You may not realize it, but your stereo system, home computer, television, VCR, or microwave oven — anything with internal electronic circuits — is under attack every day. The attacks are silent, but destructive.
The culprit — POWER SURGES. Power surges are extremely brief spikes in electrical power that burn up the electrical circuits inside appliances and electronics.
Not only can power surges destroy appliances and electronics, they can ruin electrical outlets, light switches, light bulbs, air conditioner components, and garage door openers. How can you protect yourself?
Surge protection devices can prevent the damages from most power surges.
There are two types of residential surge protectors:
- Service entrance surge protection device, which is mounted at or near the incoming electrical service
- Point-of-use surge protection device, which is used at the appliance being protected. Includes the type of surge protectors that plug into a wall outlet.
For the typical home, many experts recommend a minimum surge protection network consisting of:
- Service entrance surge protection device protecting the incoming electrical power line, incoming telephone line, cable TV and satellite dish cable. This can be done with a single surge protection device that is capable of protecting all types of incoming lines (electrical, telephone, cable TV, and satellite dish cable) or separate surge protection devices at each incoming line. Protection of the incoming electrical line can be located at the main electrical panel or electric meter.
- Point-of-use surge protection devices with a 330-volt clamping voltage located at all expensive electronics and appliances, such as TVs, VCRs, stereos and computers. These all have electronic circuits, which are susceptible to power surges. Susceptible appliances can be identified because they have electronic push buttons, electronic clocks, or digital displays. If the appliance has other wires connected to it (such as telephone lines, cable TV, antenna cable, or satellite dish cable), those wires or cables must run through the point-of-use surge protection device to provide protection on all lines.
For home office or special medical needs, additional and different protection from other types of electrical power interruptions may also be appropriate.
There is no surge protection device or system that can protect against all power surges. A direct lightning strike to the house’s electrical system may be too great for the surge protector(s) to handle. The two-stage surge protection system recommended in this article should protect against most power surges.
Why is it Better to Have a Two-Tiered Surge Protection System?
By combining a service entrance surge protector with point-of-use surge protectors located at all sensitive electronics, a better protection system is created.
- Using a service entrance surge protection device provides protection for the entire electrical system. They protect things such as motors, lights, outlets, light switches and all the other “hard wired” items in the house that do not plug into an electrical outlet and can’t be connected to a point-of-use surge protection device.
- If the power surge is created by a lightning strike or power fluctuation on the utility lines, the service entrance surge protection device can reduce the power surge to a lower level before it gets to the point-of-use surge protection device. This helps:
- Prevent damage to the point-of-use surge protection devices from surges too strong for them to handle.
- Reduce the level of the power surge at the appliance being protected. (The power surge’s energy level is reduced at the service entrance device and again at the point-of-use device.)
- Service entrance surge protection devices do not eliminate the need for point-of-use surge protection devices. The power surge may not be generated on the incoming utility lines. For example, lightning may hit an outside light fixture creating a power surge on the circuit powering the light. If there are outlets on the same circuit as the outside light fixture, any electronics plugged into those outlets will be better protected if a point-of-use surge protection device is used.
- Point-of-use surge protection devices help protect appliances against surges that are generated within the home.
- Good quality point-of-use surge protection devices have the ability to reduce power surges to lower levels than typical service entrance surge protection devices.