what is surge protector

What Is A Surge Protector And Why Do You Need One

The most common use for a surge protector is for people with a personal computer who need to plug many cords into one outlet. Often times it is referred to as a power surge strip or a surge suppressor. If you own a desktop computer then you know your two-pronged wall outlet is unable to host all the cords from the many components of a computer. This is where a surge protection device comes in handy.

While it allows for a convenient way to plug in multiple items into one outlet, the most important use of computer surge protectors is to prevent power surges. A surge in power that overloads your wall outlet may damage your computer’s electronic equipment, or worse, cause an electrical fire in your home. One thing to note, however, is that is there no benefit to having one surge protector plug into another. In fact, you can cause more damage to your equipment by doing so.

A power surge is just what it sounds like, a surge in power to your electrical supply. It sends too much energy through the electrical wiring in your home and heats up. This extra energy can damage the electrical components of your equipment over time. It could be a lightning strike that sends a surge to the power lines to your house. In this case, when lightning strikes near power lines, it causes a boost in the flow of energy enough to overpower even your surge protector. It is best to turn off any equipment in the event of an electrical storm.

A typical wall outlet can take 120 volts of electricity. Anything more is considered a surge if it lasts for more than a few seconds. A more common household cause of surges is high-powered electrical equipment like air conditioners. When you turn them on it takes a great deal of initial power. This can trigger a surge and lead to overloads which can damage the equipment or even lead to the fire. However, faulty wiring is the leading cause of most house fires involving power surges.

What a surge protector does is it passes the electric stream to different components plugged into it. If there is a surge it sends the extra juice to the grounding wire through a device called a metal oxide varistor, or MOV. It looks like a heavy coil and acts as a semiconductor between the house wiring and the ground wire. In normal use, it allows current to each outlet supply. If the wiring in the house takes on too much electricity, when it hits the MOV, the extra electricity gets redirected to the ground wire as the normal level of energy continues to the outlets.

Where To Install A Surge Protector

Eighty percent of electrical issues around the home or in the office come from bad wiring or grounding issues. 20% is a direct result of your local service provider’s equipment. To reduce any possible damage from energy spikes or power surges, keep one simple rule in mind: Whenever you can, try to keep sensitive electronic equipment separated from the areas where your large energy-sucking appliances are plugged in.

Some of the more sensitive appliances and electronic devices include:

  • Computers, servers, and modems
  • VCRs, DVD players, and stereo equipment
  • Answering machines and fax machines
  • Security systems
  • Garage door openers
  • Digital clocks
  • Any equipment that needs constant, uninterrupted power

Your typical power-hungry home appliances are:

  • Laser printers
  • Photocopiers
  • Washers and dryers
  • Electric and microwave ovens
  • Hairdryers and electric razors
  • Electric tools
  • Electric furnaces and air conditioning

One flaw with surge protectors is that a strong surge, as with a lightning strike, can burn out the metal oxide varistor and essentially disable your power strip, leaving you unprotected. If you purchase just any power surge strip chances are you are buying something that will not last very long. Don’t spend money on cheap equipment. You need to spend a little money on a quality protector and it is best to find one with a warning light to indicate that your unit is working properly.

You won’t need to use one on every appliance in your home, certainly not lamps and clocks. Major energy consuming appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, and dryers are where they are best used. Components within modern electronics can also be more sensitive to surges. Things like microwaves, your computer or DVD player, and television. If you just need more outlet resources, a basic power strip will do the job, but for these devices, you need to have a worthwhile idea of what you need when choosing a surge protector.

Let’s recap where a surge suppressor will work best in your home.

You do not need to use surge protection for small electrical appliances, such as alarm clocks, lamps, a clothes iron or hair clippers, although they would benefit too.

Use one for all of the components to your computer. You don’t want to run the risk of burning out the processor in your desktop and losing valuable data or having to replace your computer.

Home theater systems are items that you should run through a protector. You can find many quality home theater surge protectors in local electronic stores, but Monster is a name you can trust.

Entertainment center components is another area that should use a quality protector.

In the event of a power surge, you want your electronic equipment to be protected from damage and having to be replaced prematurely down the road. Investing in a quality surge protector will prevent this from happening and may even prevent a fire in your home. If you are looking for power surge protector reviews, read further and you will find other informative posts and more.

About the Author Eric Williams

Leave a Comment: