A surge protector is an essential component to most households and businesses. Large electrical devices like computers, televisions, and entertainment systems can become completely useless if exposed to one bad power spike. A surge protector presents the best and easiest way to prevent a spike from happening. Below, we explain why.

Protecting Your Electrical Devices

Obviously, not every last electrical device in your home needs protection from possible power surges and spikes. Lightbulbs and mobile phone chargers don’t have components sensitive enough for surges to inflict any negative effects. However, most computers, for example, have delicate microprocessors that need stable power in order not to get fried.

The most common devices that need protection include computers, televisions, high-end entertainment centers, and phone or cable lines. These sometimes expensive devices tend to be crucial to how your life runs, so any interruptions to their operation can prove inconvenient.

How a Surge Protector Works

Lightning is probably the first thing you think of when someone asks what can cause a power surge. While a lightning strike would most definitely cause a power spike, a surge protector can rarely protect from a spike that large. Instead, a surge protector will protect your electrical devices from normal spikes in your home’s power.

Throughout the day, various electrical devices tap into the power for a single building. Sometimes you use more of these devices than at other times.

If you’ve ever had a hair dryer, a straightener, an electrical toothbrush, and a music player all plugged into one or two bathroom outlets, you may have experienced an overloaded circuit. Luckily, none of those devices are likely to be damaged from a power surge, unlike the devices for which you should use a surge protector.

A surge protector diverts energy safely to a protective component in the surge protector itself. This device takes the excess power and deposits it elsewhere so that power doesn’t overload your sensitive equipment.

Not All Surge Protectors Are Created Equal

People often assume that surge protectors and power strips are the same thing. This is not true. While some surge protectors come in the form of power strips, cheaper power strips do not have the same protection. You can also purchase surge protectors that are meant for one device or that are more portable.

Even within surge protectors themselves, not all layouts are the same. As with most electrical equipment, the product’s quality has a large impact on its effectiveness. Choose a surge protector from a trusted company and discuss your needs with your electrician in order to find a device that suits you best.

When to Replace Your Surge Protector

Unfortunately, no surge protector will last forever. The effort of moving power spikes safely will eventually exhaust the surge protector, and you will be left with a normal power strip. The lifespan of your protector depends on how often and how large your electrical surges are. Some higher-end surge protectors actually have lights or alarms to indicate when it needs to be replaced.

Otherwise, it can be difficult to tell when you need a new surge protector. You should usually get a new one after a decade, though you may need one sooner in some cases. Through testing and observation, your electrician can help you determine if your surge protector is worn out.

Chances are, you need a power strip for your entertainment center anyway. So go ahead and protect your equipment by spending a few extra bucks on a surge protector. And for further discussions, tips, and hints for your home’s other electrical or HVAC systems, read our other blog posts.