As the Zac Brown Band says: “many people like their chicken fried but nobody likes their electronics devices fried, by a power surge, on a Friday night.” Seem oddly specific? You’d be surprised.
With the popularity of home automation devices and smart appliances, there’s a good chance that you have a variety of electronic devices running in your home at any given time. Unfortunately, these devices could fall victim to a power surge if left unprotected.
What is a power surge? Power surges occur when the voltage running through your home’s electrical system unexpectedly spikes to a level beyond what your electronic appliances are designed to handle. More than half of household power surges are internal, and they happen a dozen times a day, usually when devices with motors start up or shut off, (like refrigerators and air conditioners), diverting electricity to and from other appliances. A tree limb touching a power line, lightning striking utility equipment or small animals getting into a transformer are what most commonly cause external power surges. Surges can also occur when the power comes back on after an outage and can even come into your home through telephone and cable lines.
Depending on the strength of the surge, this could mean minor damage or complete destruction of your electronics. Consider the following:
Major Damage: Deep Fried
Large power surges (as with lightning strikes) can cause instantaneous damage, “frying” circuits and melting plastic and metal parts. During a power surge, the peak voltage can go beyond 169 volts. This is considerable, given that many homes use electrical power in the form of 120 volt, alternating current, single phase. Hence, your electronics are “deep-fried” – melted, or destroyed. Fortunately, these types of power surges are rare.
Minor Damage: Electronic Rust
Low-level power surges won’t melt parts or blow fuses, but they can cause “electronic rust,” gradually degrading internal circuitry until it ultimately fails. Small surges won’t leave any outward evidence, so you may not even be aware they’re happening – even though they may occur dozens or even hundreds of times each day. Did you know that smaller, repeated power surges may be the reason why your phone or TV abruptly stopped working? That’s right. Though the damage may be minor, it adds up over time and can severely shorten the lifespan of your appliances.
Choosing a Surge Protector
When it comes to high price tag appliances like computers, refrigerators, and home entertainment equipment, “point-of-use” surge protectors can save you from costly losses in the event of a voltage spike. When shopping for a surge protector, keep the following tips in mind:
- Power lines are not the only route that surges have around your home. They can also travel through your cable or satellite hook-ups and through your phone lines. Quality surge protectors will include these types of jacks in addition to standard AC outlets.
- Energy is measured in joules, so when comparing surge protectors, take into consideration how many joules a particular model can absorb. Two hundred to 400 joules will provide basic protection, but 600 or more is best in most situations.
- Check the device’s clamping voltage. This is the level at which it will begin to block the surge, meaning lower is better. Stay away from models with clamping points above 330 volts.
For some excellent tips from Leviton watch the following video to learn about the main causes of power surge and how you can implement whole house surge protection to help prevent a loss to your appliances.
Not all home and business insurance policies provide protection from a power surge. If you’re concerned about whether your home, business, or farm insurance policy provides surge protection contact one of our Excalibur Insurance Group protection specialists for a free protection check up. Remember: you cannot make your chicken fried if your appliances get fried.