Many people often think that power strips provide adequate surge protection for their appliances and electronics. However, that can often not be the case. A lightning strike can carry 100,000 volts and many power strips aren’t much more than glorified extension cords.
The Best Defense
The recommended option for homeowners is to install a whole-home surge protection unit at the electrical panel and supplement with power strips. The whole-home surge protection apparatus will be able to handle the large jolts (like from a lightning strike) but sometimes as much as 15 percent can get by — that’s why having smaller surge protectors is also a good idea.
How Whole-Home Surge Protection Works
It acts like a pressure-relief valve. Normally it will just sit there, allowing electric current to flow. But, when there is a higher-than-normal voltage, the device will instantly divert excess voltage to the ground wire. As soon as the voltage levels normalize, the surge protector restores the flow of electricity, unless the surge was big enough to melt the fuse built into some units.
Getting the Whole-Home Surge Protection Installed
These units are hard-wired to the service panel, a process that requires a licensed electrician. Whole-home systems should be rated to stop a 40,000-amp surge, at minimum.
Features to look for include thermal fuses, and lights or alarms that indicate when a device has taken a hit.