Surge protectors are developed to protect electronic devices from the effect of power surges and spikes. These devices come in different types ranging from the most basic power strips to surge protectors for a whole house.Surge protector is an electric device that protects electric appliances from being damaged due to voltage spikes. It is capable of maintaining safe threshold of voltage running through electric devices. Most surge protectors feature multiple outlets. These are ideal for a computer setup requiring different devices like printers, scanners, routers, laptops and other gadgets which need a lot of outlet to plug them into one power source all together.
A sudden increase of voltage more than the normal level of electricity is called a power surge. For example in the United States, the normal voltage is 120 volts. If it reaches more than that, it may lead to serious damage to your appliances. Another cause of a power surge is a lightning strike near a power line that can generate too much electricity and can cause immediate harm to electronic devices. A surge protector is therefore needed to prevent this from occurring.
There are some basic things which you need to know in order for you to understand better how surge protectors work. A surge occurs when an increase of voltage lasts three nanoseconds or more while a spike can last for one to two nanoseconds. If the level of a surge or spike is too high, it will cause damage to machines. In some instances, no damage takes place. However, it will cause too much strain on the parts of your machine thus lessening its lifespan. If a power surge or spike occurs, the surge protector redirects the excess electricity to the grounding wire of an outlet and maintains the acceptable level of current flowing to the electric appliances.
There are different kinds of surge protectors today in the market. A common type is the MOV or metal oxide varistor. This device includes a metal oxide material which is connected to the grounding line through a semiconductor. The semiconductor serves as a variable resistance. When electricity is below the standard level, it creates a high resistance through the electrons. When there is an increase of voltage, the electrons will create a low resistance.
Another type of surge protector is the gas discharge arrestor. It has a tube which works similar to the MOV. It controls the electricity level with the use of an inert gas which serves as a conductor. During a power surge, the excess power would be enough to ionize the gas rendering it a good conductor. Because of this, it is capable of passing the extra power to the ground line until electricity is normalized.
As an added security, surge protectors are equipped with a fuse. The fuse will serve as a resistor. When a sudden increase of current happens and the surge protector was not able to divert the extra current to the ground line, the fuse will burn. This cuts the circuit and prevents further harm to your appliances.
Nowadays, electronic devices like computers, home appliances and entertainment systems are made up of micro chips or smaller parts which are highly sensitive to sudden changes of the supply of electricity. These electronic gadgets need to be supplied with a stable power so they can work properly. Thus, the use of a surge protector is essential because surges and spikes come about everyday and they're sometimes unnoticed.
When choosing the surge protector for your electronic devices, it's crucial to look for a reliable system which can give utmost protection for your valuable devices. Here are the basic specifications which you must look for:
- Sufficient outlets to accommodate your devices.
- It should have a built in fuse as an added protection.
- It should have an individual on/off switch for each of your devices.
- UL-1449 rating to ensure it has proper quality control and testing.
- It should have an LED so that you will know if it is working or not.
- Higher rate of total energy dissipation.
- Lower clamping voltage
- A higher joule rating is recommended.
- Lesser response time. Less than 10 nanoseconds are better.
- Warranty for damages to any connected equipment using the device.
There are also surge protectors for an entire house. These devices are installed directly to the electric meter. They generally cost around $300 and need to be installed by a licensed electrician.
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