Protect your appliances from power surges

Walk around your home and you will probably notice you have a lot of electronics like TV’s, phones and computers.

You probably have a lot invested, but are your investments protected?

All those gadgets run on electricity and electricity can also render them useless. A power surge, or spike in voltage, can damage all those expensive items or lead to an electrical fire.

What can you do to keep those circuits from getting fried?

All new appliances and electronics are made with circuit boards that control the functions of the items.

Depending on which item takes a surge, the repair bill can range from a few hundred or several thousand dollars.

Angie Hicks from Angie’s List says, "If an electrical mishap has zapped your computer, you know how frustrating, and expensive, that can be. Investing in various levels of protection from power surges can protect your appliances and computer."

But not all surge protectors are created equal.

Hicks explains, "Using a surge protector outlet or power strip is a good first step towards protection. But be sure to look for ones with a warranty that will cover any damaged caused to the appliances or electronics - not just one that covers the surge protector itself."

But do not just run out and invest a lot of money on surge protectors for every single piece of electronics you own.

Hicks says, "When determining which items to add surge protection for, take an inventory of what you have. Make a note of how old the item is as well as how much it will cost to replace it. Then compare that with the cost of adding the surge protection."

Another option is an admittedly more expensive option, but involves protecting your entire home.

Brian Ashpaugh, master electrical contractor says, "Whole house surge protection is a series of protection where it works on your telephone, your cable, and your electrical service. They are put in at the three individual points where they come into the house so that they are actually able to stop any voltage induction into the home before it actually gets into the interior. They are actually put on at the phone box, at the cable box, and in the electrical service panel. It actually stops voltage from being able to come in from either lightning, utility surge, and/or surges that you have everyday from the interior of your home - your air condition compressor, refrigerator, other motors that where they turn on and turn off and cause voltage fluctuations."

Power surges usually occur because of lightning, power outages, appliances cycling on and off, and tripped circuit breakers.

These damaged items would not necessarily be covered by your insurance so it is important to check with your insurance agent.

Additionally, if you have some expensive electronics that are not covered, you may want to talk to your agent about a rider for your policy to cover them.

It will add to your premium, but it will be worth it if something expensive gets fried during a power surge.

Additional information:
Angie's List, the nation's premier provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated electricians about the best ways to protect items in your home from surges.

  • Surge outlets and power strips: These are a good first step towards protection. Prices can range from $20 to $150 - look for ones with a warranty that will cover any damaged items connected to the device - some only cover the surge protector itself. They should also have an UL 1449 rating, which shows they have undergone testing.
    Whole house surge protection: Stops the influx of voltage before it can come into your house. Installed in the electrical panel(s), all incoming telephone, and data lines· cable and/or satellite incoming lines. The cost is based on how many electrical panels and phone/cable lines need protection.

Angie's List tips for protecting your home:

  • Make a list: Take an inventory of your appliances and electronics. Make a note of how old the item is as well as how much it will cost to replace it. Then compare that with the cost of adding the surge protection.
  • Talk to your agent: Check with your homeowner's insurance to see if your appliances and electronics are covered in the event of a power surge.
  • Hire a pro: Electrical work can be dangerous - only a licensed electrical contractor should install and perform maintenance on a whole house surge protection system. These systems are easy to forget about once they are in place, but it's important to have them serviced regularly by a pro.

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