Do I need surge protection against lighting in Adelaide?
Single power surges, while not common, do occur from time to time. In this instance, electricity from the grid surges and enters your house. This then can cause damage to your electrical equipment and can endanger your family’s safety.
A professionally installed whole-house surge protector creates a level of safety for all electrical appliances in the home and therefore can save you thousands of dollars over the cost of the initial investment.
Many of us forget how many sensitive and expensive electrical devices we have in a modern home, from your home theatre system to kitchen appliances, office equipment, digital TV ceiling fan, and lighting products, a surge protector will be protecting all these electrical devices.
When an electrical surge leaves a house unscathed or only causes an alarm clock or other inexpensive device to malfunction, it may appear to be a minor annoyance.
When an electrical surge, on the other hand, causes devices such as televisions, gaming devices, laptops, stoves, and other appliances such as washers, dryers, wall light, refrigerators and air conditioners to malfunction, the inconvenience and economic damage skyrockets.
To account for the inconvenience and negative impact a power surge can have on electrical safety and your finances, it is also important to understand that power surges for example, from lightning and their effects are often not covered under home insurance policies.
As a result, taking preventive measures such as installing whole-house surge protectors in your own home can have a significant impact on not only your safety but also the safety of your wallet, even if it does require a small initial investment.
At DQ Electrical and Solar Power installing surge protection in Adelaide and the surrounding region is one of the regular jobs which can be undertaken in one day.
While the Australian Government has made surge protection not a mandatory safety requirement for our homes, and while any home without surge protection does not necessarily have a higher risk of electric shock, in new homes a surge protector should form part of the electrical installation.
Why do we have power surges?
Surges occur when the flow of electricity is interrupted, and then starts again, or when something sends electricity flowing back into the electrical system, such as during a lightning strike. Power surges vary from some Volts to thousands of Volts. Generally, you won’t notice small power surges until an electronic gadget, TV or smart device stops working.
In today’s world many smart gadgets are quite expensive, just think of video game consoles and play stations, large monitors, air-fryers, security camera setups and so on. Your children are playing games, particularly in these Covid affected times, and suddenly the power goes down.
You try and find out what has happened. The circuit breakers have not tripped; the next thing is a check with your neighbours and sure enough, they also do not have electricity. In the meantime, you have not turned off all the smart devices and wait for the power to come on.
Then the energy provider turns the power back on and a power surge can occur, when the electricity runs again through the grid causing overvoltage and frying your expensive devices – all at once.
Imagine, everyone in your neighbourhood is having the switches and equipment left on during the power outage. When the electricity is coming back on, it takes a while for the electrical grid to stabilise.
High power consumption appliances such as fridges, heaters and freezers draw a lot of electricity, especially during start-up, forcing a short step down in power but then comes back up until the electricity grid stabilises.
You often can see this when turning on a circular saw while having an incandescent light on, you will see a short flicker in the light globe. Due to the sensitivity of modern electrical appliances, the damage to equipment nowadays can be more pronounced, than in years gone by.
Even when sometimes the power is turned off for example on your smart TV, the power surge can still cause irreparable damage as the surge from the power point can enter the TV power supply and “fry” it. To avoid this risk, it is always best to turn the equipment off from the powerpoint.
Other causes of power surges are overloaded outlets or circuits, damaged or exposed wiring, high-powered electrical devices and last not least lightning strikes. A lightning strike can have the worst impact on your equipment.
DQ has visited homes where a lightning strike caused a switchboard to burn, fried 4 TVs , a computer and the solar inverter. The best method we recommend in protecting your sensitive devices and preventing power surges in your home is by installing a whole-house surge arrestor.
Whole house surge arrestors protect all circuits, networks, and equipment in your house from power surges. This ensures your home is permanently protected from large unexpected financial outlays.
Alternatively, if you have a computer with valuable information, you could buy a small surge arrester where you only plug in your computer and peripherals. The cost for this smaller safety device ranges from $70 to $1000, but it will not be as efficient as a whole house surge arrestor, because all the other circuits are not protected.
One important thing is that lighting strikes do not always enter the home via the electrical wiring, but they can also enter through your antenna. If you purchase a whole-home surge protector, the surge protector should also protect your home on the antenna cabling side.
So, how do surge protectors work?
In basic terms, it is a protective device positioned between your electrical energy supply and your equipment. If it detects a higher than permitted voltage, it will shut down (clamping voltage) the supply before it reaches your equipment or device.
The surge protector does it by guiding/conducting the voltage through a varistor via a zinc metal oxide (MOV) and passing it to the earth/ground. A varistor is an electronic component that starts conducting electricity at a specific voltage and stops conduction when the voltage falls below a threshold voltage.
Zinc Metal Oxide Varistor
Varistors can only operate for a certain time and at a certain voltage before they fail, and so if you had a lightning strike nearby or other reasons for a surge you will need to replace the surge protector. They do not work like a modern circuit breaker, where you just push the breaker back in position after it tripped.
Even if you have to replace the surge protector, you will be glad to know that it has done its job and has protected your electronic device or equipment. We at DQ Electrical & Solar recommend a surge protector with a control light that extinguishes to indicate that it does not protect your house from surges anymore after the protector was in use. Also note that a power board with a reset button is not a surge protector, it protects your electricity circuit from overloading by the appliances that are plugged in.
What to consider when buying a surge protector:
- What appliances do you want to protect?
- Make sure you have the right number of outlets you need to be protected and perhaps allow for an extra outlet.
- Make sure the Surge Protector has the Approval Tick and complies with the Australian Standards and Wiring Rules.
- Check the clamping voltage (when it shuts down) and energy absorption rating that is suitable for the sensitivity of your devices.
- Check the warranty period, as this varies from model to model.
- Make sure it has an indicator light to clearly show your house is protected.
DQ Solar and Electrical has been the local, trusted Electricians in Adelaide for over a decade.
Here at DQ Electrical & Solar as a family-owned company with local experience since 2009, we are experts in protecting your home from power surges. Let us assist you to find a solution tailored to your home. Call us on 08 / 7160 0127 to find out more about this important safety device.