There’s a good chance that you have a variety of electronic devises running in your house at any given time. Unfortunately, these devices could fall victim to a power surge if left unprotected. Power surges occur when the voltage running through your home’s electrical system unexpectedly spikes to a level beyond what your electronic appliances are designed to handle. Depending on the strength of the surge, this could mean minor damage or complete destruction of your electronics.
What Causes A Surge?
There are three primary causes of power surges:
1. While it is not a frequent occurrence, lightning’s incredibly high voltage levels can cause an extremely destructive surge if it strikes lines leading to your home.
2. Downed power lines, grid switches and equipment breakdowns are just a few of the possible causes of surges that can originate from the operations of your utility provider.
3. When large appliances, such as air conditioners or refrigerators, turn on, their increased need for electricity can draw a surge of energy through your home’s electrical system. While this type of surge is relatively small, it is also quite common and can wear down electrical equipment overtime.
Protecting Against Surges
For the most part, power surges are unavoidable. There is no way to stop a utility provider from causing a spike in your power or to prevent lightning from striking. However, there are steps you can take to make sure that your are prepared for a power surge if and when one occurs.
When it comes to high price tag appliances like computers, refrigerators and home entertainment equipment, point of use surge protectors can save you from costly losses in the event of a voltage spike. When shopping for a surge protector, keep the following tips in mind.
- Power lines are not the only route surges have around your home. They can also travel through your cable or satellite hookups and through your phone lines. Quality surge protectors will include these types of jacks in addition to standard AC outlets.
- Energy is measured in joules, so when comparing surge protectors, take into consideration how many joules a particular model can absorb. Two hundred to 400 joules will provide basic protection, but 600+ is best in most situations.
- Check the device’s clamping voltage. This is the level at which it will begin to block the surge, meaning lower is better. Stay away from models with clamping points above 330 volts.
- Look for the UL logo representing Underwriters Laboratories. This verifies that the product has been tested for performance and safety.
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