For many people, having appliances that turn on when plugged to an electrical outlet is already a great thing. Their devices are working and they can enjoy the convenience and entertainment that these electrical gadgets and appliances have to offer. However, unknown too many, these devices are being exposed to a possible damage caused by electrical surges and if that happens they can say goodbye to their TV, DVD players, laptops, and other devices that they enjoy using every day.
What are electrical surges?
Electrical surges are sudden increases in voltage delivered from the power outlet to the machines. In the US, for instance, the standard voltage in homes and offices is 120 volts. In other countries, it may be 240 volts. If a power system delivers electricity that is higher than this for at least 3 nanoseconds, that is considered an electrical surge. Sometimes it is also called a voltage spike, but there is a little difference between a spike and a surge because the former refers to those that last only two nanoseconds or less.
Three nanoseconds may sound so quick that anyone would hardly imagine it to cause any machine damage. It is true that in most cases, a single incident of electrical surge or spike will not cause any damage to a device, but when it happens frequently and if the amount of increase is very high, then any appliance will stop working due to the high voltage delivered to its electrical components.
Electrical surges can be caused by various factors. Lightning is one identified reason. This is why sometimes when lightning strikes, some households will experience a flickering in their lights, which is a sign that the voltage delivered by their power system is becoming erratic. Appliances and machineries that require high amount of power to operate can also cause an electrical surge. When these appliances are turned on, they are causing the power grid to deliver enough electricity to make them function and this surge can affect other appliances in the home that are currently plugged in.
Surge Protectors: Solutions to Electrical Surges
Electrical surges can happen anywhere so the best line of action is to use a device that will protect appliances, devices, and machines. A good solution for this is to use surge protectors.
A surge protector works by detecting these spikes and surges and diverting the excess power to the ground. In effect, only the specified voltage remains to be delivered to the plugged machines. Surge protectors usually come in the form of power strips, or known as extension cords in other regions. However, instead of just being an extension with multiple outlets, inside it is an added component called the metal oxide varistor. This component is the one in charge of diverting the excess power. Most protectors also have a fuse so that in case the current becomes very high, it will only burn the fuse, which will then stop the flow of electricity to the plugged machines. Changing the fuse will usually make the surge protector work again.
In some structures, the surge protector is built within the main power grid so there is no need to homeowners to buy a separate device to use for each outlet.
Surge protectors may be an added cost in homes and offices, but they are definitely essential to protect electrical equipment. This does not, however, mean that people must place a surge protector on each outlet. The smart thing to do is identify appliances and machines that are way too expensive to replace and prioritize the use of surge protectors in them. Furthermore, be sure that only certified protectors are used, as there are cheap and substandard models available in the market that may not offer the protection that they claim.