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What is Whole-Home Surge Protection?

Oct 20, 2020

Mother nature can cause a long list of damage to homes. Mild storms can drown plants and ruin landscaping, but severe storms can uproot trees, take down power lines, and cause thousands of dollars in damage.

One of the most significant types of damage that severe storms can cause is a power surge from downed power lines or power lines struck by lightning. If lightning strikes a utility pole during a storm, it can send dangerous levels of voltage into nearby homes, possibly destroying the electrical appliance in your home.

Types and Causes of Electrical Surges

Though this may sound worrisome, large surges caused during storms actually make up only a small percentage of all power surges in residential areas. Believe it or not, any home with an electrical system is most likely experiencing low-level power surges throughout each day.

Power surges typically only last for a fraction of a second; however, it only takes a fraction of a second for tens of thousands of volts to flood into unequipped home electrical systems, essentially ruining any items that were connected to the system at that moment.

Though many of these surges may be too small to be noticed by the home’s residents, they can cause gradual deterioration of the home’s electronic items and appliances over time, shortening the lifespan of these products, resulting in expensive repairs or replacements.

Besides the rare occurrence of a lightning strike, some common causes of residential power surges are:

  • Short-circuiting
  • Malfunctions stemming from the power company
  • Inductive spikes
  • Transitions of power between large pieces of electrical equipment functioning on the same power line
  • A tripped circuit breaker
  • Rolling blackouts or unplanned power outages

As you can tell, electric surges of all sizes and scopes are fairly common and can wreak havoc on the functionality of your electronics and appliances over time, completely burning out breakers and outlets. Luckily, there is an easy and effective way to prevent power surges from causing damage to your belongings by installing a whole-home surge protector.

What is Whole-Home Surge Protection?

Whole-home surge protection devices, or SPDs, are designed to protect the entire home’s electrical system from power surges of all different magnitudes. These devices are typically hard-wired to the home’s electrical service panel and send voltage protection throughout the home from a single source.

Whole-home surge protectors are designed to halt electrical surges of at least 40,000 amps and require installation by a licensed electrician. A whole-home surge protector detects high levels of voltage, diverting the voltage away from the electrical system into the ground wire. Typically,  a surge protector will be re-routed extremely high voltage in under a nanosecond, keeping your devices and appliances safe and secure. Once voltage levels have returned to normal, the surge protector will restore the normal flow of electricity into the home. Usually, this entire process takes no more than a few seconds.

Most modern surge protection devices utilize metal oxide varistors in order to shunt electrical surges. Metal oxide varistors are electronic components specifically designed to suppress voltage, allowing your surge protection device to reject excessive volts before they can cause damage to your home electrical system.

Why Should I Invest in Electrical Surge Protection? 

Lightning strikes can cause extreme surges at a range of less than a mile. However, small everyday power surges can cause massive amounts of damage to the home electrical system and appliances over time. These surges are extremely common whether or not you live in an area that experiences frequent storms.

Installing a whole-home surge protection device can prevent your electronic devices from losing precious data through irreparable damage; it can also protect your home’s electrical wiring from being fried by excess voltage, requiring expensive and time-consuming repair. Here are some of the primary reasons why investing in whole-home electrical surge protection is a must for all homeowners:

Sensitive technology is susceptible to damage. Households of today are more high-tech than they’ve ever been before, boasting a wide array of useful electronic equipment and gadgets than previous generations never had. With the rise of personal phones, computers, and tablets, more people are connecting extremely personalized, high-value devices to their home electrical systems. These devices carry family pictures, important documents, personal information, and other data that can be completely lost in a severe power surge when connected to the electrical system. Additionally, many modern home appliances now contain extremely sensitive circuit boards that are easily damaged or compromised completely by a power surge.

Layering up your surge protection leads to increased efficiency. If you have an extensive technological set up in your home like a home theatre or studio, utilizing multiple types of surge suppressors, i.e. circuit protectors in addition to a whole-home surge protection device, can greatly increase the likelihood of successful voltage redirection during a surge. Even if your home doesn’t use exceptionally high levels of electricity to power your devices, whole-home surge protection extends the life of the appliances that you use every day such as your washer and dryer, refrigerator, and AC system. Additionally, having surge protection in place, both at your home’s circuit panel and at your outlets provide more well-rounded protection than a whole-home surge protector or individual circuit protector could offer on its own.

Small surges are generated almost daily and usually come from within the house itself. When most people think of a power surge, they imagine a dramatic home-wide technological blowout, usually during a powerful storm. Though surges like these do happen, the surges that homeowners should be most wary of are the small, everyday surges that wear down electronic equipment over time. Most short power surges, also referred to as transient surges, don’t stem from the power lines outside the home and in fact are typically caused by home appliances that require a great deal of electricity to work. A whole-home surge protection device will protect your electronics and appliances from the inevitable wear and tear that is caused by consistent transient surges.

Whole-home surge protection provides peace of mind for homeowners. Whole-home surge protectors are designed to protect your home’s electrical gadgets and appliances from excess voltage. However, surge protection systems also protect the home’s electrical system as a whole. Additionally, the presence of a whole-home surge protection system allows homeowners to trust that their electrical wiring and devices will be safe from electrical surges both big and small, especially in areas prone to heavy storms and lightning. Home appliances will also maintain their functionality longer with a surge protection system, allowing for extended use and reducing the need for expensive replacements and repairs.

Are Any Devices Particularly Susceptible to Power Surge Damage?

As technology has improved within our electronic appliances and devices, the inner workings of these items have become more intricate and delicate and therefore more susceptible to damage from power surges of all levels. Electronics that contain microprocessors, which are extremely common in today’s electronic products, are especially sensitive.

Microprocessors are small computer processors that control the data processing of a device through a centralized unit. These small devices are responsible for data reception and output as well as memory coding and decoding and used in everyday items from cell phones to computers to entire home entertainment systems. Since microprocessors are only able to function properly with exact voltage, a surge of power can shock these devices and even wipe them completely.

A whole-home surge protection system is crucial to protect these sensitive items along with all of your other home appliances and electronics. However, whole-home systems are not entirely foolproof, especially in the event of an extreme power surge caused by a storm. Using localized power surge protection such as a multi-outlet power strip, a multitasking surge station, an uninterruptible power supply, or some combination of the three (depending on your devices) will ensure that your items will be completely safe and secure in the event of a power surge.

How Do I Get Started?

Reputable organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association and the Institute for Business and Home Safety highly recommend that every home should install a whole-home surge protection device. Though most insurance companies don’t provide discounts for surge protectors, the device could pay for itself after just one surge, especially in an area that is susceptible to frequent surges or severe storms.

From your washer and dryer to your AC unit to your home entertainment system, your items are too precious to be left unprotected from power surge damage. Are you thinking about installing a whole-home surge protector, but aren’t sure where to start? Our experienced technicians at Safe and Sound Electric are here to help.

Before installation, we will ask about several important pieces of information including your home size, residential area, and types of electronic devices and appliances used in your home. We will then use this info to supply you with the perfect whole-home surge protection system to suit your needs and keep even your most delicate electronics safe from excess voltage.

If you’ve been putting it off or weren’t aware of the dangers of power surges, now’s the time to invest in your home’s electronic appliances and equipment with a whole-home surge protection device. Give us a call today for more information on surge protection equipment and installation services.