Surge Protection Equipment

What are power surges?

A power surge, or transient voltage, is an increase in voltage significantly higher than the designated level.  In a typical home the standard voltage is 120/240 volts.  If the surge is strong enough, it can cause significant damage to your house wiring or the appliances in your home.  Just like a water hose with too much water pressure, it can damage the hose and cause it to burst.  Electricity will cause the wiring to heat up and potentially damage.


Where do surges come from?

Surges come from several possible sources.  They can come from external causes and internal problems.  Most people think that lightning is the most common cause, but in fact lightning is responsible for only 15% of power surge issues.  80% of all power surges are created by electronic equipment located on the consumer side of the meter.  High-powered equipment such as home air conditioners and refrigerators use a lot of power to turn off and on and can have a negative effect upon power in your home.

Other sources of power surges include phone and cable lines, utility equipment problems and downed power lines.  In the electricity industry, power surges are unavoidable.  There are things we can do to minimize the potential damages due to power surges.


Protective Measures

Surge protection devices can be purchased at local home improvement store and installed by the homeowner or a professional electrician.  They can be installed to add protection to the whole house or to protect a single piece of electrical equipment.  There are several important issues to be aware of when using this device.


  1. A surge protection device cannot guarantee protection to your home or electrical equipment if lightning strikes close to your home.
  2. A surge protection device has to be installed between the source of the surge and the component that is to be protected.
  3. It is not always practical, but the only sure way to protect a device is to isolate it from the source of the surge such as unplugging your electrical components during a storm.
  4. Plug-in surge protectors are additional level of protection.  It is also important to note that a power-surge can enter a home on the cable, phone, and electric lines.  Anywhere there is an electrical path there is a chance of surge damage.