Why Power Surges Happen and How to Prevent Them

Amazing! Why Power Surges Happen and How to Prevent Them

Information about Why Power Surges Happen and How to Prevent Them

Phil Puccio

Electric arc from a household socket. "What you need to know about power surges"

Los Angeles homes have more electronics plugged in and consuming electricity than ever before. While modern power grids can deliver electricity evenly and safely, overvoltages outside and inside the house can have various causes.

Every homeowner should understand the basics about power surges and how to prevent them. Over time, even small power surges can damage equipment and appliances. Here’s a quick introduction to everything you should know about power surges and what you can do to stop them.

Graphic showing voltage peaks within a household electrical cable

What is a surge?

A surge is an extremely rapid and intense current spike in the electrical power of your home. Surges are also known as “transient voltage” because they are caused by the sudden occurrence of an overvoltage in an electrical system.

Outlets typically supply 120 volts AC, but the actual voltage level in the system will vary between 0-169 volts. Most home appliances and appliances are designed to handle these small fluctuations, but an increase above 169 volts is considered a surge. If an overvoltage penetrates your home’s electricity, the voltage spikes can be harmful and dangerous.

Thunderstorm at night

What causes current peaks?

Most people associate surges with lightning. When lightning strikes near a power line, its energy discharge can change the electrical pressure on the line. raise millions from volts. That electric boost runs through the power line and into your home, and BOOM!

Fortunately, lightning is one of the rarest causes of power surges. Most surges are a little more mundane.

Powerful household appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators require a lot of electricity to turn on. When these devices request this power, they can inadvertently cause a spike in your electrical system. These “switching overvoltages” are not as severe as lightning overvoltages, but can cause damage over time and wear out other circuits.

Surges can also come from the electricity supplier. Your electrical company occasionally switches networks to access different power sources. When these switches occur, an accidental electrical surge can occur. A transformer malfunction or a faulty transmission line can also create an unwanted power surge in your home.

Power strip set on fire by electric surge

Why are surge voltages a problem?

In simple terms, high-voltage surges can be harmful or dangerous. Overvoltages can damage or destroy plugged-in electrical devices.

If too much current flows through a device at once, the device can overheat, break, or even catch fire. This unchecked arc generates heat that could melt or erode parts of the equipment. A strong surge voltage could even start a fire!

Close-up of the surge protector

How can I prevent overvoltages?

The easiest and best way to protect yourself against surges is to use a surge protector. Surge arresters are a type of power strip. They contain an inlet for connecting to the wall and multiple sockets for connecting other devices. Newer versions also have a USB surge port to protect your USB devices while they are plugged in.

The difference between a surge protector and a power strip is that surge protectors absorb the excess energy that flows through them. During an overvoltage, the protector redirects the overvoltage towards the ground wire to neutralize it. Service panel surge protectors work in the same way, but they fit right on your circuit breaker to prevent surges from entering your home’s electrical system.

Reduce the risk of electrical surges in your home

For more information on surge voltages, see the National Institute of Standards and Technology Information brochure.

If you need help with an electrical problem, call Mike Diamond today. Our fully licensed electrical installers have the experience and expertise to diagnose and troubleshoot any problem with your electrical system. We can help you prevent damage to your home from dangerous surges.

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Original Source: https://mikediamondservices.com/blog/what-you-should-know-about-power-surges/
Category – Plumbing

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