A PHI Company

We're connected to you by more than power lines.

Safety Center

Surge Protection for Electronic Equipment

From flat-screen televisions to computers, treadmills and even answering machines, our homes are loaded with electronic equipment that could be damaged by a power surge – a momentary rise in the flow of electricity. In normal household wiring, the standard voltage is 120 volts. When the voltage rises above this level, this is considered a power surge.

The most familiar source of a power surge is probably lightning, though it is actually one of the least common causes. A more common cause is the operation of devices that require lots of power, such as air conditioners and refrigerators. When these items switch on and off, they upset the steady flow of electricity, causing a slight surge. These small surges can gradually damage electronic equipment and shorten their lifespan and efficiency.

The electronic devices that are common in our homes today contain many delicate components that are vulnerable to power surges. Microprocessors, which are an integral part of all computers as well as many home appliances, are particularly sensitive to surges.

To help protect your electronic equipment, we suggest investing in one or both of the following types of surge protection:

  • Surge Suppressor – This most common surge protection device is a type of power strip that can handle up to 6,000 volts. Surge suppressors can be purchased at most hardware or home-improvement stores. Be careful to buy a suppressor that offers surge protection. Standard power strips – which look nearly identical to a surge suppressor – do not offer this protection.

    When purchasing a surge suppressor, pay attention to the product’s Underwriters Laboratories (UL) ratings. UL is an independent, nonprofit company that tests electronic products for safety. Be sure that the product is listed as a transient voltage surge suppressor and meets the criteria for UL 1449, UL’s minimum performance standard for surge suppressors.
  • Surge Arrester – This is installed in or near a home’s main electric service panel and offers protection to the entire house against voltage surges up to 20,000 volts (such as a lightning strike). A surge arrester must be installed by a licensed professional.

Please note: neither a surge suppressor nor surge arrester guarantees protection from power surges in all instances.