Saturday, May 19, 2012

Surge protectors for the whole house?

I learned yet another new thing today.  Did you know that they made surge protectors for houses?  I'm not talking about those power strip surge protectors that we plug our flat screens and computers into.  I'm talking about one that is attached to the electrical box that is designed to protect the whole house from an electrical spike or surge.

I don't know why I'm so surprised.  After all, it makes perfect sense.  If you can protect a single electronic device from an electrical surge or spike, why not the whole house?

The concept of a whole house surge protector was introduced to us last week while we were in Florida.  A representative from an HVAC company told us about it when also noting that Florida gets more lightning strikes (and ones closer to the ground) than any other area in the U.S..

At first I thought, "Oh please. Why would you need a whole house surge protector when you have them on the important electrical components like a computer and a flat screen.  And why would just the state of Florida have more lightning strikes than other states?" 

Lightning strikes
But thanks to Google, I learned that it seems absolutely true.  According to a graph by NASA, Florida does get more lightning strikes than any other state. It looks like the state of Texas gets its fair share too. A bonus learning tidbit was that Africa is the continent that gets the most every year.

I also learned that to properly protect your house, you really need both a whole house suppressor AND individual suppressors on those big ticket, vulnerable electronics.  The whole house suppressors apparently tame the huge, dangerous electrical spikes but they can't stop surges completely.  Some extra voltage leaks through and that's where the individual suppressors come into play.

As expected, whole house suppressors aren't cheap.  Protection for an average house will cost around $500 plus a couple of hours for an electrician to hard-wire it to your electrical box.

Having lived in the Midwest the majority of my life, this was news to me.  We get some severe storms every spring, but lightning strikes are never really a huge concern. I found this really interesting.

It's just another example of how I really do learn something new every day.  And I love that!

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