What Causes a Power Surge?
TechXpert verified by Ken Kontra
A power surge comes from a sudden and sharp increase in the level of electrical current or voltage flowing through an electrical system. This surge can happen when there’s a sudden electrical overload in your home, if you have faulty wiring, during a lightning storm, or as a result of a power outage.
What Exactly is a Power Surge?
A power surge is a sudden and sharp increase in the amount of electrical current or voltage that flows through your system. This can come from a force inside or outside your home, and can damage or destroy an electrical device.
Surges From Inside Your Home
Power surges that come from inside your home, or internal surges, are very common. Many times, they are inconsequential, occurring without you even knowing, because modern appliances can resist small-scale surges. Other times, they can cause issues with specific, individual appliances or systems in your home.
Surges From Outside Your Home
Power surges that come from outside your home, or external surges, happen when something outside (like tree debris or lightning) hits a power line or nearby. These are often much more severe than internal surges.
Electrical Explanations for Power Surges
There are quite a few reasons for sudden increases in electrical power in your home, including:
Overloading occurs when one or more devices try to take too much power from your electrical system. This might happen with larger appliances, like washing machines and refrigerators, or when you overuse extension cords or too many appliances at the same time. When too much power is pulled from the circuit, that’s when you’re at risk of a power surge.
If lightning strikes part of your electrical system, the electrical circuit will take in the voltage and current that comes with it. As a result, your system will experience a high increase in electrical power (and surge).
A power surge can also happen when a system recovers from a power outage. Right after the power outage, electricity will be restored, and this sudden spike in electrical power can cause a surge.
Damaged or loose wiring can cause your system to surge, since these wires are more susceptible to sudden spikes in electrical current.
Preventing Power Surges
Power surges aren’t just frustrating, they’re dangerous and can cause serious damage to your electrical system and appliances. If you have many large appliances or faulty electrical wiring, your home is particularly susceptible to power surges. In this case, a surge protector is a good investment.
A surge protector works to absorb extra energy in your electrical circuit system when a power surge occurs. It does so by redirecting additional electrical current to a grounding wire in your home, rather than to your electrical appliances.
Thinking of installing a surge protector in your electrical system? Contact your local electrician to learn more about surge protection, and whether it’s the best option for you and your home.
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