Understanding Surge Protection

The importance of protecting devices against the effects of power surges is well understood, unsurprisingly given the proliferation of electronic devices both at home and in the office. From expensive gadgets to appliances within our smart homes, an unchecked power surge can damage expensive electrical devices and gadgets in the blink of an eye.

If you were ever curious about the development of surge protectors Kavita Manral of Schneider Electric recently penned a blog about how surge protection has evolved in tandem with the rise of electrical devices.

Lightning storm requiring surge protection

Circuit Breakers

According to Manral, the first surge protection devices came in the form of circuit breakers. These rudimentary but effective protection systems are designed such that electrical flow beyond a stipulated level would result in the immediate cessation of electricity as the relevant switch within the breaker box “trip”.

Ever since it was devised in 1879, the circuit breaker has grown to become a ubiquitous sight with a design that has stayed relatively unchanged for a while. Its location at the entry point of the typical home ensures the safety of a wide range of electrical devices within the home. Indeed, most of us would have experience walking up to a circuit breaker and resetting the relevant physical toggle.

Surge Strips

Though circuit breakers work well, there came a time where greater control over fluctuations in electrical flow was sought. This resulted in the development of the surge protector, which are really miniature breaker mechanisms built directly into power strips into which electronic appliances are plugged.

This design allows for power shutdown at additional points within the electrical system at home or in the office. Crucially, it offers as an additional level of protection for sensitive and high-value devices that can be damaged by fluctuations or power surge that might come from a faulty appliance in the home – or an external source before a circuit breaker trips.

Surge strips are commonly used and viewed as adequate against most types of power surges, though dedicated surge protection system with more powerful surge absorption capabilities do exist. For added peace of mind, some companies such as APC by Schneider Electric even offer warranties and equipment protection policies for devices that are plugged into their surge protector.

Lightning storm requiring surge protection

Surge Arresters

Finally, industrial surge arresters are complex devices that offer protection to industrial equipment or mission-critical systems. Vital against lightning strikes and power surges stemming from heavy switching equipment, they serve to ensure that expensive industrial systems – with potential repair bills upwards of a million dollars – are kept safe from power surges.

Unsurprisingly, industrial surge arresters require significant investments. On the positive front, the advancement of technology over the years has resulted in more sophisticated capabilities being implemented into industrial surge arresters, including the ability to identify even the slightest variations in electrical flow, such as with Schneider Electric’s Masterpact MTZ.

You can read more about the importance of protecting against power surges here.