What is a surge protector and why should home install them

What is a surge protector and why should home install them

Surges, in reference to electricity, are sudden spikes or temporary disturbances in voltage or current in an electrical system, usually for a very short period of time, that can destroy any electrical equipment in commercial buildings and homes.

Surges can be caused by various factors such as lightning strikes, fluctuations in power grid, poorly designed electrical systems, interference of electromagnetic devices, power restoration after outages and many more. Some devices which are motor driven such as air conditioners and heavy machinery used in industries can also cause voltage spikes.

Surges can increase to a significantly high level of amplitude of 10s of thousands of volts. Electric surges are typically measured in microseconds. Surges can cause a lot of damage, due to which there was a need for some protection devices for safety. So, Surge protectors were created.

Surge Protector

A surge protector is a device which is used to protect electrical equipment from voltage surges or spikes that can lead to irreversible damage. It acts as a barrier between the fluctuations and electrical equipment.

Figure 1: Surge Protector Internal Structure

The main purpose of surge protector is channeling extra voltage to the ground and prevent devices from damage. Surge Protector is also commonly known as surge arrester, surge diverter, transient voltage suppressor and spike suppressor etc.

The earliest form of surge protection can be traced back to the late 19th century, especially in telegraph systems. In the late 19th century, the telegraph was affected by lightning strikes to a dangerous level. So, a scientist Charles Dalziel created a device, named as surge arrester, which contained a spark gap and a ground connection. When lightning strikes the system the spark gap provides it path to safely move to the ground. This concept given by the highly qualified scientist led the creation of modern surge protectors.

Surge protectors need in Ontario

As discussed above, one of the main reasons for surge creation is power outages. One of the most significant moments in the history of Ontario is the power outage of Aug 14, 2003. More than 50 million people faced the power outage.

Mostly all of the areas in Canada experience power outages. This happens due to extreme weather conditions such as freezing rains, heavy storms and heat waves. During power outages there are greater chances of creation of surges and according to recent research there are many chances of power shortage in Ontario Canada due to shutdown of a major nuclear power plant. So, there is a need for surge protectors in the buildings of Ontario to protect them from any damage caused by surges.

Why should home install them?

Surge protectors are a safety devices and, due to significant use of electrical equipment and devices in homes (computers, gaming console, EV Charger, tablets, mobile phones, etc.), there is a need to protect these devices for their safety and for the people living in the homes. Some of the basic reasons to install surge protectors are given below:

  1. For protection against voltage spikes, one should install surge arresters at homes to save your valuable equipment and people living in them. Safety should be the first priority in electrical systems.
  2. To avoid the power surges to reach your sensitive equipment such as computers, televisions and other electronic equipment.
  3. Surge protectors ensure asset protection. Lightening and power surges damage the instruments and increase the repair or replacement cost. But with the use of surge protectors this damage can be prevented, and there will be no economic loss.
  4. Surge protectors are user friendly, and they offer peace of mind. After application of surge protectors, you can be rest assured that your devices are safe and secure.
  5. Surge protectors also offer longer life to the devices at home by preventing them from damage due to sudden fluctuations. This assurance of long life provides cost savings as you don’t need to change your devices often.

Figure 2: An example of a Whole-Home surge protection installed directly on the panel


In summary, surge protectors are essential defenders of our current electronic way of life. These devices guarantee the security, robustness, and ideal performance of our priceless electronic equipment by preventing voltage spikes and surges from resulting in irreversible damage. Surge protector installation ought to be given priority in every home in order to build a solid barrier against unexpected electrical surges. Purchasing surge protectors is a smart move that will protect your assets for years to come.

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