What is Surge Protection? (Simple Explanation)

Oct 1, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

Due to frequent lightning strikes and other factors, we hear a lot about power surges in Florida. If you’re asking yourself, “Hold on, what IS surge protection?” and whether an investment in a surge protection device may be worth it, we’ll save you the trouble: The answer is yes.

What is a Power Surge?

A helpful way to understand electrical current is by comparing it to water. 

Electricity flows through wire kind of like water through a hose. How much “water” (volume) is measured by amps. The speed, pressure or overall push of the “water” flow is measured by volts. 

A consistent rate of electrical flow into your home is ideal, however this is not always the case. A power surge is a usually brief spike or disturbance in your normal power flow. Power surges are also referred to as “transient voltage,” and these events can damage, degrade and cause severe destruction to electronic equipment within any home  or commercial building. 

What Causes Power Surges?

A power surge can reach tens of thousands of volts, and they happen so quickly that these are measured in microseconds. These are usually caused by distant or direct lightning strikes, power outages or changes at the power grid. A more common source of power surges are devices from within your home or building which power ON/OFF (such as a simple thermostat powering your central heat and A/C). 

What is Surge Protection and How Does it Work?

A surge protective device (SPD) is a device which protects your home’s electrical system and appliances from electrical power surges. They work by detecting transient voltage, irregular electrical flow and power spikes and redirect these away from your electrical system and appliances. 

You can think of a surge protective device as the sacrificial lamb which will absorb and redirect these spikes in order to protect your home and its costly appliances. 

As today’s electronics have become increasingly more powerful, they have also become more sensitive. Importantly, SPDs improve the overall quality of the electricity and ensure a more “clean” waveform (electrical flow) which prolongs the health of your electronics over time.

Is a Surge Protection Device (SPD) Worth the Investment?

Over the years, SPDs have been called different names such as surge arrestors, surge suppressors and surge protectors. SPDs come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, all of which essentially chalk up to different levels of protection, durability, warranty and cost.

All electronics connected to your central electrical system (i.e. plugged into the wall) are vulnerable and exposed to potential power surges. Electronic equipment with microprocessors (computer-like hardware) like most EV Chargers today–and thus the cars they are connected to–will be even more susceptible to damage from power surges due to their sensitivity and should be especially protected.

Surge protection is usually installed at the utility meter, on the main electrical panel or in both places. You can also install an SPD directly on specific equipment or breakers you wish to protect, as well as through basic power strips with built-in surge protection capability. In fact, this layered approach to surge protection is the best and most recommended way to go.

Should I Unplug My Electric Car During a Hurricane or Thunderstorm?

Wherever there is an open pathway for electricity to flow, these circuits are exposed and vulnerable to power surges. Thus, if your electric vehicle is plugged in and charging during a surge event, it is thus equally exposed unless surge protection device(s) are present.

To play it safe, most experts would agree that you should unplug your electric vehicle during a hurricane, thunderstorm or other weather event where lightning strikes or power surges are more likely to occur.

That being said, in Florida we experience power outages, surges, micro-spikes and transient voltage so frequently that it would be best to have a surge protection device for your most sensitive and “mission critical” devices (such as your EV Charger) regardless of the weather or time of year.

Surge Protection for EV Charging: Protection and Peace of Mind

Ask one of our Installation Advisors or Technicians about surge protection for your EV Charger and for your whole home! We have a variety of technologies to suit your budget and needs. Ready to get started? Contact us today