A Surge Protector: The Last Line of Defense for Your Electronics
In this age of portable electronic devices, rechargeable batteries and stacks of electronics in our media centers, the number of plugs in your home will like likely be greater than the number of outlets available to receive them. When it comes to sensitive electronics (anything with memory), simply plugging the device into a wall receptacle could be a risky proposition. A surge protector is a solution to both problems: It increases your number of outlets and, as the name suggests, protects your plugged-in devices from destructive power surges.
Transient voltage that occurs above a normal level (120 volts for residential electrical systems in the U.S.) and lasts for more than 3 nanoseconds is commonly called a power surge. Power surges heat and swell wires and electrical contacts, causing them to short or spark and often fail. Even if a power surge does not completely damage your electronic equipment, it can wear down the components of your devices and shorten their useful lives.
Power surges are most commonly caused by lightning. However, in the Atlanta area, the strain that air conditioning puts on the grid during hot summer days can lead to variations in the flow of power, which may result in surges to residential homes. If you live in an apartment building with an elevator, a device that commonly draws a large amount of power, you may experience a power surge as the electric motor, which raises the car, switches on or off.
You can buy a surge protector at just about any hardware store or big-box retailer in the Atlanta area, or you can have a professional electrician install a surge arrester, which is essentially a whole-house surge protector. When shopping for a surge protector as a consumer, read the packaging to make sure you’re not picking up just a power strip. Power strips tend to look like consumer surge protectors but do not offer the same type of protection to your electronic devices. Talk to an electrician about surge protectors to determine what is right for your needs and how to use them safely. Call Casteel for questions about the best way to practice electrical safety in your home.