A surge protector is a device with a type of power strip that helps protect electronic equipment from power surges. Surge protectors use special circuitry to detect these spikes and prevent them from damaging your electronics. However, in this blog post, we will be discussing how surge protectors or surge suppressors work.
What is a Surge Protector and Do I Really Need One?
A surge protector is like a regular power strip with many outlets, but it has a major function (surge protection) that a traditional power strip doesn’t. Surge protectors can protect your electric appliances from any power surge, spike, lightning, high voltage, over-current flow, or electric hazards like these.
A protection system is implemented into a surge protector that protects your devices from being fried. When the electricity voltage rises above the acceptable level, the surge protector drives extra electricity to the outlet’s grounding wire so that the appliances connected to the outlets don’t face the excess voltage and remain safe.
If you have no idea about a power surge or spike, then let me tell you that, An electrical power surge or spike is a certain increase in voltage for a few nanoseconds, which is above the accepted or normal level in the flow of current.
If you still don’t understand if you need a surge protector device, then focus on these points.
Generally, the electric appliances we use in our home include computers, televisions, routers, microwaves, gaming devices, etc. These devices have microprocessors inside their hardware system that are highly sensitive to overvoltage and can be damaged easily if there is an overflow in the electricity.
Besides, they only work properly if the electricity is stable; otherwise, they fail to survive. So, we shouldn’t plug them directly into the wall outlets rather than into a surge protector. Because wall outlets often face spikes and power surges, these expensive devices can be damaged, which we never want.
How Does A Surge Protector Work?
A surge protector is a device that safeguards your home and business equipment against potentially damaging power surges. It can protect your electronics, appliances, and other sensitive electrical devices from voltage spikes or fluctuations in the power supply. A surge protector typically features one or more outlets into which you plug devices to be protected.
A typical surge protector has three essential parts:
- An electric cord that carries electricity to the outlet
- A metal oxide varistor (MOV), also known as a transient voltage suppressor (TVS)
- An energy-absorbing component called a clamping circuit breaker
When no current flows through the MOV, it blocks any sudden changes in voltage from passing through to downstream components like computers, laptops, and other devices.
If the power voltage exceeds the wattage output of the surge protector, it immediately interrupts or diverts that flow to a grounding wire, which safely releases any excess energy. This is key because you may not notice increased voltage in devices that can be damaged without proper prevention.
When Should You Use A Surge Protector?
It would be best to use a surge protector whenever you have electronic devices that a power surge could damage. This includes computers, TVs, gaming consoles, appliances, and other devices. Surge protectors can also help protect electronics from damage due to power outages and unstable supplies.
However, there are times when a surge protector is not necessary or advisable. For example, a device that does not have a detachable power cord — such as a fridge or washing machine — should be plugged directly into the wall surge protector rather than run through a surge protector.
This is because an electrical surge can damage the appliance itself or cause a shock if someone touches the cord while it’s plugged in.
Using a surge protector for items with battery backups is also usually unnecessary. For example, if you have a computer with a built-in battery backup, you don’t need to use a surge protector for that computer.
Tips For Choosing A Surge Protector
- Look for a surge protector that has been approved by an organization such as UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories).
- You should choose a surge protector compatible with your type of electronic equipment.
A surge protector with the maximum wattage of your electronic equipment is a good choice.
- A surge protector with a clamping voltage of 400 to 500V or less can protect your electronic equipment from overvoltage damage.
- Try to choose a surge protector that provides at least 400 joules of protection.
- It would be best if you avoided a surge protector with poor built-in connections or too small for the distance of wires in your home.
A Surge Protector’s Safety Tips
A surge protector will only help protect your devices from power surges, not power outages. Make sure you have a backup power supply when there is no power.
Never overload a surge protector. This can cause the surge protector to overheat and could damage your devices. Also, do not plug a surge protector into a power strip. This will not provide the protection you need.
When not in use, unplug your surge protector to avoid overloading it and potential damage to your devices. Never use your surge protector for high-power appliances like a space heater. This will damage the surge protector and cause it to overheat or catch fire.
If you need to replace a surge protector, consider getting one with the same level of protection as the original. Also, never touch any electrical equipment if there is water nearby. This could cause a shock.
What Should You Plug into Your Surge Protector?
So, if you’ve already purchased a surge protector, you may be thinking about which electronic devices you should connect to it. I’ll suggest you give the most priority to the most expensive devices that have microprocessors in them and are very much sensitive to overflow of current. These devices include laptop and smartphone chargers, modems or routers, LED TV, sound system, amplifiers, gaming consoles, etc.
Please ensure that you don’t connect heating pad, room heaters, air conditioners, hair dryers, and devices that need a very high power supply to work properly. If you plug these devices into your surge protector, they can damage it as well as they can be damaged or won’t work properly.
Surge Protector- FAQs
You can use a surge protector for many years. Usually, a surge protector can last as long as three to five years. If you can use the surge protector with proper care, it will serve you for even longer.
You can unplug it when not in use, change the power cord if your surge protector has a detachable cable, and use the switches correctly; this is how you can maintain your surge protector so that it can serve you more than its average lifespan.
A surge protector can serve you for years, but according to the experts, you should replace them every two years. Because these surge protector devices face and handle a massive amount of power surges or spikes in their lifespan, they become weak to handle more hazards, and your devices fall at risk. So, I suggest you not use your existing one for more than a pair of years.
Most surge protectors have a LED indicator to ensure if they’re working properly or not. If the LED on your surge protector signals green, then you can be sure that the device is working properly. But if you see the LED turning orange or red, that means the surge protection function isn’t working. You may replace your surge protector if you experience a red or yellow LED indication in it.
Turn to the Experts
A surge protector is vital in your home, especially if you have electronic equipment. It can help protect your devices from power surges and keep them safe and running.
When shopping for a surge protector, be sure to consider the type of equipment you have and the maximum wattage it uses. Also, make sure to choose a surge protector that has been approved by an organization such as UL.
Remember to use your surge protector safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions and never overloading it.
Read more related guides:
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- Surge Protector Vs Circuit Breaker: Know the Differences
- 10 Best 50 Amp RV Surge Protectors [Buying Guides]
- How to Tell if a Surge Protector Is Bad? Get the Right Answer
- How to Test Surge Protector – [Easy Ways]
I’m Bobby Taylor, a tech lover, writer, and editor for Smart Home Protector. I am also a customer relationship officer of a well established electronics manufacturer company in the United States.