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Explained: How Does a Surge Protector Work?

Surge Protection Services

Explained: How Does a Surge Protector Work?

When homeowners want additional protection for their electronics, surge protectors are an excellent option. There are many surge protection options, from specialized power strips to an electrical panel add-on. 

These devices help stop power surges from flowing through a home’s electrical system, resulting in costly damages. But, how do surge protectors work to stop dangerous spikes in electricity? 

This article will discuss power surges, how surge protectors work, and how to achieve the best results for your home.

What Are Power Surges?

To understand the importance of surge protectors, you must first learn about power surges and their dangers. A power surge is any surge in electricity through a system that exceeds the standard limit of 120 volts. 

There are numerous ways power surges can happen, but the most common ways are the following:

  • Lightning Strikes 
  • Faulty Wiring
  • Malfunction of Utility Companies Equipment
  • Damaged Circuit Breaker

Since manufacturers design electronics for 120v power outlets, they don’t have the capabilities to handle higher voltages. A sudden power surge entering the electronics could damage the internal components. 

Whether it’s a television or desktop computer, the resulting damages from a power surge can be expensive for homeowners. Fortunately, a surge protector is one of the best ways to guard your valuables from power surges.

How Do Surge Protectors Work?

When you have devices plugged into a surge protector, they contain a metal oxide varistor or MOV for short. This electrical component helps to divert any excess voltage safely from an electronic.

The surge protector helps supply a consistent voltage to a home’s devices by diverting any excess voltage. When the MOV senses high-voltage levels, it will automatically activate to redirect the power surge.

The most cost-effective surge protector is a power strip with a surge protector feature. Any electronic plugged into the power strip will have added surge protection to guard against power surges. 

Additionally, surge protectors are installed on an electrical panel to protect the whole home. A professional electrician can add these surge protectors if you want to have no worries about damaged electronics.

Items That Should Be Plugged Into Surge Protectors

To avoid costly damages, you must plug the correct electronics into a surge protector. In most cases, you should plug in valuable electronics such as video game consoles, computers, televisions, and audio equipment. 

These electronics have fragile internal components that easily break if affected by a power surge. As a general rule, if replacing the electronic will be costly–it should be plugged in a surge protector.

If you have a high-value item, you need a surge protector with a high joule rating. The joule rating will determine how much energy a surge protector absorbs before failing. If you want reliable surge protection for your electronics, the higher rating, the better. 

How to Use Surge Protectors Safely

While surge protectors bring many benefits to homeowners, there are also some safety guidelines you must follow. If you want to plug high-voltage appliances into a power strip, you must use an option with a built-in breaker.

Using appliances such as a space heater without a proper surge protector can be a recipe for disaster. If you plug an appliance like a space heater into a power strip, it can overheat the system and cause an electrical fire. 

Surge protectors will have an off switch and a fuse that will melt to stop the excess flow of electricity. However, if you have the choice to plug the system into a standard power outlet, it will be the ideal option. 

How to Pick The Ideal Surge Protector 

Knowing the benefits of a surge protector, you now know why every homeowner should invest in one. When looking for a surge protector for your electronics, there are a few considerations you need to make.

The first decision is how many power outlets you need to plug all essential electronics in your home. You can also choose whole house surge protection options if you want to protect your entire home.

Second, check for a UL seal that confirms its quality and is labeled a transient voltage surge protector. When looking at a surge protector, it’s also a good idea to pick one with strong warranty protection.

Lastly, look for an option with an indicator light on the surge protector. Indicator lights will signal that the system functions correctly and protects your items. An indicator light will help catch technical problems before it’s too late.


Surge protectors are a useful tool that helps protect your valuable electronics against power surges. Whether you choose a power strip surge protector or whole-house surge protection, you can prevent costly repairs.

If you want peace of mind that sudden transient voltage can’t damage your belongings, you should consider surge protection! 

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