What is a surge or spike?
Storms, lightning strikes, accidents, or simply switching the on/off button on an appliance can cause an electricity spike or surge. They occur when there is a sudden increase in voltage in the electricity network. Surges and spikes can damage or destroy appliances or, worse still, cause a fire.
Lightning has the greatest potential to cause damage to your appliances and the degree of damage can increase with the closeness and intensity of the strike.
What appliances can be affected?
Surges and spikes can affect any electrical appliance but electronic equipment like computers, printers, fax machines, microwave ovens, stereos, televisions, videos, DVD players, medical equipment, or communication equipment are most at risk.
Your telephone line can also be a source of power surges which can damage connected computers and fax machines.
How can I protect my appliances?
Surge protectors safeguard appliances and wiring from surges and spikes. Talk to your electrical store or licensed electrical contractor about the best way to protect your appliances.
There are three different options for surge protection:
- Portable. Portable surge protectors such as surge protection powerboards plug into a power point and provide protection for those appliances plugged into them. If you choose this option, you should consider purchasing a surge protection powerboard that has telephone protection included. Some portable surge protectors can be used only once and may need to be replaced after a surge has occurred.
- Power point. Power point surge protectors must be installed by a licensed electrical contractor and replace a regular power point to provide specific protection for key areas in your home or business - for example for computers or phone/fax machines.
- Main switchboard. A surge protector can be installed at your main switchboard by a licensed electrical contractor. Newer types are fitted with replaceable models that allow for quick replacement without the need for disconnecting the power. These modules have an indicator which shows when overload has occurred and a new module should be installed. If the spent modules are not replaced, the appliances will still operate but they will not be protected from damage if another surge should occur.
What else can I do?
If there is storm activity in your area, turn off and unplug sensitive electronic equipment if you can. Also remember to disconnect the TV aerial.
What is the difference between a surge protector and a safety switch?
Surge protectors differ from safety switches. Surge protectors help protect sensitive electronic equipment and safety switches help to protect people.