Joe Swett
Whole home surge protection
By Published On: February 19th, 2020Comments Off on What To Know About A Whole Home Surge Protector42.9 min read

Does the idea of a whole house surge protector sound appealing, but are you somewhat confused about how it works or what it has to offer? While there are several misconceptions about this type of surge protection for your home, it’s a good idea to learn the truth to find out if it is something you should invest in.

If you are interested in learning more about whole house surge protection, keep reading. Here you can learn more about it, what it offers, and more.

The Whole House Surge Protector Explained

Put simply, a whole home surge protector provides protection for all the appliances and electronics in your home from damaging voltage spikes. It limits the excess electrical current (power surge) by blocking the flow or even shorting it to ground.

This includes protection for surges that occur because of lightning. While this is true, approximately 60% to 80% of surges that occur from inside the home due to the biggest appliances cycling off and on.

With so many appliances and electronics in homes today, you can’t afford not to protect them with the installation of a surge protector.

A Deeper Look into the Origin of Power Surges

Before diving into the use of surge protectors, it is a good idea to take a deeper dive into why and how power surges occur.

There are a few different sources of power surges today. They can originate from both inside or outside the home, because of over-voltages on utility loans, during power grid switching, or from the inside of your home. This occurs when you are turning off or on large appliances.

While larger power surges from downed power lines or lightning are somewhat uncommon, smaller power surges occur each day you use your electrical system. These smaller, yet frequent power surges can deteriorate and damage your electronic items and shorten their lifespan.

Specific causes of short-duration electric transients (i.e. over-voltages) are usually caused by the following:

  • Inductive spikes
  • Lightning strikes
  • Electromagnetic pulses
  • Power outages
  • Malfunctions that are caused by the power company
  • Tripped circuit breakers
  • Power transitions in large equipment on the same power line
  • Short circuits
  • Tripped circuit breakers

A rarer, but much more destructive cause of a power surge is lightening. In the event lightning strikes, you will wish that you had whole house surge protection in place.

Protecting Your Home and Electronics

The modern whole house surge protection devices are considered the best way to defend your home, appliances, and electronics from power surges of virtually any magnitude. They will usually be hooked up to your home’s electrical service panel but are found in more convenient locations to ensure easy accessibility.

Today’s devices use MOVs – metal oxide varistors – to help shunt power surges.

While a point-of-use surge protector is a better option than nothing, they probably won’t shunt bigger surges from an external source, such as high-energy surges such as lightning. If you want to protect your house from a direct lightning strike, you need to invest in proper professional installation.

Even though MOVs are common in surge strips they may be destroyed when a powerful surge has occurred, the ones used with a whole-house system are able to defer larger surges and will last for many years. Today’s new construction usually come with expensive electrical systems standard.

Protecting Your Home from Potential Damage Caused by a Lightning Storm

If there is a severe storm, be sure to switch off power to your water well pump (if you have one) at the breaker box. If there is any damage to the pump during the storm, you may not have any water.

For your home electronics, you need to ensure they are all plugged into surge protectors – ideally surge protection. If you are still using point-of-use surge protectors, be sure you only by those labeled with UL (Underwriters Laboratories). If you find one for sale and buy one that’s under $10, it probably won’t offer the level of protection needed.

As you can see, it makes sense to use a whole house surge protector. If you need more convincing about why this is necessary, learn about the benefits offered by this investment here.

The Many Benefits Offered by Whole Home Surge Protection

If you have not yet invested in whole house surge protection, consider some of the benefits here. This will help you decide if it is a smart move for you and your home. Think of it as insurance for your devices.

The Technology

The average household has more electrical equipment and electronic gadgets than they ever did in the past. Modern home appliances now have complex circuit boards, which must be protected from these dangerous surges. Even the latest LED bulbs include a microcircuit board that’s very sensitive and that can be compromised by electrical surges.

The total amount of personal gadgets in today’s households has increased quite a bit in recent years. Smartphones, tablets, computers, and similar devices all carry essential information and must be protected.

Up to 80% of Power Surges are Generated from Inside the Home

Most power surges are short and referred to as being transient. They come from a home’s appliances, which includes air conditioners and motors. The small surges won’t cause serious damage, but as time passes, they may degrade the performance – and as a result, reduce the lifespan – of your electronics and appliances.

Layering Protection

You should talk to your electrician about layering whole-house surge protection. This is especially important if you have an expensive electronic setup or home entertainment system.

If there is an appliance in your home that sends a surge through a shared circuit or one that isn’t dedicated, then your other outlets may be compromised, as well. This is a reason you don’t want to have a surge protector at the home’s circuit panel.

Layered systems will be connected right to your electrical panel and at the actual point of use. The installation of a power conditioner featuring surge suppression is the best way to handle these types of shared circuits.

Providing Comprehensive Electrical System Protection

While the main function of a whole house surge protection is to keep your home’s electronics and appliances from damage, it’s also designed to provide protection for the home’s whole electrical system. If a transient surge originates from a home appliance that is on a dedicated circuit, it will send the surge back through the breaker panel and it will then be shunted.

This ensures that all the other electrical system is protected in the home. Another way to ensure that you are protected is to test your AFCIs and your GFCIs every 30 days.

Options for Whole House Surge Protection

There are several different whole house systems that are available for different voltage needs. For example, if you have a home with a 120-volt service – which is the typical size – you can use an 80kA rated surge protector because a surge over 50kA is very rare. A traditional home should never have a surge that is over 10kA.

If your home has subpanels, you need to seek the protection of about half of the total kA rating from the main unit. However, if you are living in an area that endures more than a few electrical storms each year, then investing in surge protection with an 80kA rating would be a smart move.

Keep in mind, there are different brands and requirements, with some being better than others. Also, different systems are offered with different warranties. It may be a good idea to work with a professional electrician to find the right system for your home.

Having the Right Whole House Surge Protector Installed

As you can see, there are many benefits and safety offered by the installation of a whole house surge protector. If this is something you are interested in for your home, the best thing you can do is to work with a professional electrician.

Our team of electricians is available to provide you with the services that you need for a price that you can afford. To learn more about whole house surge protection, contact us today.

In addition to providing protection for your home against power surges, we also offer emergency services, electrical installation, and more. We are here to help with virtually any home electrical issue that you have or need that you find. Let us handle all your electrical needs, repairs, installations, and more.


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