Every homeowner should make sure that their homes have adequate surge protection, so you should ask your electrician about surge protectors if your house lacks sufficient surge protection equipment.
Having a surge protector allows you to plug several appliances and devices into one power outlet without creating an electrical hazard.
What Is a Power Surge?
A power surge, or a transient voltage, occurs if the voltage increases drastically above an appropriate level, which is usually 240 volts for homes in the United Kingdom.
Voltage measures a difference in electric potential energy as an electric current flows from one end of a wire to the other end.
Your electrician may talk to you about “spikes” and “surges.”
A spike occurs if the voltage increases for less than three nanoseconds, and a surge occurs if the voltage increases for at least three nanoseconds.
Lighting strikes, downed power lines, faulty wiring, the use of high-power appliances and electrical devices, and problems with your utility company’s equipment can cause power surges.
Why Does Your Home Need Surge Protection?
Surge protection prevents damage to electronic devices by blocking power surges.
Surges can burn wires and destroy your devices and appliances, or at least decrease their longevity.
Surge protectors prevent this damage by redirecting the excess electricity to a grounding wire.
People who work from home or any business could lose valuable and irretrievable data.
Even with the assurance of back up devices, customers could be in the delicate position of losing information which could cost them greatly.
Protection can be given to help prevent such damage through the inclusion of ‘Surge Protection Devices (SPD). This protection isn’t always mandatory but they’re becoming more of the norm to help protect valuable data and equipment.
Homeowners often purchase surge protectors like gas discharge arrestors and metal oxide varistors (MOVs).
Gas discharge arrestors are gas tubes that utilise inert gas a conductor between the hot line and the ground line to redirect the electricity.
MOVs activate when excess voltage occurs, and they divert the surge without blocking the standard current to power devices and appliances.
Your electrician will probably recommend a surge protector with a response time of less than one nanosecond because surge protectors have slight delays before they divert a surge.
Short response times provide the best protection against power surges.
So do you need to consider surge protection? Here’s five things you need to know:*
1. A bolt of lightning
One of the threats to devices is lighting.
A discharge from lightning near a power supply cable could generate a significant over-voltage transient and cause damage.
Even power cables underground can be affected, with a nearby lightning strike causing the over-voltage to be induced.
Transient over-voltages transmitted by the supply distribution system are not significantly attenuated downstream in most installations This over-voltage transient could then travel down the power lines and arrive at the installation, causing damage to the equipment within.
In most cases, surge protection devices aren’t required for installations to protect the equipment in the event of a lighting strike. However, protection may be necessary in applications where higher reliability or higher risks (e.g. fire) are expected.
Surge protection devices are classified according to their standard into different types. There are three types of surge protection device:
Type 1 – This can discharge partial lighting current and commonly employs spark gap technology
Type 2 – This version can help prevent the spread of over-voltages in electrical installations and help protect connected equipment
Type 3 – These are only required to be installed as a supplement to Type 2 and have a low discharge capacity.
When installing these devices, a Type 1 or Type 2 devices may be used at the origin whilst Type 2 or Type 3 are also suited for locations close to the protected equipment to further protect against switching transients generated within the building.
When installing a surge protection device, you should refer to BS 7671 for the correct regulations.
3. Getting the right connection
Making sure a connection is correct is vital when using surge protection devices. To obtain the maximum protection from the SPD, the connecting conductors should be kept as short as possible. This is to minimise any additive voltages on the connecting cables.
The connecting conductors of a Type 1 SPD shall have a cross sectional area of not less than 16mm² and for Type 2 the conductor size should be not less than 4mm² copper where the line conductor is this or greater.The total connecting lead length (a+b) due to these devices usually being connected in paraller with the supply should preferably not exceed 0.5m but shall in no case exceed 1m.
If there is a distance greater than 10m between the SPD and the sensitive equipment to be protected, oscillations could lead to higher voltage values appearing at the equipment terminals. In this case, additional coordinated surge protection devices close to the equipment should be considered.
