Are Surges Really a Problem?

On/Off Circuit BreakerMore than 50% of today’s residential products contain electronic components and the list is growing. Most people only think of computers, TVs and VCRs when you mention electronic appliances, but many of the newer products, such as stoves, refrigerators and heating and cooling systems contain sophisticated electronic circuits.

Every small surge deteriorates the electronic components in this equipment, which can drastically shorten their designed life. The average home has 2,200 or more surges annually. These surges can be generated from a number of sources, such as heaters, dryers, garage door openers and motors starting on air conditioners, freezers, and well-pumps. Most of these surges are so small the average consumer does not see the damage they cause. However, your electronics take a constant "pounding." When a thunderstorm strikes, the electronic components may fail and you may think lightning caused the damage. In reality the product was already on the brink of failing because of the many constant low-level surges from your own equipment.

Whole-house protection with proper grounding and end-use protection for each piece of equipment will give you the best possible protection available.

Lighting Paths

Be aware that a high voltage surge can enter equipment through paths other than the power cord. These paths include the TV antenna, cable TV, telephone lines or other attachments. Surge protectors for the antenna, cable, and phones lines must be plugged into a grounded three-prong outlet to protect your equipment.

Grounded Outlet Diagram Figure(A) and Figure (B)
Is that outlet grounded?

Grounded outlets were not required until the mid 70s. Your home may have been built with two-prong outlets, and a previous well-intentioned homeowner may have replaced the old two-prong outlets with newer three-prong version. However, unless he installed a ground wire, it is still a non-grounded outlet. Outlet testers are an inexpensive way to see if the outlet is wired properly. A tester can be purchased at most hardware and home centers.

If your outlet is not properly grounded or if it is an older two-prong outlet (Figure A) it would be preferable to have an electrician run a ground wire to the outlet.

Electronic equipment must be plugged directly into the surge suppressor with the surge suppressor plugged directly into a grounded wall outlet (Figure B) for full warranty coverage.

Use of Extension Cords Invalidates All Warranties.