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Surge Protector Power Boards
We are currently in the computer age, and today, most people have different types of tech devices and even smart homes. These devices include wireless Bluetooth devices, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more. Most of these devices are rechargeable and must be charged at low voltages. The need to charge these devices at lower voltages is the main reason why surge protection is more critical today than it ever was.
However, these surge protectors are prone to wear over time. Their lifespan shortens with voltage fluctuation and other constantly changing factors. You wouldn’t want any of your appliances to be affected by power surges. Several reasons could cause power surges. The primary point of concern for most people is lightning because it can pass through electrical wires and potentially cause power spikes in high volts.
Fortunately, surge protectors can easily handle power surges, regardless of the cause of the power surge. However, you need to ensure that you use the best surge protector to enjoy maximum protection. To help you understand more about surge protector power boards, we have provided all the information you need in this article.
This also includes a detailed buying guide containing all the key things to consider when buying a surge protector power board. Rest assured that after reading this article, you'll be able to get the best surge protector and have peace of mind knowing that all your devices and appliances are adequately protected. Let’s get right into it!
What Is A Surge Protector?
A surge protector is a small piece of device or appliance that is designed to serve two main functions. The first function is for its ability to plug different components into a single power source, and the second is to protect the connected electrical devices from a potential high-voltage power surge or spikes.
In simple terms, the surge protector is basically a conduit between your electronic equipment and the power source on your wall. With that said, the surge protector should be able to serve as a good barrier to protect your appliances from damaging power surges and spikes.
The surge protector serves as a gatekeeper, allowing only a safe amount of electricity to pass through without damaging your appliances. As the electrical gatekeeper, there are situations where the current may be excessively high for the surge protector to allow only a safe amount of electricity to go through. In such a scenario, the surge protector takes the fall at the expense of every other thing.
How a Surge Protector Works
A surge protector works by allowing electrical current to pass along the outlet to the plugged devices in the power strip. As the voltage rises above the required level, the surge protector diverts the extra voltage to the outlets grounding wire. These grounding wires run parallel to the hot and neutral wires, and they provide the pathway for the excess electrical current to flow through, especially if there's a breakdown in the neutral and hot wires.
Differences Between Power Strips and Surge Protectors
People often wonder if power strips and surge protectors are the same things. However, not all power strips are the same as surge protectors, even though they may look very similar. It is worth mentioning that power strips are designed to create an extra outlet space for use.
You may not be able to tell the difference at first glance, especially if it’s not outrightly specified to be a power strip or a surge protector. However, if you’re not sure, you can simply check the packaging to see whether it’s a power strip or a surge protector.
Surge protectors have joules ratings on their packaging, and joules is a unit used in measuring energy. This will give you an idea of the extent to which your device will be protected. Also, the joules serve as a reservoir, and each time the surge protector does its job, the joules rating reduces.
Causes Of Surges And Spikes
As mentioned earlier, lightning is one cause of the surge, but this is not so common. Typical surge causes include operating high-power devices like refrigerators, elevators, and air conditioners. These devices have motors and compressors within their system that take up loads of energy to switch on or off, therefore, requiring an energy saving power board with surge protection.
When switching these devices, a brief and sudden demand for power is created, thereby upsetting the steady voltage flow. This can cause damages to a building's electrical system, primarily if no protection is used. Also, the damage can be sudden or build up over time.
Another potential cause of power or outlet surge is faulty wiring or downed power lines. Also, for complex transformer systems that bring electricity to homes, several points are prone to having one issue or the other. These points can cause uneven power flow and ultimately lead to a power surge.
Difference Between a Spike and a Surge
A surge occurs when the voltage increase is for at least three nanoseconds. If the voltage increase lasts for less than three nanoseconds, it's a spike. You might be wondering if any damage could occur within nanoseconds. It’s important to note that those nanoseconds are significant enough to damage your appliances if the surge is high, which is why you need a surge protector.
Do Household Appliances Cause Power Surges?
People often conclude that lightning is the only cause of power surges, but this is false. As shown above, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other high-powered electrical devices, when used in homes, can cause a significant upset in the flow of voltage.
In most cases, the devices tend to have a high electricity demand, thereby distorting the power on the circuit. With these high-powered electrical devices, smaller and more sensitive equipment are at risk daily, but you can reduce the risk with a power surge protector.
Another point of concern is whether surge protectors can actually prevent damage from lightning. In most cases, a surge protector may not effectively prevent damages if the surge is caused by lightning, but you can be sure that it will help reduce damages. The best thing is to unplug everything when there's a storm.
Key Things To Know About Surge Protection
In different parts of Australia, there are multiple storms each year, and sometimes this leaves severe damages to electrical devices. This is why surge protector power boards are a smart option for protecting electrical devices, appliances, and other equipment from random surges. What's more, these surge protector power boards are affordable and easy to install. Before you head out to buy a surge protector power board, here are a few things you should know:
Power Boards Aren't Exactly Surge Protectors
A surge protector and a power board are not the same things. Most power boards come with an overload device, but this doesn’t always qualify to be a surge protector. With that said, you might want to think that surge-protected power boards may be expensive, but that’s not necessarily the case. There are high-quality surge protector power boards that are available at affordable prices.
Amps (Especially for USBs)
Some of the surge protector power boards you’ll find have USB ports to enhance USB charge. The charging capacities of these surge protector power boards are essential, especially their output amp rating. The output amp rating determines if your device is charging optimally or not.
