Are surge suppressors cheap gimmicks or cheap insurance? Do I really need one?
My sister brought her television into our shop for repair. It wouldn’t turn on. We recently had some heavy thunderstorms, and she had been out of town. I told her it was probably lightning and/or a power surge that hit it while she was gone. We live next door to each other, and she couldn’t understand why none of my electronics were affected. I told her about my surge suppressors which I have had for almost seven years now, ever since I lost most of my household electronics in a severe thunderstorm. We discussed the facts as well as the myths about surge suppressors and how they work.
Do they work?
Surge suppressors are sold everywhere, from your local grocery store to your favorite electronics shop. They range in price from $9.95 to $89.95 and up. Some of them have a “lifetime guarantee”. Some insure your connected equipment damaged by surges up to $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, etc.. Having worked for a large cable television company, I have seen the end results of many electrical surges. I have seen some brands of so-called “surge suppressors” melted like a marshmallow. I have seen other brands stop the surge dead in their tracks. I have met lots of homeowners who thought they had their electronics plugged into a surge suppressor, when all it was in fact was a “power strip”. Maybe this is why some people don’t believe in them – perhaps they misunderstood or were misled into believing they had a surge suppressor. Do your homework, and you’ll be protected.
Whats the difference in all the brands?
It’s all in the circuitry. Without getting overly technical, take a close look at the specifications. Joule Rating is the amount of energy that can be dissipated by the suppressor before it goes through it. Response Time is the amount of time in nanoseconds it takes to respond to the surge (also called clamping time). Peak Surge Current, Sine Wave Tracking, etc., you can get as technical as you want in your comparisons. Personally, I just look at the basics and buy a well known name brand. Also, you really should consider one that also has coaxial and telephone suppression hook ups, since your cable, telephone, and satellite are all “common grounded” to the same ground rod the power company puts in. (my sister’s surge appeared to have come through the cable line)
How does the $10,000 Guarantee work?
Read the fine print. There is some red tape to go through, and there are some limitations. Generally, the more you pay for a suppressor, the more protection you will have. Read the box carefully!
You never gave me a straight answer on the last question!
Oh yeah, DO THEY WORK?
I live by these two rules:
1) Something is better than nothing. i.e…The $9.95 model would be better than nothing at all.
2) Nothing is foolproof. If mother nature wants to come in, you can’t stop her. But even so, I refer back to rule #1.
And hey, one last thing, if you don’t believe me, call us when you need something repaired!
Thanks to Glenn Ponder for the article on surge protectors.
*ERC sells SURGE SUPPRESSORS! Call (205) 836-0454 or E-mail for more info.*