With advancements in electronics and the cost of the circuits, whole house surge protectors have become more common in recent years. For many machines and devices, the electronic components are the most expensive and most difficult to replace. Electrical events, such as surges and strikes, can do irreparable damage to all types of equipment. A few questions come up with these needs:
Do surge protectors really work?
Answer: Sometimes. Surge protectors are not a 100% guarantee against electrical events, although some devices offer limited warranties, financially speaking. True surges from the source through the device will generally be covered. Near direct strikes, which follow alternate paths to the equipment, are not, unless the surge protector is in line with the flow of energy.
What devices offer surge protection?
While there are classifications of device, the most simple classifications break devices into two installation locations: whole house or local. Each can cover incoming power, cable and other data lines.
Whole house surge protectors are installed in or at the electrical panel and offer protection for all circuits. They are consumable, and as such, they can be damaged and will take the damage away from the equipment they protect. They are reasonably effective for surges, but not strikes. They help cover appliances that are built into the property.
Local devices, frequently built into inexpensive power strips, can further protect expensive electronic equipment. They can be used in conjunction with whole house protection and offer some protection against strikes not traveling through main wiring.
GFCI circuits can also protect devices plugged into the GFCI outlet. While these are not specifically surge protectors, adding a GFCI outlet to a device can help. These will often trip during lightning events and help arrest the damage potential. Our electricians at Efficient AC, Electric & Plumbing are skilled in GFCI outlet installation.
How much protection do I need?
This is a question of risk versus return. For most whole home surge protectors, a rated surge protector of 2000 Joules (unit of energy) or higher is desirable. More is better to a point; however, if the cost of the protection exceeds the value of protected items, you may be going overboard with protection. Also, consider the frequency of electrical events in your area.
In closing, with the number of electronic devices and their value, consider adding at least a single whole house device and perhaps adding a GFCI receptacle or two for the most expensive items. While not fully comprehensive, this may get you the best bang for the buck.
For more information on having a whole home surge protector installed, contact us online or give us a call at 512-501-2275.
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