What To Do When Surge Protectors Do Not Work
Power Surges and Power Conditioning: Surge Protection for Your Home, UPS or Uninterpretable Power Supplies or Battery Backup Units.
Power Quality and Surge Protectors
Electrical Question: In the past several years, despite having surge protectors on every outlet in the house I am renting, I have ruined two computer monitors, three hard drives, two sub woofers (one of which started making thumping noises and then pouring out smoke), and some rechargeable batteries, which literally melted.
- I brought in an electrician, who checked the voltage and said that everything, aside from a couple of ungrounded outlets, was okay.
- My assumption, after all this, is that the problem does not lie in the electrical connections within the house, but with the (“dirty”) electricity that must be coming in from the grid. I live in a very rural area, where the electricity frequently goes out, flickers, etc..
- If you think I am correct in this assumption, what is the solution? I have started researching lightning arrestors and whole-house surge protectors.
What would you recommend?
I don’t want to ruin any more expensive electronic equipment, or risk my safety.
I greatly appreciate your help!
This home electrical repairs question came from: Hilary, from Penasco, New Mexico.
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question Hilary.
Power Surges and Power Conditioning
Surge Protection for Your Home
Power Quality and Surge Protection is a popular topic that is very misunderstood, let me explain:
- Power Quality and Power Surges happen due to a variety of disturbances. Some power quality problems may be directly related to the electrical utility provider where there may be connection problems between the transformer and the home panel, or the primary voltage is lagging or affected by other loads such as heavy industrial accounts in the area.
- Another problem is when a customer has a remote or rural location or at the end of the utility line. If this is suspected then the electrical utility company should be notified so they may perform line testing on their end and look for problems and make corrections, such as installing larger transformers or a capacitor bank to correct voltage problems.
- Home electrical problems may cause problems as well due to loose connections with an electrical splice or circuit breakers. These types of problems can be identified during a in depth electrical system inspection.
- Surge Protectors are typically a One-Shot device, which means that once they absorb an abnormal electrical condition they may suffer damage to the point of not providing protection from that point on, and many of these devices will indicate this. The better quality surge protectors will absorb the disturbance and stop working and require replacing in extreme conditions but they typically protect the equipment that is plugged into them.
Surge Protection for Power Quality Issues
- In extreme areas where there are lightning strikes install Voltage Spike and Surge Protection at the Main Panel. This will protect the whole electrical system from sever disturbances.
- Install a high quality Power Conditioner to provide power to stabilize line voltage and ensure that the voltage is maintained where surge or spike suppressor plug strips may not because they are not built to condition the voltage unless it is specifically stated. An ideal setup would be to install a Power Conditioner which is sized to provide power to a sub-panel which supplies circuits for sensitive electronic equipment or devices.
UPS or Uninterpretable Power Supplies or Battery Backup Units
- Typical Uninterpretable Power Supplies or Battery Backup Units do NOT provide Power Conditioning Unless It Is Specifically Stated and power abnormalities may fry these devices if the electrical circuit power leading to these units is not protected by a Power Conditioner. The most common UPS System only provides backup power for a specified time when the power goes out.
Check Your Home or Renters Insurance Policy
- Some Homeowners Insurance or Renters Insurance policies may cover the loss of electrical or electronic equipment due to extreme power problems and they may cover electrical repairs if the home and electrical system has been damaged due to lightning strikes.
- If the electrical utility company is at fault then they may replace damaged equipment as well, but this must be discovered and well documented by a utility worker or a forensic expert which may be consulted by the insurance company. Check with your insurance agent or utility company for more specific information.
More about Surge Protection and Power Conditioning
Power Quality and Surge Protection – Part 1
Power Conditioner Power Quality – Part 1 – How Surge Protection and Power Conditioning Will Hep Protect Your Home.
Power Quality and Surge Protection – Part 2
Power Conditioner Power Quality – Part 2 – What Surge Protection and Power Conditioning is and How will it Benefit My Home.
Power Conditioning for Power Quality
Power Conditioning for Power Quality Means Protection for Your Valuable Home Electrical and Electronic Devices.
Testers to Help Solve Electrical Problems
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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