Power surges occur when there is an increase in electrical energy, causing the voltage in your home to exceed the normal amount. Typically caused by lightning, windstorms, short-circuits, equipment failures, or downed power lines, power surges can cause severe damage to your electronics and appliances.

How can you protect your electronics and appliances from power surges?

There are multiple ways to protect your computers, refrigerators, and other electrical gadgets and appliances from being fried during a power surge. You can unplug electronics that do not need to be plugged in all of the time, such as computers and TVs, but the most common solution is to purchase a surge protector instead of plugging appliances directly into the wall.

Surge protectors – not to be confused with their look-alike power strips – divert the energy from the power surge to the ground so that it does not affect any of the electronics or appliances that are plugged in or being used. Generally, surge protectors can be found at any hardware or electronics stores, as either a box or outlet strip that plugs directly into the wall.

Because there are only so many outlets on a surge protector, you should consider what needs to be protected and what does not. Surge protectors should be used for computers, telephones, and other high-end electronic equipment, such as entertainment centers, because it will most likely expand the life of these electronics and protect them from any lasting damage. Lamps, however, are one of the things that do not need to be plugged in because – typically – the only damage that will occur will be a burnt out light bulb.

Are surge protectors dangerous?

While not necessarily dangerous – per se – surge protectors, power strips, and electronic components can and do cause fires. Generally, this is due to the neglect of these items, so you should adhere to the following tips to help prevent electrical fires.

How can you prevent electrical fires?

  1. Do not keep surge protectors, power strips, or electrical cords in a damp or wet area.
  2. Only purchase surge protectors or power strips that include an internal circuit breaker because this will trip if the device overloads or overheats.
  3. After purchasing, always visually inspect surge protectors, power strips, and electrical cords for any fire hazards.
  4. If you pick up or touch a surge protector or power strip and it is hot, you should immediately remove or replace it.
  5. Never plug a surge protector or power strip into another surge protector or power strip.
  6. Do not place furniture, carpet, rugs, or other items over surge protectors or power strips.
  7. Ensure that your surge protectors or power strips are not damaged or degraded. You should also inspect any electrical cords to make sure that they are not frayed.
  8. Unplug or turn off any surge protector or power strip that is not in use.

For more information about power surges or surge protectors, please call us at (301) 605-9112.