Protecting your electronics

Most of us have many electronic devices in our homes and businesses. These devices – everything from microwaves to computers – can be damaged by momentary high voltage, commonly called a surge or a spike. Fortunately, protecting your equipment is as simple as choosing a quality surge protector.

What should I protect?

Any equipment that contains electronic circuits is susceptible to damage. Electronic circuits are found in computers, printers, fax machines, TVs, stereos and microwave ovens. If equipment is expensive, hard to replace, or if it contains critical data, you should protect it. Damage from multiple surges over a period of time may not become apparent until the equipment is inoperable.

How can I protect equipment from surges?

Surge protectors are the best way to protect your equipment from surges. The minimum level of protection for valued or expensive electronic equipment is a plug-in surge protector.

For business-critical or a higher level of home protection, a layered approach is recommended, in which you use a surge protector at the electric service entrance, as well as a plug-in surge protector.

Service entrance surge protectors are designed to be the first level of defense and will not stop surges created within your home or business. Plug-in surge protectors reduce the surge voltage to your protected equipment to safer levels. If you believe you need more than a plug-in surge protector, call EWEB's Power Quality Hotline.

How a Surge Protector Works
What about "joules" and "response time" features?

Many products advertise energy dissipation (usually expressed in joules) or response time as valuable features. These features are not tested by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL), and therefore should not be relied on. There is no substitute for a UL 1449 listing as a surge protector.

How do I install my plug-in surge protector?

Simply plug your surge protector into a properly grounded, three-pronged outlet. It is critical for the outlet to be grounded and properly wired for the surge protector to work.

Do I need to maintain the surge protector?

Most surge protectors degrade over time; their life expectancies vary according to the number and strength of surges the protector has received. Generally, the older your surge protector, the greater the possibility that high voltage can reach your "protected" equipment and cause damage. Also, surge protectors manufactured prior to February 16, 1998, met less stringent safety and fire requirements for a UL listing.

To be safe, replace your surge protector within the warranty period. Mark the date of purchase and warranty expiration date on the protector to keep track. When you replace a surge protector and don't want to throw it away, move it to a less critical or expensive piece of equipment that was previously unprotected.

For more information

Call EWEB's Power Quality Hotline at 541-685-7676 if you have questions or need more information.