When it comes to electricity, most of us focus on the things that impact us in ways that are obvious and unambiguous. Are the lights on? Is the refrigerator running? (Then you’d better go catch it …) Do things usually do what they’re supposed to, on a day to day basis?
While electrical appliances have become a reliable constant in our lives, that doesn’t mean they’re they’re unbreakable. Some tactics for keeping your electrical devices safe are blindingly obvious, like try not to drop them or get them wet. But others are less visible, and aren’t necessarily something you’d think of unless you have experience with electronics. Surge protection falls into this category.
What’s a power surge, and where do they come from?
The electrical system in a home or commercial building is made to provide a certain level of electrical current. This is the same level that the appliances found within the building are designed to use. But just as a flushed toilet in the room next door or a broken hydrant down the street can affect the output of your plumbing system, there are also situations that can cause unintended changes in a building’s electricity. When this current spikes suddenly to a higher level, this is called a power surge. Surges can be caused from something as ordinary as a refrigerator’s motor coming on, or from more dramatic sources, like a lightning strike near a power line.
Why are power surges a problem?
Devices and appliances that use electricity have a certain level of electrical current that they are designed to work with. If the level is too low, the device doesn’t get enough power to function correctly. If you’ve ever seen your lights dim for a few seconds, then return to normal, you’ve seen this phenomenon. But power surges can be more dangerous. At best, they can reduce the life of your devices. At worst, a strong power surge can destroy a computer in an instant.
How does surge protection work?
While surges seem instant to us, they actually take a tiny fraction of a second before they peak. In those first nanoseconds, a surge protector notices the oncoming surge and clamps down on the voltage, re-routing the extra power so that it doesn’t go to your appliances. While you can buy small “surge protector” power strips for plugging in something small like your phone, building-wide surge protection is installed behind your power meter, protecting your entire home and all of the appliances associated with it, extending the lifespan of many expensive pieces of equipment.
Ready to look into surge protection for your home?
Southwest Florida Electric has you covered. Learn more about our surge protection services today.