The importance of surge protection is quite obvious for those of us that have suffered a catastrophic surge, but for those that have not it may not be so obvious. Surges come in different forms, the most common one being lightning. The second runner up would be power company surges. The third most common surge is a micro internally induced surge.
Lightning is most often thought of for surges mostly in part because of the damage that occurs from lightning. However, power company surges can be just as damaging if not more. The average home takes several power surges in a day. Most of these are very small and in most cases, you don’t even know that they are occurring. These surges happen as the incoming power varies in voltage as power companies are ramping up for expected loads on the grid. These types of surges may seem harmless but they are chipping away at the life expectancy of your appliances. Another type of surge that originates with your power provider is when there is a failure to a part, such as a transformer or a damaged wire. These types of surges can be quite damaging to your home and its electrical components. An appliance induced surge is when you have an appliance such as an air conditioner that is starting up and you may see the lights dim for a second or two. These can be damaging in the same way the smaller power company surges are in that they chip away at life expectancy of your appliances.
You may tell yourself that you are protected because you have everything plugged into surge strips. Most strips are not offering very much protection if any at all. Also remember large appliances such as an electric range, dishwasher, washer, dryer, and HVAC equipment can’t simply be plugged into a surge strip. The way to protect these items is to have surge protection hard-wired into your panel box or service equipment. Surge protection not only protects the appliances in your home, but it also protects your wiring.
A surge protective device works hand in hand with the grounding system. The surge clamps down on over-voltage and directs it to ground (which is the fastest pathway out of your home). You can have the best surge protection in the world and without a good grounding system, the surge protection is rendered useless. This is why we always inspect the grounding system prior to installing surge protection.
In close surge protection can be a very cost-effective way to protect your home. The board for the National Electrical Code feels that is necessary, so much that it will be adopted in the 2020 code cycle as a requirement for dwellings. We here at Plugged In have felt this should have been adopted much sooner, but are glad to see that it will be going forward.