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Home Page > Consumer Assistance > Consumer Tips > Tip of the Week

Consumer Tip Sunday, June 19, 2005

You Need Surge Protection
A power surge is a significant, unexpected, and uncontrolled increase in voltage.  A power surge can result from a nearby lightning strike, but results most often from the operation of high-power electrical equipment in the residence.  Electric appliances and, especially, electronic equipment are particularly susceptible to damage from power surges.   The result could be partial damage or even destruction of the circuits within the appliance or device.  
Surge protectors can help prevent damage to electrical equipment by diverting any excess electricity into the outlet's grounding wire.  Not all surge protection devices provide the same level of protection, however.  Be sure you get the most appropriate type unit for your needs.

Basic power strips are available at any home improvement or discount store.  They are inexpensive, but offer a minimal amount of protection.   More expensive power strips have higher surge ratings and extra features such as individual switches for each outlet. 


A surge station will protect equipment from power surges coming through the electric lines OR the telephone lines. This is particulary important if you have a computer or fax connected to the telephone lines.

An uninterrupable power supply (UPS) combines surge protection with a battery backup. Not only will the UPS protect attached equipment from power surges, it will provide power for a few minutes after an electric outage. For computers, this grace period will allow enough time to save the project you were working on when the power went out.


"Whole house" surge protectors can be installed at either the meter or the circuit breaker box.  This type of surge protection will protect your electrical equipment from external forces such as transformer switching.  However, the whole house surge protector will not protect the equipment from surges that originate within the house.  Check with your electric utility before having a licensed electrician install a whole house surge protection unit.

The standard household voltage in the United States is 120 volts.  Florida Public Service Commission Rule 25-6.046, Florida Administrative Code, states that the voltage delivered to a residential customer may not deviate from this standard by more than +/- 5 percent.