Many usually confuse a power strip and a surge protector––but these are different! Please find out how they vary and why a solid surge protector is essential below.
Despite common misconceptions, surface protectors are not the same thing as power strips. The distinction is critical because only one of them will shield your electronics from a power surge.
Let’s look at the function and operation of a surge protector.
What Does a Surge Protector Do?
To understand how a surge protector functions, it is necessary to first understand what protects your gadgets from a spike of electrical current.
To visualize how electricity moves, visualize water moving through a pipe. The difference in water pressure causes water to flow from one end of a pipe to the other. The same is true of electricity, which flows from locations of high to low electric potential energy.
Electric potential energy is quantified by the voltage, which is the difference between two points of electric potential. The term “surge” describes a voltage spike that lasts for more than three nanoseconds.
If the wire’s voltage is too high, the electricity will surge through because of the large difference in electric potential energy between the two ends. The wire will become very heated; if it gets too hot, it will burn and be rendered worthless.
The surge protector’s sole function is to sense voltage spikes and channel that energy into the grounding connection. That is why the third prong on a socket is always a grounding pin, and surge protectors only work when hooked into a grounded outlet.
So, what triggers an electrical surge? It is commonly believed that lightning is the primary cause of electrical surges. However, this is not always the case.
While lightning is capable of causing power surges, it is not nearly as common as other potential sources. Surge protectors are advertised as a way to safeguard your devices from damage during a storm, but there is evidence to suggest that they may really do more harm than good.
While quality surge protectors may withstand the power spikes from a faraway thunderstorm, they will be completely fried by a direct hit from a lightning strike. Therefore, unplugging electronics is the best defense against thunderstorms.
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