Fusion Electric Blog

What Every Homeowner Should Know about Power Surges and Lightning Strikes

Lightning Strike PhotoAt Fusion Electric, we perform all kinds of electrical repairs for homeowners, but the one we hate to see is damage due to lightning strikes. Once the damage is done, it’s too late. When lightning strikes a home and completely fries a computer, a big screen TV, an expensive appliance, etc., it’s bad. Most homeowners think their insurance will cover the damage, but the sad truth is that many homeowner insurance policies do NOT cover damage from lightning strikes. It falls under the “Act of God” clause. A lightning strike up to one mile away can do damage to your sensitive equipment. Lighting strikes are not the only threat to your expensive equipment. Power surges can occur that can also damage these items.

When Do Power Surges Occur?

The most common cause of large power surges are lightning strikes. Lightning is something man cannot control. A lightning strike can send voltage rushing through the energy grid and there is no way to stop it. Surges can also occur when trees fall on power lines or animals get into transformers. A spike in power will be caused by anything that interrupts the flow of electricity or diverts a large amount of power to a source that turns on and off. The operation of normal daily appliances like refrigerators and air-conditioning systems can cause voltage spikes, as well as smaller devices with motors like blow-dryers or vacuum cleaners. Additionally, as temperatures drop in the winter, energy demands increase, thereby increasing the possibility of surge damage. The average home gets hit with over 20 energy spikes a day. These smaller spikes usually don’t harm electronic devices, but if there is a storm or power outage, it’s safest to unplug the devices.

Why Individual Surge Protectors Aren’t Enough

A surge protector is plugged into the device you wish to protect and then plugged into the wall. It acts as a go-between simply transferring electricity in normal times. When there is a power surge, the excess energy is diverted away from the device via a grounding wire that is attached to voltage sensitive semiconductors. Not all surge protectors are created equal, however. Usually, the cheaper they are, the less protection they offer. Better surge protectors also have a fail-safe fuse in case too much voltage gets through. The fuse will burn up and sever the flow of power if the surge exceeds a certain level. But don’t assume your expensive electronic devices are protected because you have it connected to a surge protector. Lightning can still get through if it strikes close enough or even directly strikes your home. If you live in an area with extreme weather conditions your best bet is to still unplug your systems from the wall while these electrical storms are occurring.

We Recommend Whole House Surge Protectors

Lightning is a force of nature. There is no way to predict it, no way to stop it, and no way to control it. All we can do is direct it to places where is won’t damage our property. We recommend installing a whole house power surge protector. This is the best method for single layer whole house protection. We attach the device to the main ground of the house. This then takes random lightning strikes and other types of power surges and puts them straight to ground where they can do minimal harm. Many insurance companies will even offer a discount for homes with whole house power surge protectors. Give us a call and let Fusion Electric install a whole house surge protector to protect your home and belongings from power surges and lightning strikes.