Surge Protection Systems and You

September 23, 2016

Surge Protection Systems and You

The Purpose and Components of Surge Suppression

Last time I posted I mentioned how using surge protection can offer a safeguard against lightning-induced surges.  Sadly these are not the only source of power surges to be wary of!  While your first risk point is the POCO or POwer COmpany, you also have to be worried about elements of the utility power system.  Transformers, junctions, crypts, and underground or overhead services can all be places of risk for your electrical service.  As mentioned before, we must beware of lightning that touches anywhere near your property.  Electrical systems in your own home such as motors, appliances, or electronics can affect power cycling and surging of you own devices.

This is an issue because anytime power is stopped and restarted, you run the risk of power surging through your electrical systems.  Brownouts and blackouts are an example of power that stops and restarts.   Depending on the type of power surge, even telephone and cable lines can experience the backlash of electricity racing for the easiest route to the ground.

What Difference Does Surge Protection  Make?

Fortunately for us, there is an entire market of devices that we can use to protect our possessions.  Valuable electronics, wiring installations, and even a whole home can be protected from spikes, surges, and lightning strikes.  Unfortunately for us, many of these devices are expensive or labor-intensive to deal with.  The really great surge protection devices will require a licensed professional to install them.  Depending on your regional building codes, you might even need an electrical permit, utility shut down, and an inspection of the installation for your surge protection device.

It is impossible to protect from every power spike or lightning strike – but it is possible to throw up as many layers of protection as possible between what matters to you and the rest of the electrical world.  Remember – surge protection devices are considered disposable, just a measure to prevent power from damaging electrical equipment.

There is no surge protection device or system that can protect against all power surges. A direct lightning strike to the house’s electrical system may be too great for the surge protector(s) to handle. Using a “two-stage” surge protection system should protect against most of the power surge.

The Natural Handyman

Pieces of a Surge Protection System

There are plenty of places in your home you can implement your own devices of a surge protection system.  If you institute enough steps, you can provide protection from most threats to your home electronics and appliances.

The design of a surge protection system lies in this simple truth:

A surge protection device’s sole purpose is to sacrifice itself  in the hope that it will stop the surge from moving on any further.

This sole fact is especially important when dealing with something like lightning – which is completely unpredictable and uncontrollable.  In this circumstance we want to:

  • Give the lightning a short, easy, safe path to the ground so it will go there and avoid our electrical systems or devices.
  • Sacrifice a protection device so that surging power will fry the device, instead of our valuable electronics.

This means that each step of your electrical system that leads to something of value, worth protecting, should then have a surge protection device installed in front of it.


Implementing 2-Step ProtectionSurge Protector Power Strip

Step #1: Direct protection / Point of use protection

If you don’t already have your electronics on a power strip with surge protection then that should be your first step.  You can also implement surge protectors specifically designed for your modem, cable box, or even your CCTV system.  Consider using outlets with surge protection built in if power strips or larger devices are not a possibility.

Internal protection can be the most important step since high-voltage items with motors can affect how the power behaves in your home.  Air conditioners, fridges, and dryers – their constant cycling can impact performance and create small spikes and surges too.

The best part?  Buying protective equipment usually comes with a manufacturer’s protection warranty which is invaluable if your electronics are at risk to surging or inconsistent power.  Localized surge protection devices are Type 3 or Category A Surge Protective Devices.

For an amazing article on how surge suppressor’s work and protect your equipment as well as invaluable information about how disposable surge protectors are  please check out this article:


Step #2: Whole House Surge Suppressor

Whole House Surge Suppressors are kind of an industry buzz word lately.  The truth is: While useful as part of a system of protection, it cannot be counted on to be the end-all, be-all.  Frankly, suppressors can be an amazing step but is only part of protecting your home!  We always advise getting the best, most powerful and comprehensive suppressor you can.  We did find this remarkable article about ‘the best’ in surge suppressing.  While a little dated, it’s information is priceless and timely still.

Lightning Map
Lightning Map

A traditional ‘whole-house-surge-suppressor’ would be mounted next to or into an electrical panel.  A comprehensive installation will require a professional electrician.  Pikes Peak Regional Building Department requires contractors to pull a permit, schedule utility shut-down, and final inspection of the installation.  Panel-mounted surge suppressors are Type 2 or Category B surge protective devices.


Swartz Electric is also authorized partners with the Surge Assure protection system and are happy to help you design, install, and maintain a comprehensive whole-home surge protection system.


Optional Step 3: Service Entrance Surge Protection

Service-side Surge Protection devices are the ultimate in protection from service-side hazards.  However, they are also difficult to install, and installation is dependent on your utility provider.  Since installing a service-side protection device means disconnecting power or even having a new meter installed, utilities may not cooperate on these requests.  However, it never hurts to ask – so be sure to reach out to your Power Company!  These are Type 1 or Category C device.

Leviton Meter Socket Surge Arrester
Leviton Meter Socket Surge Arrester


In conclusion: It’s worth noting that a great surge protection system is made up of many small parts.  Each item will contribute to a whole-system health or robustness that will offer not just layers of protection but also peace of mind.  If you have questions or concerns about your surge protection system, reach out to the experts here at Swartz Electric!


Swartz Electric Colorado Springs Electrician


Swartz Electric.  Your Colorado Springs Electrician performs electrical work throughout the Pikes Peak region. We are the electricians in Colorado Springs to solve your electrical problems and meet your electrical requirements.

Call, e-mail, visit our website, or stop by our office today, and allow Swartz Electric to serve YOU.

This is an original article written by Mai Bjorklund for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.

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