What Does a Surge Protector Do for Homes?

Surge protectors are a crucial investment in this day and age, where everything is electronic and needs to be plugged in. More often than not, there are more electronic devices than convenient outlets, and we end up needing a few extra outlets. Surge protectors can protect the whole house or just one single outlet.

Many expert electricians recommend surge protectors in most residential homes. Here’s everything you need to know to understand surge protectors.

Why do you need a surge protector?

Maybe you have one in your home, or maybe you’ve been told you need to invest in one right away. Regardless, you may not really understand what it is that a surge protector does.

Unlike a regular power bar, a surge protector actively protects your devices from power surges, which could otherwise damage them. On a larger scale, surge protectors can actually protect your entire house from a power surge.

What does a surge protector do?

Essentially, a surge protector will detect the sudden surge of electricity or power, and disperse it. If the power surge is allowed to flow freely, as it would without a surge protector, it essentially fries electronics.

Surge protectors have a couple of different important jobs, which can depend on whether they are whole-house protectors or point-of use protectors. In general, surge protectors can do the following tasks:

1. Manage pressure

Managing electric pressure is one of the most important things that surge protector do. The main job of all surge protectors is to manage the pressure of the electricity entering a home or outlet. This helps to ensure that electronic devices aren’t being damaged by electricity surges.

This is important because even though there are certain situations where individuals can anticipate a power surge (like in a thunderstorm), it’s not always feasible to turn off electronics at this time, not to mention power surges can occur at pretty much any time unexpectedly.

2. Whole house protection

More specifically, the job of a surge protector depends on what it has been made for. Whole-house protectors are installed in two key ways: between the power lines in the street and your home’s electrical meter and between your home’s electrical meter and your home’s breaker box.

3. Point-of-use protection

These surge protectors are installed right at the outlet. They usually will allow you to add more outlets than the two that typically come from the wall outlet. In addition, they are equipped the technology to divert extra energy that gets to the outlet.

4. Teamwork

It is important to note that all three types (the two whole-house protectors and the point-of-use protectors) should be used in tandem. None of the three types of surge protector can manage a power surge in its entirety, and so they each work off of one another to ensure that any extra power that gets through is managed by the next line of protection.

5. Warranty

Another “job” of surge protectors is that they can actually help cover the costs of items damaged by a power surge, if it occurs when these units were in use. Their job is to protect electronics from power surges. This means that if a power surge is able to damage your electronics, the company should be able to arrange for them to be replaced.

Protection in joules

A surge protector uses a measurement of energy called a joule. The more joules a surge protector is listed as being able to manage, the better protection it offers. Over time, using up those joules breaks down the protector, requiring that it be replaced on a regular or semi-regular basis to ensure that your electronics remain protected.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to measure how many joules are “left” in your surge protector, so it’s a bit of guesswork. Your best bet is just to replace your surge protectors every three to five years. However, if you are aware that your home is the victim of a high number of blackouts, you may consider replacing them more frequently.

Using your home’s grounding

It is important to remember that electronics and electricity have advanced exponentially, especially in the last few decades. Older homes are simply not equipped to manage the quantity and quality of electronics that we use today.

One of the key factors needed for a surge protector to be of any use is solid wiring and grounding. This means older homes may not be able to have access to the benefits of a surge protector. When power surges, the surge protector uses the home’s grounding to divert or essentially get rid of that extra electricity.

Without adequate grounding, that electricity has nowhere to go, and the surge protector is rendered useless. Luckily, this can be dealt with by having an electrician implement some wiring upgrades. This may not be a cheap option, but it could be essential if you want to protect your electronics.

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