Protect Equipment from Power Surges

Our businesses and homes are filled with many items that are susceptible to power surges. This includes anything with a microprocessor, like computers, TVs and kitchen appliances. Power surges, even low-level fluctuations, can damage sensitive electronic equipment. Take steps to protect these items.

What causes a power surge or voltage variation?

Fluctuations in voltage of the electricity that flows into your business or home, sometimes called a power surge, occasionally interfere with normal equipment operation. A surge can stem from inside, occurring when equipment with a motor starts up or shuts down.

A surge also can be caused by external factors resulting from a lightning strike or something interacting with a power line.

How can I protect equipment at my business and home?

electrician installing a surge protection device in an electrical switchboard

A qualified electrician can install branch or load circuit protectors in your electrical switchboards to help protect your equipment from transient voltage.

Whether it’s equipment vital to business operations or that expensive large-screen TV in the family room, protecting it from surges now can prevent downtime, as well as repair or replacement costs in the future.

When it comes to surge protection devices for business or residential properties, there are three types that meet industry standards:

Type 1: Full-building surge protection. Also known as service entrance surge protectors, these are the strongest type of protection devices. A qualified electrician can install these permanently connected, hard-wired devices near the utility pole where electricity enters your main breaker panel. Type 1 devices help filter the power that enters your building, ensuring external factors are mitigated before entering your internal power system.

Type 2: Branch or load circuit protection. Type 2 devices are the main protection system for all low-voltage electrical installations. A qualified electrician can install these permanently connected, hard-wired devices in each electrical switchboard to help limit transient voltage.

Type 3: Point-of-use or device-specific protection. Power strips, the most commonly seen type of surge protectors, are Type 3 devices. Some are able to redirect and protect against medium surges, while others only guard against a mild surge. Look for these features when purchasing power strips:

  • An on/off switch to shut off power to every component.
  • A light or alarm letting you know a high-level surge occurred.
  • A response time of 10 nanoseconds or less.
  • A higher joule rating, which measures the ability of the strip to absorb surges. A rating of 400 is good, but 600 is better.

Keep in mind that no product can provide 100% protection against a major surge like a lightning strike. In the case of damage, it’s recommended property owners contact their insurance provider.