How to Protect Your Home From Power Surges
By Rachel Duthie on February 25, 2021
In a world where people are hyper-dependent on their cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices, preventing power surges is more important than ever before.
Not only can power surges temporarily prevent you from utilizing and enjoying your favorite appliances and devices, but they can destroy them in a blink of an eye, too.
In this article, we explore the impact of power surges — what causes them, and ways you can protect your home from power surges in the future.
What is a Power Surge?
A power surge is a sudden spike in the voltage of electricity running into and through your home. They can occur for a variety of different reasons, from plugging in your hairdryer to lightning striking a transformer.
While power surges typically last a fraction of a second, they can cause irreversible damage to your home’s appliances and electronic devices. Items such as your laptop charger, security camera, and TV can be seriously damaged if not instantly destroyed by a power surge. In other cases, smaller, repetitive power surges can slowly erode your appliances over time, which could be why some products in your home mysteriously stop working.
What Causes a Power Surge?
A common misconception about power surges is that they can only occur when there is extreme weather. According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, however, 60-80% of all power surges are caused by internal sources in the home. Here are the five main causes of power surges:
- Drawing too much power from a single electrical current: This can happen when you plug in too many devices or overuse extension cords.
- Lightning: The power of a lightning strike can easily compromise your home’s electrical system and destroy your appliances.
- Faulty and/or exposed wiring: Damaged wires offer little electrical resistance, so any conductive material can spike the wire’s current to unsafe levels.
- Sudden power restoration: When a home’s power is restored after an outage, the sudden jump in electricity can create a power surge.
How to Protect Your Home From Power Surges
Power surges can cost homeowners hundreds upon thousands of dollars in appliance replacements. Follow these tips to learn how you can protect your home from power surges.
Install a Whole-Home Surge Protector
A whole-home surge protector is the best defense against power surges. Unlike smaller power strips that connect to a wall outlet, these surge protectors are hard-wired to your home’s electrical box, and can effectively prevent devices like your computers, fridges, and smart devices from being affected.
Unless you’re highly-skilled in electrical work, we recommend you have an electrician professionally install a whole-home surge protector for you.
Inspect Faulty or Exposed Wiring
Damaged wires are an open invitation for power surges. However, it can be hard to see the condition of your wires without seeing behind your drywall. Here are a few tell-tale signs of faulty electrical wiring in your home:
- Flickering, buzzing, or dimming lights
- Wall outlets are charred, burned, or emitting smoke
- A burning smell or unusual odors
Handling exposed wires can cause electrocution. Please consult an electrician before touching exposed or charred wires.
Unplug Electronics During a Storm
When lightning strikes near an electrical pole, it can boost the electrical pressure by millions of volts and cause a power surge so large it can overrun most surge protectors. Make sure to unplug high-value appliances, like your computer and TV, during massive thunderstorms.
Use Surge Protectors
Trying to minimize power surges on a budget? The easiest way to combat smaller electrical surges is by plugging in sensitive electronics, like your computer, cell phone, and TV, into an outlet or strip surge protector. This will prevent excess voltage from reaching your electronics in the event of a power surge. Check out our outlets and power strip tips for more information.
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Categories: Energy Efficiency