Imagine your home as a network of electronics and appliances. From the toaster and hair dryer to the washing machine and phone charger—we rely on electricity in almost every aspect of our lives. For that reason, the average household is incredibly vulnerable to power surges.
A whole-home surge protection system can provide a barrier from excess voltage. But before you consider installing one into your home, you should understand why they are such a beneficial tool.
What Are Power Surges?
The average power surge lasts for only a fraction of a second, but in that short period, it can blast your home’s electrical system with tens of thousands of volts. There are three kinds of power surges: destructive, disruptive, and dissipative.
A destructive surge is a significant spike in energy from outside the home, like a lightning strike in an electrical storm. They are incredibly dangerous and potentially devastating to your home’s electrical system. A dissipative surge is usually caused by malfunctioning power grid equipment. This will not immediately damage your electronics, but can push them to the breaking point over time.
Unlike dissipative or destructive surges, disruptive surges come from inside the home. They usually happen when two opposing forms of equipment function on the same breaker, causing one of them to malfunction. Your AC might turn off when you run the dishwasher, or your power might flicker when you do a load of laundry.
Lighting is rare, but disruptive and other smaller power surges are incredibly common. In fact, every day you use your electronics, you are experiencing a small power surge without even realizing it. These spikes in voltage can be caused by:
- Power outages
- Tripped circuit breakers
- Short circuits
- Electromagnetic pulses
- The cycling of high energy-use appliances
Issues like these happen so frequently that most do not realize 80% of power surges start inside the house. And even though one of these surges usually is not enough to ruin your electronics, frequent surges can deteriorate your devices from the inside out and shorten their overall lifespan.
Incorporating whole-home surge protection is a great way to prevent device deterioration and get the most out of your electronic investments. It will work for those smaller, daily surges and prevent bigger and more dangerous voltage spikes if and when they happen.
How Do Whole-Home Surge Protectors Work?
You may have seen the individual plug-in protectors that can suppress vulnerable appliances and electronics from excess surges. Whole-home surge protection works best not to replace a plug-in protector but as an additional line of defense.
Think about it this way—those motorcyclists you see on the road have helmets on (if they are smart). They also usually wear leather outfits. These are not just for fashion. They actually provide an extra layer of protection in case they crash or fall off. If they just wear the helmet or the leather, they risk physical damage in the worst-case scenario. While wearing both is an extra effort, it is the best foot forward to protect themselves in an emergency.
Whole-home surge protectors are hard-wired to the service panel, and they are capable of suppressing a surge at 40,000-amps or more. They function similarly to plug-in surge protectors in that they spend most of their time allowing a flow of electricity to pass through them. But in the case of a voltage spike, these protectors can divert the excess surge away from your home and into your property’s ground wire.
Benefits of Whole-Home Surge Protection
For the various spikes of energy your home experiences daily, whole-home surge protection is the best way to protect your electrical systems. The small surges are almost more harmful than large ones in a way, as they are hard to predict and even harder to notice until it is too late.
You value your electronics. As careful as you are with your devices, you do not want to lose power or device life expectancy because you plugged your charger into an exposed power outlet. Whole-home surge protection safeguards every outlet at your home and works to keep them functioning every day.
There are also many options when it comes to whole-home surge protection. You might want to pick one based on the frequency of electrical storms in your area. The baseline for the average home is around 10kA, but coverage can go as high as 80kA. If that does not make any sense to you, a Safe and Sound Electric technician can help you decode the jargon and pick what model of surge protection will be best for your home.
Incorporating Whole-Home Surge Protection
There are things you should consider when it comes to installing a whole-home surge protector. These protectors function primarily with your home’s electrical grounding. For that reason, you need to check whether your home has a ground wire, which is an electrical wire that digs into the ground below your home.
A ground wire is basically an alternative path for excess current. When your surge protector diverts dangerous voltage, they aim it into your ground wire and out of your home. If your home doesn’t have a ground wire, or if the existing one is over fifty years old, you should arrange to get your home’s electrical grounding before installing a surge protector.
Several factors go into the price of your whole-home surge protection. Your home may have a subpanel, which is put into place when the distance between the main panel and the appliances is too great. It is still possible to install surge protection in this case, but it may cost a little more.
You want to know that the money you are spending will protect your home from surges big and small. And to make sure that happens, you should choose a service provider that values you and your household.