As one of the relatively privileged residents of the United States of America, you may have multiple electronic devices and gadgets that you use for work, communication, and entertainment purposes. And since the delicate nature of electronics makes them vulnerable to power surges, you've probably invested in power strips with built-in surge protectors. These are indeed the best choice for protecting that expensive computer and TV from in-house surges (which are frequently generated by large appliances such as your air conditioning unit), but have you thought about the bigger picture? Here are three reasons you should protect your belongings with a whole-house surge protector as well.
1. A whole-house protector can prevent physical damage to wiring systems.
Lightning is a big fear for some homeowners, but it's actually a very uncommon problem. Devastating power surges are more likely to come from a mechanical failure in the power grid or from a crossing of wires, which can happen when something large collides with a utility pole. These catastrophes can allow enough surge force that power meters may "explode" and outlets and wiring may be destroyed and require replacement.
2.You probably have a lot more electronics than you realize.
In this age of electronics, the list of electronics you think you have is probably woefully incomplete. Computers, TVs, and cellphones are obvious candidates, but here are some other possibilities:
- Lights (LED)
- Washer and dryer
- Microwave oven
- Electric can opener
- Air conditioning unit
- Water heater
- Power tools
Some of these larger electronics, such as ovens and dishwashers, are especially tricky because you can't use normal surge protectors on them like you do with your computer. This means that a whole-house surge protector may be the only thing standing between you and a sea of dirty dishes.
3. Whole-house protectors can reduce the surge before it ever gets to your point-of-use protector.
Experts recommend using individual or power strip surge protectors in conjunction with the whole-house protector for this very reason. Though unlikely, in a truly devastating event like a lightning strike, the power surge could be too much for any single protector to handle. In this case, you can minimize damage by placing protections at two separate points along the pathway to your most valuable electronics. Plugging your devices into a high-rated point-of-use surge protector has a much better chance of protecting them in a catastrophe if the whole-house protector is there to reduce the surge to something that the point-of-use protector can handle.
These three points outline why a two-tiered system that includes a whole-house surge protector as well as the power strips you already have is the best system for your devices and your entire house. If you're a handy homeowner, you may be able to install the surge protector yourself to get the peace of mind it will provide. Otherwise, contact a professional electrician, like those at Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, for an estimate of the installation costs.