Surge Protection – Beyond the Power Strip: Layers of Power Protection for Homes in Maryland and Washington D.C.
You’ve probably used a power strip at some point, with the aim of protecting your computer or TV from a power surge. Most of the time it works. Or you may be one of the unlucky ones whose computer was fried by a power surge despite the use of a power strip. Electricity is a powerful force. It runs so many of the necessities in our lives: computers, ovens, air-conditioners, alarms. But it also destroys them. Power grids are rife with drops and spikes, and lightning can wreak havoc.
Modern homes have ever more features that rely on power, from pool heaters to electric blinds, smart systems to landscape lighting. Appliances, backup generators, solar cells, water heaters, stereo systems…… take a moment to think of all the parts of your house that run on electricity. Now imagine the loss, expense, and headache if even a fraction of those things were destroyed by one power surge. Pretty awful, right? It happens all the time.
A Single House
Winthorpe had one client whose home was hit by a massive power surge. They had a whole-house audio system, electronic blinds, and other devices with motors and chips that are very susceptible to power spikes. They had to replace $100,000 worth of ruined devices.
A Whole Neighborhood
We had a whole neighborhood that suffered a colossal surge. It ruined everything in their houses, everything that was plugged in. Light bulbs popped. They called a meeting with the power company, asking them to take responsibility for the surge and make reparations. But the power company said they’re not responsible for anything from the pole to the house. So, the insurance companies had to pick up everything. Now the insurance companies were concerned that this area was unprotected by a power company that takes no responsibility for surges, so insurance rates went up.
It Can Happen To You – How To Protect Yourself
Power grids are not perfect. Storms happen. You should be protected. There are several layers of protection with which we can outfit your home, to handle the inconsistencies in voltage and mitigate damage from big surges.
Between the Pole and the Home
There is a device, called an Intermatic Surge Protector, that we can hook up to the panel box, where the power comes in to the home and where all the breakers are located. The device has modules that absorb the variations in power over time and prevents power spikes from entering the home. Either through power variations over time or through one huge surge, the Intermatic will eventually need to be replaced. But replacing one Intermatic for somewhere around $500, we think you’ll agree, is far less expensive than replacing a series of appliances or computers.
Between the Panel Box and the Outlet
A second line of defense we recommend is inline surge protectors. These are actually placed in the electric lines themselves, and act like fuse protectors. We typically install these for the larger appliances and HVAC equipment. It may get used up during a surge, but in most instances, it won’t allow that surge to penetrate to your high-dollar appliances. It’s less expensive to replace the inline surge protector than to replace a big appliance.
Between the Outlet and the Device
Then the simplest thing that you can do is plug your devices and equipment into power strips. Power strips are not as sensitive or protective as the two previous lines of defense we mentioned, but they are a nice extra layer of protection.
While power strips do offer some protection of their own, they are not a total fail safe when used on their own. A quick power surge can jump right through the strip and fry the strip and whatever is plugged into it. So, mitigating those surges with the first and second suggestions is incredibly worthwhile.
Protect the panel first, then the power lines, and then the actual outlets. It’s far less expensive to spend some money up front to prevent surges from causing damage. Even if you have great insurance, filing a claim and replacing a fried refrigerator is a time-consuming hassle, and you’re likely to see an increase in premiums after filing the claim, especially if you have to do so more than once. Also, while insurance may cover the replacement of a blown water heater, it will not cover the installation costs of the replacement, so you’ll still be out of pocket for some of the expense.
Protecting your home and valuable equipment from power surges is a wonderful way to breathe easy next time lightning strikes!