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Is Surge Protection Really Necessary?

Every year, millions of dollars are spent advertising the need for surge protection. And it makes sense. Even though most homeowners don’t understand the inner-workings of their electrical system, they understand enough to realize that electrical currents vary in force. Surges happen, and when they do, their results can be catastrophic.

That’s what makes surge protection products commonplace in every big box store.Is Surge Protection Really Necessary?

Surge protector products are primarily designed to eliminate transients, or surges. They are sold under the names TVSS (transient voltage surge suppression) or SPD (surge protection devices).

Surges are disturbances that are measured in microseconds, so small they are not visible to the human eye. But they can leave a path of destruction in their wake. They can be repetitive and gnaw away until they cause a breakdown in equipment. Or they can be dramatic and directed, almost like a lightning bolt from the sky.

The most common form of surge protection is the surge protector strip. You probably have a few in your home attached to your computer, television, or audio equipment. If you were to open one up and peer inside, you would find things like fuses and filters, MOV (metal oxide varistors, and SASD (silicon avalanche diodes). Their ability to function depends on what’s inside.

Over time, these strips wane under punishment. It can be subjected to continuous surges either because of a constant source or because of overvoltage conditions here and there. In any case, the heat builds up and the protection can fail. What’s more, these strips are only located sporadically throughout your home, and offer little protection against other potential problems. Protecting electrical distribution on only certain circuits in a business or residence isn’t often adequate.

Telecommunication lines, including phone and cable lines, can provide a path for surges and cause damage to equipment. It can also provide a path to surge into other power circuits located throughout the home or facility.

Common mode protection diverts energy into a grounding conductor. Even if you have several surge protection strips running throughout your building, or if they are plugged in without adequate ground paths, they aren’t going to protect you from these more powerful surges. If some circuits experience sudden jolts and others do not, your power strip may protect at one circuit while the others receive extensive damage.

Correctly installing the properly rated surge protection device will ensure you protect everything in your home or building, from your computer equipment to your HVAC controls, microwaves, office equipment, and more.

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