*What is surge protection?
“A lot has changed in the home over last few years,” says our expert. “There are many more electronics, and even in lighting with LEDs, if you take an LED apart there’s a little circuit board there. Washers, dryers, appliances also have circuit boards today, so there’s a lot more today to be protected in the home from power surges—even the home’s lighting. “There’s a lot of technology that we’re plugging into our houses.”
“Most people think of surges as lightning, but 80 percent of surges are transient [short, intense bursts], and we generate them ourselves,” says the expert. “They’re internal to the home.” Generators and motors like those in air conditioning units and appliances introduce small surges into a home’s electrical lines. “It’s rare that one large surge will take out appliances and everything at one time,” explains Pluemer, but those mini-surges over the years will add up, degrade the performance of electronics and cut short their useful lifespans.
You may ask, “If most of the harmful surges in a house come from machines like AC units and appliances, why bother with whole-house surge protection at the breaker panel?” The answer is that an appliance or system on a dedicated circuit, like an air conditioning unit, will send the surge back through the breaker panel, where it can be shunted to protect everything else in the home, the expert says.
*Where do power surges come from?
Damage from electrical transients, or surges, is one of the leading causes of electrical equipment failure. An electrical transient is a short duration, high-energy impulse that is imparted on the normal electrical power system whenever there is a sudden change in the electrical circuit. They can originate from a variety of sources, both internal and external to a facility.
Not just lightning
The most obvious source is from lightning, but surges can also come from normal utility switching operations, or unintentional grounding of electrical conductors (such as when an overhead power line falls to the ground). Surges may even come from within a building or facility from such things as fax machines, copiers, air conditioners, elevators, motors/pumps, or arc welders, to name a few. In each case, the normal electric circuit is suddenly exposed to a large dose of energy that can adversely affect the equipment being supplied power.
A surge protection device (SPD), also known as a transient voltage surge suppressor (TVSS), is designed to divert high-current surges to ground and bypass your equipment, thereby limiting the voltage that is impressed on the equipment.
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