TODAY’S SURGE PROTECTION
Living in south Florida we are constantly seeing voltage spikes in our homes and businesses. The most common indicator of a voltage spike is a sudden brightening or dimming of the lights which only lasts an instant. Many times the cause for these spikes are internal, as when a heavy appliance, like an air conditioner is starting up. Spikes can also originate from outside of the house caused by the utility company.
This can be anything from a transformer blowing up, a vehicle accident with a light pole or a problem in a neighbors house. Any of these may cause a spike or surge at your house. Most of our electrical equipment and electronics are designed to operate in a certain voltage range which allows for some of the spikes and surges. But damage can happen to the device if the voltage range is exceeded.
For many years, consumers have been installing devices known as surge protectors to protect electrical equipment from these spikes and surges.
The surge protector is made to trap the extra voltage before it travels to your equipment. Surges typically last only nanoseconds to microseconds. Some of the units will absorb the excess currents. The better units are designed to respond quickly by diverting the unwanted currents to ground, instead of absorbing it.
There are a few different types of protectors and they operate and react differently. Most have an indicator light to let the user know if the unit is working properly. If the light on the unit is not on, it has probably reached the end of its life and should be replaced.
When using surge protection, it is recommended to use multiple units. The first one should be installed at your main electrical service. A second one at your distribution panel and a third unit, a point of use protector for your electronics and computers.
Be careful not to confuse a power strip with a surge protector. The point of use surge protector may also have coaxial and telephone protection.
Most units will have a manufacturer’s warranty that covers up to a certain dollar value for any equipment that is damaged if the protector does not
protect the device. Be sure to save the warranty information and document the equipment that was damaged for any claims.
Al is a State Licensed Electrical Contractor and owner of Al Siefert Electric. The articles he writes are about items of interest and questions from his customers. Please call Al if you have questions concerning electric service, installation, and repair.
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