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Can Surge Protectors Go Bad

author
Christina Perez
• Saturday, 05 December, 2020
• 7 min read

I live in an area that’s prone to frequent electrical storms, so I’ve always been fanatical about keeping my electronic stuff plugged into surge protectors. The protective components inside surge protectors work by shunting power surges to ground.

hvac wiring surge protectors electrical storm reading protector never early too professional don
(Source: www.artplumbingandac.com)

Contents

That’s what we want of course, but every voltage and current spike that a surge protector is subjected to damage those protective components to a certain extent. If the local power grid is relatively stable and electrical storms are rare, a surge protector can work well for years.

It’s important to also understand that a surge suppressor won’t protect your equipment from a direct lightning strike. If lightning directly strikes the power grid near your home, you’ll likely lose at least some of your surge protectors AND possibly everything that’s plugged into them.

Bottom line: If you live in area that gets hit with frequent thunderstorms, you’d be wise to replace your surge protectors at least every other fall. And you should replace them immediately if your house’s power grid receives a direct lighting strike.

When it comes time to replace your surge protectors, you’ll be able to find them at almost any local retailer that sells electronic gear. Most homes, offices, and shops put their faith in surge protectors and invest huge sums of money in buying them.

What these people are not aware of is that even the best surgeprotectorscan wear out at times and fail to protect their devices. While surge protectors are mostly reliable and necessary, people should not forget that they are also machines and may stop working at any time.

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(Source: wheelingit.us)

Every time a surge occurs, and it protects people’s devices, it also loses some of its ability. Most surge protectors come with a rating that is given in joules to show the extent of protection that a particular device is designed to provide.

Similarly, a constant surge in power also slowly damages the device and makes it dysfunctional with time. While it is possible to squeeze all the liquid out of the sponge, you cannot remove the effects of high voltage from a surge protector.

So far, we have explained why it is almost impossible to have an accurate idea when a surge protector stops working. For instance, people who live in an area with constant fluctuation in voltages might face serious wear and tear that affects the life of their surge protector.

With proper care and maintenance, they can survive longer and perform better, keeping all the appliances safe. The best way to increase the life of a surge protector is called layering up in technical terms.

People should install a whole home surge protector at the main electric supply. These surge protectors further protect against smaller voltage surges that usually occur when people turn on or off a heavy electronic device such as an air conditioner.

surge protector outlet usb port enlarge
(Source: www.cnet.com)

The purpose of explaining these issues is to remind people to keep a check on their surge protectors and not trust them blindly to save their expensive devices. The bottom-line is that people should always go for the surge protectors with maximum capacity and avoid connecting too many devices to one surge protector.

Yes, a surge protector isn’t designed to last forever and will eventually wear out. The bad news is that it’s almost impossible to tell when a surge protector wears out.

Which means, you might think your appliances are protected against dangerous power surges when they really aren’t. But unlike a sponge, a surge protector can ’t just wring out all the voltage it’s absorbed and start fresh.

You see, every surge protector has a specific amount of voltage that it can absorb before it dies. Likewise, if a surge protector with 1,000 joules takes ten 100-joule hits, it won’t offer protection anymore and will need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, surge protectors aren’t designed to give you any indication of how many joules they have left. Some models use LED lights that cut off when they’re out of joules but these rarely work correctly.

surge protector savvy campers inbox directly
(Source: www.thesavvycampers.com)

And it’s impossible to estimate how many joules your surge protector should have left because it all depends on: These surge protectors protect against smaller voltage surges that are created inside the home, usually from larger appliances cycling on and off.

Our team of reliable electricians is ready to help protect your home and expensive electronics from dangerous electrical surges. But, if you’re still using an old surge protector you purchased ten years ago, it’s probably long pastime to replace it.

These devices sit between the electrical socket and your gadgets, protecting them from any power surges and ensuring they receive a consistent voltage of electricity. It’s possible for a voltage spike caused by an issue in the power grid to damage your expensive electrical equipment, and that’s what surge protectors are designed to stop.

When they receive a power surge from the electrical outlet they’re plugged into, they have to do something with that extra voltage to get rid of it and shield the connected devices from it. A typical surge protector uses a component called a metal oxide variety (MOVE).

It’s practically impossible to tell exactly when a surge protector stops functioning as intended. Some surge protectors have built-in lights that are designed to alert you to this problem and inform you when the protector needs to be replaced.

slideshare surge protector why need upcoming
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

But don’t assume your decade-old surge protector is still working properly because the warning light hasn’t come on yet. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a World columnist for two years.

Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.

But unlike a sponge, a surge protector can ’t just wring out all the voltage it’s absorbed and start fresh. You see, every surge protector has a specific amount of voltage that it can absorb before it dies.

Likewise, if a surge protector with 1,000 joules takes ten 100-joule hits, it won’t offer protection anymore and will need to be replaced. I have 2 Furman M-8LX units that I used in a small concert hall 3 or 4 times a week for about 4 years.

Sharing mains supplies with lighting consoles used to be a real dread, but modern ones seem much better behaved. In my equipment racks I operate a tier system where I replace the top-level surge -protected plug boards (those supplying the most sensitive bits of gear) roughly every year. The replaced ones cascade down to other tiers, and off the bottom end I have a large box filling up with perfectly-serviceable plug boards that I label as non-suppressed and lend to the lighting crews.

surge protector
(Source: www.shpock.com)

Yeah, maybe I'll dispose of that Arms 614... it's pretty ancient at this point, I can 't imagine it's protecting much of anything anymore... Yeah, maybe I'll dispose of that Arms 614... it's pretty ancient at this point, I can 't imagine it's protecting much of anything anymore...

They cost less than a dollar, and are easy to locate and replace for anyone who can solder if they use reasonable high-voltage caution. The biggest problem is often, if the MOVE has failed in a spectacular fashion, it will be impossible to read the markings on it.

But... if I'm a mere musician, and not an electrician... and very wary of high-voltage situations... that sort of testing (and soldering) is not really an option, unfortunately. But... if I'm a mere musician, and not an electrician... and very wary of high-voltage situations... that sort of testing (and soldering) is not really an option, unfortunately.

Here, on top of all that extra circuitry, you're paying for a heavy gauge enclosure to support the huge transformer(s) inside. The reputable manufacturers, (Furman, ETA, Tripartite/SL Water, JuiceGoose, Watt box) do a decent job telling the consumer which type they're buying.

The panel mounted ones have status LED's that indicate whether the suppressor is operating, or failed (i.e. lightning strike, etc). Prepare to spend a couple of hundred bucks plus the electrician's labor on permanently wired suppressors.

office fire hazard wiring
(Source: mrelectric.com)

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