A home surge suppressor, i.e. one that is advertised to provide blanket surge protection for an entire house, is a relatively inexpensive device… but are they worth the consumer’s hard spent cash? The answer to this depends on the amount of research the home owner has done before actually purchasing one of these units.
To begin with, common sense dictates that a consumer should always raise questions about any product that is advertised as “the magic bullet” to any problem, electrical surges included. For example, a wise person would not take a pill that supposedly cures all diseases without researching what they are putting in their body as well as possible side effects. The same holds true for a home surge suppressor.
So what do you need to know about surges and surge protectors that will empower you to spend you money wisely?
* Electrical spikes can arise from inside the home as well as outside. A whole house surge protector will not divert inside the house spikes. Therefore it is important to protect expensive electronics such as flat screen TVs, monitors, stereos, phone systems, and the like with point-of-use surge arrestors (power strips with warranted surge protection).
* None of these type devices will guard against direct lighting strikes. Do not base your purchase on any device claiming to protect against such.
* If you have multiple power sources entering your home from the outside you will need a service entrance surge protector on each line.
* Make sure the unit begin purchased has a label that says “UL – listed transient voltage power protection”. A “power tap” UL listing is not adequate. However one needs to be aware that the UL listing does not mean it will guard your sensitive electronics against spikes, but rather it represents its’ protection of the consumer (fire, electrocution, etc…).
* Any device that is a TVSS (transient voltage surge suppressor) should list its’ clamping voltage. In general, the smaller the clamping voltage, the better it will decrease power spike voltage.
* Look for a high Peak Surge Current number. The higher the better in comparing units.
* Do not rely on Joule ratings alone. Still though, the higher the Joules, the better implied suppression capability.
* Surge protectors, whether service entrance (whole home) or point-of-use, are effective and necessary, but represent only part of a protection strategy for homes with expensive electronics (home theaters, stereo gear, computers, etc…).
* Because homes operate on a 3-wire system (Line, Neutral, Ground), an effective home device will provide protection on ALL lines. Secondary surge arrestor units typically have only line to neutral protection.
* Be certain that the home surge suppressor has an indicator light that signifies it is working. Be aware that multiple surges can reduce the effectiveness and ability of the unit to guard against spikes, but will cnue to conduct currents through the house.
The above are just a few basic guidelines for consumers looking for whole house surge suppression. That said, they are a necessary part of the overall strategy in reducing damage caused by excess voltage and surges entering the home.