Your electrical system is designed to operate optimally under specific current and voltage ratings. But now and then, there are fluctuations. One dangerous event that can occur is a power surge. In this article, we will explore power surges and how to protect your home from them.
What Is a Power Surge?
A power surge is an abrupt rise in electrical current that can last from one to three nanoseconds. Disruptions in the power grid can trigger considerable fluctuations in current. Surges can be a hazard, particularly in homes with frayed wiring or electrical system defects.
A power surge often occurs due to a weather event, such as during a snowstorm or after strong winds. Weather events may trigger current fluctuations on the grid line. Lightning can strike the cable, forcing your home’s circuit to absorb the excess electrical energy.
Your electrical system may experience a power surge after an outage. Once the power is restored, there is often a spike in electrical current. Typically, electrical systems can handle fluctuations in voltage up to 169 volts.
A higher voltage can damage electronics and trigger a fire hazard in extreme cases. A surge protector can safeguard your electrical system and home from the risk of a sudden spike. If you live anywhere in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin and your home lacks surge protection, reach out to us at Black-Haak for quality electrical services.
What Does a Surge Protector Do?
A surge protector is a device that channels the excess current from the surge through the ground wire in the outlet. A surge lasts for a very short time, measured in nanoseconds. However, within that time, it may damage equipment and trigger numerous faults in the circuit.
The challenge for a surge protector is to disrupt the current within its three-nanosecond duration. The device must discharge the surge before it damages your valuables and electronics. Different surge protection devices may employ varying technologies to dissipate excess current.
The most common surge protection devices utilize metal oxide varistors to protect the electrical system. They have a semi-conductor that can absorb energy when it detects current above the specified rating. There are many power surge protection technologies, but metal-oxide varistors are the most affordable and prevalent.
All surge protection devices have a finite lifespan and need to be replaced when faulty. The NFPA recommends replacing your surge protector when it is past its useful life expectancy. Most devices have LED lights that indicate when the device has stopped working.
When to Go for a Point-of-Use Surge Protector
In one category of surge protection devices, you have point-of-use or plug-in surge protectors. They protect individual outlets and the equipment on the circuit. You can install a few devices to protect valuable appliances such as computer processors, air conditioners, widescreen TVs and game consoles. However, other outlets without the protection of such a device will still be susceptible to power surges.
The most common point-of-use device comes in a power strip design with built-in surge protection. They are different from standard power strips, and the features can vary from one model to the next.
When choosing an extension cord with surge protection, check the power rating. The number of joules indicates how much energy it can handle. Most models will have a rating between 400 and 600 Joules. As already mentioned, however, not all power strips have surge protection. Before purchasing any type of stand-alone surge protector, confirm the power ratings and choose a model from a reputable brand.
Another point-of-use device is the TVSS (Transient Voltage Surge Protector). It’s typically integrated into the outlet, and it stops the surge in current by redirecting it into the receptacle’s ground connection. When a spike is detected, this can manage excessive voltage presented to sensitive appliances on the circuit.
Benefits of a Whole-House Surge Protector
A whole-house surge protector stops the fluctuating current right from the source. Every appliance in the home is protected, and there is no need for multiple point-of-use devices. A whole-house system is more expensive to install, but in the long term, it offers far better protection for your appliances and electronics.
One of the benefits of a whole-house system is that it protects all the equipment and components connected to your electrical system. According to statistics, 80% of power surges are generated internally. A surge can happen whenever you plug in your dishwasher or heating equipment.
While a point-of-use system will protect individual appliances, it may not be the best option for modern households. Most homes today have many electronics with varying power specifications. A whole-house system shields the entire electrical circuit and its components from surges.
A whole-house surge protector stops surges from entering the circuit at the main control panel. It is also effective at protecting the electrical system from voltage spikes. Whether the electrical victim of a power surge is a garage door opener or a pool heater, you can be confident of the whole-house system protecting it.
After evaluating the outlets that require surge protection the most, you can either choose to purchase several point-of-use devices or a whole-house system. When installing surge protection in your home, you can consult our certified electricians at Black-Haak in Greenville to obtain the best results.
Features of Surge Protectors
Surge protectors have varying features to suit different applications. One of the features to consider is the clamping voltage. It refers to the voltage level that triggers the device to absorb excess current.
When evaluating the clamping voltage, remember that a lower value offers better protection. Electrical engineering professionals recommend choosing a power surge protector with a clamping voltage of 400 volts or less.
Additional Steps to Prevent Power Surges
Some power surges are due to internal electrical problems. Energy-hungry devices such as the water heater and the washing machine should not share an outlet. Using extension cords excessively is another factor that can lead to an overloaded circuit.
How can you tell if your electrical system is overloaded? You may notice lights flickering, especially when you turn on some appliances. That could signal an issue with the circuit. Also, your electrical system may have wiring problems.
The best way to tell if your circuit is faulty is to schedule a professional inspection. By addressing faults within your electrical system, you can reduce the risk of a hazardous power surge. Defects in the circuit make your home more susceptible to short circuits and electrical fires.
At Black-Haak, we recommend having professional electricians inspect your Greenville home every three to five years. An inspection can unearth wiring problems, faulty fixtures, outdated components or anything that can raise the risk of a hazard.
If you require top-notch electrical services, look no further than Black-Haak in Greenville. Our highly trained electricians have the expertise to handle electrical projects of any size or scope. Besides surge protection, we offer a full range of electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling and indoor air quality services to support your home safety and comfort, and we’ve been doing that since 1956. Our company is accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating. Whatever your needs, call us today.