23 June 2013

Do you have adequate power surge protection?

DO YOU have your computer plugged into a surge protector? Is your air conditioning system protected from power surges? And do you think you have adequate protection during an electrical storm? The reality is that many don't know enough about power surges. What are they? Where do they start? How can I protect against them? And what the heck is a Surge Protection Device?

A power surge is a sudden and unwanted increase in voltage that causes damage or can destroy electrical equipment. They crash hard drives and fry printed circuit boards, components that exist in practically every piece of electrical equipment.

Power surges come in two forms; the first from switching on the electricity supply network by high powered electric motors and transformers. In addition hundreds of transient spikes occur daily from devices in the home. The second is by lightning and electrostatic discharges, more common in rural properties but also known to strike properties on urbanisations.

Each year about 2 million flashes of lightning occur on the Iberian Peninsula. Lightning can strike a building directly, the ground nearby, or even overhead power lines miles away and cause power surges. Mains electric cables, TV/Sat and telephone cables which enter from the outside of a building act as conductors for lightning strikes and can facilitate the way for power surges.

When a power surge strikes it shows no mercy and will strike every plugged in appliance on a search and destroy mission. Protection for the whole house can only be provided by a Surge Protection Device (SPD) connected to the entire electrical installation. This is the only way to safeguard everything in the home.

A SPD works in one of two ways; either by diverting the current generated by the power surge directly to earth, or by disconnecting the mains supply preventing the power surge passing through the equipment. Air conditioning units are very prone to damage from power surges as well as computer equipment and TV's. Most air conditioning and TV satellite installation companies will not guarantee their equipment unless it is protected by a SPD.

RCD does not provide protection against power surges. A multi-outlet power strip fitted with an inbuilt basic surge protector can only provide minimal protection for a limited number of items.

Surge Protection Devices are recommended for properties with sensitive and expensive electrical and electronic equipment. They are also strongly recommended for installations in rural areas supplied with Solar Energy Systems exposed to high risks of lightning. 

Make sure you protect your expensive electronic equipment.