If you know what you are looking for, getting a surge protector in the market is not so hard. Getting one should be at the top of the essential things to buy if you are a gadget person. And these days, anybody with a bit of money has several gadgets littering the home.
Surge protectors perform two main functions in the home:
- They protect our gadgets from lightning strikes
- With surge protectors, you can safely plug several gadgets at the same time.
There is a third function of a surge protector that seems to too good to be true: the ability to conserve energy. Does it actually help you to conserve energy?
But before looking at that aspect, it is crucial to first explain what a surge protector is.
What is a surge protector?
A surge protector is a device that protects your electronics from the harmful effects of unexpected power surges. These increased power surges increase the voltage supply above the recommended level of your gadgets.
For instance, you gadget might be designed to use between 220 and 240 volts of power. An electrical storm (lightning strikes for example) can cause an increase to astronomical levels.
The result of that is damage to electrical components. In worst case scenarios, fires flare-up from the heat generated causing damage to other properties in the house
A good surge protector makes sure that doesn’t happen.
How surge protectors work
Basically, when there is a surge in power from the grid, a surge protector blocks or diverts the excess voltage to the home’s grounding wire.
Good surge protectors include a component known as metal oxide varistor (MOV). It is the work of the MOV to divert or block the excess power.
Surge protectors are designed in such a way that incoming current has to pass through the MOV before reaching your gadgets. The MOV at the same time is connected to the grounding wire of the home where the excess voltage can be dissipated harmlessly.
Types of surge protectors
There are two types of surge protectors. Each of them related to the kind of protection you require.
1. Whole house surge protector – as the name implies, this type of surge protector is designed to protect the whole house.
2. Point-of-use surge protector – these are the smaller and common variety. These are connected between the wall socket or outlet and the electronics or electrical gadgets.
Where to buy a surge protector
Surge protectors are rather common these days. They can be bought at most online stores or any decent hardware stores. And the good part is, you don’t have to spend too much money getting one.
However, prices can differ according to manufacturers and the size. And you have to be careful not to purchase fake ones in a bit to get a bargain.
Remember, your expensive gadgets are worth more than the buck or two you would save buying a cheap, sub-standard surge protector.
Convenience of using a surge protector
Many people are always faced with the problem of having to switch off their gadgets from the power source when they are not in use. As a matter of fact, many don’t even bother to unplug the gadgets.
It can be very tedious to unplug each gadget especially if you have many of them. But you can immediately solve this problem by using a surge protector.
With the surge protector standing between the wall outlet and your gadgets, all you have to do is switch off the surge protector. You don’t have to unplugged the gadgets since from the surge protector. They are safe.
So with just a flick of the switch, you have completely cut off the power supply to all your gadgets from the public electricity grid.
Some advanced models with enhanced features
Surge protectors can go from the basic ones to very sophisticated devices with cutting edge features.
There are models with outlets that work differently. Some of the outlets in these models have specialized motion sensors that automatically switch off the device when nobody is in the room in the room.
On the same model too would be a couple of outlets with no motion sensors. So you would have to switch it off manually to cut power supply to the gadgets plugged into these outlets.
Other advanced models can control the relationship between related gadgets. For instance, your DVD player needs a TV to display video. With these surge protector, you can program them to kill power to the DVD once the TV is switched off.
You can also program them not to go off no matter what happens to a related gadget.
So as far as surge protectors go, manufacturers are coming up with very exciting features.
Do surge protectors help conserve energy?
The short answer is yes. However, this aspect works for the point-of-use surge protectors only.
When gadgets are switched off without unplugging them from the wall socket, they continue using or draining power. Sometimes, bad wiring from the manufacturers contributes to this constant draining of energy.
But even in well-designed gadgets, standby functions like clocks or sensors in these gadgets need energy constantly to function optimally. They get this from drawing energy from the power source even if the gadget has been powered off.
This energy, popularly known as phantom load or standby power, can be blocked by using a surge protector.
This is especially important if you use an inverter as a power source for your gadgets. By using a surge protector, you would be able to conserve battery energy for only the times you need to use it.
One or two gadgets won’t make much difference, but if you have several gadgets, the cumulative effect can be significant in decreasing the stored energy in your battery.
A note of caution
Be aware that some surge protectors don’t offer protection against sudden power spikes. So before you invest your money on one, do your due diligence properly.
You can go online to see product reviews from independent sources and check the manufacturer’s website to get a sense of how reputable they are.
Apart from that though, investing in a surge protector could save you a lot of money and stress in the future.