By Tito Resendez
State Farm® Agent
In many respects, we have become a “wired society.” Many of us have more than one television, DVD player, computer, microwave oven, automatic electric garage door openers, stereo components and on and on. A quick look around your home or apartment will likely reveal a number of electric and electronic devices plugged into the walls. And, in less time than it takes to blink your eye, these modern luxuries and conveniences could be gone.
Electrical surges cause millions of dollars in damage to home appliances and electronics each year and, in most cases, this damage and inconvenience can be prevented. While lightning can cause some surges, most are caused by other factors. Damaging electrical spikes occur when the voltage in your home’s electrical system increases and returns to normal within millionths of a second.
An electronic device you really need
Properly installed surge protection devices (SPD), combined with a good home grounding system should protect your electrical and electronic appliances from all but the most severe electrical surges. For the best protection from surges, an SPD should be installed at the electrical meter or main electrical panel. Your utility company can install this device at your request. If your utility company doesn’t offer the service, a qualified electrician can perform the work.
In addition, an SPD should be connected to each device to be protected. For computers, TVs or VCRs, a multiport SPD is needed to help prevent outside surges from causing damage through a phone or antenna connection
A down to earth necessity
It’s important to note a good electrical grounding system is essential for SPDs to work. A qualified electrician or local building code official may be able to verify the quality of your grounding system. All surge protection equipment should be approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc. An SPD to be installed at the electrical panel or meter should be UL-listed 1449 and IEEC 587 Category C. The SPD should also be rated for not less than 40,000 amps.
Surge protection devices meant for appliances and other electronics should be UL-listed IEEE 587 Category A or B and rated not less than 5,000 amps. Both types of devices should have the same clamping voltage, which should be rated between 400 and 500 volts.
More than an inconvenience
Electronic components and microchips are being installed in most appliances, and they are very sensitive to surges. The electrical windings in motors and even the insulation on wiring can be damaged by a surge. But there is more to be concerned about than the inconvenience of living temporarily without a phone, air conditioning or television.
Well pumps and sump pumps can also fall prey to electrical surges. Few of us could handle life without running water; none of us wants to deal with a flooded basement. Now is the time to investigate surge protection.