You have a lot of things to protect from power surges and spikes. Your home and family. Your electronics, devices, and appliances. From your TV to your dishwasher, and even your washer and dryer. Yet, as valuable as these things are, we’re still losing them to power surges and spikes.
So, what do you need in order to protect them? A surge protector. Surprisingly, that’s not the end of the story.
You see, there are many different kinds of surge protectors out there, and not all of them are going to do the job for you. So, we’ve decided to give you a rundown of all the things you need to know about surge protectors, so you can make an informed decision.
What Is A Surge Protector?
You need to have the knowledge about the surge protector before you are going to buy it. You may be thinking about the surge protector that what it is exactly?
A surge protector is an electrical device that protects electronic devices from voltage spikes and other electrical irregularities. Surge protectors redirect the extra energy into the ground wire, preventing any damage to connected devices.
Most people don’t know that electronic devices can be damaged by voltage spikes and other electrical irregularities. Even if your appliances are turned off, a surge protector keeps them safe from sudden fluctuations in voltage and other power anomalies.
How Do Surge Protectors Work?
A surge protector is a device designed to reduce the effects of voltage fluctuations on electronic equipment.
When the voltage supplied by the utility company is too high (for instance, in the case of a lightning strike or a car hitting a power pole), surges can enter your home via an unprotected electrical outlet.
This could damage or even destroy your electronics. Surge protectors keep this from happening by channeling excess voltage away from your electronic devices through protective grounding wires.
A surge, or spike, the catcher in your TV, for example, prevents these surges from entering into and damaging sensitive circuitry.
Thanks to a special system, MOVs (Metal Oxide Varistors), which absorb excess voltage, these small devices are able to save all your equipment and other electric appliances in the event of an energy overload.
It is like a car’s “fuse box”– there is a short time delay before the surge protector reacts to voltage fluctuations, thereby providing your electronic devices with protection.
By putting a time delay on the surge protector and other components of the circuit it prevents them from being damaged by large voltage spikes that might travel backward over the same conductor.
A Few Facts About Power Surges?
So, let’s talk more about Power Surges, shall we?
So what are they exactly?
To put it simply, a power surge is a sudden increase in power that can be caused by a number of different elements.
- These include an influx of power to homes during periods of high demand such as summer thunderstorms or during periods of high winds.
- In combination with faulty wiring or water damage in your home, power surges can cause your appliance’s circuits to overheat causing permanent damage to the internal circuits.
Power surges are often unpredictable and can occur at any time, without warning.
An electricity spike may occur when equipment draws too much power or when the utility switches systems, but it can also happen due to a big storm or a nearby lightning strike.
Why Are Surge Protectors Important?
Surge protectors are essential for your home office.
Let me explain why.
After you have invested in a precious new computer, you don’t want to add insult to injury by putting it at risk by running it unprotected.
Even if your home office has a good quality power line conditioner, it won’t solve the surge problem of unprotected power surges like lightning or brownouts.
Surge protection is a needed preventative home office tool for your computer and other electronics.
We all know that when lightning strikes nearby and electricity is disrupted, it can make electronic appliances or computer equipment stop working and damage the sensitive components on the inside.
Without a surge protector, a power outage can render your essential home office electronics unusable.
With as much technology as we bring into our homes, a surge protector is one of the simplest ways to protect it. There could be a thunderstorm that causes a power surge that damages your electronic devices.
There could even be an electrical short in your house that can cause a fire hazard. All you need is a simple surge protector to plug into your wall outlet to prevent any of these situations from happening.
Surge Protector vs UPS vs AVR
While browsing online I came across some interesting discussion about the difference between surge protector vs UPS vs AVR. So, we all know that surge protectors are commonly seen in our homes or offices. We use it to protect our valuable electronics from sudden power surge or Lightning strikes.
But what makes them different from a UPS and an AVR?
In this section, I’m going to discuss in detail each of them.
Just like I mentioned before, a surge protector is a simple device used to protect your electronics against sudden power surges. These power surges can destroy electronic devices like computers, televisions, stereos, gaming systems, printers, and other delicate items.
The purpose of a UPS, on the other hand, is to protect your computer and other attached devices from power fluctuations, surges, and outages.
Unlike surge protectors, it has other benefits other than protecting from power surges.
It will make sure that even if the power goes out, you’ll still have a steady supply of electricity for up to a few minutes so that you have time to save your work and properly shut down your computer.
The Automatic Voltage Regulator has been designed to maintain the integrity of the device during voltage fluctuations.
AVR automatically regulates electricity supply and provides reliable voltage for the connected equipment without causing any harm to the device, even when there are disturbances in the electrical supply.
Safety Tips On Using Surge Protectors
Surge protectors protect your sensitive electronic equipment from dangerous voltage surges. However, most people don’t know the best practices when using surge protectors.
Here are some safety tips on using your surge protectors.
Only Purchase UL Or ETL-Certified Surge Protectors
Some surge protectors are not UL or ETL-certified, which means they have not undergone sufficient testing to guarantee the safety of connected equipment such as computers, televisions, and home theater components.
Misleading marketing often makes it difficult for consumers to determine which surge protectors are UL or ETL certified and which ones are not in order to make an informed buying decision.
When looking for surge protectors you will see both UL and ETL labels.
Surge protectors are only required to have one of these labels, but the best units have both.
The Underwriters Laboratories and the Electromagnetic Test Labs are the two major testing companies that conduct tests on surge protectors.
The devices they test are small and may seem insignificant to people, but when it comes to your house, you don’t want these small devices to cause your house to burn down.
