ELECTRICAL SERVICES IN THE TAMPA BAY AREA
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How Do Surge Protectors Work?

Surge protectors are recommended by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) as well as the IBHS (Institute for Business and Home Safety).

Many people confuse surge protectors with power strips that allow for extra outlets. On the contrary, surge protectors are an affordable method of protecting your valuable electronic devices and appliances from random damaging power surges.

Surge protectors keep homes safe from power surges and spikes. This can save your appliances from permanent damage, and even prevent your home from catching fire! But how do they work? Why can we rely on them to be one of the most important safeguards in our homes? It’s not as complicated as you think!

The Science Behind Surge Protection

Basically when a surge or spike occurs, whether it be from an indirect lighting strike or a damaged power line, the surge protector will sense the extra current and divert the energy through the home’s grounding path.

Surge protectors function by pulling the current in from the affected outlet and transferring it to the appliances and devices that are plugged into a surge protector. Inside the surge protector, you can find a metal oxide varistor (MOV), connected to your power and grounding line by two semiconductors which redirect the excess voltage to make sure the devices continue receiving the right amount of power. The MOV operates like a pressure-reactive valve. When high voltage levels are detected, the MOV reduces resistance. If the voltage is too low, resistance is increased.

What Is a Power Surge?

To paint a more vivid picture of how surge protectors work, it’s important to understand what a power surge is. Simply put, a power surge is an increase in voltage as it flows through electrical devices that rise above 120 volts. Surges can be caused by anything from lightning strikes to bad wiring, high-powered devices, or problems with your utility company’s equipment.

Power surges can be virtually undetectable. You may not even notice your home has been experiencing power surges until a device or appliance suddenly stops working. Houses may experience thousands of power surges annually without any residents taking note.

Surge Protectors: A Practical Solution

It’s likely that many of the electronic devices in your home are not only pricey but also essential to your everyday needs and routines. Living day-to-day with these valuable items unprotected could eventually result in large losses, especially if you live in Florida.

Any electrical device with a microprocessor such as PCs, dishwashers, and some refrigerators are at serious risk of damage if they’re not hooked up to a surge protector.

Three Types of Surge Protection

Not all surge protection devices are created equal. For the highest level of surge protection, we recommend you install Type 1, 2, and 3 levels of surge protection. With that said, Type 2 and 3 are what’s needed for basic protection.

Type 1 is surge protection between power lines and the meter. Type 2 is a form of whole-house surge protection that is installed protection between the meter and the breaker box. Finally, Type 3 consists of smaller surge protectors that work with wall outlets to provide protection from surges generated from inside the home.

Is all this protection really needed? Yes. Unfortunately, a whole-house surge protector won’t deter 100% of the surges you will get. They also don’t redirect the surges that occur inside your home, for example when your fridge or A/C starts up. Instead, they operate by redirecting surges that originate from an outside source as we mentioned earlier.

Although you are not breaking any laws not having a whole-house surge protection system installed in your home if it’s older, it is now a requirement that all new homes have whole-house surge protection installed upon completion.

Please note: Whole-house surge protector devices are not powerful enough to protect your home from a direct lightning strike. Surge protectors will only help with proximity strikes, simply put, lighting strikes that hit relatively close to your house.

Lastly, don’t forget: Surge protectors will only be useful if your home’s grounding is properly set up. Proper grounding provides an escape route for excess voltage. If you’re the owner of an older house with ungrounded outlets or don’t have adequate grounding and wiring, chances are your surge protector won’t work well.

How to Choose the Right Surge Protector

Since we’ve covered the science behind surge protection technology, it’s important that you understand what you should be looking for when shopping for a surge protector. Consider the following points and ask yourself -

  • What would you like protected?

  • How many ports and outlets do you have around the house?

  • Does it have a UL seal (this means that the item was tested by Underwriter Laboratories according to nationally recognized safety standards) and is it classified as a transient voltage surge protector?

  • What is the clamping voltage and energy absorption rating? - This is the level of energy a surge protector can handle before failing. You want that number to be at least 600 - 700 joules. The clamping voltage is how much voltage it takes to trigger the MOV. You’re going to want this to be at most 400 volts.

  • What are the warranty details?

  • Does the device have an indicator light?

Tru-Line Electric is Here for You!

At Tru-Line Electric we’re dedicated to taking care of all your electrical repair or installation needs. This includes affordable whole-house surge protection in the Pasco County Area. As we mentioned before, whole-house surge protection works in tandem with surge protectors used inside your home.

If you want the best possible protection against power surges, call Tru-Line Electric today to find out more about what we can do for you. Don’t wait until one of your expensive or essential appliances dies, call us or contact us online today!

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