Benefits of Whole Home Surge Protection
Have you ever had an electronic device that simply “died” prematurely for unknown reasons? Chances are high that it was adversely affected by a power surge in your home. If this has happened, you are not alone. Insurance companies report over $1 billion annually in power surge related damage claims. The average insurance claim for power surge related damage is over $4500. Fortunately, complete protection from power surges for all your electronics can be procured with the installation of whole home surge protection. These systems are inexpensive and can save you money in the long run by protecting your valuable electronic devices.
What specifically is a power surge?
A power surge is the result of an abrupt change in the electrical flow at some point in the electrical lines inside or outside your home. When such changes occur, they can cause a rise in electrical potential energy which leads to a very quick spike in the current flowing into your home’s electrical outlets. Power surges are extremely brief with some as short as a few millionths of a second. However, they can produce electrical spikes powerful enough to cause significant damage to electronic devices connected to the outlets.
What causes power surges?
Summers in southern Ontario bring their share of thunderstorms and the most commonly known cause of power surges is lightning. When lightning strikes near power lines, the burst of electrical energy can sharply increase in electrical pressure in the lines by a magnitude of millions of volts. The resulting surge in power goes directly into electrical outlets in homes and businesses.
Additional outside causes of power surges include downed power lines, malfunctions at the power company as well as electromagnetic pulses. Power outages are a major cause of power surges as huge spikes in current can occur the moment grid power is restored. Even the use of large equipment outside can result in a power surge inside your home. Our province’s system of transformers and millions of lines, unfortunately, contain many potential points of failure, and power surges are inevitable and repetitive occurrences.
While lightning may be the most familiar culprit for power surges, over 80 percent originate inside the home. These internal power surges are much smaller than lightning strikes, but over time they inflict damage and shorten the lifespans of electronic devices and equipment. The operation of large electrical appliances such as refrigerators, heaters, air-conditioners, washers, and dryers draw vast amounts of electricity to toggle the power for powerful motors and compressors. These are commonly referred to as “switching surges.” These repeated demands for energy disrupt the steady flow of voltage inside the home’s electrical system, resulting in minute oscillations in power. They can even cause short circuits and tripped circuit breakers. While these appliance-caused electrical surges are very small in comparison to those caused by a lightning strike, they are repetitive, and the cumulative effect of these small spikes can be very detrimental to the longevity of electrical devices connected to electrical outlets.
Why should power surges be a concern for me?
Power surges caused by lightning are dangerous. If lightning strikes a power line near a building, it immediately enters the electrical panel. If the panel has a whole-home surge protection system, the devastating burst of electricity will stop right there. However, if the power surge is not blocked at that point, it can invade and overwhelm the home’s electrical wiring, melting the insulative sheathing, fusing the wires, and creating an immediate fire hazard. Extreme surges in voltages can cause a wire to burst into flames. Additionally, the higher the amount of power you have, the more at risk you are of a house fire.
Damage to electrical systems in homes caused by lightning or other outside sources is more common than many people realize. Repairs to electrical systems are not simple either. Wires inside walls are difficult to access and this makes repairs time consuming and very expensive.
The smaller, less powerful surges caused by appliances inside the home are less dramatic but can be very harmful to your electronics that are connected to outlets. Even small increases in voltage can result in arcs of electrical current that slowly damage circuit boards and other electrical components as the microprocessors inside these boards are extremely sensitive to changes in electrical flow. While televisions, computers, games, sound systems, home theater components, HVAC equipment, and appliances of all sizes will likely continue operating after quick surges in power, their lifespans are shortened. Even Apple recommends unplugging their devices after they are fully charged. When these electronics mysteriously fail one day, the cumulative effect of these minute power surges is most likely to blame.
Expensive hard-wired equipment is particularly vulnerable to power surges. Security systems, advanced communication systems, irrigation controllers, and exterior lights are all hard-wired and vulnerable to power surges. Only a whole-home system of surge protection that offers protection for all a home’s circuitry will protect hard-wire equipment and devices.
Whole-home surge protection is the answer
Many homeowners use point-of-use surge protectors to shield specific electronic devices from power surges. These are better than nothing as they do offer a layer of protection from minor fluctuations in power, but only to the devices connected to those specific outlets. Unfortunately, these are useless against major surges from outside such as lightning and power outages. The metal oxide varistors (MOVs) used to blunt spikes in electrical current are very small in point-of-use power strips and are quickly destroyed by lightning strikes. Moreover, an important consideration is that an electrical impulse generated by lightning can traverse cables connected to boxes, modems, phones, and computers. So point-of-use surge protectors for computers are useless against over-voltages traveling along with the cables.
Whole-home surge protectors are the best defense against electrical surges of any severity and offer complete protection to all your electronics. They can shunt surges of any magnitude. These robust surge protection systems are hard-wired directly into the electrical panel inside your home, but the unit may be relocated to a more accessible location. When spikes in voltage meet your electrical panel, the whole-home surge protector diverts all excess voltage safely into the ground under your home, thus providing complete protection to all your electronic devices and appliances.
Whole-home surge protectors are layered for added defense and are comprised of much larger MOVs that obliterate electrical spikes during power surges. They act instantaneously against all changes in electrical current. While the MOVs inside small power surge strips can be short-lived, those inside whole home surge protectors are designed to last for many years.
Effective surge protection increases your safety, security, value, and peace of mind
Technological advances in modern construction have led to safer homes, especially with the progress in reducing the risk of fires. However, many homes are older and contain wiring that is aged. These older homes are particularly vulnerable to fires caused by lightning or their power surges because their wiring systems were installed before today’s advanced codes. Of course, newer homes should not be considered safe from the ravages of lightning either. Whole-home surge protection offers a level of fire prevention that many would deem priceless.
Today’s modern homes wired with expensive electrical systems often come standard with complete whole home surge protection because that is just common sense. These systems save money by preventing damage in the long run. According to the Insurance Information Institute, claims for power surge related damages have increased steadily in recent years with the proliferation of smart technology.
Some homeowner policies only cover damages related to power surges if lightning directly strikes your home. Thus, the destruction of electronic equipment caused by lightning may not be covered if the strike occurred outside the home with the electric current then bursting through the electrical panel and into the home’s electrical wiring and outlets. Sometimes the details within homeowner insurance policies exclude critical electronic components such as capacitors and transistors.
Conversely, some insurance companies offer discounted pricing with the installation of whole home surge protection because they can empirically measure the reduction of damage-related costs provided by a centralized wall of surge protection.
The sales value of any home will be enhanced by the presence of surge protection as prudent real estate agents tout the value of the enhanced level of defense against power surges.
A whole-home surge protection system requires only a couple of hours to install. The electricians at Home-Pro Electric have provided professional service in the Kitchener, Waterloo, and surrounding areas for a quarter-century and possess expert knowledge and training regarding every aspect of whole home power surge protection. You will know the precise cost of the installation before we arrive and all the work is fully guaranteed.
A whole-home surge protection system provides safety, protects your valuable electronics, and will give you peace of mind for years to come.