How a Whole House Surge Protector Can Keep the Home Safe
As the summer storms roll in, there’s no better time for homeowners to protect their homes and appliances against the threat of power surges. A power surge is a spike in electrical current within an electrical system exceeding the system’s normal voltage. They can be caused by a variety of internal and external factors, including:
- Circuit overloads
- Faulty or damaged wiring
- Large appliances (HVAC units, refrigerators, etc.) cycling on
- Power being restored after an outage
- Power lines being knocked down or struck by lightning in a storm
Power surges only last fractions of a second, but whether large or small, they can still do major damage to electronics, appliances, and the home’s electrical systems. Fortunately, homeowners can avoid damage from power surges in a few ways, the most powerful of which is a whole house surge protector, which prevents the voltage spike from reaching the home’s devices.
Keep reading to learn why installing a whole-home surge protector should be every homeowner’s top priority of the summer!
The Hazards of Power Surges
When a power surge occurs, the spike in voltage can cause electrical arcs or overheated wiring in devices or electrical components that aren’t designed to handle that magnitude of the current. This can erase hard drives, melt circuit boards, and fry electrical components. This is how power surges destroy everything from televisions and gaming systems to refrigerators and personal computers.
However, the damage isn’t always done in one instant (such as in a lightning-induced power surge). With smaller surges frequently occurring, such as when an AC unit motor kicks on and creates a momentary voltage spike on the circuit, the damage can be minor but cumulative. In either case, the costs of losing important data, replacing expensive electronics, and the risk of electrical fire are too great to ignore.
Advantages of Whole House Surge Protectors
The best bet is to install a whole-house surge protector to combat the threat of power surges. These devices, installed at the home’s electrical panel, effectively block power surges from moving through the home’s circuits. There are also point-of-use surge protectors on the market, resembling power strips but having built-in surge protection. While helpful, these are limited by how much voltage they can handle and their ability to serve only individual circuits.
On the other hand, Whole-home surge protectors are designed to handle very high voltage surges and simultaneously protect all of the home’s circuits. They can also protect against both internal and external power surges. For these reasons, they’re ideal for homes in areas that experience a lot of storms and are at higher risk for more significant power surges.
Whole-home surge protection devices are inexpensive and can be installed by a professional electrician in around two hours, so there’s no downside to investing in one.
How To Tell When a Surge Protector Needs Replacing
Although a whole house surge protector is a sound and inexpensive investment, it’s also a reasonably short-lived one - most experts recommend replacing them within a 2 to 5-year window. That might not seem very long, but it’s both a precaution and a consequence of how these devices work.
Every surge protector is rated to handle a total amount of voltage over its lifespan - called its “joule rating.” After it has “absorbed” the maximum amount of excess voltage it was designed for, it will offer no more surge protection and need to be replaced. And unfortunately, there’s no accurate way to tell how much voltage it has absorbed - so replacing it this often is a way of erring on the side of caution.
But it may be wise to get a whole house surge protector replacement before that 2-5 year window if there have been numerous lightning strikes or power outages in the immediate area or if nearby construction has interrupted electrical service. These situations may have caused surges and maxed out the surge protector’s capacity. For an extra layer of protection, homeowners can also utilize point-of-use surge protectors for their more valuable electronics.
And if unsure whether it’s time for whole house surge protector repair or replacement, homeowners would do well to consult with a trusted local electrician!
About Albritton Service Co
The family-owned Albritton Service Co has been proud to handle Ruston’s electrical and HVAC needs since 1982. Their licensed, insured, drug-tested, and background-checked experts are available 24/7, ready to provide award-winning service at competitive prices. Albritton guarantees 100% satisfaction on every job, so there’s no one better to call for electrical services in Ruston, LA!