Give Your Surge Protector A Check-Up
The Surge Protector in your home is one of the most important things to keep an eye on.
If it has been around for a while, give it a check-up to ensure it is still running correctly and keeping you and your electronics safe.
It’s important to keep your surge protector in good working order.
Give your surge protector a check-up by performing these simple tests.
- Check that all of the on/off switches work correctly
- The cord is fully attached to the outlet, and that all jacks are working properly.
- Check the alignment of your surge protector, as well, and you may notice a child may have knocked it off-center.
- Misaligned metal connections to get hot or even melt.
- Also check the cord for abrasion damage as this can also create an unsafe condition
Must-Have Features When Buying Surge Protectors
Surge protectors are the first line of defense against power surges and spikes. They should be the first thing you plug into a power strip or power bar.
Some are better than others at protecting your devices.
When you are looking for the best surge protector for your home or office, there are several things to look for.
Here are some things to consider when looking for the best surge protector:
Once you’ve found the type of surge protector that you need, it’s time to find one with an adequate surge protection rating.
As a general rule, look for a surge protector with at least 1,000 joules. This should sufficiently protect your home theater components and any other electricals you plan to plug into it.
When shopping for a surge protector, make sure to check the length of its warranty to see how much it will cover, and if it covers power spikes at all. If you’re concerned about power surges in your area, or you have gear that’s expensive and irreplaceable, it may be worth the extra expense for a surge protector that offers some type of warranty to protect the gear should a power spike occur.
You might not think about it, but the number of outlets on your surge protector can affect what other devices you can plug into it.
For example, a lot of surge protectors have only two outlets, which doesn’t give you much flexibility for positioning and powering various devices in different parts of your home.
In contrast, with a surge protector with plenty of room to plug in, you can add a lot of your home office equipment, so there’s no need to buy more for your home office.
There’s no best size or space for outlets, but if you have bulky power adapters to plugin such as the transformer for a laptop, then you’ll want a surge protector with enough spacing to hold them so they don’t interfere with other plugs.
There are surge protectors with USB connectors you can use to charge your mobile devices without having to connect them to their wall warts.
Basically, you want at least 2 amps for quicker charging. So make sure the output amp rating isn’t less than 1 or 2amps.
They don’t last forever. When you have additional high-powered devices plugged in, they can start to get overloaded. There will come a time when you might need to replace your surge protector.
Many people don’t know this. After a few years, the metal fins that dissipate excess heat begin to deteriorate, causing the surge protector to stop working efficiently.
It’s a good idea to replace your surge protector every few years as the materials may deteriorate over time.
Expensive vs Cheap one
When you’re buying a surge protector for your home office, it’s important to know the difference between price and quality.
If you take a look at the surge protectors featured here you’ll notice that they range in price—some are cheap, while others cost as much as 500 dollars.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all expensive surge protectors are actually good.
But, in my experience, this is how I compare both based on my own observations.
- The difference between cheap and expensive surge protectors is basically the quality cord. The cheap power strips use low-grade wires that break easily, and in some cases even cause fire hazards. Expensive ones include heavy-duty extension cords with enough heft to withstand wear and tear.
- Cheap surge protectors also use the cheapest components coupled with a fabrication that is so bad that they fail much sooner than their expensive counterparts.
- A cheap surge protector might last a year or less depending on the amount of use and the strength of the surges it encounters.
Four Types Of Surge Protector
If you are looking for a surge protector, then this post will help you with a detailed discussion on four types of surge protectors.
You can keep your home office equipment safe from power spikes and other electrical problems by using surge protectors.
Although this might be not quite relevant to protecting your home office equipment, I think this is a good addition you might STILL want to know.
Type 1 – surge protectors are normally installed on the power main side above the service entrance, close to the utility pole. Surge protectors for type one are usually caused by an external power surge, usually due to lightning or utility capacitor bank switching.
Type 1 surge protectors are designed to protect your entire house or building’s electrical system. They are designed for outdoor use and some come equipped with alarm systems that alert you when the device is near the end of its life cycle and needs replacing.
Type 2 – surge protectors, also called branch surge panels, are installed below the main service entrance to protect the main circuit from internal electrical surges such as residual lighting energy, motor-driven searches, and others.
Type 2 surge panels are used to limit transient voltages to protect sensitive electronics and microprocessor-based loads. They can be installed in industrial, commercial, or residential applications. Surge protectors of this class are shown as power strips, and they block a lower level surge that would damage sensitive electronics such as TVs, computers, and household appliances.
Type 3 surge protectors are available in units that can handle 15 or 20 amps, 120 volts in various configurations. There are many kinds of surge protectors as well as common surge protector power strips in almost every house. Types 3 surge protectors are the last line of protection in a surge protection network.
Type 4 surge protectors are different from type 3 protectors in the sense that they offer different kinds of surge protection. These devices supply a degree of protection for industrial automation, such as factory automation, servos, motors, drives, and PLCs, and are available in both standard wall mounting and DIN-style mounting configurations.
Type 4 surge protectors are also wired into cabinets in industrial and commercial equipment and can protect against surges. Surges can protect anything from the electrical system of a home to the electric grid in a commercial facility.
Arguably, one of the most important devices of all for a home office is a power surge protector. That’s because computer systems are primarily made up of electronic parts that will malfunction or even burn if there is an electrical surge in the building.
A power surge protector can cut off electricity to these parts and prevent these unfortunate occurrences. These protectors have evolved and they are now more sophisticated than ever.
They come with built-in circuit breakers to cut off power more quickly, as opposed to slowly, and they also have filters that help prevent surges from getting to your electronics in the first place.