It’s not uncommon for power to go out during a storm. There are several ways that this can happen. Power lines can get struck by flying debris such as tree branches, which results in an outage. Another cause is trees that are heavy from soaking up excess water. They can fall over a power line and cause it to go down instantly. Whatever the case, your electrical devices and home appliances may be impacted without the right protection.
Power lines act as conductors for electricity, which is why they’re commonly struck by lightning. In fact, any electrical equipment that’s above ground can be impacted. This includes utility poles and transformers. Power surges result, which impacts your electronics and appliances. Most can handle a maximum load of 169 volts, but anything that goes above that can result in damage.
Fortunately, there’s one line of defense against these surge attacks, and that’s surge protection. Let’s look at the key features of a strong surge protector and how they work.
What’s in a Surge Protector? Several Main Attributes
Different surge protectors work in unique ways, and each has special features. When shopping for a surge protector, be sure to look for one that has the following features.
Surge Handling Capacity
Find a surge protector that can handle common surges. Most can take on at least 330 volts, all the way up to 4,000 volts. Lower coverage should be sufficient for combating the effects of power spikes during a storm. Anything more could defeat the purpose of the device.
If you want to figure out how many watts a surge protector can handle, there is a simple formula you can use to calculate the maximum load. Multiply the total amount of volts by the amps. For example, if you have a power strip with a surge protector that has 10 amps and you have a 120-volt circuit, then it can handle up to 1200 watts.
Good Response Time
A good-quality surge protector should be able to act on impact during a storm. This increases the likelihood of protecting any devices in your home. A surge protector needs to stop electrical surges in their tracks by redirecting excess power from all devices. The average surge protector should respond to a surge in a nanosecond, which is adequate for protecting electronic devices during a surge.
A surge protector should be well-suited to accommodate several devices at once. This provides coverage at one point of location without having to worry about different surge protectors all over the home. Just make sure there is enough coverage for everything that you’re plugging in.
When it comes to reducing energy use, nothing does a better job than an energy-efficient surge protector. Opt for one with an auto shut-off feature that turns off to prevent over-consumption. This should also help guard against sudden spikes during a storm.
What Does a Surge Protector Do?
Good surge protectors are invaluable during times of inclement weather. Their main job is to discourage power surges by absorbing them and dispelling them immediately. This extends the life of your electronics and keeps them running for many years. It’s like having extra padding because they redirect excess voltage outside and into the ground.
For computers, surge protectors offer added protection that preserves data and prevents it from being lost during a storm. Known as data integrity, it keeps your data from being lost during an unwanted surge. It extends the life of your computer and server by preventing it from being burned during a sudden surge. Think of it as security for you and your devices because it brings you added peace of mind in knowing that you won’t need to invest in new and expensive computer equipment.
What to Look for in a Surge Protector
There are three additional features you’ll need in a strong surge protector: low clamping voltage, good energy absorption, and optimal noise filtration. A low clamping voltage feature should have maximum protection that doesn’t exceed 330 volts. Anything over can weaken surge protection and lead to serious damage. Good energy absorption requires a minimum of 200-400 joules, but if you want better protection, find something that’s 600 joules or higher. The noise filtration part is responsible for protecting devices by suppressing harmful line noise.
Another good feature to look for is temperature tolerance, which guards against the impact of extreme climate changes within your home. Anything that uses electricity won’t be damaged by exorbitant heat or bitter cold. Opt for something with greater temperature capacity because it can prevent electrical heat from ruining your appliances. An advanced circuitry feature adds greater protection against sudden surges caused by power restoration after a blackout.
Is a Surge Protector the Same as a Power Strip?
Surge protectors and power strips look alike in a lot of ways. They have multiple outlets that can provide power for several appliances at once. Power strips that come with a specific joule rating can protect your appliances from the effects of a surge. The main difference is size and load. Surge protectors are much better at handling major appliances like TVs, refrigerators, and ACs. You can even use them for your computer.
A power strip may be a little cheaper, but there’s no guarantee that it will provide any kind of protection for your devices during a surge. In this case, it’s best to check the strip for a joule rating before you buy one. This is the feature that provides security during a surge.
When Should You Replace Your Surge Protector?
It’s tempting to think that a surge protector will last forever, but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, most surge protectors have a maximum life span of only two years. But here’s another fact: Did you know that the real life span of a surge protector is measured in joules? The fewer number of joules, the shorter its life span. Each time it protects your home from a power surge, it takes a joule hit that can decrease its life span.
Even though they’re highly effective, it’s important not to depend solely on surge protectors to keep your appliances and devices safe from power surges. The safest bet is to unplug them before a major storm. It’s the best way to keep everything safe, including your surge protector.
What’s especially tricky about these power surges is that it’s difficult to tell how many joules were absorbed. The key is to get a protector that has warning lights that flash to let you know when it’s time to replace it.
At Golden Rule in Des Moines, we provide a variety of home electrical services. We take care of house surge protector installation, generators, rewiring, and electrical upgrades and repairs. We offer electrical panel upgrades and inspect the wiring once it’s done. We provide other home repair services like heating, air conditioning, and plumbing. Call Golden Rule today to learn more!
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