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Does Your Home Need a Surge Protector?

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 8/5/2021

Does your home need a surge protector

Electrical surges can cause serious damage to TVs, computers and other electronic equipment. Fortunately, you can protect your valuable appliances by picking up a surge protector. Today, we'll be walking through the basics of surge protectors, including what they are, how they work and how to use them in your home.

What is a Power Surge?

A power surge occurs when your electrical system exceeds its peak voltage. Faulty wiring, lightning strikes and attempting to draw too much power from a single circuit can all cause electrical surges. If you're experiencing a blackout, the sudden jump in current once power is restored can also cause a surge.

Electrical surges expose your appliances to levels of electricity above their normal operating voltage. This causes an arc of electrical current within the device, which can damage electronic circuit boards and other components.

How Do Surge Protectors Work?

Surge protectors work by diverting excess voltage to your electrical system's ground wire before a surge can reach your appliances. It does this through the use of a metal oxide varistor (MOV). The MOV allows normal current to pass through to your equipment while diverting any harmful spikes and surges through the ground wire.

Which Devices Need Surge Protection?

When shopping for a surge protector, the first thing you should do is take an inventory of any electrical devices that contain microprocessors. These devices are particularly vulnerable to surges; a power fluctuation as small as 10-volts can disrupt their operation. Appliances containing microprocessors include TVs, phones, computers, gaming consoles, stereo systems and refrigerators.

Now that you know the number of devices that need protecting, let's talk outlets. If you have multiple appliances that are close together, a six outlet surge protector is a perfect solution. If you're only protecting one or two devices, you're better off using a wall tap, which plugs directly into an existing outlet.

How Much Surge Protection is Needed?

A surge protector's capacity to absorb energy is measured in joules. Homes with a large number of devices will require a surge protector with a higher joule rating than if you are only protecting a few appliances. For modest needs, such as a USB charger, a system with 500 joules of protection should be adequate. For your computer or home theater, you'll want something that offers 1800 joules or higher.

Another factor to keep in mind is clamping voltage. Clamping voltage refers to the amount of voltage a surge protector allows to pass through it before redirecting it into the ground wire. Surge protectors featuring a lower clamping voltage are ideal, because they will allow less voltage to pass through before kicking in.

How Do You Know if a Surge Protector is Bad?

One important thing to keep in mind is that surge protectors don't last forever. As they experience surges, their joule rating will drop, making them less effective over time. Most surge protectors have an LED indicator light on them that indicates their status. When this light goes out, it means your surge protector needs to be replaced.

Additional Tips for Using a Surge Protector

Now that you have your sure protector picked out, here are some additional tips to help you use it properly.

  • Don't plug multiple surge protectors into the same outlet.
  • Don't use a surge protector in damp areas of your home.
  • Make sure the devices you plug into the surge protector don't exceed its wattage capacity.
  • Don't use a surge protector for space heaters or microwave ovens. These devices require a lot of power and frequently cycle on and off, which can overload a power strip. Instead, plug these devices into a wall outlet dedicated to that one appliance.

Shop Surge Protectors at Batteries Plus

Protect your valuable appliances with Batteries Plus' selection of surge protectors. If you're looking for a solution that lets you keep working when the power goes out, consider getting a UPS backup system. You can learn more about UPS systems by visiting our blog or by stopping into your nearest Batteries Plus location. Our in-store experts can answer all of your questions and help you find the right backup solution for your home or business.

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