Who needs surge protection? Anyone who has something to lose due to an electrical surge.
Surge protection is different from lightning protection. Surge protection is connected to the building’s electrical system to protect appliances and circuits. Lightning protection consists of the lightning rods placed on the roofs of buildings to protect the building from direct strikes.
A surge is any excessive voltage on electrical wiring. Surges are caused by lightning, utility switching and large industrial equipment starting or stopping.
Lightning creates a surge on the utility transmission lines in relatively close proximity to a lightning strike, and those lines connect to our homes and businesses. A momentary loss of electricity (or brownout), indicates a surge already has occurred.
Utility companies cause surges when they switch transmission lines on and off or when they bring a generator online or take it offline. These are evident when the lights flicker.
Unfortunately, surges can’t be stopped, only diminished. Surges are diminished via surge protectors and adequate grounding at the electric service.
Networking multiple surge arrestors greatly enhances the surge protection. An adequate grounding electrode system (ground rod and grounding conductor) is essential for good surge protection. Surge-protected plug strips are useful as component of a surge network. They must bear a UL, CTL, PAT or other in-service inspection and electrical testing provider’s label. The label must state, “Surge protector” or “Surge protection”.
However, most grounding electrode systems are not effective.
“I have seen a very sophisticated surge protection fail to provide protection because of an inadequate grounding electrode system,” said Bob Perry, of Denali Enterprise, Inc. in Clermont.
A good grounding electrode system will include one 20-foot, copper-clad ground rod connected to the grounding system as a minimum, he said.
All surge protection is sacrificial; it gives up its life to protect electrical appliances. With each surge that enters the building, the surge protector’s life diminishes. A good quality surge protector will have LED lights to indicate the status.