Surge protector is likely a term you’ve heard before, but do you know exactly what it is or what the device actually does? If you answered no, then this is the post for you. Keep reading to find some answers to those burning surge protector questions you’ve been pondering.
About Surges and Spikes
Before you begin understanding how a surge protector can help you, you need to understand what they protect your devices against. Electrical outlets are designed to provide consistent voltage to any compatible device, but certain events such as a lightning strike or power outage can cause excess voltage distribution, also known as a surge or a spike. Surges usually measure less than 500 volts and last about two seconds. A spike, however, is a much shorter event that can pack a punch with thousands of volts. Needless to say, these drastic increases in voltage can cause damage to any of your unprotected devices. Without a surge protector, you could be saying goodbye to that new $2,000 flat screen TV.
Are power strips and surge protectors the same thing?
Though many people believe power strips are surge protectors in and of themselves, the answer to this question is no — except under certain circumstances. Just like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares, these devices can be the same thing, but that’s not always the case. If a power strip is explicitly labeled as a surge protector, then it’s safe to use as such. But if there’s no information like that in the product description or label, you shouldn’t trust these devices as surge protectors for computers or any other devices.
Do you ever need to replace surge protectors?
Unfortunately, yes. Surge protectors don’t last forever. The components they use to divert electricity can wear down over time and with repeated exposure to power surges. Many of these devices, like cell phone accessories, have indicator lights that tell you when a component needs to be replaced, which means you need to keep an eye out for that signal. Some devices even have alarms that can let you know when a surge protector needs to be replaced.
These devices often go unnoticed in our daily lives because a power surge isn’t exactly something that we can see or hear. If your power strip surge protector does its job, you shouldn’t even realize it’s happening.
But whether you can detect a power surge or not, they most certainly happen. And when they do, it’s important that you have the surge protector for computers and for all of your expensive electronic devices.