Whole-House Surge Protectors vs. Power Strip Surge Protectors

2013 Aug 20
Posted in: Electrical

Your expensive electronic equipment is sensitive. No, we don’t mean that it’s easy to hurt its feelings. We mean the circuitry is easy to ruin via power surges.

All it takes is one large power surge to ruin your expensive electronic devices like your:

  • Computer
  • Big screen TV
  • Kitchen appliances (fridge, stove, dishwasher, microwave, coffeemaker…)
  • Heating and cooling system

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), power surges are  “one of the most severe, common and immediate dangers to modern, sensitive electronic equipment.”

But you’re probably thinking, “Well, my most expensive electronics are plugged into power strips, so they are safe from power surges.”

Sadly, this isn’t the case. You need a two-pronged approach using both power strip surge protectors AND a whole-house surge protector to properly protect your expensive electronic equipment.

What do power strip surge protectors actually protect you from?

A plug-in surge protector can only protect your valuable electronics from smaller, internal fluctuations in power, like when a large appliance turns on or off.

But they’re not designed to absorb a large surge caused by an external force -- like nearby lightning strikes or damaged power lines. Also, you probably don’t have a surge protector for your heating and cooling equipment, which has circuitry that can be ruined by a large power surge.

Important note: Not all power strips have surge protection abilities.  Make sure your power strip actually has the ability to protect your equipment from surges.

Surge protectors will have a rating measured in Joules of energy and the maximum voltage that it can handle from a surge.

To find this rating, look on the box that your power strip came in or look on the strip itself.

What do whole-house surge protectors actually protect you from?

A whole-house surge protector is installed in your main electrical panel and protects all of the electronics in your home from large power surges which originates from outside your home.

These external sources of power surge include:

  • Nearby lightning strikes that cause strong electromagnetic fields that can induce a power surge.
  • Downed power lines
  • Power plant problems

Form a two-tiered surge protection system

The power strip surge protectors will cover you from smaller, internal surges and the whole-house surge protectors cover you from larger external surges.

You need both power strip and whole-house surge protectors to protect your home from the majority of power surges. A George Brazil Electrician can install a whole-house surge protector at your Phoenix home on our next scheduled appointment if requested.

George Brazil provides equipment and services to help you protect your whole electrical system. Contact one of our qualified electricians now.
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