Surge Arrester Strips. Is your home safe?
Many people have older homes from an era when there simply wasn’t all that many appliances using
electricity so these homes don’t hardly have any receptacles around like newer homes do. The ones that
ARE around are getting overloaded using surge arrester strips. We have lots of appliances now from
every angle you can think of, including laptops, phones and tablets, TV’s and the list goes on but many of
these are a low voltage type chargers and in spite of what sounds like a misnomer, they can put a stress
on the system. SO people simply turn to surge arrester strips or “multi-outlet strips” to handle the
situation. There are several problems with that unfortunately. Most of these are Walmart variety and
some of them are Home Depot or Lowes variety. Along side Walmart are the inexpensive dollar store
varieties that come from China as well and they are the worst. That is, the worst fire hazard! So many
people think they are helping themselves by purchasing these “Surge “ strips, and in theory they are
right. So much so that through the efforts of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and others
the National Electrical Code has now incorporated a new code stating that new homes, and any older
homes that get their Service upgrade or changed must have a type1 or type2 Whole house surge
protector installed. The big thing that hurts these surge strips is surges and those can come from outside
your home (like from the power company and they are frequent) or INSIDE your home every time a
motor starts up. These surge strips continue to degrade every time they take a hit and most of them are
not very good in the first place.
What to do then? First off remember that these surge strips should be replaced every 2-3 years. But when you buy one make sure to get a decent brand with a reasonable warranty. Keep in mind that nearly all of the good ones have a warranty, but it is tied to the fact that they “must be plugged in to a grounded electrical outlet on a grounded type system. There are many sources of info about decent name brands but ones that I have used are names like Belkin, APC, BesTek and more. Surge protectors that are any good are rated on thousands of “joules” and if you are in the 3-5000 range you are probably doing ok. SO you should make sure that you have a grounded type electrical system with grounded type outlets. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A GROUNDED SYSTEM, YOU CANNOT JUST PUT IN A GROUNDED RECEPTACLE! That is not allowed by code for good reason. Call me or another electrician to assist you in fixing the problem. Write the date on them and then check them every couple of years and throw them out! Next blog……Why do I need a Whole House Surge Protector! Stay tuned!