What is a Power Surge?
Just like the name implies, a power surge is literally a surge in electrical power. It’s a sudden spike in voltage in your home’s electrical system that exceeds the standard flow of electricity. Power surges can damage appliances and electronics that are plugged into your walls, and can sometimes damage your outlets or cause electrical fires. Power surges can be caused by a number of factors, one of which being lightning.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, lightning strikes homes in the United States more than 20 million times per year, causing up to $1 Billion USD in damage to home owners annually. These lightning strikes can cause damage to electronic devices and appliances in your home, and in 2019, over 77,000 claims related to lightning damage were made to US insurance companies. On average, each claim was worth close to $12,000 USD. Lightning can be scary, and expensive, too! In a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, lightning strikes and sudden damage from artificially generated electrical currents are both covered.
What causes power surges?
Electical surges can happen from a number of reasons. Surges can range from 5-10 volts when you turn on a hair dryer, or up to thousands of volts if lightning strikes a transformer. The most common reasons that cause electrical surges in your home are:
- When the flow of electricity is interrupted, & started again – like turning on and off a vacuum or air conditioner.
- A tree or animal touching a power line or transformer.
- When power comes back on directly after an outage.
- When your electricity company switches electrical grids.
- Lightning striking your home or utility equipment.
Most power surges are internal & can happen dozens of times every single day. Refrigerators and air conditioners are the usual culprit, but even smaller devices can also cause internal electrical surges.
How to Prevent Power Surges
The easiest way to prevent power surges is to set up a first line of defense. While you can’t control electrical surges, you can be proactive in protecting your electronic devices and appliances.
Upgrade Old Wiring or Circuits
- If you live in an older home, like one built before the 1980s, then inadequate wiring could be your issue. If you suffer from frequently tripped breakers or blown fuses, or from lights that flicker or dim when a large appliance is being used, then it’s a good sign that the wiring in your home is not up to par with today’s standards and appliances.
Fix Overloaded Circuits
- If you live in a newer home, your issues may stem from overloaded circuits. If you have several appliances or devices plugged into a single outlet, consider moving some of them to other parts of your home.
Unplug Appliances When Not in Use
- One of the easiest ways to protect your electronic devices from electrical surges, is by unplugging them when they aren’t in use. This eliminates the risk that a surge will go through the device or appliance. Take a look around your home, and you will most likely find dozens of unused devices plugged in.
Install a Whole Home Surge Protector
- A whole home surge protector acts as both a first & last line of defense for your electronic devices and appliances. Instead of electricity flowing through your electronic device in the event of surge, it is instead routed through the surge protector that takes the brunt of the voltage.
What is a Whole Home Surge Protector?
A whole home surge protector is like a power strip (with the surge protection function) for every outlet in your home. Instead of needing to install the power strip on every single outlet for every single device in your house, the whole home surge protector routes any voltage or electrical surge through the device, instead of through your expensive television or refrigerator. Watch this short video to learn more about how a whole home surge protector can protect your electronic appliances and devices.
Still unsure if a whole home surge protector is right for your home? Our team at Paschal Air, Plumbing, & Electric can guide you through the options of protecting your home & appliances. Give us a call at 479-259-1906 for service in Northwest Arkansas, Southwest Missouri, or the River Valley.
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