Here’s All You Need to Know about How Surge Protectors Work

It does not come across as a surprise when people confuse surge protectors with power strips. In reality, a surge protector does more than what a power strip does.

In other words, a surge protector is an affordable way to protect your appliances and electronics when a power surge happens, as a powerful surge can permanently damage your electronics.

Here’s all you need to know how a surge protection device works to offer protection to your appliances and how they should be used.

What is a Power Surge?

To understand fully how a surge protector works, you must understand what a power surge is. A power surge is an increase of voltage flowing in electrical devices that is much higher than the standard voltage level, which is 120 volts.

Power surges can be caused by a number of things such as bad wiring, high-powered devices, incorrect lighting, or problems caused by your utility company’s equipment. It’s not uncommon to not detect when a surge happens until the device simply stops working all of a sudden.

Your home might experience power surges every year, and most of the time, without any kind of damage. Power surges have the ability to heat up components in your electronics and wires, and cause them to burn out.

Moreover, although some surges might not break an electronics, they still apply excess strain on the internal components of the electronics, and further cause them to die out sooner than expected.

How Does a Surge Protector Work?

A surge protector protects your appliances and electronics against the potential damage a power surge can cause. It pulls the current from one power outlet and passes it through to the devices plugged into a surge protector.

The metal oxide varistor (MOV) in a surge protector diverts the excess voltage to ensure your appliances receive a consistent level of power. The MOV reduces resistance when it detects excess voltage, and vice versa.

What to Plug into a Surge Protector?

You should always prioritize utilizing a surge protector from devices and electronics that will end up requiring expensive repairs or replacement. Modern appliances are more sensitive to power surges as compared to older electronics, because of their delicate components.

Microprocessors found in computers and other newer appliances are more sensitive towards power surges and only function if they receive a stable current. Here are some items that you can protect with a surge protector:

  • Computers and Laptops
  • Television
  • Modems and Routers
  • Microwaves
  • High-end equipment
  • Video game systems

Surge Protectors May Not Always Work

Many times people have the misconception that surge protectors provide a 100% protection to your devices against surges. There are one too many raises for a surge protector to fail. For example, surge protectors are not designed to last for a lifetime.

That is why you need to purchase a surge protector that comes with an indicator light that indicates when the MOB has worn out. Many surge protectors continue to work despite the failure of surge protection.

Moreover, no surge protector corn within your home can protect surges caused by lightning. However, the good news is that lightning strikesare a rather uncommon cause for a power surge. But the bad news is that a surge protector strip cannot handle a lightning strike.

If your neighborhood is prone to large power surges, it might be a better option to invest in a whole-house surge protection. Thor kind of protection can be utilized along surge protectors within the home to have an ultimate protection against electrical damages caused by power surges.

Do be mindful that a surge protector is as good as your grounding. You don’t really get that much of a benefit from a surge protector if the wiring in your house is old as there will be an ungrounded outlet.

This simply means there is no escape route for the extra voltage.

How to Use a Surge Protector Safely?

You might have come across someone telling you to never plug a space heater into a power strip, due to safety precautions. This is indeed true. High-voltage appliances have the ability to overheat a power strip, and thus cause an electrical fire.

However, a surge protector with indicator lights and on/off switch has a fuse that simply melts if overheated. This will have your space heater lose connection and power. That said, not every surge protector out there has a built-in breaker.

To be on the safe side, always around plugging high-power appliances into surge protectors.


Well, there you go! This article has all the information you need to know about surge protectors, especially how to use them safely.

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