If you’re in a summer rainfall area, you’re no stranger the ferocity of South Africa’s rainy season. The sky lights up at night with majestic light show displays which some love and others hate. But as you’re no doubt aware, lightning strikes can do massive harm to your electronics – frying circuits and rendering them nothing more than expensive, oversized doorstops. Sunburst Electric would like to shower you (hehe!) with a few tips for your surge protection.
Our electronics have evolved as technology has advanced. As a result, all the cool gadgets and goodies we rely on to enrich our lives require far less voltage to operate than before. That does, however, mean that any change in voltage levels could be far more disastrous to your new smart fridge (yes, it really is a thing … I checked) than it would have been to your old (stupid) one. Virtually every appliance you have has a complex circuit board which is sensitive to even the slightest change.
Even if you aren’t in a stormy area, power surges can come from a number of sources. Power surges can originate from any of the following sources: Destructive, dissipative, and disruptive (the three damage-dealing Ds). Destructive surges are pretty much instant death for your electronics. They originate from outside your home, and most of the time you’ll find lightning to be the culprit. Lightning can enter your installation even if it strikes kilometers away. The surge in voltage that results from this passes to the ground through your equipment, resulting in damage or – more likely, given the sensitive micro circuitry in most devices – destruction.
Dissipative surges occur when there are high-frequency pulsations from malfunctioning equipment. These occur when there is a repetitive pulsing of short duration energy. They’re considered slow-kill surges since they won’t immediately damage your electronics, but gradually reduce the lifespan of your goodies.
Disruptive surges aren’t fatal either, but they’re far from innocuous. Often, if you have two different types of equipment on the same breaker, these insidious surges affect the electronic device and result in some annoying behaviour (spookily changing the speed at which your washing machine is spinning, for example, or resetting your router mid Netflix binge-fest).
Any one of these triple Ds can hit your pocket pretty hard because you’ll find yourself having to replace your luxury items, when you could have simply installed surge protection devices (SPD).
Slaying Power Surges, One Protector At A Time
And here you have different options: You can get a SPD that is less costly, but know that the likelihood of it failing is relatively high (we’ll get into why that is in a bit). You can also opt for whole house surge protection which can save you thousands over its initial investment cost. If you want the highest possible protection of your home’s electronics and inhabitants, multi-level surge protection is key. To ensure complete protection be sure to include whole house surge protection between outside power lines and your home’s electric meter, and have a whole house surge protection unit installed between the meter and breaker box inside your home.
SPD go hand in hand with whole house surge protection. It’s that extra security blanket you want just in case … and it pays off! Keep in mind, though, that you’re going to want to fork out the extra cash for the SPD that comes with joule meters. These are great because they indicate how many joules (the unit of energy) your chosen SPD is capable of absorbing. The higher, the better. Make sure that you’re keeping an eye on these types of SPDs, though, since once they’ve absorbed their specified capacity, they’ve reached their limit and they stop working. That, of course, means your goodies and gadgets are at risk. Keep in mind that a really big surge could also fill up that joule absorption meter.
Simply put: you aren’t going to need to protect your blender or lamps (especially not that one you inherited from Great Aunt Betsie whose mother smuggled it under her nightgown on the Titanic, and which you have to have on display in case of a surprise visit by a nosey relative). These appliances are relatively inexpensive to replace (except the lamp, but do we really mind if it’s inexplicably rendered useless?). When it comes to your more luxurious luxury items (like that smart fridge which lights up when you knock on the door), you’re going to want a higher number of joules on display. Opt for the highest amount you can get – so around 2000 joules (or more if they have it!). Be joule greedy.
What we’re trying to say is: You really can’t have enough surge protection. Spending money on surge protection now means saving a huge amount of dough later. If you need us to provide helpful advice on where and what should have surge protection in your home, give Sunburst Electric a call (we’ll even marvel at the wonder of that smart fridge with you if you ask us to).