In this technological era, our homes and offices are full of gadgets and appliances that make our life easy and seamless. Almost all of them run on electricity. The increased demand for electricity has made power outages, power surges, and other failures a norm. They can prove fatal for your electronic appliances and render them inoperable. Here, we understand all about it and how to protect our appliances from such damage.
What is a power surge?
Most power failures ultimately lead to a power surge, an abnormally high transient wave of voltage or power in an electrical circuit.
What causes a power surge?
A power surge can happen due to several reasons. A few of them include:
- Power restoration
A power outage is a pretty common occurrence. Power restoration after it requires a burst of energy that often causes a power surge. Power grid switching by the electric utility company also generates a power surge.
- Damaged utility lines
Utility lines can get damaged due to normal wear and tear, routine maintenance by electric companies, rodents entering a transformer, natural forces, accidents like tree branches touching electric lines, or other similar reasons.
- Lightning and thunderstorm
Most parts of the earth experience thunderstorms and lightning strikes at one time or the other. If this lightning strike happens near any electric line, it creates electrical energy that raises the electrical voltage by millions. Hence, a powerful surge is created that can damage any appliance irrevocably.
- Electronic devices
The electrical appliances at home can also trigger a power surge. The motors/compressors of electronic devices like refrigerators, air conditioners, hairdryers, etc., cause a power surge when turned on and off. The urge can also happen more frequently if the wiring is faulty by any chance. Over time, they damage the appliances.
How does a power surge damage the appliances?
Most electrical devices have a range of voltage within which they can operate safely. A power surge creates an abnormally high voltage that is beyond the range of the appliances. This excessive voltage creates an abnormal amount of heat that damages the appliances’ electronic circuit boards and electrical components and can even trigger a fire.
Ways to protect your appliances against power failures
Power surges and failures are inevitable, but we can follow some safety measures to safeguard our appliances.
1. Buy appliances and accessories that meet the quality marks
When buying any electrical appliance, it is crucial to verify that it can withstand voltage fluctuations. It is specified in the CE marking and is easy to ascertain. Sometimes, you need accessories like a 12-gauge extension cord to access power-points. They should also meet all quality standards to reduce risks.
If the accessories and appliances are not meeting the quality, they would not withstand voltage fluctuations and cause serious accidents. A good choice is to have all those appliances and accessories with an in-built surge protector to withstand voltage fluctuations effortlessly.
2. Power down and unplug machines when not in use
A common practice is to leave the appliance connected to a power source after use. This habit not only increases your energy bills but increases the risk of their damage. All surges from utility sources or lightning enter the appliance from the plug source. Keeping the devices unplugged is the best way to protect them, as the power surge can never strike an unplugged appliance.
Another common occurrence of surge happens when the power comes back after a load shedding. Hence, it is best to shut down the appliance and unplug it during a load shedding. You must also power down the unit to drain out any surge present.
Furthermore, you must never plug back the appliance as soon as power is restored. Allow some time for the surge to even out before you plug back the appliance. It will reduce the chances of damage to your appliances.
3. Use surge protector/UPS
A surge protector and a UPS is an inexpensive accessory that can function as insurance for your expensive electrical appliances.
A UPS (uninterrupted power supply) is great for internet-related appliances like the computer, laptop, modem, router, access point, etc. They help you continue work during a power outage and offer a degree of isolation and surge filtering.
Surge protector strips are another excellent idea. You can plug your appliances into it instead of directly to the wall plug point. They level off the voltage spike and protect the device. Most surge protectors have a fuse that fails during a power spike. The move cuts off the electricity to the appliance and prevents their damage.
When purchasing a quality surge protector, ensure that it has a sufficient number of protected outlets and an adequate capacity to meet the requirements of all attached devices. The accessory should preferably also offer lightning protection.
4. Regular indoor wiring inspection
If the house wiring and circuits are leaking or half-broken, even the surge protectors cannot stop appliance damage. Regular inspection and repair of the home electrical circuit would reduce the chances of an abnormal power surge and appliance damage.
5. Don’t overload circuits
This is another common error. You must never connect too many appliances to a single surge protector or run too many appliances simultaneously. It increases the power demand. Excessive power demand can lead to intermittent power failure, short circuits, wide fluctuation in available electricity, and even a fire hazard.
For added protection, you can also get home and appliance protection insurance that keeps you covered against any unexpected accidents. However, these tips would certainly protect your home and appliances against power failures.