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Why do we need surge protection?

Q: Why do we have more damaging electrical surges today than we use to in our homes? And what is dirty power?

A: You may have noticed homeowners today seem to be experiencing more damage to their electric appliances than homeowners of the past and I would agree with that conclusion. It is not that Harrison REMC electricity delivered to your home is of poorer quality or "dirty" when compared to electricity of times past. The damage occurs because the fragile circuitry in today's appliances cannot withstand an electric surge or voltage spike.

Electric appliances in the past used large wires and components to conduct electric power c compared to today's micro technology utilizing electrical paths so tiny, one has difficulty following them with the naked eye. The wiring and components of older electric appliances had the capability to withstand surges. The extremely small paths and micro components of today's electrical appliances are manufactured to tighter, smaller specifications and are not as tolerant of voltage spikes.

Having said this, manufacturers could install surge protection in an electrical appliance when it is manufactured but have chosen not to. Possibly this marketing strategy is due to the competitive nature of the market place, or it may be due to the increased opportunity to sell you another appliance in the near future if it is at risk in your unprotected home.

If your home is unprotected, it is a good bet you may one day experience a loss of an electrical appliance due to a surge. Then the question becomes, "How do you protect your home from surges?" The simple answer is "surge protectors." But even that answer is not so simple. Surge protection requires a strategy decision regarding what appliances you actually want to protect before you buy just any surge protector. Maybe you're thinking you want to protect all of them to a 100 percent level of safety from surges. This is tough and expensive to do.

Your appliances are at risk of surges entering your home from more avenues than just Harrison REMC's electric wires. Telephone, satellite dish, cable TV, outside TV antennas and trees that grow up next to your home are all possible entry points for surges. The surges we generally think of are lightning related during storms because we see the lights flicker and maybe even witness the damage occurring to electrical appliances at that time. We can experience a surge when the power is restored after an outage. Our likely conclusion is, "Surges come from being connected to electric power lines." In fact, there are hundreds of surges being generated in our own home daily. Your appliances are subject to these surges, each taking a repeated toll on the delicate circuitry. One day, by a cumulative effect, these surges may cause an appliance to no longer work. You don't know exactly what happened to the appliance, but it suddenly quit working. The source of these damaging surges can be air compressors, drills, saws, welders, or other tools in your garage. The source can also be your home's air conditioner unit, refrigerator, freezer, washers, dryers or other appliances with large motors that cycle on and off. Static electricity in the atmosphere surrounds your home during a storm and can be picked up by the electric wiring in your ceiling and walls. This static charge or surge has the potential to damage sensitive electric appliances connected to the electric wiring in your walls and ceiling.

This static charge is similar to the shock many of you may have experienced when you walk across the carpet in the winter and then touch a metal object.

So how can you best protect your electrical appliances? First decide what you really want to protect. In all the years I have worked with people on surge protection for their appliances, no one as yet decided to spend the money to protect everything to the maximum level. There are levels of protection that we are willing to purchase and there are levels that we just say, "I accept the risk of surge damage and subsequent monetary loss of this appliance." This level is different for everyone and the possibilities of surge protection are many. So decide what you really want to protect, then call me and we will give you the information you need to decide what protection is right for you. Call me even if you cannot decide what you want to protect.

The information I have available may help you decide what you want to protect. Surge protectors are like seat belts in your car. In the event of an accident we sure wish we had been using them. Call me, Bob Geswein, at 738-4115 or 951-2323 to get the information you need to make the best decision for you.


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