How a Surge Protector Works
Recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the Institute for Business and Home Safety, surge protectors safeguard electrical devices in your home in the event of power spikes and surges. But how does a surge protector keep your electrical devices safe when all that amped-up energy attacks? The science behind the technology isn’t as hard to understand as you might think.
“When a sudden increase in voltage occurs, such as from a lightning strike or damage to a power line, a surge protector detects the excess current and safely diverts it through the house’s grounding path.” A simple statement and it sounds great, but what does it mean? How does a surge protector know how to do this? To understand that, we just need to simplify a little terminology…
Multi-Layered Protection a Must
Due to the nature of surge protection devices, all three of the following surge protection types – or at least Type 2 and Type 3 devices – are needed for adequate protection:
- Type 1: Whole House Protection
Installed between the power lines in the street and your meter.
- Type 2: Whole House Protection
Installed between your meter and breaker box.
- Type 3: Point-of-Use
Smaller protectors at wall outlets where you plug-in appliances.
Isn’t that overkill?
No. A whole house surge protector can’t handle 100 percent of surges. A small amount of excess voltage can leak up to 15 percent. They also can’t handle surges within your home. They suppress surges from outside sources, such as utility company and transformer issues, but cannot protect against the myriad of surges happening inside your home from your appliances – when your A/C or fridge kick on and off, for instance.