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The official voice of West Florida Electric Cooperative:
Decrease Damage from Spikes & Surges
Every device and appliance powered by electricity is vulnerable to damage from spikes and surges while it's plugged in. We've all heard the stories of (or maybe even experienced for ourselves) the inconvenience and financial strain caused by the sudden loss of an appliance, computer, or television. Luckily, there is a rather simple and inexpensive solution: Surge Protection Devices (SPD).
What is a surge protector? A Surge Protector is a device made to protect anything that is "downstream" on the electrical circuit from the harm caused by increases in the flow of electricity.
What is an electrical surge? Transient Voltage (AKA a surge or spike) is a sudden, unexpected increase in voltage on an electrical circuit. Most surges last only a thousandth of a second, but that's all the time it takes to fry your electronics.
What causes an electrical surge? Power lines can send surges into your home when they are struck by lightning, downed by car accidents, etc. This is why it's advisable to have a "whole house" surge protector at your meter.
Large appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators draw a lot of power while running. What happens to that extra electricity when the motorcycles off? It creates a small surge that searches for ground. While these small surges go unnoticed, over time they degrade the circuit boards, shortening
the lifespan of your electronics. This is why it is advisable to have plug-in "point-of-use" surge protectors at the receptacles that your electronics are plugged into.
Surge protectors and power strips: What is the difference? While some types of surge protectors resemble power strips, they also provide the valuable service of guarding anything that's plugged into them against transient voltage. Quality surge protectors will also have protection for cable and phone lines, which are more ways that nearby lightning can find its way into your home and your valuable electronics. Power strips merely provide more receptacles for more plugs.
How does a surge protector work? Under normal conditions, a surge protector does nothing but allow electricity to flow through it. An increase in voltage will trigger the surge elements to activate and redirect the excess power to ground, while allowing a safe amount through to keep powering your devices/appliances. In the event of a catastrophic surge that exceeds the design parameters of the unit, the SPD will redirect the surge to earth ground.
Why do you need surge protectors? Protect your appliances and save money - it is much less expensive to replace a surge protector than your appliances or electronics.