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What Does A Surge Protector Do?

April 17, 2020 | Blog

Almost every home has an extension cord with a surge protector at the end of it, but what does that surge protector necessarily do? Is it even worth it? The answer is YES – and read on to find out why.


One of the surge protector’s obvious functions is allowing multiple wires to be plugged in at the same time. The power strip is there to protect all the electrical components connected to the outlet from surges. But what is a surge?


A surge is also called transient voltage, where there is an increase in voltage that is well above the designated voltage in an electrical current. In the United States, the standard voltage in a flow of electricity is 120 volts. Anything above that can destroy your electrical components, like your laptop or phone if plugged in. Surge protection is crucial for the safety of your equipment, as well as yourself.


Understanding how an electrical system works is understanding how voltage works. Voltage is the measure of the difference in electric potential energy, traveling from one end of a wire to another. There is always greater energy on one side compared to the other. Those brief increases of voltage are the surges – and if they are high enough, they can cause a great amount of damage to your machines. The wire will literally burst, and heat will generate and burn – not exactly breaking your machine immediately but causing enough damage to wear down the system over time.

What Makes it Happen?

A power surge occurs when something rapidly increases the electrical charge, or voltage, at some point in the power lines. This increases the voltage, boosting the current flowing in your wall to your outlet.

The most common example of this is a lightning strike, which is very unlikely but not impossible. If lightning strikes near a power line, it can increase the electrical potential energy by a huge amount and completely burst your surge protector. This is why it’s important that during lightning storms to unplug your computer and any other important devices from the outlets to be extra cautious with your electrical machines and systems.

If you are in need of electrical services and want to get the best surge protector for your home, call Arnold Electric today to speak to one of our trusted Chicago electricians.

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