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Whole House Surge Protection – The Basics

whole house surge protection
Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is a surge?
A power surge or voltage spike is a brief spike in your home’s electrical circuit. These fast, short bursts of electrical current are called transients or overvoltages. They can increase the current flowing through your whole home’s electrical wiring. Although they only last for a thousandth of a second, they can reach amplitudes of tens of thousands of volts and cause serious damage.

How does it happen?
The most common source for the generation of whole house surges is from appliances or devices within the circuit. These are typically high power electrical devices with automated on and off switches like thermostat switches, air conditioning units or discharging of large electric motors as in refrigerators. These internal sources although more common, are less disruptive than external sources but they can be damaging to equipment over time. Sometimes they can be hard to recognize and can be dismissed as part of every-day operations.

External sources for whole house surges can include lightning strikes, utility grid switching, or damaged wiring. Lightning is actually quite a common cause of surges, especially along the east coast of USA, and its effect can be devastating. Lightning can come into direct contact with your electrical system to cause the surge or it can cause a surge at a power station or communication system.

Why do you need protection?
Whole house surges are unavoidable and unpredictable with the extent of today’s electricity distribution. And as mentioned before, they happen in the blink of an eye. Both internal and external sources of surges can cause immediate damage, degradation or destruction of your electronics and to your electrical system that is expensive to repair and replace. Therefore, you should always protect your house and your electronic equipment with whole house surge protection and grounding of your electrical system.

How does whole house protection work?
Whole house protection extends to all your electronic devices. There are three levels of protection when it comes to whole house surge protection. The first is a whole house surge arrestor which is installed near your electric meter – the source of your power lines. This then measures levels of currents passing through and protects all the units within your house or building from surges by suppressing the current. The second is a device attached to the load side of the main service panel in your home and the last is plugged in as a device or power strip for devices. This allows for accurate reading of current voltage as well as any overvoltages or surges that may happen with sufficient time to suppress the currents and divert voltage. Other whole house protectors are built for outdoor installation. Some of the more modern surge protectors can detect weather anomalies and shut down power supply to sensitive devices while a storm is overhead. Unfortunately, these only protect against surges originating externally.

Why would you need a professional?
It is essential to get a professional, like Art Plumbing, AC and Electric, to install your whole house protection. Simply plugging your television or computer into a power strip isn’t sufficient protection from a power surge. This is the only way you can be certain that all your precious electronics will be safe from surges. An incorrect installation done by someone without sufficient experience and expertise may damage your electrical system by causing a surge and may put you and themselves at risk of being electrocuted – especially when working with the main service panel.

Power surges are surprisingly common and can be catastrophic. Get a professional in to install the best protection for your whole house and all your electronic devices against massive power surges.

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