The electronic devices in your home, like your TV, computers, gaming consoles, media players, and kitchen appliances, are all vulnerable to power surges and can easily be damaged. These electronics comprise components that require a steady and particular level of voltage to function properly. Therefore, any drastic fluctuation in the electricity flow may cause the electronic device to malfunction and even get damaged beyond repair at times.
While there are multiple reasons for power surges, equipping your house with surge protection can significantly mitigate the risk of electronics getting damaged by this phenomenon. If you, too, are concerned about the potential risks associated with sudden power surges and wondering if investing in whole house surge protection is worth it, this post is for you. Read on as we explore how power surges occur and how surge protectors can be instrumental in this regard so you can make an informed decision.
Power Surges – How Do They Occur
As the name suggests, power surges are electrical power surges higher than the normal value. The usual voltage level in any household appliance in Canada is 120/240V. If a voltage considerably higher than the average value comes through the wires into an electronic device, the phenomenon is referred to as a power surge.
While the duration of a power surge is very brief, the damage can be lasting. Depending on whether the power surge is micro or major, it may result in the plug-in device having poor performance or even getting damaged.
The signs of a major power surge
So, how to tell if a power surge is coming? There are multiple signs to consider that may indicate the coming of a power surge. Here are a few examples:
- Wiring is frayed
- Lights are dimming or flickering
- The areas surrounding electrical wires or the power outlets are scorched or discoloured.
- Outlets emit smoke, are warm or vibrating
- There is an odd or burning smell near your outlets
Cause of Power Surges
Electrical utility companies sometimes trigger a power surge during the switching of power grids. In other instances, malfunctioning power transmission lines can be the reason, while at times, natural phenomena like lightning strikes are the culprit, leading to major power surges.
While the reasons for major or micro power surges are manifold, it is important that you seek preventive maintenance and try to identify the causes so that you can mitigate the risk of power surges and safeguard your valuable appliances and electronic devices from potential damage.
Here are a few causes of power surges.
The most common cause of power surges in a household is high-power devices like refrigerators, air conditioners, etc. These high-power machines have motors and compressors that consume a substantial amount of energy when the devices are turned off or on. The power demand causes a disruption in the system’s voltage, leading to numerous, even hundreds of micro surges during the day as the devices having electrical motors turn off and on, causing electricity diversion amongst them.
Drawing too much power from an electrical circuit, more than it is designed for, can lead to its overloading. Such circuits can lead to major current spikes due to extreme power consumption. This can happen if an extension cord is overused or too many electrical appliances are simultaneously plugged in. An overloaded circuit more commonly occurs in older homes with outdated wiring, but can happen even in a brand new home.
If the electrical wires are exposed or frayed, there is a high probability of power surges. The problem is since most of the wiring is behind the walls, it can be challenging to identify the problem. However, some signs to look out for that may indicate the existence of the problem include a burning smell or noises like buzzes or vibrations coming from an outlet, burn marks on or around an outlet, or the circuit breaker tripping frequently, among others.
Power outages due to accidents and mishaps
The next two causes for power surges are beyond our control. Accidents and mishaps can happen anytime without any prior warning and may become a cause for power surges. For instance, a power outage due to a car accident or a tree falling, animals tampering with electrical equipment, or transformer failures are also more common than you think.
In case of an outage, the power source is switched to another grid so power can be restored. This causes electricity to flow back into the system, causing a potential power surge.
Lightning strikes are among the least common reasons for power surges, but their possibility cannot be ruled out. If lightning strikes near a power line, it can increase electric pressure substantially by thousands of volts. This electricity can travel from poles to the electric panels via the internet or telephone wires and cause a power surge.
Protecting Your Home from a Power Surge
In the event of a power surge causing damage, the payment for the loss may be covered by your insurance company or you, depending on the type of insurance and the cause of the power surge. In the case of personal property coverage, you will be compensated if the surge occurred due to excessive voltage by an external event or a lightning strike. However, if an overloaded circuit or residential electrical wiring is the cause, you will have to cover the expenses.
While external elements are beyond your control, there are a few measures you can take to avert an internal power surge and prevent its damaging impact.
- Avoid overloading your circuits- do not plug multiple heavy-duty appliances in one socket.
- Ensure your wiring is not faulty and is up to code.
- Unplug your appliances and electronic devices from their sockets during a severe storm.
- Use a whole house surge protection/residential electrical services device to stop excessive voltage from reaching your electronic devices and safeguard them from the effects of power surges happening due to external events.
Read on to learn more about whole house surge protectors and how they are helpful.
Whole House Surge Protector – What Does It Do
Under normal circumstances, a surge protector does not do much for the functionality of your electric devices. However, if your household has sensitive electronics, you can benefit from a whole house surge protector as it will prevent the damaging effects of power surges. Even if a power surge may not damage your devices completely, it shortens their lifespan by a considerable margin.
A whole house surge protector is usually a regular-looking box ideally installed by a licensed and insured electrician. It is equipped with a thermal fuse, an alarm, or a light to indicate if a device has been affected by a surge.
The box is attached between the circuit breaker panel in your home and the communal power grid. When activated, it regulates the voltage and current flow to all the electrical devices in your house, including the hard-wired appliances and electronics where you cannot install a power surge strip. It monitors the voltage entering the house and does not let the surge reach your electronics by turning away the excess voltage.
The surge protector thus equips your house and all your sensitive and valuable appliances and electronics with much-needed protection against power surges.
How Can You Benefit From Whole Home Surge Protection
As we have established, whole house surge protectors can protect the appliances, electronics, and other sensitive equipment in your home and hence present a myriad of benefits. A few are mentioned here.
Prevent damage to your electronics
Power surges can be significantly damaging to the appliances and electronics in your home. At times, even a small power surge can lead to heat build-up and cause damage to valuable and sensitive equipment, causing you to spend considerable money on costly repairs or even replacing the equipment. However, if you install a whole house surge protector, you can easily protect your appliances and electronics from the damaging effects of power surges and prevent costly repairs.
Protection from a lightning strike
Although not a very common phenomenon, in some cases, lightning strikes can prove to be very damaging for electrical appliances and electronics as they can cause a power surge. Whole house surge protectors can prove to be useful as they safeguard your home and office equipment from this hazard. The surge protectors absorb energy emitted from the lightning strike, thereby protecting your appliances and electronics from getting damaged.
Reduced electricity bills
Power surges often cause the electrical system to draw more power than required, which results in higher electricity bills. Equipping your house with surge protection can help lower the amount of power drawn but the electrical system, eventually resulting in reduced electricity bills.
Reduce fire hazards
Power surges are a major cause of fire breakouts as the surge can lead to heat build-up in the electrical system. However, surge protectors can ward off this threat and mitigate fire risk from power surges.
Enjoy Peace of Mind and Equip Your House with Whole-Home Surge Protector
When you install a whole house surge protector, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your sensitive equipment is safe from sudden power surges. At Electrical Elite Inc., we can install whole house surge protectors to equip your home or facility with the requisite safety measures against power surges. We have a team of experienced and licensed electricians who have extensive experience installing surge protectors and giving your home the protection it needs from sudden power surges.