power surges

4 September UNDERSTANDING WHAT POWER SURGES ARE AND WHAT CAUSES THEM

Most people know what a power surge is and how it can affect the electrical system in their home. It also ends up triggering circuit breakers in most instances. But do you know what the reason for power surges are or how they can damage equipment on your property?

Almost every household will experience a power surge at some time or the other and electrical storms are a common reason for this. There are various things you can do to recognise the potential dangers and protect your property from significant electrical damage.

The Unseen Risks

Power surges can occur when the flow of electricity in the grid gets interrupted in some way. It can also happen when devices that are expected to draw electricity put them back into the circuitry instead. In Australia, the mains voltage operates at 240 volts and 50 Hz, many other countries such as Japan and the US have appliances that use 110V 60Hz etc.

If you plug any such device into power outlets in your home without proper protection, it can result in a power surge causing extensive damage to the device. Harnessing electrical energy is not an easy task.

Whenever all of these other aspects come into the picture, power surges can be dangerous. While there are no significant dangers in using electricity on a day-to-day basis, there are certain risk factors you need to keep in view at all times.

What Is The Duration Of A Power Surge?

Whenever there is a sudden spike in the electrical current, it is less than a thousandth of a second, which is very quick. But the surge in the voltage can vary between hundreds and thousands of volts.

You must know that voltage oscillates and there is never any fixed current that it runs at. While oscillation is part and parcel of how an electrical current would behave, whenever there are things like three-phase power etc. added to the mix, it becomes more complicated.

This type of power creates different electrical phases within the alternating current. Since every country follows specific standards, electrical devices are manufactured to varying quality levels. All of these aspects have a role to play when it comes to power surges on your property.

Power Surges – The Common Causes

Various elements can cause power surges, and many of these are within our control, such as:

  • A high power electrical device can cause a sudden spike in power when you switch it on. Sometimes, this can happen when a high energy component like powerful motors kick-in. The sudden action can impact electrical devices on your property such as air conditioners, space heaters, refrigerators and more.
  • A tripped circuit breaker can still protect your home. However, if it has become damaged in doing so, that can prove to be a risk later on, and you would have to replace it.
  • Many power surges are caused by faulty or low-quality wiring. Defective wiring must be replaced, and you need to contact a licensed professional to have them inspect these features if you feel there is some fault in it. There are a few signs that indicate the wiring on your property needs an upgrade.
  • When tree limbs touch exterior power lines, it can result in power surges. This could be caused due to inclement weather or when they get swayed in the wind. If there are any trees in your immediate vicinity, growing precariously close to exterior power lines, you must inform your local council immediately.
  • Sometimes, animals may get into transformers and other electrical equipment resulting in a power surge. In this process, they also end up electrocuting themselves.
  • When electricity gets restored after a blackout in your area, it flows into all the appliances simultaneously. It can result in a power surge. If you have experienced a blackout on your property, the first thing to do is turn off all the equipment at the power points and unplug them. Once the service gets restored, plug-in all the equipment and devices one at a time.
  • If there is a lightning strike in your area, it could be another reason for a power surge. Sometimes metal on a property can attract lightning and homes in rural areas are more prone to this. Installing a lightning rod very close to your home structure is an excellent way to avoid lightning from striking your home.

Effects of Power Surges

When there is a power surge on your property, it can cause considerable damage to your electrical appliances. Sometimes, the appliance or device might stop working entirely, while at others, multiple power surges can impact the quality of the appliance or device over time. In some instances, a power surge can also cause an electrical fire, but this is a rare occurrence.

Warning Signs of Power Surges

Power surges occur very fast, and there isn’t much you can do to prevent them. However, there are certain indications that there has been a power surge; these include:

  • The devices in your home lose power
  • Some of the devices get reset
  • The safety switch on the circuit breaker trips
  • You find many electrical devices in your home are failing or “bricked”
  • If you have noticed any of these signs, you must contact a licensed electrician without delay. They will help provide the right solutions to protect your home from any future power surges
  • How to Protect Your Property from Power Surges

    There are various things you can do to minimise power surge risk in your home, such as:

    • Install phone line protection as it will reduce the chances of damage to your phone
    • Install similar devices to expensive appliances
    • Get quality safety switches installed and stay away from cheap power plugs. High-quality equipment also needs suitable, quality safety switches.
    • If there are any external risks to your home like trees etc. near power lines, notify your utility provider or local councils.
    • It’s always best to unplug the appliances that are not in use. This reduces the chances of damage to them in case there is a power surge. It will also help you save some money on your power bills

    Installing Surge Protection Devices

    You can get surge protection devices for individual electrical appliances in your home. But check all the rooms in your house and determine which appliances and equipment need surge protection. Any voltage that is above 240 volts can damage electronic appliances and devices connected to power outlets.

    When you install a surge protector, it effectively channels all the extra voltage into the grounding wire of that outlet. This prevents the electricity flow from flowing through into the electronic appliance or device while allowing the standard voltage to move along its standard path. It means you can continue using the appliance even when there has been a power surge in the circuitry.

    Electrical surges are very damaging to computing equipment; they can fry the internal components such as the hard drive or the motherboard. While it is good to install surge protectors in your home, you must understand that they would not be able to protect your appliances and devices from lightning which is one of the most common sources of power surges.

    Lightning carries millions of volts of electrical pressure, and even the most advanced and effective surge protectors are ineffective against this. During an electrical storm, the best way to prevent any damage to your electrical equipment is to unplug all devices that could become seriously damaged.

    Contact a Licensed Electrician For Surge Protection Installation

    If you are not very sure about what kind of surge protection device you need on your property, contact a licensed electrician. They will survey your home, make a note of all the appliances that would require the most protection. For instance, media centres your TV, computers and other expensive and sensitive equipment would need surge protection.

    You must also know that surge protectors can cause RCD tripping, which is one of the downsides of installing them. This is why it’s best to limit the use of these devices to the expensive or high-value electronic equipment. The licensed electrician you hire will install the surge protectors in specific areas of your home, to industry standards.

    For more information on surge protection devices, feel free to get in touch with AllRound Electrical at 1300 169 263 or write to us at sales@allroundelectrical.com.au. You can also fill in this Contact Us form, and we will get back to you shortly. We can help with the installation of these devices.

    Thanks for reading,
    Allround Electrical
    1300 169 263