What Exactly is a Power Surge & How Does Surge Protection Work?

Have you been unfortunate enough to leave your phone charging during a hurricane only to come back to a damaged device, fried from an unexpected power surge? Or was there a car crash on your block that struck a power pole— burning out your lightbulbs?

While surges don’t happen often, they can significantly wear down or permanently damage your expensive electronics, like your TVs, computers, appliances, and more.

In this post, we’re here to help you protect your precious appliances by explaining exactly what power surges are capable of and how to safeguard your home from frequent surges this hurricane season.

What is a Power Surge?

Your everyday electrical outlet is designed to pump out a steady current of electricity at all times, ensuring your electronics have the power they need to perform at their best, anytime they’re plugged in. 

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— like your refrigerator’s motor kicking on and tripping a breaker or a lightning strike near a power line.

Events like these can cause the electrical current in your outlets to fluctuate. From a high voltage “spike,” that lasts only a second or two, to a higher level “surge” that lasts a few seconds or more, this drastic change in electricity can damage your plugged-in devices.

What Happens When Your Outlet Surges

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 when a high voltage spike or surge hits your outlets, your device becomes “overloaded.” The appliance or tech can be overwhelmed, severely damaged, or fail altogether from the excessive electrical current. 

While sometimes it’s obvious that a surge affected the object plugged in— like a fried phone that won’t turn on— the damage is not always so apparent. A less intense surge could merely weaken your technology and shorten its lifespan… For us, this is even scarier, because you could unintentionally be wearing down all your tech and appliances without proper surge protection.

How Surge Protectors Work

Surges take a tiny fraction of a second before they peak— a slight voltage increase before the big hit— which can actually be detected by a surge protector. 

These devices are designed to sense the upcoming increase in voltage right before it strikes, triggering an instant re-route of electricity away from your vulnerable electronics. 

Simply put, these handy protectors keep that high voltage away from your expensive appliances and tech.

Surge-Safe Power Strips vs. Home-Wide Surge Protection

The best way to protect your home from the potential damage of power surges is to purchase individual surge protection power strips for all your outlets or install a home-wide surge protection device. 

While you may think power strips are the cheaper solution, purchasing multiple surge-protected power bars for every room can really add up. While these strips can be handy, real surge protection starts with your home’s main electric hub— your breaker panel.

That’s where Southwest Florida Electric can help. With years of experience and safety training, our expert electricians can prevent costly and dangerous damages by installing surge protection right into your breaker panel— protecting your entire home from surges and spikes.

While some larger power companies such as Florida Power & Light (FPL) charge a monthly fee for surge protection, when you get it from us, you can rest assured knowing it’s only a one-time charge for long-term peace of mind!

Fried Devices, No More!

Ready to say “bye-bye” to surge worries forever? You could try to fill your entire home with bulky strips— or, you could install building-wide surge protection, with a meter base surge arrester.

If you’re ready for peace of mind next storm, reach out to us on our Surge Protection service page to schedule your installation, today.