Do Surge Protectors Wear Out?

2017 Aug 04
Posted in: Electrical

Yes, all surge protectors will eventually wear out and need to be replaced over time.

So how do you know when your surge protector is worn out? Well, that’s the tricky part. But we’ll show you what you can do to get a better idea of when you need to replace your surge protector.

First, though, let’s take a quick look at how surge protectors work and why they all eventually wear out.

Have a whole-home or point-of-use surge protector that needs to be replaced? Just contact us for professional advice and a fast replacement.

Surge protectors have a limited supply of protection

Every surge protector has a finite supply of protection that we measure in “joules”— a unit of energy (Every surge protector has its “joule rating” labeled on the device itself). Once that supply is used up, your surge protector should be replaced.

You see, surge protectors are like bouncers. They monitor the amount of electricity traveling into your appliances. And just like a bouncer, they turn away any “overflow” electricity that might harm the appliance.

So where does that extra voltage go? Well, your surge protector actually absorbs it. And every time the surge protector absorbs excess electricity, it uses up more of its “joules” (a unit of energy).

For example, a surge protector with 2,000 joules will run out of protective power and need to be replaced after taking twenty 100-joule hits. Or it would also need to be replaced if it took a single 2,000-joule hit.

“So how do I know when my surge protector is worn out?”

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to tell when a surge protector is out of joules (worn out). Some models have flashing lights or beep when it’s worn out but these features can’t always be reliable.

However, we know this is an important question since your surge protector is likely protecting expensive appliances. So, to help you ensure that your electronics stay safe from dangerous voltage spikes, follow the tips below.

Tips on when to replace your surge protector

1. If the surge protector is older than the equipment guarantee given by the manufacturer, assume the surge protector is useless. You can usually find a manufacturer’s equipment guarantee online if you’ve lost the paperwork or packaging for your surge protector.

2. If in doubt, throw it out. Not sure what the manufacturer’s equipment guarantee states? The general idea is that the longer you’ve had the surge protector, the less likely it’s still protecting your electronics.

But also keep an eye out for signs that your surge protector has absorbed a substantial amount of electricity, including:

  • Your neighborhood has had several power outages since the surge protector was installed
  • You’ve had a nearby lightning strike (this will completely wipe out a surge protector’s protection)

3. Replace the device if you find out if isn’t rated correctly for the appliance(s) it protects. Surge protectors don’t come with a one-size-fits-all “joule rating”. The general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the electronic, the higher the protection it needs.

For example, your cell phone (when charging) might only need a surge protector with a joule rating between 500-999 while a home theater would need one with a joule rating of over 2,000.

Think you need a surge protector replaced? Ask an AZ electrician

If you have a surge protector you need replaced, contact us. We can give you advice on the amount of joules you will need.

Need a whole-home surge protector replacement? We install all types of whole-home surge protectors too.

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