What are Surge Protectors?

You see it advertised, you are told you need it, but have you wondered exactly what are Surge Protectors?

The average home expects to have 120 volts flowing through its system to deliver energy to its many outlets. If a surge of unwanted power is delivered, our wiring is not prepared for it, and neither are the many devices that we have plugged in.

When that surge of power is pushed onto appliances and delicate electronic devices, the result can be catastrophic. A surge protector power strip monitors that amount of voltage.

Types of Surge Protection

MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) and Gas Tube (gas discharge arrestor). These are the most common types. If too much voltage travels into the power strip it diverts the excess amount to the ground wire, while allowing the correct amount to travel to items under its care. Under most circumstances, this will protect our plugged in items.

Built-in fuse – Some surge protectors have a built-in fuse. This acts as a second line of defense in case the extra voltage is not diverted in time. If the fuse is burned out, it eliminates the circuit and the flow of power is stopped.

You may have assumed that the power strips you see in your home are offering you surge protection. That may be not be the case. If you inspect them closely they should have a Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating. If you do not see that, they are probably not offering you any protection, and are simply power strips. The minimum rating for surge protection is UL 1449.

Next time we will be discussing what causes power surges to endanger our homes and the option of whole home surge protection.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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