UPDATED December 11, 2021 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology
Christian Mathews Security Writer
What is a surge protector and what does a surge protector do? A surge protector is that device that is designed to protect the electronic appliances from running into a power surge. They are lodged into the power lines, power distribution panels, or any other system that is prone to be affected by the input from utility companies and transformer troubles.
Also known as a surge suppressor and a diverter, a surge protector diverts the excess current by dilution and distribution, even which is caused by lightning. This way, it keeps you and your devices or any machinery, for that matter, away from harm’s way.
All surge protectors are not built the same. The build-up varies with performance and cost. And all units do not require the same build either. You need to be well aware of what you choose to buy.
1A Surge Protector Explained
We have all come across this device but might have failed to realize it. Shaped into strip or blocks, a surge protector functions as the device guiding voltage fluctuations or excess, away from your devices from any critical harm caused by it.
2Why Do You Need A Surge Protector?
Power surges can be both: internal and external and can be caused by your electric iron or sudden lightning. A surge protector works to engage that excess voltage and direct it safely into the ground wire such that your devices don’t get damaged.
The appliances you buy don’t come for free. Instead of investing in a new one, every time they get damaged, the wise option, of course, would be to invest in a surge protector, especially when it comes to your expensive belongings. Find the best surge protector for computer, gaming laptop, your desktop computer, any pricey device that comes with a microprocessor. They need optimum protection. Yes, it is better to keep all your devices in check, but you definitely cannot mishandle the most important ones.
The interesting factor is the warranty that comes with it. You’ll find many companies will provide insurance on your devices if they somehow do suffer a surge despite being well connected to the surge protector. That is a bonus you cannot just give up.
There is no argument as to why you would not need a surge protector. If you live somewhere frequented by thunderstorms or not. A power surge can be sudden, from anywhere, and damaging. So why not opt for the option that will save you from that unexpected accident?
3What Causes A Surge In Voltage?
As mentioned, surges can be both internal and external. Here is how such surges in voltage can occur:
- Switching on and off
These are not a sudden occurrence. Rather due to daily activities, like controlling the air conditioner or the thermostat, the compressor of your fridge. Activities like these cause a minimal power increase and decrease every day. The constant turning on and off of devices, that too can in the run, cause damage due to the dynamic current flow.
- Magnetic coupling
The electricity flowing through the wires creates a magnetic field. Now, when this magnetic current affects the flow in a second wire, there is an immediate surge. This is called “magnetic coupling” and can disrupt your well-functioning device.
- Static Electricity
You might have noticed the little spark when you touch the charger’s end. Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), or simply static electricity, is present everywhere. Usually, it’s not very high to harm your appliances. But sometimes this too can surge out of nowhere, destroying your device completely.
Power cables or electrical circuits, when hit by lightning, can cause an intolerable power surge. This is the most known lead behind an external power surge.
- Disruption in utility-initiated grids or transformers
Many times, there are line interruptions that cause grids to switch or temporarily stop the flow of power. Same with transformers, the switching of current or disruption of it often might cause a power surge.
4How The Surge Detector Helps Protect Against Surges?
The electrical outlet that gives power to your electronic devices might suddenly face a power surge. The power surger adaptor is located as the mediator between those power lines and the outlet. Whenever there is an excess voltage in the outlet, the surge suppressor doesn’t allow the input of that current into your device. It changes the direction of that current into the outlet’s grounding wire, keeping you and your appliances safe.
5Does A Surge Protector Protect Against Lightning?
Now we know, a common reason behind external power surge can be lightning from thunderstorms. But does a surge protector function to protect it? It depends. Now yes, surge protectors protect against power surges.
But any common surge protector will not function greatly against a violent thunderstorm. It is best advisable then to unplug all your devices and not take any risk. This is why in extreme conditions, you’ll see the town electricity supplier itself cutting off power outsource into households.
6Things To Consider When Buying A Surge Guard
A surge guard is an important investment that requires regular servicing. Here are a few things you can keep in mind before you decide to buy a surge protector:
The number of outlets
The number of outlets to a surge protector is not limited. You can connect as many devices as you need. For future needs, maybe buy one that comes with a few extra ports. Don’t forget; there are surge protectors that come with even 12 ports and more. Don’t over-buy but don’t under-buy either.
The higher the joules, the higher power surge your surge protector is promising to withstand.
If you are looking to use the electrical surge protector for menial devices that don’t use power as much. Don’t spend too much. The will not require a top-notch, higher power withstanding surge protector. However, for important devices that require more current, you should invest more.
Surge protectors do need regular replacement. An out-of-date surge protector is as good as none. So, do keep in mind when you are buying one.