PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We live in the Digital Age and that means we have a seemingly never-ending array of electrical gadgets plugged in at home, most of them 24/7.
That connection fuels their operation, but it also exposes them to damage.
“If you have a house full of electronics, and you’re concerned about a power surge, you may want to invest in a whole house power surge protector, which basically is going to offer you an extra layer of insurance above your homeowners insurance,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks said.
Surge protection isn’t a home improvement project you’ll want to show off to your neighbors, but you might be happy to brag about it if it’s done its job.
“For what they do and what they’ll save you, the people who have them are really glad they do,” master electrician Sammie Bracken said.
Electrical surges happen all the time and they’re not something you can control. Lightning strikes can cause them to occur, but they’re not the most common cause of electrical havoc.
“All it takes is for someone to hit a telephone pole. A surge can come in that way. A surge can come through your cable lines. A surge can come through your phone lines even. You’ve got a lot of wires outside and they’re all open to failure or to problems,” Bracken said.
It’s not just Smart TVs and computers that need protection. Today you can control your furnace and air conditioner, lights, plumbing and appliances with smartphone apps. Power strips offer some help, but a whole-house surge protector may be your best defense.
“The electronics in these new appliances… it’s really quite staggering,” Bracken said. “But there’s more susceptibility to problems or to stray voltage or a surge coming in and damaging those things.”
Surge protection is kind of like having an airbag in your electrical panel. If a surge comes in, it absorbs that energy, keeping it from traveling through to your electronics.
A licensed electrician can install a mid-grade surge protector for just a few hundred dollars. Higher grade units can cost $1,000 or more but they offer more protection. Most units have a lifetime replacement warranty.