In general, most surge protector power boards with USB ports either have one or two amps. However, there are still a few options with higher amp ratings. It is worth mentioning that your device will charge faster if the USB charging capacity is higher.
What To Look For In A Surge Protector
We have provided a detailed background of what you should know about surge protectors, and now it’s time for you to buy a surge protector if you don’t already have one. But you don’t just go out and pick just any surge protector you find because there are different products out there.
You need to be meticulous when buying. Buying a surge protector can be an arduous task because of the diverse options available. To buy the best surge protector power board in Australia, you’ll need to know what to look for, and we have outlined the key things to consider below.
As mentioned above, the joule rating is the leading indicator of the effectiveness of the surge protector and how well it will handle spikes and surges. You should note that surge protectors can generally absorb only a finite amount of the excess energy, and this is through their Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs). The MOVs are designed to dissipate excess electrical energy in the form of heat energy.
The quantity and quality of the MOVs are the main factors that determine the overall joule rating. In general, the higher the rating, the more effectively the surge protector will deal with energy spikes and surges. Also, higher ratings will potentially have a longer lifespan. Most surge protectors have joule ratings of around 500 and 5,000 joules.
Clamping voltage is the maximum voltage that can pass the surge protector to the connected devices. If there’s a surge, the surge protector will clamp the voltage. This is done until the surge voltage drops significantly.
Lower is generally preferred, and clamping voltage is usually between 300 and 500V. Getting a higher clamping voltage will only pose more risk to your appliances. Some surge protectors generally come with a clamping voltage below 300V.
The reaction time of the surge protector is another crucial thing to consider when buying a surge protector. You need to be sure that the surge protector will react fast to any power surge. Remember that it takes nanoseconds for a surge to complete. You also need to note that not every surge protector can act instantaneously, and there’s always a minor lag. However, this lag varies depending on the quality of the surge protector that you get.
High-quality surge protectors are generally designed to react quickly, and you'll find that the best surge protectors only take less than one nanosecond to respond and provide the protection you need.
All MOVs are bound to fail after repeated power surges, but you need to know how this will affect your surge protector and how your surge protector will react. It is typically advisable to look for a surge protector that comes with an indicator light to notify you when the surge protector is working effectively and when it is not working properly.
In addition to this, it is also best you go for a surge protector that has an inbuilt failsafe. This feature will prevent the board from functioning as a power board whenever the surge protection fails or malfunctions. The failsafe feature will also protect your connected appliances and prevent unforeseen damages that may occur if the surge protector fails.
The last thing you might want to look out for is the warranty. Some of the surge protector power boards you’ll find come with a warranty, while others don’t. For those that come with a warranty, the amount varies, which is why you need to know what the warranty means, in addition to ensuring that the surge protection you buy has one.
Suppose a surge protector has a $50,000 Connected Equipment Warranty. In that case, it means that if your electrical appliance gets damaged from a lightning strike, spike, or surge when attached to the surge protector power board, you’ll be offered replacements or repairs up to $50,000. A warranty is an extra form of protector in addition to the protections already provided by the surge protector. Therefore, when buying a surge protector power board, settle for one that has a warranty.
Frequently Asked Questions
To further help you understand surge protector power boards, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How Long Do Surge Protectors Last?
After buying your surge protector, it is essential for you to know how long it will last and when to get a replacement. Knowing the right time to get a replacement is essential because you wouldn't want your appliance to get damaged by a power surge. Ultimately, replacing a damaged appliance will cost you more than replacing your surge protector.
An easy way to know the right time to replace your surge protector is by continuously keeping track of surges and spikes. By doing so, it will give you an idea of when to replace your surge protector. As mentioned earlier, after a big surge hits, the joule rating diminishes, and this also goes for the level of protection it offers. You need to know when you purchased the surge protector and when there's a power surge or spike.
In general, if you get a good surge protector, you should expect it to last between three to five years, but this would depend on the strength and number of surges. Despite this, it’s best to replace your surge protector every two years. Remember that the surge protector will continue working, even when it does not provide protection, and you might not know that your devices and appliances are at risk.
Also, even though not every surge protector will notify you when there’s an issue, there are still a few available options that will either shut off or give a warning when the level of protection goes below a safe level.
Can You Plug a Surge Protector Safely Into an Extension Cord?
People often wonder if they can connect their surge protector to an extension cord. You can do this, but you need to be sure that the extension cord can handle the same level of energy the surge protector can handle, or even better.
However, even if your extension cord can take the same level of energy, it's generally safer to avoid connecting the surge protector to an extension cord. The primary reason not to do this is to prevent potential fire hazards that it may cause.
What About Another Surge Protector?
Like plugging a surge protector into an extension cord should be avoided, you also need to avoid connecting a surge protector into another surge protector. Doing this only goes against the protection ability of the surge protectors. You’ll be interfering with the protective capabilities of the surge protector when you plug it into another surge protector.
You will also void your warranty if it's discovered that the cause of a product mishap is because you plugged it into another surge protector. Therefore, it’s best to avoid plugging your surge protector into an extension cord or into another surge protector.
If You Don't Know How, Seek Professional Assistance
Now that we've covered what surge protectors are and what to look for when buying one, you should be ready to get an efficient one for your home. But remember, your safety comes first; if you don't know how to use or maintain a surge protector, you should get a licensed electrician to help.