It’s June here in Southwest Florida, and we now have at least five months of daily storms to look forward to. Now, we have nothing against it raining every day at 4pm, but very often they come with copious lightning strikes as well. In fact, according to LCEC, there are 30 million lightning flashes each and every year in the U.S., and Florida is the lightning capitol of the nation! Lightning is just one of the things that cause power surges which can kill your electronic equipment such as computers and televisions. Over 20 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur annually in the continental U.S., whose resulting losses are typically not covered under homeowner’s insurance. Additionally, the average home experiences 20 power surges a day, about half of which are internal, and we’ll address that here too.
But what exactly is a power surge? Surges are sudden and unexpected spikes in voltage that travel throughout your home’s electrical system. The effects of a surge can be powerful. From burst light bulbs to fried computers, power surges can wreak incredible damage on your belongings, with costs up in the thousands of dollars to replace and repair. Every day, expensive electronics are taken out of commission by these surges. A surge may only last a few millionths of a second, but it can carry tens of thousands of volts. Lightning induced surges are the most powerful and can send a 200,000-amp jolt through your power lines. That level of jolt will burn standard 20-amp wiring. That’s why an investment in surge protection devices is not only a wise, but necessary investment.
For the utmost protection of your home’s electronics and inhabitants, multi-level surge protection is key. You should be considering both whole house surge protection and point of use surge protection, and here’s why.
Whole House Surge Protection
As you probably already know from fifth grade science class, electricity follows the path of least resistance to ground. So a whole home surge protector hardwired to your home’s electrical panel, can redirect excess current safely to ground – blocking it before it has the chance to escape into the circuitry of your home. A professionally installed whole house surge protector can save you thousands over its initial investment cost. In addition to qualifying you for potential discounts from your insurance company, a whole house surge protector can save you the replacement costs of your many sensitive and expensive electrical devices, from your home entertainment system, to kitchen appliances, home office equipment and mobile technology, paying for themselves in the event of even a single power surge. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association and the Institute for Business and Home Safety both highly recommend investment into a whole house surge protector. That’s because all of our electronic devices now include delicate electronic circuitry, leaving common appliances, such as refrigerators, as vulnerable as computers to the effects of surges.
Whole-home surge protection is a very effective way to protect your home from surges caused by:
Nearby lightning strikes
Downed power lines
Large appliances inside your home cycling on/off
To ensure complete protection of your equipment, be sure to include:
* Whole house surge protection between outside power lines and your home’s electric meter.
* Whole house surge protection installed between the meter and breaker box inside your home.
* Point-of-use, UL-listed surge protection at wall outlets
Point-of-use surge protectors
Guarding against power surges requires whole-house suppressors to tame the big, dangerous power spikes and a point of use, plug-in surge suppressor for vulnerable appliances and electronic devices.
Most whole-home surge protectors let through smaller surges. Also, as noted above, the average home experiences 20 power surges a day, about half of which are internal. A whole house surge protector alone cannot handle 100% of power surges, nor the internal surges from the operation of appliances within your home. So you’ll want to have several point-of-use surge protectors, as these devices will absorb that extra voltage before it ever reaches your electronics.
Point-of-use surge protectors plug directly into the electrical outlet, creating a safety barrier between any overflow voltage and your appliances. So you will want to protect your sensitive electronics by connecting them to point-of-use surge protectors, as these “lower level” surge protectors will instantly absorb any excess voltage that gets past your whole-home surge protector. A point-of-use surge protector should be used to protect:
- Stereo systems
- Media centers
- Any other electronic with intricate microprocessors
Typically, whole-house suppressors are hard-wired to the service panel, a process that takes a licensed electrician about two hours. Whole-house systems should be rated to stop a 40,000-amp surge, at minimum. Features to look for include thermal fuses, and lights or alarms that indicate when a device has taken a hit. Protection for an average house with 200-amp service will run about $500 — including a couple of hours of an electrician’s labor. Separate but smaller whole-house units are recommended for the phone and cable lines. These protect fax and answering machines, televisions, and modems.
Employing multiple strategies to protect your electronics and appliances will help you save money and enjoy using your valuables for years to come.
Let OT Electric protect your property with a whole house surge protector, which stops exterior power surges from entering your home service. Our electricians can help you optimize your home for surge protection with a comprehensive inspection of your electrical service and the electronic devices in your home. A little bit of prevention now can save you thousands of dollars later on, so don’t wait until it’s too late. Call OT Electric and protect your home and belongings from dangerous power surges today. (239) 895-2000.