Most homeowners in Kaufman, TX have one or more surge protector cords guarding their favorite devices. This type of surge protection keeps costly electronics from sustaining serious, surge-related harm. However, surge protector cords don’t protect outlets themselves, electrical wiring, or other electrical features. Moreover, they’re only capable of protecting the items that are plugged directly into them. As local temperatures plummet, read on to find out why having whole-house surge protection in winter is so important.
What Are Power Surges and What Does Surge Protection Do?
Everything that you have plugged in is designed to receive a steady stream of power. Sadly, this isn’t always the case with your home’s electrical supply. Whenever there’s a power outage, a power surge invariably follows. This is when higher-than-normal amounts of voltage enter your electrical system as power is restored.
Standard electrical outlets are built for 120 volts of electricity. In most cases, they can safely handle up to 169 volts without sustaining immediate or permanent damage. Unfortunately, while your outlets might hold up well, this increase in voltage can be detrimental to any mobile phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, or other electronics you have plugged in. Larger surges can “fry” circuits, melt wires and plastic components, and cause electrical fires.
Surge Protector Cords vs. Whole-House Surge Protection Devices
Surge protector cords offer single-outlet protection. They only protect what’s plugged into them, and they can’t prevent damage to electric outlets or wiring. Despite these limitations, they offer a low-cost way to protect high-value electronics from unavoidable surge events.
To compare, whole-house surge protectors are connected directly to residential electrical panels. They divert excess voltage away from electrical systems and into the ground. A whole-house surge protector will protect every appliance and device throughout your home. It will also protect your outlets, breaker boxes, wiring, and more.
For a truly dynamic surge protection plan, it never hurts to pair whole-house surge protectors with single-outlet surge protector cords. Layering your surge protection will cover you for a more diverse range of surge events and ensure that no areas of vulnerability are overlooked.
Risk Factors for Power Surges
Certain factors put homes at greater risk of power surges. Given that approximately 60% of power surges originate in buildings, they’re often possible to prevent. For instance, updating your electrical system to accommodate any new and high-powered equipment you install is best. When electrical systems are more than two decades old, they’re often ill-suited to high-efficiency furnaces and heat pumps, new washing machines and dryers, and larger refrigerators with greater electricity demand.
It’s also important to ensure that other people throughout the building aren’t overloading your circuits and aren’t using them improperly. For instance, it’s best to avoid plugging a space heater in on the same circuit as your refrigerator, washing machine, or other major appliance. Consumers should plug space heaters into their own, dedicated outlets and limit the amount of additional items drawing power in the same room. Plugging your space heater and your laptop into the same outlet could leave you with a tripped circuit breaker and a damaged device.
When you aren’t using your devices, disconnect them. This is easy to do if you have every device plugged into a surge protector cord and the ability to turn them all off with a single switch. Space your appliances out throughout the building, and when thunderstorms or other severe weather events arise, shut off as much as you can.
What to Know About Power Surges That Originate Inside the Building
If your lights flicker off and on even when the weather is temperate and calm, you might have an outdated or overloaded electrical system. Overloading circuits by drawing too much power at once is easy to do in winter when residents are busy plugging things in, such as:
- Holiday lighting
- Heating blankets
- Space heaters
- Portable fireplaces
Whole-house surge protection will keep you and your household safe from unexpected surge events. However, if you haven’t had your home’s electrical system updated in more than 25 years, you should probably take care of this as well. An updated electrical system will have a far better ability to accommodate your electricity demands without becoming overwhelmed.
Risk Factors for Power Surges That Originate Outside of Your Home
The risk factors for power surges that lie outside of your home also lie outside of your sphere of control. These include poorly maintained power lines and power lines that are especially vulnerable to high winds. They also include poor electrical equipment maintenance by your utility company, and a high frequency of lightning and direct lightning strikes.
Cold Weather and Increased Reliance on Heating Systems
Almost 40% of homeowners throughout the nation rely on electricity for whole-house heating. This number is fast-increasing with more consumers installing heat pumps, electric furnaces, and ductless mini-split systems. There are also more gas-fired appliances using electronic ignition switches.
With temperatures regularly dropping to 35 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, most people in Kaufman use their heaters day and night. On especially cold days, sudden and significant spikes in HVAC use can overwhelm the equipment that delivers electricity from your utility company. During times of peak demand, the risk of power outages and the power surges that follow is consistently high.
Short-Duration Disruptions in the Power Supply From Your Utility Company
The electrical current that flows into your home from your utility service provider is surprisingly unsteady. Slight fluctuations in this current happen all of the time. During times of high wind, you might notice your lights flickering off and on. This is the result of multiple, miniature power surges.
Although these events rarely cause serious, immediate damage like larger, weather-related power outages do, they still take their toll. Even if your power doesn’t go off for minutes or hours at a time, mini-power surges like these can cause your electronics and appliances to malfunction and shorten their lifespans. Their frequency and their cumulative effects can be very detrimental to gaming consoles and gaming computers, smart TVs, smart thermostats, hardwired smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, and more. Unlike major power outages which tend to be few and far between, hundreds of mini power surges can occur within just a matter of days.
Protecting Standby Generators With Whole-Home Surge Protection
Another excellent reason to install whole-house surge protection is to protect your standby generator. When power outages occur, transfer switches seamlessly transition electrical demand to these appliances. Standby generators keep refrigerators and freezers running, allow consumers to charge their mobile phones and EV batteries. It also makes it possible to cook hearty, homemade meals with the lights on. If someone in your home relies on electronic medical equipment, having a standby generator can even prove lifesaving.
You’re most likely to need your standby generator during rough winters. This is also the time when power outages are most likely to occur and when connected appliances are most likely to sustain surge-related damage. When installing a new generator, you should ask about your options in surge protection.
Trust the Professionals
Homeowners in Kaufman, TX can count on us for top-notch heating, cooling, indoor air quality, and electrical services. We also offer standby generators, ceiling fan and lighting installation, electric panel replacements, and whole-house surge protection. If you’re ready to protect your home from power surges, get in touch with Accurate Home Services today to get started.