Many times, in the past, we have received calls from customers with dreadful panic on the other end of the line… 

“We are not sure what happened the other day, but suddenly our lights flickered, and now we are having a lot of electrical issues…The refrigerator stopped working, some GFCI’s and dimmer switches are out, and the computer is fried!” 

One of the most unforgotten hazards within the home electrical apparatus is spikes or surges in the electrical lines, more technically known as “transient voltages”.  A transient voltage is a sudden increase in voltage that is above and beyond what the circuit is designed to handle.  When these spikes happen, if only for a few milliseconds, sensitive electronics become very susceptible to being damaged.

What causes spikes/surges?

When most people think of spikes or surges in the electrical lines, initial thoughts are from lightning strikes. While this is true, commonly this is not the case. Lightning strikes only account for a fraction of damage caused by power surges, and often they can happen unexpectedly and undetected within the home internally. 

More often the case, a downed or damaged power line, or power plants being connected/disconnected from the grid will be the culprit. Sometimes, something as simple as your air conditioner or refrigerator cycling on and off can create an intolerable voltage on your home circuits.

What is a whole home surge protector?

A whole home surge protector, or SPD for short, is a device that limits or blocks excessive electrical voltage by using metal oxide varistors (MOV). The MOVs work like small magnets, and when excess voltage is detected, it is quickly diverted to a grounding conductor before running through the home’s electrical circuits and damaging electronics and appliances.

These SPD devices will mount directly to the main service electrical panel through a knock-out on the side of the panel and terminate on a circuit breaker. Some brands will also come with LED indicators lights signaling if the unit is active or if it needs to be replaced.

While a whole home surge protector is effective in managing the brunt of dangerous transient voltages, they cannot stop all surges completely.  Using one in combination with plug-in surge protectors is the best safeguard on electronics

New requirement for surge protection

The recent adoption of the 2020 National Electrical Code has added literature (230.67) requiring “all services supplying dwelling units shall be provided with a surge-protective device (SPD).” This rule applies to all new services in one-family, two-family, and all multi-unit dwellings.  If the electrical service is getting upgraded or replaced, an SPD will also be required to be installed.

Most of the time, the cost to install a whole home surge protection in your home can be fairly quick and easy. If you are interested in installing a surge protective device or would like your existing home wiring to be inspected for any unsafe hazards that may be present, give Benson Electric a call at (715) 394-5547 or fill out a contact form today!