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What is a Power Surge?
A power surge is when there is a sudden change in the volume or direction of electrical flow that causes a spike in voltage. This surge can range from five or ten volts when you turn on a small appliance to thousands of volts from external triggers like a lightning strike.
The digital components inside your electronic devices are incredibly sensitive and fragile, especially to heat. Excess energy will cause heat to corrode circuits and create minor damage that will build up if the surge is not corrected. In more severe cases you will experience complete and total burnout that instantly melts your device circuits including TVs, computers, cordless phones, mobiles, microwaves, and more.
This can occur to one isolated device, multiple devices on a home circuit, or even your entire home if the disruption and spike are big enough.
Causes of Power Surges
More often than not power surges are caused by small fluctuation faults inside your home such as:
- Poor quality home wiring
- Too many appliances connected in one room
- A mismatch in the timing of different appliances coming on or shutting off
High-powered devices that turn themselves on and off are big triggers for power surges, like refrigerators and air conditioners. Because these white goods are turning on and off repeatedly day and night it is possible that you might be experiencing small surges hundreds of times a day.
Other times external factors can create power surges which are typically more severe and instantly notable. External causes are from utility company power grid switching, sudden restoration of power after a blackout, malfunction or animal damaging a nearby transformer, trees touching power lines or even lightning strikes. These are rare one-off surges that cripple your electronics by melting and fusing the components.
Signs of Power Surges
Unfortunately, small power surges might go unnoticed as the signs are very subtle. This means you may be causing wear and daily corrosion of internal parts without ever realizing it.
When you know what to look out for it becomes easier to take action early. Here are some signs of power surges to look out for:
- Clock or power lights are flashing (i.e. on a microwave)
- A device is switched or won’t respond
- Bad odors around the power source
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Tripped circuit boards, surge protectors, or power strip
Protection and Prevention
Preventing power surges is the best way to protect your appliances and home devices. While it’s true that your control of external factors is limited, there is plenty you can do to put safety measures in place.
Buy a surge protection device
There are a lot of different options for surge protection devices. These range in cost from $20 to $200 and operate in different ways such as surge diverters and suppressors that are installed in your fuse box to absorb large power surges and prevent excessive voltage from entering your home.
Internally power board surge protection helps remove the issue of overloaded outlets. It’s also a great indicator that you have a problem if you need to reset them.
Unplug anything not needed
Unplug any devices that you are not using and turn off the power point at the wall if they are empty. There are usually multiple unused plugs connected to your home at any given time that not only increase the risk of damage to devices but will also be increasing your energy bill too.
Upgrade home wiring
Older homes (particularly those built prior to 1980 aren’t able to keep up with the electrical demands of modern entertainment, computers and mobiles. Even modern refrigerators were unthought of 40 years ago, so a wiring upgrade, switchboard upgrade, or dedicated circuits can fix issues and make your home safe and future ready.
Small power surges in your home are causing damage you can’t see which will mean you need to replace your electrical devices more frequently. Surge protection is easy and affordable and can also protect your home from the unlikely and devastating blow of a major external power surge.