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  • Writer's pictureBen Dororski

Why inexpensive whole-home surge protectors have suddenly become a necessity.

A diagram pointing out various electricity uses throughout the home.

In the past few years, nearly every appliance and electronic device in a home now contains a circuit board. It’s wonderful what our devices are capable of now, but along with the new technology comes a significant and expensive problem.

Practically every electrical device in your home has now become susceptible to being destroyed by a power surge. And due to the North Fork’s outdated 1940’s era power grid that I wrote about recently, frequent power outages—and the surges that follow when the power comes back on—are something that are all too common out here.

While the power strips most of us rely on aren’t actually capable of protecting your electronics from these kind of surges, a whole-house surge protector is actually inexpensive to purchase (starting at $400) and install and will protect all your appliances and devices. We install a lot of them. Almost as much as backup generators.

All of us have likely had one of our electronic devices rendered useless due to a power surge without even realizing it. Perhaps a TV, computer, kitchen appliance, washer, dryer, or heating and cooling equipment just suddenly stopped working for no reason. Many people chalk it up to the device being too old or poor manufacturing, but more often than not, when we inspect them, we see that the device was actually fried by a power surge nobody noticed.

We also find that when one device is damaged by a power surge, the homeowner often finds a few other devices and appliances that are damaged, too. Unfortunately, these appliances are usually unrepairable and need to be replaced.

While a whole-home surge protector stops a power surge, it, too, will be damaged in the process and need to be replaced. But swapping out a surge protector is inexpensive and usually means you’ve saved thousands of dollars by not having to replace your expensive appliances.

Will insurance cover damages due to power surges?

Homeowners insurance doesn't offer a lot of relief from this kind of damage. That's because a power surge is often categorized as an "act of God" that requires an insurance rider to be protected. And even then, sometimes high deductibles just don't make filing a claim worth it.

What kinds of surge protectors do we carry?

We carry and install the entire range of the Square D's Whole Home Surge Protective Devices by Schneider Electric. Many professionals, including us, believe they are the gold standard when it comes to surge protectors. They’ve been used for decades by consulting engineers, contractors, and home builders. We find they're very high quality, reliable, and predictable. And they have fantastic warrantees—up to 5 years and $100,000 in connected equipment if it fails to protect your home.

What’s a Whole Home Surge Protective Device?

A Whole Home Surge Protective Device (SPD) reduces higher-level surges that might otherwise overwhelm plug strips and damage connected household equipment. SPDs also provide surge suppression for important items that are not compatible with plug strips, such as a home's HVAC and smart appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, oven, and lighting). You can protect your investments with Square D Whole Home SPDs.

What is a surge?

Surges, or “transient voltages” occur when there is a temporary voltage spike which travels throughout your entire electrical, phone, network and/or cable system. These can be externally generated (weather and utilities) or internally generated from devices inside the home, which is the more common type of surge. Up to 100 of these surges can occur per month. There is no alternative to a surge protector in these cases.

Does a surge protector help with power surges due to lightning strikes?

If the strike is small or indirect, surge protectors can help prevent damage. But a direct hit can be too much for a surge protector. Instead, a more complex lightning protection system needs to be put in place. A lightning rod is installed at the top of the structure and a conductor leads the surge down to a grounding system.

What about surge protection warranties?

When researching your surge protector, consider the warranty. Some models include a connected equipment coverage. This means that you could be reimbursed up to the warranty limit should your electronics ever become damaged by a power surge. Square D gives you peace of mind, with warranties up to 5 years and $100,000 in connected equipment.

How much do they cost?

Cost ranges based on size and infrastructure of the home. Starting around $400 and up from there depending on quantity of panels, types of equipment, and protected circuits.

How are they installed?

A surge protection installation starts with the customer's main electrical panel. From there, if any subpanels exist, they will receive surge protection as well. Depending on what devices each panel powers, a selection from several surge protectors will be made. Don't forget about the pool panel as this is often sensitive equipment and must be sized properly.

How do I explore getting a surge protector installed?

Contact us and we should be able to recommend a surge protector that would be right for your needs and budget.

Author Ben Doroski is a master electrician with over 20 years of experience in the field. He is the third-generation of master electricians in his family. Ben is the owner of Custom Lighting of Suffolk, a lighting and electrical company serving the North Fork, Shelter Island, and the South Fork of Long Island.


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