Many people have surge protectors simply because they offer convenience. They allow you to plug in multiple devices while taking up only one outlet. They increased in popularity as more and more people started adding home computers and multiple audio video components to their houses. But surge protectors do more than allow for multiple plugs.
The Real Purpose of that Power Strip
Convenience is fine, but the true purpose of power strips and surge protectors is right there in the name. They protect your electronics from power surges. When the voltage going through your wires spikes or surges beyond that wire's threshold, many bad things can happen:
- Burnt out wiring
- Destroyed electronic equipment
- Burnt out or destroyed electronic circuitry
- Slow degrade of circuitry and microchips
These problems can range from minor and subtle, to large and immediate. It depends on the kind of surge that occurs. There are chiefly two types of power surges.
External surges – These power surges are probably the most familiar types of surges. These are the kinds of power surges that occur from lightning strikes, downed power lines, and transformer damage. They're sudden, and powerful.
Internal surges – Internal surges occur when something powerful suddenly turns on and starts eating electricity, like air conditioners or commercial-grade power tools. When turned on, they divert power from everything else in the house. When turned off, all of that diverted electricity suddenly springs backs in force to everything else.
This occurs more often in homes than people think, especially with anything that uses a compressor or a motor. Sometimes, a spike or surge from one of these appliances can lead to a sudden outage like an external surge. Other times, it slowly degrades electronic components.
A Surge Protector to the Rescue
A surge protector serves to capture and redirect these power surges to prevent them from frying anything. However, a surge protector can only do so much before it's overwhelmed. A cheap surge protector, and even many of the more expensive ones, can't do much about an awesome surge like a lightning strike.
Those larger than normal surges are one reason the best thing to do during storms is to unplug some of the more expensive or electricity hungry appliances. However, surge protectors can certainly deal with lesser surges, including those that come from large appliances.
Surge protector technology consists of many things, but for most consumers, all you really want to do is look for the joule rating. The higher the rating, the larger the hit a surge protector can take. There's more to surge protectors, but it takes an electrician to help you figure out which is best for you.
Speak to an Electrician about Surge Protection
Instead of going through consumer sites and electronic stores, speak to an electrician. You can also ask about a whole house surge protector. These work well for modern homes that rely on electricity for virtually everything. An electrician can give you an evaluation and let you know what kinds of surge protection can handle your home electronics and appliances.
A surge protector of any kind is better than no protection at all. But, to make sure that your electronics and wiring are safe from surges, you need a professional electrician. Just as there's a lot more to power strips, there's also a lot more to protecting an entire home from internal and external power surges.