Why Power Surges Are A Nightmare For Electronic Users

Lightning Surge

Lightning strike by Adam Weeden

Surges in electrical power are part and parcel of everyday life. When a spike or surge occurs it can play havoc with electronic equipment; especially computers. However, most computer users believe that adequate surge protection begins and ends by plugging their computer into a surge protection socket. Sadly, this is seldom the actual case. Many of these surge protectors offer nothing more than that of a standard extension lead.

This blog post will attempt to provide an insight into the problems that power surges bring about. Perhaps more importantly it will also cover how you can prevent serious issues from affecting your hardware.

When a Surge Occurs

Very often a power surge will only last for a split second, in real terms they are measured in millionths of a second. Generally speaking most electrical devices have the means to deal with some of the smaller spikes or surges. However, when a big one comes along it can cause major problems. Some of the stronger ones can carry tens of thousands of volts. This would easily be enough to fry computer circuit boards, monitors, hard drives and other systems.

It would be fair to say that the most extreme kind of electrical power surge would always be caused by a lightning strike. Thankfully, it would need to be something close to a direct hit to cause major damage. Some of the other causes for power spikes include:

  • Downed power lines
  • Large electrical changes at a local factory or superstore
  • Refrigerators
  • Air conditioning units

Often the type of damage that is caused by some of the occurrences shown above might be fairly small. Sometimes the effects might not even be noticeable.

Adequate Protection

Homes are not the only places that require protection from these electrical surges. The same rules will apply in offices and industry. In fact, anywhere that uses electricity is at risk.

As mentioned above, protection can come in the form of special plugs that are designed to dissipate any high levels of voltage. However, to ensure the maximum protection levels it is sensible to hard wire in a suppressor. This is something that a skilled electrical contractor can normally do in just a couple of hours.

Once this type of system is integrated it works almost as a pressure relief valve for the electrical system. When there is a large spike or surge it will direct excess voltage to the ground wire. Once its job is done and the surge has finished it will revert back to a stand-by type situation, allowing a normal flow of electricity to pass through it. The smaller socket protectors will then step in an act as a safety net to reduce any risk to appliances.

Throw the Item Away

Without this type of technology, many appliances will be at risk of severe damage. This includes the likes of computers, monitors; in fact pretty much anything with a circuit board. Repairing this type of damage is both costly and time consuming. For anything with a screen there will be specialist industrial monitor repair companies that can help. However, for most other electronics it will be a case of just throwing the item away.

Some thought should also be given to telephones and fax machines. Even when protected from surges in the electrical system they can still be at risk from damage that is caused by current running along the telephone lines.

When buying any anti-surge equipment it is essential that it meets with all of the safety standards. In addition to this it is best to try to find items that feature warning lights. Without these there is no real way of knowing that the equipment is functioning correctly.


Jann Webb is a keen writer and technical specialist. Over the years she has developed a strong interest in the area of industrial surge protection; for expert advice on industrial monitor repair follow her on Facebook and Google Plus.

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Jann Webb

Jann Webb is a keen writer and technical specialist. Over the years she has developed a strong interest in the area of industrial surge protection; for expert advice on industrial monitor repair follow her on Facebook and Google Plus.

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