Weather Center

Guard Your Home Against Power Surges

By Casey Kelly-Barton 4.1.17

A crack of lightning. A blackout during a storm. A household appliance turning off and on. These are just a few things that can create harmful power surges in your home. 

Power surges usually last one-thousandth of a second — but that’s enough time for a blast of excess electricity to overload and burn circuits, causing costly damage to your electronics, appliances, and wiring.

The best way to guard your home against power surges is to invest in plug-in and wall-mounted surge protectors, which will help protect both your whole home and the electronics within it.

What to Get

Surge protection devices can limit the damage by sending excess current to your home’s ground wiring. That wiring must be in good condition and outlets must have three-prong openings. Contact an electrician if your ground wiring needs an update.

Make sure you’re buying a surge protector and not an outlet-strip extension cord. You should look for:

  • The logo of an independent testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek on the packaging.
  • The phrase “surge protector” on packaging.
  • The voltage protection rating (sometimes called clamping voltage), which is the maximum voltage the surge protector will allow through before breaking the circuit (a lower rating is better). 
  • Surge current capacity, or the amount of current the device can handle (a higher rating is better). 

What to Protect 

Plug-in: You should use plug-in surge protectors for electronic devices such as computers and televisions. You can also connect a surge protector to your landline to protect internet routers.

Wall-mounted: Have a licensed electrician install a whole-home unit at the breaker box to protect all your home’s wiring, outlets, and HVAC equipment. Any major appliances with LCDs and digital controls will need protection too, including ranges, refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers.

When to Replace

Worn-out SPDs need replacing even if they still transmit power to your devices. Some plug-in surge protectors cut power when they are exhausted. Others have an indicator light. Regardless of other indicators or performance, it’s always a good idea to replace all surge protectors after a major surge or a lightning strike.

Up Against Lightning

No surge protector is a match for a direct lightning hit. The safest way to protect your equipment during a lightning storm is the old-fashioned way: unplugging it from the wall.

Learn more here about lightning protection, and find out the truth behind popular lightning myths

© 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance