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16 Apr, 2024
Posted by Joseph Flowers
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Sudden Power Spikes: What You Should Know About Electrical Surges and How They Impact Your Devices

Most people see sudden electrical surges as minor inconveniences. A nearby lighting strike can cause the power in your home to go out for a few seconds, or a sudden power spike might cause a circuit breaker to trip. While these do seem more annoying than anything else, these surges can overload or short-circuit any device that you have plugged in at the time. This will degrade your devices and possibly destroy their circuitry, rendering them completely useless. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to protect your devices the next time you experience a severe thunderstorm.

Why Electrical Surges Are Dangerous for Your Devices

The electrical power in most American homes is delivered via 120 volt, 60 hertz, single phase, alternating current. The voltage isn’t delivered at a constant 120 volts, however. Instead, it alternates between 0 and 169 volts in a predetermined rhythm. A power surge can exceed 169 volts, which can cause the circuitry in an electronic device to overheat. A large enough surge could instantly and permanently damage a device, but even a smaller surge will degrade the components in your devices and shorten their lifespan.

Most power surges are caused by lighting strikes, which is more than enough to overload most electrical circuits. They can also occur when a power grid is switched over by the electric company in your area or if a larger appliance turns on or off. 

Protecting Your Devices

The best way to protect your devices from power surges is with point-of-use surge protection devices, or surge protectors. The type of surge protector familiar to most people resembles a basic power strip. Plugging a device into a power strip with a surge protector is enough to protect them most of the time, but you should never assume that a power strip contains a surge protector unless the packaging says so. 

An electrician can also install special electrical outlets that provide surge protection. These outlets divert power surges to the ground where they won’t do any harm. They are especially useful in spaces where you don’t have room to plug in a power strip with a surge protector.

Most Americans have anywhere from three to 17 electronic devices in their homes, and they are all vulnerable to power surges. Power strips with surge protectors will prevent damage to most of your devices, but you should also consider upgrading your home’s electric panel and outlets for added protection. Contact Flowers Electric today for more information about how you can protect your home and devices from sudden power spikes.