Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/166938/protect-your-gadgets-why-you-need-a-surge-protector/
Do you have your PC, television, or other expensive electronics plugged directly into a power outlet? You shouldn’t. You should plug your gadgets into a surge protector, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as a power strip.
No surge protector will protect your stuff from a lightning strike.
Having taken professional advice, I must refute this idea. They just do not work.
is it a myth not to daisy chain surge protectors because they cause fires?
The use of a surge protector is a good idea for voltage spikes considered normal such as when everyone in the neighborhood turns on their A/C at nearly the same time or your washing machine starts up. As an amateur radio operator I have experienced distant lightning which was harmless, near strikes which will induce a current spike in nearby wires, an at least one direct strike on my tower. The direct strike was severe and caused some damage, but my computers which were isolated by surge suppressors were not damaged. (Note that the lightning hit my grounded tower and grounded antennas, not a line running into the house. Nothing would protect against that as someone pointed out.) I use a UPS with surge protection for my main computer. Never regretted buying it!
No surge protector will protect from a direct strike. A near strike that sends a surge or spike into the grid will usually be arrested (they work by shunting the surplus current and voltage to ground).
I disagree. There are el cheapo units out there that do not have the capacity to protect from any more than a static discharge from your cat but the better ones will protect from anything other than a direct hit on the drop coming into your home. If your service is underground, then it's likely the power company's arrestors will absorb the worst of the hit. I used to work for a power company and I've seen what those things look like after a direct or very near hit (it's scary).
If an arrestor is working correctly, you normally won't know it's doing its job unless the unit has some kind of indicator to show when the MOVs are finally fried.
I love reading posts like this I am always jealous of the Americans having extremely fast internet such as 1Gbps -- but have it in the north west of the UK! B4RN. Broadband for the Rural North. Now you are worried about power surges.... Our National Grid is very stable and I have never had a power surge, granted that doesn't include lightning although we would never have a direct strike as everything is grounded and surge protectors are fitted within the main system. -- probably one of the reasons our national grid is so stable.
Correction, only densely populated American cities have super fast internet. If you live in the middle of nowhere, you will get garbage internet speeds because ISPs are too lazy and greedy to want to bother making faster internet for people living in small towns.
Thats true!!! But visit: http://b4rn.org.uk/
Totally rural. That is dedication!
stevepork, I lived about 30 years in the English Lake District (in Keswick), arriving prior to age 1! Sadly no-one then had internet (we were lucky in the 60s to get the single BBC TV program coming over the mountains and a few radio programs). Now in very rural Pennsylvania and half-way up a mountain I have a very fast DSL (not quite sure how). I support your goals--true dedication and a very good idea (and I loved to see the Lake District mountains on your web-page). Good luck!
When electrical reclosers snap back in during grid faulting, you NEED a High Joule Surge Protector as the incoming power gets very dirty.
When I see a lightning storm coming I just turn everything off, and probably should unplug to, cause lightning is unpredictable, and so powerful, Im not trusting no surge protector. I have an older surge for most of my tv and computer, and just turn everything off when lightning comes thru, and just use my cellphone or tablet, and turn on the old analog tv to the weather channel, till the storm blows over.
There are areas even in major U.S. cities that don't have high speed internet.
The U.S. electrical grid is also very stable although some smaller local utilities sometimes aren't (usually due to overloaded lines and aging equipment). Most, if not all, overhead distribution and transmission likes have a "static" conductor strung over the power conductors. This is a grounded bare conductor that acts as a lightning rod to protect the conductors below it (and drain off accumulated static). Sometimes the static line can fail under a direct lightning strike so lightning arrestors are placed every so often along the line, usually just before the drops to a device, such as a transformer. These will shunt off the worst of a spike but a little can get through. They also can fail, usually dramatically (I've frequently seen their blown remains and, once, saw one blow from a quarter mile away; the flash blinded me momentarily). Also, the arrestors on the grid provide only minimal protection from a surge (not the same as a spike).
If one is willing to shell out the shekels, one can install commercial surge and spike protectors that can protect an entire home (I'm considering it; what's stopping me is the difficulty of the job due to the location of my panel and how it is installed requiring some major surgery, not to mention my age and health).
Makes sense!!!! We protected our entire home without replacing the entire panel! We live in a 1700's Georgian house. We have three ring mains coming from our mains supply, this is without mentioning electricity routed into the out buildings! It's a mess. The majority of the work was DIY from a qualified friend and the rest was done on record.
does anyone know where or how that came about? i don't even see how daisy chaining would cause a fire unless you did it over multiple protectors...
Well, all power connectors in your house are in parallel. This comes with many advantages for normal use, but unfortunately this means that the net resistance of your house decreases the more appliances you have plugged in. Basically the more you have plugged in, the easier it is for electricity to flow.
V (voltage) stays within a fixed range, as
R (resistance) goes down,
I (current) must go up. High current creates large heat dissipation, which can lead to fires.
Daisy chaining power strips will not cause a fire, in of themselves. They themselves don't use power. However if you plug too many appliances into them, there will be a very large current through them. This is why you plugging in too many Christmas lights into one socket is dangerous. The wires get too hot and can spark fires (or in old houses could even melt).
Your explanation is a bit odd but the results are correct.
This part you got dead on. It isn't the daisy chaining or the number of appliances connected to the strips that cause the problem but the total current being drawn though them that can cause problems if any one of the strips has its capacity exceeded. If you daisy chain three strips rated at 10A each, as long as the current passing through any one strip (including any other strips connected to it) doesn't exceed 10A, everything will be fine. Example: you have three 10A rated strips with a total load of 3A on each strip to be daisy chained together. The first strip will draw 3A, the second one that has the first strip plugged into it will draw 6A, and the third one that has the second strip plugged into it will draw 9A. It is possible to exceed the capacity of a strip but using 15A rated strips will avoid that danger when used on an outlet in a 15A circuit. Using strips that have their own breakers will also protect from overload.
In the case of the Christmas tree light example, the problem isn't from the wall socket, which is designed to handle the load, but from the plugs and adapters themselves which are rated for less than the house circuit. If using multiple strings of Christmas string lights on a single wall socket, it is far safer to plug each string into a strip that is rated for the total load.
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