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Protecting Home Electronic Devices from Surging and Sparking

Protecting Home Electronic Devices from Surging and Sparking

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Big power surges can wipe out televisions, video game consoles, phones, and a number of other electronics and appliances in an instant. Smaller repeated surges can do incremental damage over time. To avoid damage to your home and devices, it’s important to understand what causes surging and sparking, and take a preventive approach.

What are power surges?

Power surges occur when there is a sudden burst of energy. Large surges are common during storms, when the power flickers on and off or a transformer blows. Smaller surges occur all the time as electricity is delivered to your home.

Surges can range from a few hundred to thousands of volts — more than enough to cause problems. If your home electronics are not immediately fried from the surge, they will likely take damage, shortening their useful lifespan, and making them more likely to short out or spark.

How can I protect against power surges?

There are several ways to protect against power surges.

A full home surge protector

A heavy duty surge protector can be installed on your home’s electrical panel to redirect extra energy into the ground. This protects everything in your home from surges, including your lightbulbs, appliances, and computers.

If you don’t already have a home panel surge protector, it is advisable that you get one. Many electricians consider it a necessary part of protecting your home. A whole-house surge protector must be installed by a trained electrician, and can cost up to $500, but it’s a small price to pay for the integrity of your electronics.

Plug-in surge suppressors

Chargers, televisions, and small appliances can be plugged into power strips, which also serve as small surge suppressors. When there’s a burst of energy, the circuit breaker in the strip turns off to prevent this electricity from funneling into your devices.

Surge protectors and surge suppressors lengthen the lifespan of your devices and light bulbs, saving you money in the long-run. You no longer have to worry about appliances being ruined by surprise incidents, and low-level surges will stop causing damage to your devices.

Avoid dangerous sparking

It’s important that certain devices are never plugged into a power strip, including power tools, hair dryers, irons, microwaves, and other kitchen appliances that require large amounts of energy to convert into heat or power. Channeling too much current through a power strip can cause shorting and sparking, increasing the risk of a house fire.

Knowing how to appropriately protect home electronics from surging and sparking helps keep your home safer. Next week, we’ll look at 10 home safety features your smartphone can control.

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