Power Surge: How They Happen and What to Do About Them
Electricity is one of the fundamental amenities of modern life. From basic necessities like lights and fans to elevators, heavy machinery, and even cars, we are constant consumers of electric power. Indeed, today we cannot imagine a world without electricity!
The pervasiveness of electricity usage in all spheres of our lives makes it essential for us to have a steady and uninterrupted source of power supply. While utility companies strive to guarantee an unhindered flow of electricity, power surges are often common causes of disruption, affecting such supply.
Power surges are not just inconvenient, they are also extremely damaging to electrical devices and electronic appliances. One power surge can irreparably destroy multiple electrical and electronic equipment. This is why it is crucial to prevent power surges.
Read on to know more about power surges, their most common causes, effects, and most importantly, how to prevent them from damaging your high-value electrical devices.
What Is a Power Surge?
The voltage level for household electronic devices and appliances in most countries typically ranges between 110 volts to 220 volts. When these devices or appliances receive much more than the normal range of power through electrical wires, it is known as a power surge.
Therefore, as suggested by the name itself, power surges mean higher than optimum surges of electrical power. Such surges can be small or large and they can negatively impact the performance of connected devices or even cause irreversible damage.
Power surges can occur in 3 ways
- when a short leads to an interruption in electricity flow in the circuit
- when a larger power delivery is disturbed owing to electricity being sent flowing back into the system
- when internal or external forces cause an unexpected spike of voltage to be sent through a power system
Power surges can be minimal, as low as one volt over the maximum voltage. They can also be massive—a spike of thousands of volts, for instance, when transformers or power lines are struck by lightning.
What Causes a Power Surge?
A power surge can be caused by multiple factors. Some of the common causes are faulty wiring, electrical overload, sudden return of power after a blackout, and lightning strikes. Let us explain and discuss each cause in brief.
1. Electrical overloads
Electrical overloads usually occur when one single circuit is used to draw excessive power. Too many devices plugged into the same circuit can cause electrical overload. Extension cord overuse is also a common offender. Too much power being drawn from a single circuit leads to the circuit being overwhelmed with an enormous flow of current, thereby resulting in a power surge.
2. Blackouts or Power cuts
Large-scale failures of power grids often lead to Blackouts or power cuts. Usually, no damage is caused to electrical appliances as long as there is no electricity. However, when the electricity returns, there may be a sudden spike in the current. This kind of power surge may damage devices or appliances that remain plugged into the circuit during the power cut and are without any surge protectors.
3. Defects in wiring
Wiring defects such as exposed or damaged wires are hard to detect, especially if they are concealed. However, this is a major internal cause of power surges. You are advised to run a regular wiring maintenance check where you should look out for common signs of faulty wiring such as burn marks on walls, buzzing sounds from wire outlets, burning smells, and/or constantly tripping circuit breakers. If you notice any of these signs, deactivate all appliances and devices on the circuit and if possible, try to turn off the electricity supply in the area. Always get the area checked by a certified electrician to prevent electrical damage caused by power surges.
While direct lightning strikes seldom affect electrical appliances, they may lead to severe damage when they cause a power surge. When lightning strikes power lines directly, it leads to a huge spike in voltage production. As a result, the electrical system is compelled to accept and process a massive amount of current. This leads to a huge rise in voltage and causes a significant surge in power into the connected devices. This is why you are often advised to switch off and unplug electrical devices and appliances during thunderstorms.
Read Also: Know More About Voltage Surge Protector
How Often Do Power Surges Occur?
Power surges may occur very often. Common electrical appliances in every country have an optimum voltage range wherein they remain unaffected. However, when the voltage spikes over this optimum range, this power surge can damage appliances significantly. Wiring defects and lightning strikes are two of the most common causes of damaging power surges in homes.
What Are the Signs of a Coming Power Surge?
The coming of a power surge is usually indicated by a number of factors. Watch out for these indications in order to protect your home and equipment against the ravages of a power surge:
- Exposed wiring
- Burn marks or discolouration in wire outlets or areas that have wiring
- Humming or flickering lights
- Vibrating outlets
- Presence of smoke and/or burning smell from outlets or in areas with concealed wiring
On the other hand, if you notice that an appliance or a device has suddenly stopped working or there is a burning smell from an appliance or flashing lights in devices such as digital clocks, they indicate a power surge has already occurred. In such circumstances, you are advised to contact an electrician immediately.
How Can You Prevent a Power Surge from Damaging Your Appliances or Electronic Devices?
Power surges are evidently potential sources of severe damage to household electrical appliances. However, you can take some steps to protect your electrical devices and equipment from the damaging effects of power surges. Here are a few things you could do to safeguard your home and electrical appliances from a power surge -
- Unplug all electrical devices and appliances when they are not in use
- Invest in surge protection devices from a reliable brand
- Install special wall outlets for extra surge protection
- Regularly check your home’s wiring for faults and defects
How Much Surge Protection Do You Need?
Surge protectors (also called surge suppressors, surge diverters, and spike suppressors) are devices that safeguard electrical equipment from the excesses of voltage surges in alternating current circuits. These surges are very quick in occurrence, often lasting only microseconds. Even in such a short while they may cross the power threshold of the devices, causing the appliances to fail or glitch. Surge protectors prevent these tiny but damaging voltage spikes from affecting your appliances.
All surge protectors are not equally effective against power surges. You have to note the joule rating of the protector to understand the range and limit of surge protection it offers. This is very simply understood. A higher joule rating indicates more protection against power spikes and vice versa.
When you are trying to figure out the level of surge protection your home realistically needs, you have to consider the value of the devices you need to safeguard. You must go for a protector with higher joule ratings if you want to protect high-value devices from massive power surges such as the ones caused by lightning strikes.
Surge protection is beneficial for all electrical appliances and equipment but inexpensive and readily available devices such as alarm clocks, doorbells, and lights do not usually warrant surge protection. Therefore, select the devices you want to protect and then go for a suitable surge protector.
Investing in the best surge protectors for your home
Since you now have all the necessary information regarding power surges and surge protectors, make sure that you keep your home protected from voltage spikes.
Run regular wiring maintenance checks. Do not plug in several large appliances onto the same circuit. Unplug devices when not in use and mandatorily so when there are storms raging outside. Use surge protectors from reliable brands to protect expensive electronic devices and/or appliances. If you follow these basic rules, your electrical appliances are good to go in the event of power surges!
Now that you know the importance of surge protection, it is time to study the market to identify the best surge protector that suits your needs. The Schneider Electric eShop is one of the most popular and dependable places in India offering high-quality surge protectors that safeguard your electrical appliances for years. The brand offers durable surge protectors with high joule ratings and the latest features in the market including attractive warranty options.Hence, if you are in search of surge protectors that are specifically engineered to meet Indian electrical conditions, look no further than the Schneider Electric eShop. Different models of surge protectors are available at the eShop and you can surely find one that suits your requirements. The eShop also houses other electrical equipment under one roof. If you need further details, have questions, or require professional help, contact the eShop today!