Safety & Security

Protect your electronics from power surges

Understand internal and external surges and how to protect your valuables

Day after day, we are increasingly reliant on our electronic devices, and keeping them safe is a priority. When it comes to power surges, it’s important to understand the types of risks, and how to protect your valuables.

External surges

An external power surge occurs when the power supply to your home is flooded with more voltage than your home is designed to receive. Typically, this is caused by lightning striking a power line or a broken utility line. Luckily, this type of power surge is uncommon.

While an external power surge could potentially cause extreme damage to your electronics, appliances, and even wiring, they are highly unlikely to occur thanks to precautions taken by PEC. We safeguard our voltage by adhering to statewide standards and installing protective equipment, such as lightning arrestors and capacitors. The only time you would experience a power surge, says our Control Center Operations Manager Zachary DeLeon, is if lightning struck between the transformer and your house. To protect your house from this rare instance, you can equip your home with a whole-house surge protector. Be sure to look for one with a low voltage protection rating (VPR), ideally no higher than 600-volts.

Internal surges

Internal power surges are far more common and therefore more likely to damage your electronics. Generally, these occur when a large appliance turns on, like the compressor in your air conditioner. When this happens, a sudden increase in demand on the power supply can result in a small, but potentially harmful surge throughout your home. While internal surges are typically the cause of damaged electronics, the good news is you can take simple precautions to protect your things.

Protection

The best protection against an internal surge is a good surge protector. Despite appearances, it’s important to understand that surge protectors and power strips are not the same thing. Power strips provide you with additional outlets, but no protection against a power surge.

The three main things to look for when comparing surge protectors are: clamp level (the voltage level that activates the protector); surge strength (the number of amps at which the protector intentionally dies to protect the attached devices); and response time (the time between the power spike and the protector’s activation). You will want a clamp level at about 130-volts, a surge strength of 100,00 amps, and a response time of one nanosecond or less.

Pro tip: The only certain protection against a surge is to unplug your devices. If you know a storm is coming, unplug and disconnect your electronics.