As all appliances are not created equal, nor are all surge protectors, but one thing that is common between them is that without a proper appliance surge protector you could be repairing, or worse, replacing those appliances more often than you’d like. Power surges are not predictable and with electronic appliances using better technology and smaller microprocessors, a surge can really cause some damage to the components inside your appliance. Using a quality surge protector for appliances around your home can prevent this damage from ever happening.
It doesn’t really matter what brand you purchase as long as it is a qualified surge protection device. You can tell whether or not this is the case by reading the UL listing on the package. If there isn’t a UL Listing, then chances are you are holding a power strip, which offers zero protection. You also want to look for a Joules rating. For a large appliance surge protector, you do want to find something with the highest amount of Joules you can as this will provide you the most protection. Joules measure how much of a surge the protector can absorb.
Inside all surge protectors are metal oxide varistors that take the brunt of the damage caused by power surges. The downside to the MOVs is that with each surge they absorb, they themselves get damaged. So, while your large appliance surge protectors are essential for delicate equipment, you will eventually have to replace the units protecting them. This will be far cheaper than replacing damaged appliances.
The large appliances you can protect include refrigerators, air conditioners, laser printers and any other equipment that draws on high levels of current to run or that may cause a surge. For instance, your refrigerator clicks off when it reaches a certain cooling temperature inside. When the temperature rises above the cooling point, it clicks back on. This clicking on causes a slight swell in the current as the refrigerator draws power into it. While the cooling unit requires this large dose of power to run, the electronic functions of the refrigerator are affected. With a surge protector appliances are saved from this swell in current as the protection device regulates the power flow coming into the appliance. It allows enough juice in to get the equipment running, but restricts an overabundance of energy which could do harm and require home appliance repair or worse, cause you to have to replace the appliance.
So how many joules are enough? You can probably survive on a rating of 1000 Joules, minimum. This is sufficient protection for even large appliances. Of course, like I said, the more the better, but this is the absolute minimum I would recommend. You can find the Joules rating on the packaging of the protection unit.
If you run into the problem that your appliances won’t turn on, surge protector MOVs might have reached their capacity without your knowing and you may have a dead appliance. Most power surge protectors today have indicator lights that easily let you know whether you are protected or not, but that’s not to say that they can’t be easily overlooked. It might be wise to also look for an appliance surge protector that beeps when it no longer protects you.