Do I Need A Whole House Surge Protector?

March 26, 2021
Mike Lentz

In short YES,

Power surges have always existed, but the need for effective whole house surge protector installation is greater than ever. But It’s not always thunderstorms or other external activity. A power surge occurs when the voltage exceeds the normal flow of electricity.

Houses have a lot of internal wiring. There is solid gauge copper wire leading to every wall outlet, light switch, and electrical appliance. Copper telephone lines leading to every phone jack. Coaxial cables running from your antenna or cable TV provider snake through the walls. Most of these conductive wires start at some distribution point outside your house such as a utility pole or a satellite dish on your roof. If lightning happens to strike nearby, it’s possible the electricity could find it’s way inside your house.

Surges differ from power spikes because the uninterrupted voltage increase lasts for more than a few seconds. Unexpected voltage surges may have devastating consequences, so preventing power surges is vital to the safety of your family and home!

When thinking about options for an electrical wiring upgrade in your home, the issue of adequate surge protection is an important consideration. Inexpensive plug-in surge protectors offer some protection. However, individual surge protectors function best as a second layer of protection after a whole-house surge protector installation.

Whenever there is an upsurge of power supply into the home’s electrical panel. Your whole-house surge protector will protect the sensitive electronics in your home around the clock, leaving you with peace of mind. For appropriate surge protection for your whole house, you’ll require a protector wired into the electrical panel. Such devices are a bit tough to find. Still, in most cases, an electrician can get you one from a vendor or manufacturer selling electrical supplies to professionals.

Power Surges, Inside and Out

Most people think of power surges coming from outside the home, like with a lightning strike. But, most surges — up to 80 percent — actually come from within your home. These are known as “switching” surges.

Think about the major systems in your home that cycle on and off. The air conditioner or heat pump is a good example. Every time it turns on, it draws a major amount of power. When it cycles off, the power need is gone. There’s a constant surge and release.

The cycling actually causes tiny surges throughout the day. They don’t cause instantaneous damage like a lightning strike would, but add to cumulative damage to sensitive electronics which shortens the life of TVs, microwaves, home theater components, pool heaters and smart appliances.

Other outside sources of power surges also require protection at the main electrical panel. These include voltage spikes that frequently occur when grid power is restored after a blackout, as well as surges due to downed power lines in a storm.

Do Whole House Surge Protectors Really Work?

Yes!  A whole-house suppressor instantly blocks the surge from entering home circuits to provide comprehensive lightning protection. Individual plug-in suppressors can’t protect electronics that aren’t plugged in, but are hard-wired instead.

Many expensive electrical devices, including major appliances like stoves, washers and dishwashers, as well as garage door openers and HVAC equipment, are hard-wired directly into your house electrical circuits.

Security systems, sprinkler systems, and exterior lighting are hard-wired too. Only a whole-house suppressor which protects all circuits from exterior-originating surges protects hard-wired devices.

Types of Surge Protectors: Service Entrance Protection

These are “whole house” surge protection devices installed by a professional electrician at your main electrical panel or at the meter. They constantly monitor incoming utility power to protect devices in your home against power surges from the grid.

Today, a service entrance protection device typically includes connections for phone lines, cable TV and internet routers, too, to guard against surges using them as conduits.

A whole-house surge protector installed by a qualified professional electrician at your main electrical panel continuously “sniffs” incoming electricity before it enters household circuits. If it detects a surge, the suppressor automatically diverts the dangerously high voltage to ground instead of letting it enter the house’s circuits. This device protects your home for up to 40,000 amps.

Types of Surge Protectors: Point Of Use Protection

These are the familiar plug-in suppressors utilized to protect individual devices such as home entertainment technology, computers and network equipment like routers. A point of use surge suppressor protects only the single device plugged into it and offers no protection to other devices in the house.

Plug-in surge protectors should:

  • Be rated by Underwriter’s Laboratory
  • Have a clamping value of 400 volts or less
  • Absorb 600 joules or more
  • Protect all incoming lines
  • Have indicator lights to show if it’s working.

Best Case? Get Both

For comprehensive surge protection, use both types of power surge protectors. Though service entrance protection safeguards grid power, it doesn’t protect against fluctuations from inside the house. For that, use plug-in versions too.

On the other hand, plug-ins alone are not rated to protect against severe surges from external sources like lightning or utility fluctuations, so service entrance protectors are necessary, as well.

If you are interested in getting your home protected in Bucks or Montgomery County, PA contact Artisan Home Services Today and we will guide you through the process.