Safety & Security
For Your Home
Surge Protectors

Common Causes
Prevention of Power Surges and Transients
Multi-tasking Power Strips

Today’s electronic equipment and appliances have become extremely vulnerable to voltage surges and electrical transients (spikes or sags). The high sensitivity of the microchips used in equipment and appliances makes them prone to power quality problems. Even though we strive to provide our customers electricity with power quality, reliability and cleanliness, surges and transients can occur due to common causes.

  • Power quality is a measure of the reliability and cleanliness of electric power delivered to the customer.
  • Reliability means that the power is available without outages.
  • Cleanliness means that the power is delivered at a constant voltage and pure 60-cycle frequency.

These power quality problems used to be more common with business and industrial customers because of the amount and type of equipment used on a daily basis. Recently, power quality has become a problem for residential customers because of their use of expensive electronic equipment that contain highly sensitive memory bits. While these microchips are small and powerful, they are also extremely vulnerable to power surges or transients. Some appliances that are extremely sensitive include:
  • Computerized appliances
  • DVD recording systems and televisions
  • Entertainment systems and home theatres
  • Telephones, modems and fax machines
  • Computers, printers and scanning equipment

Common Causes
There are two types of voltage surges that can affect equipment:
  • External to the home – extremely high energy such as lighting, distribution system equipment operation and distribution system faults.
  • Lower Energy - internal voltage drops, minor system distribution system faults.

These common causes of power surges and transients are most often caused by nearby lightening strikes; and man-made disturbances that are caused by the switching and commuting of electrical motors or other computerized equipment. They can:
  • Shut down equipment
  • Cause a loss of computer memory
  • Create problems in data retrieval
  • Alter or garble data
  • Damage internal circuitry
  • Eventually result in equipment failure or shutdown

Power surges and transients can also occur internally, when unplanned power outages occur due overloaded internal electrical circuits; or externally, from accidents or storms. Internal power surges and transients can cause disturbances that effect reliability and cleanliness with electrical noise, under-voltages, over-voltages, spikes and power outages. We recommend that there be a minimum of a 200-amp entrance where sensitive electronic equipment is used so that there will be enough amperage to run household appliances and systems; as well as sensitive electronic equipment.

Prevention of Power Surges and Transients
Surge protectors are preventative safety devices that re-direct voltage surges and transients through an alternate path of least resistance. Electronic equipment can be protected by the installation of the following technologies that are designed to protect against surges and transients:
  • Point-of-use equipment such as motion surge protectors
  • Whole-house surge suppression that is installed either at the meter or at the main breaker

These protectors are especially designed for use with electronic equipment. They will help prevent equipment and appliance failure due to internal and external transient reliability and cleanliness factors. Consumers, who at first will think that they are having hardware problems, may instead have internal power quality-related problems, which could have been prevented by the installation of proper and reliable point-of-use equipment or whole-house surge suppression.

Multi-tasking Power Strips
Some surge protectors that are designed for household use can also turn off computer monitors, printers, fans or task lights, 30 seconds to 30 minutes after the user leaves the room. These multi-tasking power strips filter noise for cleaner phone, fax or modem reception while they protect equipment from power surges. They usually have up to eight surge-protected outlets, with four of them being controlled by the sensor.
Motion Sensor Surge Protector
Motion Sensor Surge Protector

When purchasing surge protectors, look for these features:
  • Clamping Voltage - is the voltage at which the surge protector cuts off the power surge. The lower the clamping voltage, the greater the protection.
  • Joules - are the unit of energy for rating the suppression capacity of surge protectors: One Joule is equal to one Watt per second. The higher the Joules rating, the greater the protection.
  • Filtering - refers to the ability of surge protectors to remove any interference and supply reliable/clean power. The two basic types of interference are:
    • Electromechanical Interference (EMI) - caused by motors switching on or off on the same line or other electromagnetic irregularities being absorbed and transmitted by the same line.
    • Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) - caused by radio waves being absorbed and transmitted by the same line.
  • Warranty –is the protection of investments. In many cases, the manufacturers of surge protectors offer warranties if the surge protector fails on any of the connected equipment.

Consumers, who own and use sensitive electronic equipment, may want to include them on their insurance policy to assure their replacement if/or when they would be damaged due to power quality problems.

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