How Does a Surge Protector Work

How A Surge Protector Works To Keep Your Home Safe

When it comes to electronics and power, safety is always a concern. This article will give you a detailed overview of surge protectors and how they work in order to provide you with the information you need to know about them in order to use them safely.

What is a Surge Protector and Do I Really Need One?

A surge protector’s major function is to protect the device from any power surge that a traditional power strip doesn’t. It also can protect your electric appliances from any power spike, lightning, high voltage, over-current flow, or electric hazards like these.

A protection system is implemented into a surge protector that protects your devices from being fried. When the electricity voltage rises above the acceptable level, the surge protector drives extra electricity to the outlet’s grounding wire.

So that the appliances connected to the outlets don’t face the excess voltage and remain safe.

High power whole house surge protector
High power whole house surge protector

If you have no idea about a power surge or spike, then let me tell you that. An electrical power surge or spike is a certain increase in voltage for a few nanoseconds, which is above the accepted or normal level in the flow of current.

Generally, the electric appliances we use in our home include computers, televisions, routers, microwaves, gaming devices, etc. These devices have microprocessors inside their hardware system that are highly sensitive to overvoltage and can be damaged easily if there is an overflow in the electricity. 

Besides, they only work properly if the electricity is stable; otherwise, they fail to survive. So, we shouldn’t plug them directly into the wall outlets rather than into a surge protector.

Because wall outlets often face spikes and power surges, these expensive devices can be damaged, which we never want. 

best single outlet surge protector
Single outlet surge protector

Types of Surge Protector

There are different types of surge protectors, depending on the type of power or outlet they are attached to. Some surge protectors have a built-in transformer that can convert the voltage from an AC outlet to the correct voltage for your device, while others simply have a circuit breaker that shut off power when there is an excess of electricity flowing through it.

There are three main types of surge protectors:

  • Whole-house surge protector
  • Surge protector strip and
  • Wall-mount surge protector

But depending on the working process and uses. You can find 6 types of surge protectors. These are:

  • Direct Plug-In
  • In-Line
  • Strip
  • Rack-Mount
  • Bench-Mount
  • Shared

How Does A Surge Protector Work? Explained

It can protect your electronics, appliances, and other sensitive electrical devices from voltage spikes or fluctuations in the power supply. A surge protector typically features one or more outlets into which you plug devices to be protected.

A typical surge protector has three essential parts:

  • An electric cord that carries electricity to the outlet.
  • A metal oxide varistor (MOV), also known as a transient voltage suppressor (TVS).
  • An energy-absorbing component called a clamping circuit breaker.
The graphical diagram shows different parts of a surge protector.
The graphical diagram shows different parts of a surge protector. Image Credit: Tripplite

When no current flows through the MOV, it blocks any sudden changes in voltage from passing through to downstream components like computers, laptops, and other devices.

If the power voltage exceeds the wattage output of the surge protector, it immediately interrupts or diverts that flow to a grounding wire, which safely releases any excess energy. This is key because you may not notice increased voltage in devices that can be damaged without proper prevention.

Tips For Choosing A Surge Protector

  • Look for a surge protector that has been approved by an organization such as UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories).
  • You should choose a surge protector compatible with your type of electronic equipment.
  • A surge protector with the maximum wattage of your electronic equipment is a good choice.
  • A surge protector with a clamping voltage of 400 to 500V or less can protect your electronic equipment from overvoltage damage.
  • Try to choose a surge protector that provides at least 1000 joules of protection.
  • It would be best if you avoided a surge protector with poor built-in connections or one too small for the distance of wires in your home.

Surge Protector Safety Tips

A surge protector will only help protect your devices from power surges, not power outages. Make sure you have a backup power supply when there is no power. Also, never overload a surge protector. This can cause the surge protector to overheat and could damage your devices.

Also, do not plug a surge protector into a power strip. This will not provide the protection you need.

When not in use, unplug your surge protector to avoid overloading it and potential damage to your devices. Never use your surge protector for high-power appliances like a space heater. This will damage the surge protector and cause it to overheat or catch fire. You can read dose a surge protector prevents fire or not.

If you need to replace a surge protector, consider getting one with the same level of protection as the original. Also, never touch any electrical equipment if there is water nearby. This could cause a shock.

What Should You Plug into Your Surge Protector?

So, if you’ve already purchased a surge protector, you may be thinking about which electronic devices you should connect to it.

I’ll suggest you give the most priority to the most expensive devices that have microprocessors in them and are very much sensitive to overflow of current.

These devices include laptop and smartphone chargers, modems or routers, LED TVs, sound systems, amplifiers, gaming consoles, etc. 

Space heater

Ensure that you don’t connect heating pads, room heaters, air conditioners, hair dryers, and devices that need a very high power supply to work properly. If you plug these devices into your surge protector, they can damage it as well as they can be damaged or won’t work properly.

Surge Protector- FAQs

How do I know my surge protector is working?

Most surge protectors have a LED indicator to ensure that they’re working properly or not. If the LED on your surge protector signals green, you can be sure that the device is working properly. If you see the LED turning orange or red, that means the surge protection function isn’t working.

How long do surge protectors last?

You can use a surge protector for many years. Usually, it can last as long as three to five years. If you can use them with proper care, they will serve you for even longer.

How do I know when to replace them?

A surge protector can serve you for years, but according to the experts, you should replace them every two years. Because these devices face and handle a massive amount of power surges or spikes in their lifespan, so they become weak.

Key Takeaway

A surge protector is vital and really worth using in the home, especially if have electronic equipment. It can help protect our devices from power surges and keep them safe and running. When shopping for a surge protector, be sure to consider the type of equipment you have and the maximum wattage it uses.

Also, make sure to choose a surge protector that has been approved by an organization such as UL. Remember to use your surge protector safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions and never overloading it.

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