Let’s talk about Surge Protection! Winter is in full swing, and it’s freezing. Let’s be honest, sometimes blankets just aren’t enough to keep us warm. Folks are bringing out the heaters, electric blankets, switching on the underfloor heating, the works. This can affect you in two main ways. First, this means more of your appliances will be at risk in the event of a power surge. Second, increased high demand for electricity means loadshedding may worsen because the power grid can’t meet the demand.
We can’t change loadshedding, and we are literally powerless over the situation (unless you want to install solar panels or a generator, hint hint). Loadshedding is inconvenient, yes. But it can also pose a serious threat to your electronics and electrical systems. Power surges are real, and they’re much more common than you might think.
What is a Power Surge?
A power surge is a sudden and unexpected increase in the voltage running through a circuit. Every circuit has a certain amount of voltage it can accommodate and when the limit is exceeded, a power surge occurs. Power surges can be caused by many different things, including lightning strikes, power restoration after a power cut, equipment malfunction, and even circuit overload. The damage they inflict can range from minor to catastrophic.
Internal power surges originate from within the building. They’re often caused when a circuit is overloaded or by faulty equipment that malfunctions. Air Conditioning units are common culprits for overloading circuits. Most of these power surges are small and don’t last long at all.
External power surges are caused by outside forces such as lighting strikes, power being restored after loadshedding or power outages, and transmission lines or transformers malfunctioning.
How Surge Protection helps protect against power surges
Loadshedding has returned in full force, which means the likelihood of power surges affecting your home or business is higher than usual. Now is the ideal time to invest in surge protection before it’s too late.
Surge protectors are designed to equalize voltage spikes to decrease the damage caused by power surges. Surge protectors are effective in preventing damage resulting from most surges, but may not be enough to prevent all damage caused by large, destructive surges.
Plug-in surge protection devices or power strips are the most commonly used surge protectors. They’re best used for internal power surges (i.e power surges that originate from within the building, often caused when a circuit is overloaded or by faulty equipment that malfunctions). They’re more cost-effective than whole-house surge protection, but they have their drawbacks as well. They only protect the few electronic devices directly plugged into the strip or protector. They also only offer limited protection.
It’s important to make sure these plug-in surge protectors are the right ones for the electronics you’re protecting. In other words, not all surge protectors are created equal. Some have a lower capacity than others, meaning their circuits can only handle a certain amount of voltage demand before it’s overloaded. It also means that it will only be able to equalize voltage spikes within a certain range. The more powerful surges will need more powerful protectors.
Whole-house surge protection is the best way to protect your electronics and bigger electrical systems. It’s more expensive than plug-in surge protectors, but provides much more protection. They’re a lot more effective against external power sources (such as lightning strikes, or surges resulting from the power returning after loadshedding). This type of surge protection is installed at the fuse box, stopping the surge before it makes its way inside. You can also get whole house surge protectors with a much greater power capacity than plug-ins.
So, to sum things up:
You can buy plug-in surge protector devices from electrical retailers, but they will only protect the electronics plugged directly into them.
Alternatively, you can invest in whole house surge protection to safeguard your business/home’s electrical systems as well as your appliances.