Surge Protection Products

We no longer carry surge protection products. Here are a few websites where these products can be ordered:

What is a power surge? +

A surge occurs when the power line voltage goes higher than nominal and lasts longer than 10 milliseconds. There are three main forms of power interference: voltage dips, electromagnetic interference, and surges. Surges can occur on your electric, phone or even cable TV lines. Every piece of electrical equipment in your home is designed to operate at a specified nominal voltage such as 120 Volts AC. Most equipment is designed to handle minor variations in their standard nominal operating voltage; however, even the smallest power surges can be very damaging to nearly all equipment.

What causes power surges? +

Ninety percent (90%) of all electrical surges or transient voltage activity is generated within homes and businesses. In homes, most surges occur when motor-driven devices such as refrigerators, televisions, hair dryers, water pumps, etc. shut off. Suddenly the energy these devices were consuming is diverted elsewhere in the form of excess voltage. Surges at businesses are caused by elevators, air conditioners, vending machines, copiers, large computers, even lights turning on and off, resulting in rushes of power and transient voltages back up the line.

Ten percent (10%) of the problem is generated outside the home or office by events such as utility grid switching, line slapping, bad wiring, animals, etc. Surges also happen when the electric company switches power from one geographic area of the grid to another as supply and demand in the region changes. Thunderstorms and lightening are the most dramatic and destructive causes of power line problems.

How often are there power surges? +

Because we use so many appliances and equipment such as refrigerators, pumps, heating and air conditioning systems all the time, disturbances happen frequently. A 17-month study done by IBM in 49 cities across the country found that an average of 128.3 disturbances happened in each monitored facility every month. Most were surges that did not cause immediate damage, but which could wear down equipment over time.

Can my modern equipment be damaged by power surges? +

Yes. Today’s computerized appliances and electronics can be damaged or destroyed by over-voltage surges or spikes. That includes computer equipment and peripherals; electronic equipment such as stereos, TVs, household appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, food processors, blenders and can openers; and other electronic devices such as fax machines, telephones and answering machines. Any electronic device that contains a microprocessor is susceptible to damage from transient voltages.

Can my shut-off appliances still be damaged in a power surge? +

Yes. Many electrical devices have electronic timers, clocks or remote controls (TVs, gaming systems), which remain in operation even when it is not in use. Also, some appliances cycle off and on at random, such as air conditioners, water heaters, pumps or refrigerators, and they could be on during a surge.

Why is protecting my devices from a power surge so important? +

There are several reasons why power quality has become such an important issue:

Today’s computer chips are far more dense than they were even a few years ago, and subsequently, they’re much more sensitive to even slight surges.
Clock speeds, or operating frequencies, have increased and reached the frequency range of high-voltage transients. Slower processors ignored them, but high-speed processors may actually interpret a transient as a command sequence.
Most homes and offices are using more pieces of equipment than ever before. Each time an electric device is turned on, transient voltages may be generated.
More microprocessor technology is being used than ever before. Microprocessors are showing up in personal computers, TVs, stereos, gaming systems, refrigerators, washers, dryers, microwaves, dishwashers, etc.

Do my circuit breakers protect my devices from a power surge? +

No. Circuit breakers are only designed to protect against over-current, not a spike or drop in voltage. Common AC circuit breakers don’t react quickly enough to protect sensitive electronic equipment.

What do surge protectors do? +

Surge Protectors are designed to reduce and divert potentially damaging short-duration voltage spikes safely out of the system to Ground. This is similar in concept to pressure relief valves that protect water heaters from overpressure. It is a common misconception that surge protectors “absorb” surges when in fact their purpose is to divert the surge away from the protected equipment to Ground.

What is a surge suppressor? +

Suppressors work by absorbing some of the electrical surge and diverting the rest to the ground. The top brands use sophisticated components that allow them to react quickly (surges often last just millionths of a second) yet endure high voltages. Surge suppressors are not lightning arresters. They may not survive direct lightning strikes or sustained line over-voltages (broken neutral).

What is a whole home surge protection? +

Whole House Surge Protection is a system of surge protectors working together to eliminate surges from a number of external and internal sources. Applying surge protectors at the incoming electrical, cable/satellite, and telephone utility services keep externally generated surges from entering your home. Localized surge protectors applied to sensitive electronics safeguard against internally generated surges.

Does a surge protector keep my clocks from resetting when the power goes out? +

No. Neither the main, interior, nor exterior zone protectors can eliminate blinking clocks. Blinking is caused by momentary sags or outages, which are solved by the use of a UPS unit or buying electronics with built-in battery backup.

What should I be looking for on localized surge protectors? +

Any surge protective device that you consider must be listed UL 1449 3rd Edition. All manufacturers UL listings are available for review on the UL website. Be careful not to confuse SPD listed products with secondary surge arrestors such as lightning arrestors. Secondary surge arrestors have a clamping voltage much too high to protect sensitive electronics. When comparing surge protectors it is important to consider both the surge current capacity and clamping voltage to determine the performance of the surge protector.

