If you’re looking to prevent damage to your home’s electrical system, appliances, and electronics, whole-house surge protection is your best option. Lightning strikes and other external power surges can easily send thousands of volts of electricity surging into your home resulting in major damage or a fire, and the only effective way to protect against this is with a whole-house surge protector. To understand why whole-house surge protection can be such a great investment, here is an overview of how it works and the benefits it can provide.
External vs. Internal Power Surges
If you’re like most people, you probably already have numerous surge protectors in your home. Surge protector strips are great for protecting sensitive or expensive electronics like TVs, entertainment systems, and computers from damage caused by internal power surges. Power surges occur when there is suddenly much more current flowing through an electrical circuit than it can handle, and internal power surges are those that occur due to an issue within your home. Internal power surges can happen when you plug too many things into one circuit and cause it to be overloaded, and they can also happen due to short circuits caused by damaged electrical wiring in the circuit or in anything plugged into that circuit.
When an internal power surge occurs, it can easily fry the circuit boards in any electronics or severely damage the electrical wiring. Surge protector strips prevent this issue as they will automatically trip whenever the voltage flowing through the circuit rises above a set level. When this happens, the surge strip will send the extra current into the circuit’s ground wire so that it doesn’t flow into whatever you have plugged into the strip.
The only problem is that no surge protector strip is powerful or robust enough to protect against damage caused by external power surges. An external power surge is when there is suddenly much more current flowing out of the municipal electrical grid and into the home, which can happen due to issues like lightning strikes, blown transformers, and downed power lines. External surges can also occur due to changes in electricity usage in the area that lead to a sudden spike in the voltage flowing through the grid.
The power that enters your home is normally 240 volts, but external power surges can suddenly lead to thousands of volts flowing into your home. If your home is ever struck by an external power surge, it will likely destroy everything you currently have plugged in and all of your hardwired appliances as well. This is true even if you use surge protector strips as they simply can’t handle the amount of current that results from an external power surge, which means that the surge strip will almost instantly absorb so much electricity that it fails and the power continues to flow. The high current flowing through your electrical system due to an external power surge can also cause all of your home’s wiring to instantly become red hot and potentially start to melt or even catch fire.
How Whole-House Surge Protection Works
The only way to ever protect your home against an external power surge is with whole-house surge protection. A whole-house surge protector functions in a similar way to surge protector strips by measuring electrical current and automatically tripping whenever the voltage is suddenly much higher. However, whole-house surge protectors are far more powerful and able to withstand much higher voltages without failing or burning out.
Whole-house surge protectors are installed just before the main electrical panel where the power from the grid flows into the home. In the event of a major external power surge, the surge protector will activate so that the spike in current can’t flow into your electrical system. Instead, all of the extra voltage is channeled into your home’s copper grounding rod where it can then safely disperse into the ground. Most whole-home surge protectors will respond and activate within a nanosecond to almost instantly block the flow of electricity into the home to prevent damage to your electrical system and all of your appliances and electronic devices.
Most whole-home surge protectors are rated to withstand 20,000 volts of electricity, which should be sufficient to protect against the vast majority of external power surges. A lightning bolt typically contains around 100 million volts of electricity, but only a small portion of this current would ever flow into your electrical system even if your home was directly struck by lightning. A direct lightning strike could still potentially be powerful enough that it overwhelms the surge protector and causes it to fail, but this type of situation is still quite rare.
The only thing to note is that whole-home surge protection isn’t always effective against more minor external surges as most units will only activate when there is more than 700 volts of electricity flowing into the home. As such, it is still important that you use surge protector strips since most of these will activate if the current rises above 300 to 400 volts.
How Whole-Home Surge Protection Can Save You Money
Whole-home surge protection typically costs around $500 on average, and most devices will usually last for at least five years before needing to be replaced. Depending on how many volts flowed into the surge protector, you will often need to have the device replaced after a major external power surge. While $500 may seem like a lot, it is really nothing compared to what you may have to pay if your home was affected by an external surge and you didn’t have whole-home surge protection.
In this case, you could be looking at spending thousands just to replace your TVs, computers and other electronic devices. A major external power surge will also likely fry the circuit boards in all of your appliances including your refrigerator, microwave, water heater, washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher, etc. In most cases, you’ll also be looking at spending hundreds or thousands to repair or replace your air conditioner and various other parts of your HVAC system.
Since an external power surge will also likely seriously damage your entire electrical system, you may also end up needing to replace all of your light fixtures, light switches, and outlets. If the damage is severe, you could even need to have your entire home rewired. In that case, you’re typically looking at spending anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 or more. All of these factors show why whole-house surge protection can be such a great investment as it could easily end up saving you thousands upon thousands of dollars. External power surges can also lead to your house catching fire and possibly burning down, which you can also prevent with whole-home surge protection.
Charlotte’s Electrical and HVAC Experts
At Acosta Heating, Cooling & Electrical, our team specializes in all types of electrical installations and upgrades. We can help if you’re looking to install a whole-house surge protector, a whole-house generator, or an EV charging station. Our expert electricians can also help if you need any electrical repairs, electrical panel upgrades, or rewiring, and we also offer a full range of heating and air conditioning services for both residential and commercial customers in Charlotte and the surrounding areas. For more information on the benefits of whole-home surge protection or to set up a service appointment, contact Acosta Heating, Cooling & Electrical today.