Each electronic device in your home, from your HVAC unit to your large screen television, and high-tech audio equipment has a microprocessor. Without adequate protection, power surges can destroy these microprocessors, rendering your home electronics and/or appliances completely useless. The cost to replace each damaged device is much more expensive than installing a whole-house surge protector.
Where do surges come from?
Power surges can originate from external and internal sources. External sources include lightning striking nearby circuits and the electric utility company switching power grids. These surges can enter the house through several pathways. Internally, power surges result when large appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators turn on and off their motors, decreasing the flow of power. Static electricity can also cause power surges.
Whole-House Surge Protectors
A Type 1 Surge Protection Device (SPD), also known as a secondary surge arrestor, protects against external power surges, such as those caused by lightning striking utility equipment, tree limbs touching a power line or your power company switching power grids. They are typically installed on the line side of the main service entrance. They are your first line of defense against potentially damaging power surges.
A Type 2 SPD, also known as panel protector, is installed at your branch panel (more commonly referred to as your breaker panel). Wired directly to a dual-pole breaker in your panel, type 2 surge protectors protect all the circuits in that panel, as well as any subpanels that might be connected downstream. They generally provide protection against surges originating from inside your home.
This category is one you are probably already familiar with. Devices, such as power strips and battery backups with built-in surge protection, suppress the lower level voltage spikes that can be especially damaging to high-tech electronics (e.g, computers, audio components, Smart TVs, and other household electronics). Power strips should specify that they have surge protection capabilities to be considered an SPD.
A full-featured whole-house surge protector diverts power surges away from your home and into the ground. Look for an SPD with a minimum rating of 50kA (1kA equals 1,000-amps). You will also want to make sure the device you choose complies with the most recent UL rating. Contact a licensed electrician in your area for professional whole-house surge protection device installation.