cable system. These can be externally generated (weather and utilities) or internally generated from devices inside the home, which is the more common type of surge.

In general, a surge is a transient wave of current, voltage or power in an electric circuit. In power systems in particular – and this is likely the most common context that we relate surges to – a surge, or transient, is a subcycle overvoltage with a duration of less than a half-cycle of the normal voltage waveform. A surge can be either positive or negative polarity, can be additive or subtractive from the normal voltage waveform, and is often oscillatory and decaying over time.

Surges, or transients, are brief overvoltage spikes or disturbances on a power waveform that can damage, degrade, or destroy electronic equipment within any home, commercial building, industrial, or manufacturing facility. Transients can reach amplitudes of tens of thousands of volts. Surges are generally measured in microseconds.

Every piece of electrical equipment is designed to operate at a specified nominal voltage such as 120 Vac, 240 Vac, 480 Vac, and so on. Most equipment is designed to handle minor variations in their standard nominal operating voltage however, surges can be very damaging to nearly all equipment.

  • "How many surges occur a month in the average household?" According to Electrical Supply House; Schneider Electric, up to 100 of these surges can occur per month!

  • "Why should you care about protecting your home or office from a surge?" Some power surges can present enough strength to immediately contribute to severe damage, if not destroy, electronics. Surges occur regularly, wearing down and shortening the life of electronics and appliances. Each year it's reported that 23 - 26 billion dollars worth of damages were traced to electrical surges!

"How do surge protectors work?" When a surge protective device senses a transient voltage spike, it uses internal components called Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs) that act like magnets for the excess voltage and sends it to the load center’s ground wire before it can reach your home’s connected electronics.

A typical surge protector passes the electrical current along with the outlet to the number of the devices plugged into the power strip. If the voltage happens to rise above the acceptable level, the protector will divert the extra electricity into the outlets grounding wire instead. If you don't have a grounding wire (like a 2 prong plug) then expect damage to your electrical devices.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, we're sure you can agree that everyone should have a whole house surge protector! Here's what you need to know about why a whole house surge protector is the right device to protect you:

  • Homes today have an estimated $15,000 worth of electronics and may experience up to 100 surges per month that can degrade or damage your electronics, shortening their life. A surge power strip doesn't cover damage over a few hundred dollars.

  • The average U.S. home has over $15,000 worth of equipment that needs protection. SPDs cost a fraction of the equipment. 

  • It's all about safety! A whole-house surge protector limits the chances of a fire starting due to a surge event, or by protecting life safety equipment and the supply provisions to critical data operations within process facilities, office buildings, and homes.

  • There really is no reason not to get a surge protector. How much you need it will vary. If you live in an area with lots of thunderstorms (like Texas), your electrical devices are more likely to experience power surges. Even if you live in the desert, your A/C or refrigerator could kick power spikes back down the lines too!

  • Helps maintain the reliability and operation of equipment by limiting the amount of surge current flowing in electrical equipment due to electrical surge events. 

  • Saves money‐SPDs cost a fraction of replacing electrical equipment or electronics that were damaged by a surge event.

  • People often think of power strips when they hear "surge protection". Commonly used as an extension to outlets, many power strips offer no surge suppression at all. Others only offer low-level surge suppression, leaving them powerless to block appliance-damaging surges.

  • When a whole house surge protection is installed at the electrical panel, it helps protect all the devices in the home, including those that are not plugged into a surge plug strip.

  • In Texas, Whole Home Surge Protection should be a standard solution, but it isn't! You can write to your local State Representative to voice your opinion on this.

  • If you recently had a new panel box installed in 2019 or later, you might already have a surge protector. If you don't have one, it's never too late to have one installed by a licensed electrician like Electrician On Call.

  • Computers are everywhere in the home and most power outlet strips offer low voltage surge protection, however, the appliances like the fridge to the washer/dryer, smart appliances, smart devices like thermostats are also considered computers too! You probably use surge strips to protect your PCs or TV, but, you're still vulnerable to surge damage.

  • Surge protection strips only offer limited protection to the devices connected to them. Items that are not compatible with plug strips such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, and lighting can be protected with a Whole Home Surge Protective Device instead.

Now that you know how likely it is for surge damages to occur and the factors leading to the damages, are you ready to invest in a whole house surge protector?

Electrician On Call offers two types of solutions to help you:


Key Takeaways:

1. Surge protection is essential to protect our electrical infrastructure.

2. Surge Protective Devices (SPDs) are no longer an “accessory” to the electrical system – they are a necessity.

3. Surge protection must become an integral protective component of any facility management system including commercial, industrial or residential applications alike.



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