In today’s technological age, we’re coming to depend more and more on our electronic devices. Our phones, laptops, and TVs have a special place in our hearts. We’ve convinced ourselves that we can’t live without them. Aside from our crucial and beloved devices, there are our household appliances/necessities—washers, dryers, microwaves, and other machines that we’ve come to rely on. And what about our lights? We need our overhead lights to see what we’re doing. The common factor of these necessities is electricity. We can’t get around it—electricity powers our lives. Electricity is good, right?
Well, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If there’s an upswing in the amount of electricity flooding into our homes, it can lead to a power surge. Basically, a power surge happens when the amount of voltage pouring into our devices or appliances surpasses the safe level for our home and overloads it with electricity. While not all power surges spell death for our devices, there’s a definite possibility that they will leave our electronics fried.
What causes a power surge?
A lightning strike can cause a power surge, which is a pretty terrifying possibility. Lighting can create hundreds of thousands of amps of electricity—not good if that electricity whooshes into your home. However, lightning strikes aren’t the only cause of power surges (plus, the lightning strike has to be fairly close to your home to cause any damage.) Still, it’s important to know how to protect your electronics against lightning strikes and the subsequent frying. Not to mention how to protect your home from lightning-caused fires.
There are more mundane reasons for a surge, and these are the causes that are far more common. Some of these causes are downed power lines or change in the use of power by a nearby factory. Power surges can also be caused when heavy-duty appliances in our homes, such as air-conditioning systems or refrigerators, turn on after being off. They draw a large amount of electricity as they boot up, and the extra power can cause a surge.
How can you protect your home against a power surge?
1. Invest in whole-home surge protection.
Whole home suppressors can protect your home from unwanted leaps in the amount of power juicing our devices and appliances. Definitely consult a licensed electrician to help with the installation of a whole-home surge suppressor. The suppressor will most likely be connected to the service panel, and it acts as a gateway for electricity. As soon as the level of electricity gets too high, the suppressor will shut off the power and redirect it into the ground wire.
It’s a good idea for the suppressor to have thermal fuses and a way of letting you know when an increase in voltage has occurred. If you want to protect cable or phone lines, an additional, smaller whole-house unit can do the trick. Note: whole-house protection should be able to handle AT LEAST a 40,000-amp surge.
2. Protect specific electronic devices that are at-risk and sensitive.
Even if you have a whole-house suppressor, your devices might still be susceptible to surge damage (the home system can’t catch everything.) You may have to get additional protection for devices that you’re especially concerned about, like computers—definitely don’t want that getting zapped, right?
There are three options to protect specific electronics:
- Power strips
- Surge stations (for phone lines and cable lines)
- A UPS, or uninterruptible power station, which creates a stable supply of electricity and has a battery in case the power goes out. Be aware that the battery might not last too long.
3. Be sure the electricity has somewhere to go.
There has to be a safe, proper escape route for the additional electricity—this has to do with your house’s wiring. Ideally, there would be a path that would guide the electricity away from your home.
4. Be smart about where you plug.
Don’t make delicate electronic devices, like computers, share their power strip or plug-in with things like air-conditioners or even laser printers. They don’t get along. By that we mean that appliances with large electronic loads put your sensitive devices at risk because, as we mentioned above, these can cause their own mini-surges.
With these things in mind, you can protect your home—and devices—from power surges that could potentially melt things you need. Don’t take chances when it comes to electricity. It’s not something you want to mess with. Yes, your home insurance may cover electronics damaged by a lightning strike, but it’s still best to avoid the home insurance claim in the first place.
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