Many people look at a surge protector like it’s just a fancy power strip, just another multi-extension plug. It’s way more than that, and AIC has come to the realization that some people don’t know how crucial surge protectors are in playing such a huge role in electronic device maintenance.
In order to understand the importance of surge protection and how it works, let’s start off by explaining an electrical surge.
Think of an electrical surge like kinking a hose. Electricity is the flowing water. When you turn on the hose, built up pressure pushes the water towards the end of the hose. Electricity is very similar in the sense of plugging in an appliance and electricity moving from one end of the wire to the other end, through high electrical energy, or pressure.
Voltage is the measure of electricity’s potential energy, or the electric pressure deference between two points. When the voltage raises above normal for at least 3 nanoseconds, you’ve got yourself a surge. If the surge is great enough, it can not only harm your home automation systems, it could destroy them.
Going back to our metaphor of a kinked hose. Once you kink the hose, water pressure builds up and if too much pressure builds up it starts to leak, and once you let go of the hose, you have a sudden burst of water. The same is true for all electrical wiring systems. Once the voltage gets too elevated, or too much pressure, then the electricity will surge through. Causing immense heat, which can lead to smoke, even fire.
Where can surges come from?
There are two origins of surges that can occur; lightning surges and switching surges.
Lightning surges can either be from a direct hit, or an indirect hit such as power lines, telephone lines, cable lines, etc. Furthermore, if you have lightning rods built into your home, they only protect from lightning fires, they don’t prevent surges from happening.
Switching surges happen when electrical loads are turned on or off, physically or by the appliance itself. Like your coffee pots heat plate turning on and off to keep your coffee at a perfect temperature. Or your refrigerator kicking on and off to keep your food cold. Even your air conditioner demands a lot of electricity and puts a lot of stress on the grid and can cause surges. An analogy often given is the “water hammer” that can occur in your piping if a faucet is turned off too quickly. The electric current flowing in the wires tries to flow for a short time after the switch has been opened, producing a surge in the wiring, just like the surge of pressure in the piping.
How often does it happen? Why spend your money on something that may not happen? Why should I care? Well if you’ve ever seen lighting strike, you know it’s random and can strike more than once at the same place. You also know that your appliances continue to “run” all day; turning on and off all day.
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Recently we installed a new custom home audio system with a sweet looking Curved 4K Ultra HD TV and made sure we used a Panamax surge protector. A few days later, our clients home was struck by lightning, rendering her microwave, refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, dishwasher, pretty much everything accept for what we recently installed trash!
Why? Because we ensured our client understand the importance of protecting her hard earned home theater system.
The trade off is a fairly large chunk of money to replace all your unprotected home automation systems when a surge destroys them. Or, use a much smaller chunk of money to buy a surge protector for effective appliance and equipment protection. This is very important for our clients in the Bluffton and Hilton Head areas. Believe us when we tell you it isn’t uncommon for homes to be struck by lighting and it isn’t uncommon for these homeowners having to replace major home technology equipment. If you’re interested in surge protecting your home, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions.