It’s important that every homeowner be educated on power surges. Just as the name suggests, power surges happen when there is an enormous spike in your electrical power that is higher than usual. Normal voltage levels for domestic appliances and electronics are between 110 volts and 220 volts in many nations. When considerably more voltage comes through the wires into appliances, it’s termed a "power surge." These power surges last about a fraction of a second, can be small or large, and can cause permanent damage to any plugged-in devices. It can be completely damaged if an electrical device can’t deal with the overload.

How do power surges happen?

Power surges occur in three principal ways: when there’s an interruption in the flow of electricity caused by faulty wiring; when an increased delivery of power is interrupted by electricity flowing back into the wiring; or when internal or external forces cause a spike in voltage. Power surges can be as little as one volt over the threshold maximum of 169 volts or thousands of volts higher than the norm, for example, when lightning strikes power transmission lines or a power transformer.

What are the indicators of an oncoming power surge?

While power surges can occur suddenly, there are some normal warning signs to notify you that a surge could be on its way. Some indicators incorporate flickering lights, frayed wiring, burning around outlets and wires, smoking or warm outlets, and a burning smell around outlets. Otherwise, if your electronic appliances are not working or you smell a burning smell coming from your electrical appliances, it could be a sign of an imminent power surge.

What are the causes of a power surge?

Power surges can be caused by several factors, but let’s see the most common causes.

1. Electrical Overload

As the name implies, electrical overloads occur when too much power is drawn from a single circuit. This usually occurs from overusing extension cords, plugging in too many appliances, or using a device above the circuit’s amperage levels. For example, having your microwave oven, electric bread toaster, and fridge all draw from the same circuit can lead to a power surge in your kitchen. The overloaded circuit, which is receiving a heavy current, may have a voltage spike from the enormous amount of power being drawn from a single source. To prevent this occurrence, you may try plugging devices that use more energy into separate outlets.

2. Faulty Wiring

If there is a problem with your home’s wiring, power surges can easily happen since defective or exposed electrical wires may malfunction and amplify power. So it is very important to make sure your home doesn’t have faulty wiring. You can’t see the issue as the wires are often hidden behind walls. However, other additional signs, like a scorching smell or buzzing wires, could suggest faulty wiring. Repeated issues with the circuit breaker may also indicate faulty wiring. Again, there are a few signs that can indicate the condition.

  • Outlets having evident burn marks, a burning smell, or sharp odours near the outlet
  • Vibration or buzzing sound coming from the outlets.
  • Circuit breakers tripping often.
  • Flickering or dimming lights.

  • 3. Lightning

    Lightning striking electrical lines can create an enormous power surge because the excess voltage of the lightning bolt leads to excess current surging through the electrical lines. To combat this, unplugging all nonessential devices and appliances during severe storms is recommended. If these devices are left plugged in, they could be damaged by an upcoming power surge.

    4. Power Outage/Blackout

    Power outages usually occur during a storm or due to a power grid failure. The outcome of a power outage can also provoke a power surge because of the inrush of power. This abrupt jump from no current to full current could cause a power surge, damaging any plug-in devices, so it may be wise to unplug any household appliances during a blackout.

    Power surges can be detrimental and cause much damage to your household appliances. Installing surge protection devices can protect your property from both short-term damage and long-term wear. Investing in surge protection systems can help keep your household appliances running safely, save you money, and bring you more peace of mind. These surge protectors prevent excess voltage from entering your household appliances if there is a power surge. Investing in power surge protectors can protect your home against power surges and save you time and money in the long run.