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    As the average home continues to add electronic devices of all types, it is becoming increasing necessary for the home to be protected by a whole house surge protector. Stray electric charges can enter the home and damage or destroy expensive electronic equipment. In many cases, these surges of electric power can even lead to fire, destroying the entire home. Individual surge protection devices are mandated in most communities, but a whole house unit may be needed to protect against catastrophic damage.

    So You Think You Already Have a Surge Protection System

    Many homeowners and home electronics users think that they are already protected from surges. Often, they believe that the eight-outlet strip hooking up all the electronic devices is a surge protector designed to protect the equipment. In most cases this is not true. The eight-plug strip that is bought is just that, an eight-plug strip. It offers power but no surge protection.

    In more modern homes there are outlets with three prongs. These outlets serve as surge suppressors. In other words, they keep you from getting an electric shock if there is some sort of current break. Water in a bathroom is an example of a current break. Most older homes do not have these outlets. In either case they are not surge protectors.

    Where Do Electric Surges Come From?Whole House Surge Protector

    The most common surge of electric power is a lightning strike. A surge can start with a bolt of lightning striking a building or an area close to it. The current then travels into the building through pipes or lines of many types. When it gets to a place where it can head for ground, like a computer, TV or phone, it grounds and blows the unit up. In many instances, the unit catches fire or transfers the power to something near it, like the equipment user. Interestingly enough, a more likely source of an electric surge in the home is a stray electric charge. These stray charges may be due to a general power surge, a tree branch falling on a power or phone line, or the turning on or off of appliances like a refrigerator.

    How Do I Protect Myself?

    You can protect yourself from power surges by protecting the building and appliances around you. To best protect your building, make sure it is adequately grounded. In essence, the power surge should never make it to the building. It should head right for the ground around the building. In most cases these systems are installed when the house is built or when the water system is put in place. To find out if there are protective systems in place, just call an electrician or company specializing in whole house surge protection. In any event, a licensed electrician should be doing the checking and installation. This is not a do-it-yourself project.

    Internal Protection

    Ideally, a whole house surge protection system will protect everything. If, however, there are expensive individual electronic gadgets inside, you may want to add another level of protection. As you work with your electrician, ask about putting in elements for each individual electronic device. Peace of mind in this regard goes hand in hand with an insurance policy.

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    3 comments
    1. Dakota

      25 May, 2011 at 5:40 am

      Call your electric company. In Tampa our co offers Zap Cap a surge protector for the entire house. Insatllation is about 20-40dollars. And 6.99 per month. All items directly plugged into the wall outlets are warranties for it’s current value if it should fail. The also offer strips that offer the same warranty for your electronics. Your first is free, additional are 49 dollars. A bargain in my opinion since I live in the lightening capital of the world. So give you elec co a call and see if the have that system as well.

      Reply
    2. Rudy Harford

      19 October, 2010 at 2:21 pm

      Hi,
      I reviewed whole house surge protection and found that plug-in products typically clamp surges at 400 volts, while “whole house” protectors typically clamp at 700 volts (UL data). If the plug-in products clamp at 400 volts, the “whole house” protectors will not see the surge, and the plug-in is the main protector. What am I missing?

      Regards,
      Rudy

      Reply
      • Chris

        26 February, 2011 at 2:37 pm

        Rudy, You’ve probably given up on a response by now, but another site says the following, which leads me to believe that your small plug-in protects against minor fluctuations that wouldn’t KILL your device but could damage it in the longrun, while the whole house surge protector will stop the major big bangs that will instantly blow out your stuff. ¬†Read on:
        “You may believe that any devices plugged into a multi socket power strip are protected from power surges, but this is not the case and it is much safer to install a whole house surge protector and know that everything is fully protected.¬† Some people use point-of-use surge protectors to safeguard each separate item of electrical equipment from low-level internal fluctuations and subsequent component deterioration. However, the point-of-use surge protector is an inferior product when compared to a complete whole house surge protector.”

        Reply
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