What is surge current capacity? +

Surge current capacity is the maximum amount of surge current that a surge protector can pass for a single surge event. This level is used to indicate the protection capacity of a particular surge protector. For example, in a high exposure area with a high likelihood for lightning, a larger surge current capacity might be desired. But, be aware that surges have natural limitations and that larger surge current capacity tends to add redundancy rather than the implied ability to handle an extremely large surge. For example, an entire lightning strike cannot go through wire; much like a fire hose has difficulty shooting through a soda straw. Realistically, surge protectors do not need to be sized for entire lightning strikes. But, there are valid reasons for adding excess surge current capacity for redundancy reasons.

The surge protection industry uses kiloamperage (kA) as a measure of the products surge current capacity. kA ratings at or above 10kA (10,000 Amperes) are generally acceptable.

What are Joule ratings? +

Many homeowners look at Joule ratings to determine which surge protector to purchase. Unfortunately, Joule ratings can be misleading according to IEEE research. When a surge protector is submitted for third party testing with Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a Joule rating is not a tested parameter. Joule ratings are an unreliable measurement for determining a products surge capacity because there is no test standard. The Joule rating listed on a surge protector’s package is determined using an unknown method by the manufacturer.

What is clamping voltage? +

Clamping voltage, also referred to as let through voltage or the Voltage Protection Rating (VPR), is the amount of voltage a surge protector permits to pass through it to the attached load (ex: a TV) during a surge event. Clamping voltage is a performance measurement of a surge protector’s ability to attenuate a surge, or more simply, to reduce the surge to a manageable level. For example, a surge protector might limit a 6,000V surge so that only 600V is ‘visible’ to the load. The clamping voltage is 600V. This performance value is confirmed by Underwriters Laboratories during tests conducted while evaluating a surge protector for listing.

What if my device has a built-in surge protector? +

Built-in surge protectors often aren’t strong enough to handle larger surges and spikes and, like other smaller surge protectors, can wear out without your even knowing it, leaving you with no protection at all. Built-in protection for one piece of equipment may still leave you without protection for important peripherals such as gaming systems, modems, computers, etc. In addition, built-in protectors don’t provide back-up power which lets you perform orderly shut-downs.

How can I tell if my surge protector is UL tested? +

Surge suppressors should perform to a specific standard (UL 1449). It is important that the surge suppressor is “listed” as performing to this standard. Avoid suppressors with labels worded like:

Tested to UL 1449
UL Classified
Tested to IEEE C62.41
Meets UL 1449
UL Recognized
Temporary Power Tap

Many manufacturers misrepresent their products. Some claim a UL listing for their products if they use a single UL listed component such as the power cord. Other products have never been tested as anything more than a temporary power tap, UL’s term for an extension cord. Many claim that they meet standards or that it has passed UL standards, when in fact, they have never been tested by UL.

How do I operate my localized surge protector? +

Plug the surge protector into a powered wall outlet. Be sure the switch on the surge protector is set “ON” by pushing down on the reset side. If the surge protector has LEDs, be sure they are lighted according to the enclosed instruction manual. If not check your wall outlet. Connect equipment into the outlets on the power strip or surge protector. Be sure to plug in your phone/fax or TV/coax if surge protector has this option.

If I don't have a grounded outlet will my surge protector work? +

No. Surge protectors must be plugged directly into a grounded outlet to work properly. (Underwriters Laboratories prohibits daisy chaining) Never plug a surge protector into a plug strip or plug adapter.

How long does my whole house, panel mount surge protector last? +

Panel mount surge protectors cannot be “reset.” Once they have reached the end of their useful lifecycle the indicator light will extinguish and the product will need to be replaced.

What is an uninterruptible power supply? +

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a device that sits between a power supply (e.g., wall outlet) and a device (e.g., computer) to prevent undesired features of the power source (outages, sags, surges, bad harmonics, etc.) from adversely affecting the performance of the device. A UPS provides a conditioned and reliable source of power to your electronic equipment when the main power source fails. The better units protect against surges and spikes in the power source, and they provide a continuing source of battery power.

A UPS performs the following functions:

  • Absorb relatively small power surges.
  • Smooth out noisy power sources.
  • Continuously provides power to equipment during line sags.
  • Automatically shuts down equipment during long power outages.
  • Monitoring and logging of the status of the power supply.
  • Display the voltage/current draw of the equipment.
  • Restart equipment after a long power outage.
  • Display the voltage currently on the power line.
  • Provide alarms on certain error conditions.
  • Provide short-circuit protection.

What size of UPS should I get for my computer? +

For most computers, one might have a UPS that was rated to keep the machine alive through a 15-minute power loss. If you need a machine to survive hours without power, you should probably look at a more robust power backup solution. Even if a UPS has a very small load, it must still operate a DC (battery) to AC converter, which uses power.