How Power Surges Occur in Your Home

Lightning is a Cause of Power SurgesPower surges are sudden increases in potential energy that can overload electrical circuits, appliances, and electronics in your home. They can occur for several reasons and it is a good idea to take measures protecting your home from them. Power surges can damage electronic components and even totally fry items, like computers.

The most common cause of electrical surges is lightning. A lightning strike, even just near a power line, is enough to increase the nearby electrical currents by millions of volts. Most conventional surge protectors in your home cannot withstand the surge from a lightning strike, so the best way to save sensitive electronics like computers is to unplug them until after the storm passes.

Power surges can also be caused by some demanding appliances in your home. Refrigerators and air conditioners require a boost of electricity when turning on compressors and fan motors. These types of demand surges are not anywhere close to a lighting based power surge, but over time they can damage various components. Surges can also be caused by faulty wiring (and this also presents a fire hazard).

To combat the effects of lightning based power surges and also reduce the likelihood of overloading appliances and electronics, surge protectors are a must. A basic surge protector can help with appliance demand surges, like those from refrigerators, but they will not hold up to a lightning surge. Install a whole house surge arrestor on your home where the wires enter the house (contact a professional technician to do this) to protect from surges up to 20,000 volts. Some surge arrestors actually connect to the internet and monitor weather conditions, cutting power when lighting is nearby.

If the power goes out in your home, disconnect electronics and small appliances. When the power comes back, the refrigerator and HVAC system will likely cause a surge trying to resume their duties. This surge can short out other parts of your home. You can save a lot of grief by just unplugging these items before the power goes out from a sudden nearby strike.


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