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Most of us don’t realize how much we rely on electricity to navigate our daily lives. From our appliances, to our computers and televisions, even the locks on our doors, almost everything we interact with is powered in some way by electricity. That reliance on electric power leaves us vulnerable to sudden surges that can bring life to a halt.

An electrical surge is a momentary spike in voltage in the electric lines. Multiple smaller surges or a single large surge can damage or destroy valuable electronic devices such as high definition televisions, computers, media equipment, and home appliances. Continue reading to find out why the surges occur and how All American Electric can help protect the home from these harmful spikes in electricity

What causes an electrical power surge?

Many people associate power surges with lightning strikes. A single bolt of lightning can instantly introduce millions of volts of electricity onto a home’s electrical wiring. This is enough energy to destroy a refrigerators motherboard, ruin controls on home appliances, fry multiple electronic devices, damage wall switches, and wipe-out every single GFI outlet in the home—causing tens of thousands of dollars in damages in the blink of an eye.  

However, lightning strikes aren’t the only things that can cause electrical surges. Power outages and power transitions on the same electrical power line can also cause a surge in electricity. When electrical power is interrupted and then resumed, it briefly reintroduces a large amount of power to the wiring. Flipping tripped circuit breakers or powering off large motors such as air conditioning units or pool pumps can cause spikes in voltage through the electric wiring.

Who is at risk of a power surge?

Any building receiving an electrical current can be subject to a power surge, especially buildings that run equipment with large motors, such as refrigerators, air-conditioning units, or other heavy machinery. Buildings located in areas prone to frequent lightning activity are at a higher risk of surges in electricity.

How to protect against harmful power surges

Surge protectors are designed to prevent a surge in electricity from damaging valuable devices in the home. Every surge protector has a “joule rating.” Joules are a unit of energy that helps us measure the amount of protection available in the device. All surge protectors have a finite amount of joules. When the device encounters a surge in electricity it physically absorbs the energy and exhausts a number of these joules. If a device has a 2000 joule rating, it would take 10, 200 joule-hits or 1, 2000 joule hit to deplete the protective properties in that device, at which point the device should be replaced. On average, a total home surge protection device should be able to protect a home against a surge of up to 40,000 amps of electricity.

Whole house surge protection can involve a combination of these 3 types of surge protection both inside and outside the home:

  • At the meter—A surge protective device placed at the exterior electrical meter can help prevent surges from reaching the home’s internal wiring. Since installing this type of surge protector involves tampering with a buildings electric meter, power companies usually require one of their trained professionals to perform the installation.

  • At the panel—A surge protective device can be attached to a home’s main breaker panel to help protect the home from a power surge. Surface mounted panels, typically located in basements or garages, allow the device to be attached directly to the side of the electrical panel. Flush mounted panels require a surge protective device that can be plugged into the panel’s buss.

  • At the device—Surge protective strips, outlets, or adaptors are used to protect specific devices in the home, such as televisions, computers, or appliances. The surge protector is plugged directly into the receptacle and each device is then plugged into the outlets on the surge protector.

All American Electric’s Recommendation

Since energy from a lightning strike can enter the home through water lines, television cables, phone lines, and other avenues that bypass the home’s electrical panel, we recommend installing surge protection both at the main electrical panel and at specific devices in your home. This multi-layered approach to surge protection gives owners the strongest possible protection against harmful power surges. Our team of experts has years of experience installing a wide variety of surge protectors. We recommend devices that provide fast and clear notification that the device needs to be replaced. The Siemens First Surge device uses a multi-LED light system to alert homeowners when the device needs to be replaced, preventing long lapses in surge protection.

Ready to protect your home from harmful power surges? Give our team a call to set up a free estimate and expert evaluation of your home’s power surge exposure. 410-479-1277