Plug in Surge Protectors
What retail sales staff aren’t telling you!
Power protection is a bit of a mystery to most people and few retail staff are trained to understand its importance. It can have a large impact on the lifetime of an electronic device which is why smart home owners look into whole house surge protection.
Power protection is a bit of a mystery to many people and few retail staff are trained to understand its importance.Think about that!
Whole House Surge Protection Explained
Did you know that while lightning can do incredible damage, most people don't realise that small everyday fluctuations in mains power - too small for the naked eye to see, are also causing damage to your electronics.
Just protecting your computer tower or a single component in a Home Theatre System is not effective. Any device connected to it, such as a printer or LCD/plasma TV, needs protection too - otherwise it's an open door allowing a damaging spike to create havoc!
A whole-house surge protector will suppress power surges stemming from outside sources – lightning, utility company problems, transformer switching, etc. but won't do anything to suppress the high number of power surges that originate inside your house, due to the operations of your appliances. For this the plug-in type of surge protector is ideal.
Problems with Whole House Surge Protection Systems
One problem with surge protectors is that the MOVs can burn out with one or more good surge. This is why it's good to get a voltage surge protector with an indicator light that tells you whether or not it's functioning properly. Powerguard and PowerShield surge protectors all feature this kind of indication.
Even if you connect surge protectors to all of your outlets, your equipment might be exposed to damaging surges from other sources. Telephone and cable lines can also conduct high voltage, you should get a surge protector that has a phone-line input jack. If you have a coaxial or LAN cable hooked up to expensive equipment, consider a surge protector which also features a cable surge protector». Surges on these lines can do just as much damage as surges over power lines.
Both Powerguard and PowerShield surge filters also feature a measure of power conditioning, they do this by way of a choke which filters out radio frequency interference (RFI) and electro-magnetic interference (EMI).
An electronic device with a good quality power filter will typically outlast one without by a factor of two to one! Think about that!
Types of Surge Protectors
In most common types of surge protector, a component called a metal oxide varistor, or MOV, diverts the extra voltage. A MOV has three parts: a piece of metal oxide material in the middle, joined to the power and grounding line by two semiconductors.
These semiconductors have a variable resistance that is dependent on voltage. When voltage is below a certain level, the electrons in the semiconductors flow in such a way as to create a very high resistance. When the voltage exceeds that level, the electrons behave differently, creating a much lower resistance. When the voltage is correct, an MOV does nothing. When voltage is too high, a MOV can conduct a lot of current to eliminate the extra voltage.
As soon as the extra current is diverted into the MOV and to ground, the voltage in the active line returns to a normal level, so the MOV's resistance shoots up again. In this way, the MOV only diverts the surge current, while allowing the standard current to continue powering whatever machines are connected to the surge protector. Metaphorically speaking, the MOV acts as a pressure-sensitive valve that only opens when there is too much pressure.
In general, the more you spend on a surge filter the higher the overall ability of the MOVs to divert surges. Look for a rating in kA or thousands of amps.