WHAT IS SURGE PROTECTION?
A surge protector is a device that shields computer and other electronic devices and appliances from surges in electrical power or a transient voltage that flows from the power supply. Standard UK voltage for home and
office buildings is 230 volts, any voltage over this is considered transient and can damage electronic devices and appliances that are connected to an outlet.
Even though power surges are so brief that they are measured in nanoseconds, they can cause considerable damage to equipment that may be connected to mains power.
HOW DOES SURGE PROTECTION WORK?
A surge protector works by channelling the extra voltage into the outlet’s grounding wire, thus preventing it from flowing through the electronic device or appliance while at the same time allowing the normal voltage to continue along its path.
Electrical surges can particularly damage computer equipment by ‘frying’ the internal components like the motherboard or even the hard drive.
It is a common misunderstanding that surge protectors will protect electronic and electrical appliances from lightning, the most familiar source of power surges.
Even the most effective surge protectors cannot protect equipment from the sudden increase in electrical pressure of millions of volts that lightning can supply.
Probably the best way to prevent damage during a severe electrical storm is to unplug devices that could be seriously damaged.
Surge protectors more commonly protect equipment from lower-voltage surges that occur frequently in modern electrical wiring.
For example, devices such as refrigerators and air conditioners require large amounts of energy to switch motors and compressors on and off, creating surges in power that disrupt the steady flow of voltage.
Faulty wiring, downed power lines and faulty equipment at the power source, the electricity provider itself, can all cause power surges as well.
WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS IN A SURGE PROTECTOR?
For those of you interested in the technical side of what happens during surge protection, here is a summary of what happens.
Most surge protectors operate with the help of a Metal Oxide Varistor, or MOV. Inside a surge protecting power strip or adapter, the MOV is the link between the surge protector’s hot wire and its grounding wire.
The MOV has a variable electrical resistance, which means it can make adjustments to incoming voltage that is either too low or too high. When it’s too high, as in an electrical surge, the MOV redirects only the excess voltage into the grounding wire, where it can dissipate safely. The safe level of voltage continues to flow through, ensuring uninterrupted use of your electronics and appliances.
SHOULD YOU USE A SURGE PROTECTOR?
The short answer YES – where it makes sense to do so.
However, this does not mean you need to connect ALL your appliances to a surge protector, for example, a desk lamp may not be connected, however, your computers, TV and media centres and any other sensitive and expensive equipment most definitely needs to be connected to a surge protector.
It’s the simplest and most cost effective ‘insurance’ for your electrical and electronic equipment.
The important question is not ‘do I need surge protection’, rather, how do you choose the right surge protection device?
SURGE PROTECTION IN YOUR FUSE BOARD?
Goodwin Electrical in Plymouth are now installing SURGE PROTECTION in fuse boards as recommended in the new 18th Edition wiring regulations. This does add cost to a fuse board installation, however it far out weighs the protection it gives to all your sensitive equipment. To find out more call Goodwin Electrical on 01752 957808 or fill in the contact form