There is a big controversy over the use of surge protectors with refrigerators. In one camp there is the crowd that doesn’t see the necessity of a surge protector for refrigerator units. Then there is the other group who swears by the protection they offer. Who is right? Well, technically speaking, they both are.
It used to be that a refrigerator’s only electric parts were the compressor motor. While they could be exposed to surges, there was really no threat that the surge would harm the unit. With electronics like temperature controls and automatic door openers seeing more and more attention in modern units, you need a refrigerator surge protector to keep these complicated electronics safe from the inevitable harm of power surges.
A refrigerator uses up to 2,200 watts of power to turn on its compressor. That start-up process alone can create a surge in the line since most refrigerators are 120V. While it won’t have any affect on the motor of the compressor, more and more modern refrigerators have microprocessor technology made up of sensitive network connections on a motherboard for electronic features. Though an older fridge isn’t in danger of surge damage for lack of these modern electronic features, newer units can be costly to repair if a surge causes equipment failure.
A modern solution is a 1 outlet surge protector that fits into your wall outlet. A single outlet unit that plugs into the wall can carry enough protection for your refrigerator and without the bulk of a long cord and big box structure collecting dust on the floor. You should know that dust and compressors don’t mix well.
When choosing a single outlet surge protector for refrigerator units, find one with three-line protection. This would have three prongs on it with each prong AC protected. It plugs directly into your outlet, standing between the power source and your unit to prevent any surge in power from affecting it and causing gradual damage. Most cheap protectors will protect equipment between the hot and neutral lines. You want three-line protection so that you are covered on hot-to-neutral, hot-to-ground and neutral-to-ground lines. The ground is important for dispersing the heat in a power surge harmlessly away from your equipment.
Of course, some surges if powerful enough will outright destroy electronics, but this is more the case in areas susceptible to frequent lightning storms. Minor surges happen in your home daily when appliances cut on. These won’t necessarily damage your unit at once, but will degrade the electronics over time.
With a single outlet surge protector for refrigerators, it doesn’t take a lot of protection either. Protection from surges is measured in Joules. How many Joules to protect a refrigerator? You could be safe with 600. Because these surge protection devices are so small, having a single outlet to protect, you won’t find a high Joules rating anyway. The Belkin sugarcube surge protector 1 outlet home series has a rating of 885 Joules. That is more than sufficient and is probably the best surge protector for fridge units. The great thing about this device is that it has a max spike rating of 45,000 amps. That’s a lot of voltage protection for a refrigerator. If your refrigerator is made for a standard U.S. outlet at 120V and your refrigerator in wall surge suppressor has a spike rating of 45,000 amps, that’s 5,400,000 watts of protection. Amps times volts gives you watts. While your fridge may run at a low 700 watts, turning it on requires hundreds of watts more. Still, being protected for over 5 million watts is still about two thousand surges taken care of if the normal spike when the fridge turns on is around 2200 watts.
You should understand that any surge protector with MOV technology will ultimately have to be replaced. MOVs are made to be sacrificial instruments in surge protection. With a varistor protector refrigerators are still vulnerable when the suppressor stops working. The Belkin unit has 3 MOV within it, but the units are so inexpensive the cost to replace them will be far less than having your LG refrigerator replaced. The unit has LED lighting to indicate the unit is grounded and you are protected. It plugs firmly into your wall outlet and lets you connect your refrigerator plug snugly without moving in the outlet. You won’t have to worry about it pulling free from the wall when cleaning behind the unit.
Before we wrap this up, there is one thing you absolutely cannot plug your refrigerator into. Avoid the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI. This is basically a water surge protection works that detects power faults caused by water. Typically they are found around the sinks in your home. Your refrigerator will have water to ground at some point, generally from the coils on the back dripping in warmer temperatures. The GFCI outlets will trip and cause your unit to shut off. This could mean a unit full of spoiled food at worst or at least an inconvenient recurrence.
You are advised to trust electric surge protection and protect your unit now that you know what type of surge protector is needed for refrigerator units. You don’t have to choose the Belkin device but find a solid 1 outlet surge protector you can trust.