A residual current device monitors your wiring installation permanently to detect any leaking current. How? It continuously measures the amount of current passing through a wire in one direction, and again through a different wire in the opposite direction.
If it detects a difference greater than 300 mA (milliamps), or less in certain cases, it breaks the circuit.
If current is “missing”, it means there is a leak somewhere in the wiring installation. If this current leaks through a person’s body, it could lead to a potentially fatal electrocution.
Residual current devices protect people.
Should RCD’s be required in your installation for example in TT systems, the SPD should be installed upstream of this RCD. If this can’t be avoided, the RCD should be time-delayed or be an S-type.
4. Inspection & Testing
Surge protection devices can offer a visual indication to help with the inspection and testing process.
Usually colour coded, if a green light is displayed then this means the device is operational.
If a red light is displayed however, it means that the device has reached its end and needs replacing.
In some cases the SPD will have replaceable cartridges that can be simply plugged in.
Power outages are quite inconvenient and annoying, translating to loss of heat, spoiled food, and lost work time. A standby generator can avoid this stress.
All these are consequences faced by both home and business owners face if the electricity goes out unexpectedly.
Fortunately, a solution to these problems exists, which is to invest in a standby generator.
A standby generator provides a reliable solution to extended power outages. Unlike a portable generator, it is installed permanently on a concrete pad in your property’s yard and provide uninterrupted backup power for days because they are connected directly to your building’s electrical panel and powered by an external fuel supply, such as diesel, liquid gas, or liquid propane.
Why You Should Have a Standby Generator in Case of an Electrical Blackout
1. Instant Power within Seconds of a Power Outage
Your neighbours may find themselves without electricity if the utility company experiences technical difficulties, but if you have a standby generator, you simply have to wait a few seconds.
The generator will start and warm up for several seconds before it starts powering your building, but this usually takes anywhere between just 10 and 20 seconds.
2. Smooth Transition When Power Comes Back On
A standby generator ensures a smooth transition from the emergency generator back to utility company power. The units usually run for several minutes after the utility company power is back up and running to ensure that the power is stable enough to power your home or business.
Using some form ofsurge protection at the same time will greatly protect your sensitive electrical devices from damage.
The standby generator shuts off once the motor cools and the demand for power fully transitions to utility power.
3. No Disruptions in Security System Coverage
A standby generator typically kicks in within seconds and you will hear a warning beep, but the power should be up and running soon enough that you never experience any significant disruption in the protection of your business or home especially if you are away.
4. Keeping Connections with Others Alive
Today, just about everyone uses digital devices that they use for communicating with others as well as maintaining themselves.
Computers are such a big part of everyday life and losing power can be quite disruptive.
Fortunately, a standby generator helps you maintain connections with others via digital devices especially during emergencies.
5. Preventing Food Loss
Individuals and families alike can spend a lot of money each month on foods that stay in the freezer or refrigerator until when they are ready to use those ingredients.
If the power goes out and stays out, it could mean having to throw food out before you even get the opportunity to use it. Fortunately, a standby generator helps prevent such a situation by ensuring that your fridge/freezer never stops working.
Do you need to go to this expense?
Of course you may have no requirement to sustain power to the entire house, perhaps you just need to ensure your computer doesn’t shutdown badly in the event of a power cut.
In this case there is good news for you.
You can purchase an item called a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
This device, which is about the size of a desktop P.C. can detect when the power fails and before your computer crashes it will switch over to it’s on-board battery pack and warn you to shut your computer down safely so you don’t lose your data.
Some of the more expensive ones will even shut your computer down cleanly for you without your intervention.
Investing in a standby generator or UPS offers numerous benefits such as providing you with the peace of mind knowing that you are covered should a power outage hit your area unexpectedly.
So, don’t get stuck without power because you failed to invest in a standby generator for your home or business.
Invest in one today if you feel at risk and enjoy the benefits discussed here.