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How Surge Protectors Work 2020

Surge protectors are often bought and contain a handy feature of enabling one power outlet to connect to multiple other electrical devices/ appliances. Yet, the main purpose of a surge protector is to ensure that if the chance a power surge or spike occurs your electrical appliances are safe from harm. They are used in both commercial and domestic settings for this purpose, protecting computers, televisions and other media/ sensitive devices. With working in Sydney for 25 years, The Local Electrician and our Level 2 Electrician team are able to teach you all the information on how surge protectors function.

Surge protectors, or surge power strips, channel extra voltage from power surges or spikes into its outlet’s grounding wire. This results in it blocking the additional voltage from entering the electronic appliance or device and damaging it severely. It also continues to allow normal voltage to flow through its unusual path, therefore, the electronic item can be available to be used.

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What is a power surge and why would I need to protect my appliances from it?

When for a billionth of a second a sudden rise of voltages pasts 120 volts in electrical appliances, a what is called a power surge occurs. Power surges, or transient voltage, can quickly cause major damage to electrical appliances and devices if they are high enough. This is because there is too much electrical pressure within the wires, therefore, the wires heat up immensely and “bursts”. The electrical device or appliance may not stop working, however, components within will be strained and damaged, worsening over time.

How do surge protectors work to eliminate damage caused by power surges?

The main function of a surge protector is to prevent the high voltages from flowing through the wires of electrical devices and causing destruction. To do this, a Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) is placed within the power surge protector and acts to resist/divert the high voltage currents from damaging the appliance. The Metal Oxide Varistor connects to the hot power line and the grounding line.

A MOV contains three parts in its body, including a piece of metal oxide material. This is connected to both the power and the grounding line through two semiconductors. The variable resistance of these two semidictors depend on voltage. This means that determining on the level of voltage present, the MOV will act accordingly. If the voltage remains beneath a certain threshold, or being low, a very high resistance of electrons is created by the semiconductors. The opposite occurs when the voltage goes beyond that specific level and when it is correct the MOV does nothing.

When the voltage is too high and can lead to permanent damage, the MOV acts to divert the electric current into itself and the ground. This means that the MOV’s resistance increases as the voltage in the hot line goes back to normal. The standard electrical current is still able to continue power the electronic device or machine while this whole process occurs because the MOV simply veers the surge current away.

What are the best electrical devices to apply a power surge protector to and which do not need it?

Due to modern electrical devices and appliances being smaller, sophisticated and, therefore, delicate when compared to older machines. They are more sensitive and prone to be more damaged with high voltage surges. It still depends though on the appliance if it truly needs a surge protector:



Highly encouraged to apply a surge protector to computers due to being complete with voltage-sensitive components prone to be severely damaged. The damage can shorten the lifespan of the computer or even completely erase/ wipe all the data. It can even destroy the system within.


Telephone and Cable Lines

Due to them conducting high voltage currents, surge protectors are definitely recommended. With connecting signals to home, connecting modems to telephone lines and more valuable functions – surges from high voltages and lightning can severely damage them.


Light Bulbs

They do not require any surge protectors as if the chance of a power surge occurs the light bulb mostly burns out.


Entertainment and High-end Electronic Equipment

Highly advised to connect these to a surge protector. It will extend the lifespan and quality of electronic devices. Additionally, a large power surge can cause major damage to the appliances. The major costs of these electronic devices and appliances are also a factor which encourages the use of surge protectors as replacing or fixing the damage can be expensive.

What are the different types of surge protectors?

Within Australia, there are no compulsory laws or standards stating that you have to or which surge protectors to use. There are guidelines and advice provided by Electrical Comms Data (ECD).

Some examples of which surge protectors to use are:

  • Basic Power Strip – used at a basic level with five or six outlets. Providing basic protection as they are a basic extension.
  • Better Power Strip – these are a little more expensive, however, offer more protection. Additionally, they have other features, as well as greater ratings.
  • Surge Stations – larger than the previous, these ones usually are applied for computers and other appliances. They have a more effective and greater voltage protection. Moreover, most contain an input to apply phone lines to, protecting modems, and also may have built-in circuit breakers. These are more expensive, yet, more safe and protecting.

Surge Protectors and Repairs Available!

If you are considering purchasing a surge protector are even wanting repairs on your current ones, The Local Electrician will provide the best services. With our knowledge we can understand your inquiries and offer the most appropriate solutions to fit your desires. Additionally, our Emergency Electrician workmen are able to be on site as soon as possible when needing a surge protector repair.

We offer 24 hour electrical service and work in the best method possible. Call us on 0439 823 190 or alternatively email us at info@thelocalelectrician.com.au.

You will have guaranteed exceptional electrical service with regards to Surge Protectors guides, installations and repairs.

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