No one wants to lose their precious data or an expensive TV (or appliance or gaming system) to something that’s easily preventable. A power surge may not seem like a phenomenon that doesn’t happen often enough to be top of mind, but most households will experience one eventually, and so you don’t want to take them lightly.
To reinforce this notion, read the power surge horror stories below to get a clear picture of the danger to your favorite electronics, and what to do to protect them:
What Is a Power Surge?
First, what is a power surge? A power surge can be caused by an overloaded outlet or circuit, damaged wiring, lightning strikes, or plugging in a high-powered electrical device that can cause an energy spike.
In any of these cases, short but powerful surges of electrical voltage can travel throughout the home and affect any room or any appliance that’s plugged in to an outlet.
The National Security Agency (NSA)
The National Security Agency had to delay the opening of its data center in Utah for over a year when it was struck by 10 massive power surges, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Granted, this wasn’t a matter of plugging a few computers into a well-made surge protector. The $1-billion center had its own power substation that generated so much heat it required multiple chilling plants and over a million gallons of water a day to keep it cool.
Still, it shows how even a project overseen by experts can have trouble with power surges.
PPL Electric Utilities Customers
On the household level, Pennsylvania-based PPL Electric Utilities had an issue in 2011 in which it admitted responsibility for causing a power surge that affected multiple customers in an Allentown suburb. When PPL line workers made a mistake fixing a transformer, McCall.com reported some homeowners whose home electronics weren’t protected by surge protectors (and even one that was) suffered hundreds to thousands of dollars of damage. One family even lost a furnace, dishwasher, lighting, and most of their power outlets.
Obviously, these two examples are extreme, but adding a layer of protection to your home with a quality surge protector can add peace of mind and space for extra plugs.
FirstEnergy’s Insulator Failure
We’ll hammer the lesson home, however, with one more story. Roughly one thousand homes suffered a power surge in Brookville, Pennsylvania, in 2017. The spokesman for their energy provider, FirstEnergy, said that the surge was likely caused by an insulator failure. He told the Associated Press, “It’s similar to an alternator in a car. Why does it fail after a few years? Mine might last for 10 years, but yours might last for five. … Any equipment that is on a pole in the air and is subjected to weather 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, is susceptible to failure.”
In this case, some households lost fridges, and others lost nearly all their electronics and had to make claims through their local provider or file claims to their homeowner’s insurance, which in turn could have raised their premiums.
So, how do you protect yourself from a power surge? Assess your needs and look at our recommendations for great surge protectors. The larger your appliance, the stronger the surge protector needs to be. Overall, the expense of buying a surge protector dwarfs that of replacing an electronic appliance or device that falls victim to a surge, so surge protection is worth the investment.
Power Surge Protection
For those who want to protect their entire homes, call in a professional like Mr. Electric to install whole house surge protectors that will safeguard everything in your home that’s plugged in to any outlet. If you’re interested in this handy home improvement, schedule an appointment with Mr. Electric today.
If you’re looking for other ways to improve your home, and you need to implement a heavy-duty electrical device such as an air conditioner, consider calling Aire Serv. Aire Serve is part of Neighborly’s community of home service brands. You can count on Aire Serv for all of your home heating and cooling needs.