The average U.S. household contains 24 electronic devices, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Many of these devices are important for work and entertainment. A power outage or electrical disturbance may be more than just an inconvenience, it can threaten your important household records or damage sensitive devices. Understanding how electrical disturbances happen and how they affect electronic equipment can help you find the right protection for your home.
How electrical disturbances happen
There are a number of different types of electrical disturbances that can affect your equipment:
- Blackouts—a complete loss of power
- Sags or surges—a sudden decrease or increase in voltage
- Electrical noise—disruption in the smooth current expected from utility power
The causes of electrical disturbances vary widely; they include lightning strikes, ice storms, summer heat waves, downed power lines or any accident that can damage transformers or other distribution equipment.
Finding the right protection
So how do you safeguard your equipment? Disconnecting them from the wall outlet during electrical storms or when you are away from home is the first line of defense. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and surge suppression devices can also help keep equipment and data safe from harm.
UPS devices provide backup power when there is a loss of electrical power, such as during a blackout. While a UPS provides power for a limited duration, that time can be extended by combining a UPS with a generator. A regulating UPS continues to provide the required voltage when there is a drop in voltage during a sag or brownout. A UPS is also capable of absorbing small power surges and smoothing out noisy power sources.
Surge suppressors guard against surges by absorbing excess electricity and diverting it to the ground, protecting your equipment. Whole-house surge protector kits can help protect your entire home. These are typically hard wired to the service panel and require installation by a qualified electrician. Small plug-in surge suppressors can be installed in outlets into which electronic equipment is plugged. A combination of both types is typically recommended for a home.