Does a Surge Protector Protect Against Lightning?


Surge protector blocks electricity surges to save your appliances from burning out.

Lightning strikes can cause serious damage to most of your home appliances or business equipment. In addition to lightning, loose wiring and malfunctioning of your electrical system can also lead to a power surge, and in extreme scenarios, it may cause a fire. To prevent these risks, many homeowners install surge protectors to protect their home appliances. But do surge protectors protect against lightning? Let’s find out in this blog.

What is a Surge Protector?

A surge protector is a device that safeguards electrical appliances from voltage spikes in (AC) circuits. A voltage spike is a brief event that catches over 1,000 volts and generally lasts for 1 to 30 microseconds. Surge protectors function by observing the amount of current that flows along the wiring and as soon as they detect a harmful spike in voltage, they directly divert the excess voltage into the ground wire.

There are two types of surge protectors: Whole-home surge protectors and Point-of-use surge protectors.

Does a Surge Protector Protect Against Lightning?

Yes, it protects the house wiring and appliances against lightning. It is essential to install surge protection in your home. Why? Because it safeguards against two frequently occurring risks: internal and external power surges.

The electricity from lightning bolts is too strong to be prevented by any type of system. It can comprise up to one billion volts of electricity. So, it is not feasible to divert the complete electricity to the ground.

Surge protection does provide improved protection when lighting strikes. However, it alone cannot provide 100% protection to your electronic devices. The only way to guarantee complete protection is by unplugging your equipment and devices. But as this might not be a practical solution, operating surge protectors will help you to protect your devices without unplugging.

Lightning striking your home is less likely to happen than a power surge caused by downed power lines or appliances cycling on and off.

Surge protectors alone are incapable of safeguarding your home’s valuable electronics against power surges caused by direct lightning strikes. But in a broad sense, they can provide a certain level of security for your house. Now let’s check if whole house surge protectors work against lightning.

Do Whole-House Surge Protectors Work Against Lightning?

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Yes, it helps to protect against external power surges and does save your devices and appliances.

A whole-home surge protector protects everything in your home via a connection with your home’s electrical panel. They are highly effective in preventing internal electrical surges caused by loose wires, malfunctioning appliances, etc.

Usually, we get two types of whole-home surge protection systems.

  • One is installed between the meter and breaker box
  • Another is between the meter and the power line.

In most circumstances, both types are integrated into a single system to protect your home against lightning. When lightning strikes nearby the system, the protector immediately diverts the surge towards the ground. Moreover, it also prevents leftover voltage coming from a big external surge from reaching your home appliances.

So does a surge protector protect against lightning simply holds a yes as an answer but as mentioned earlier it cannot guarantee complete protection and is not 100% reliable. There is a possibility of a surprising power surge either internal or external, that could cause irremediable damage to devices in your home.

However, to make it function effectively and prevent power surges, the home needs to be well-grounded. This allows the whole-house surge protector to get installed with ease.

Multilevel Surge Protection

To protect your appliances and devices from lightning, use multilevel protection.

  • The first line of defense is a lightning rod.
  • The second is a surge protection unit between the utility line and the meter.
  • The third is a surge protection unit between the meter and the electrical box.
  • Finally, connect surge protectors and UPS units to your outlets for added defense.

Also Read: Can a Power Surge Damage an Outlet?

What are the Components of Surge Protection?

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In the process of designing a suitable surge protection solution that will safeguard your home, electricians may consider integrating the following components:

1. Data Line Protectors

They are available in various configurations for protecting control lines and telephone lines. These devices have a line filtering mechanism that improves the protection, safety, and reliability of telecom equipment.

2. DC Surge Protectors

These are designed to handle voltages up to 10,000 amps and provide protection for various DC applications.

3. Facility Guards

They provide the utmost level of protection, capable of handling surge capacities of up to 400,000 amps.

4. Hybrid Surge Protectors

They are made to protect specific equipment, like computers or process control equipment.

5. Transient Limiters

They are used in commercial and light industrial businesses. They protect against surges of up to 100,000 amps per phase.

Power surges caused by lightning strikes can be big, swift, and destructive. Usually, homes or large businesses are equipped with expensive electrical equipment, and a power surge will only take a split-second to prevent your appliances from operating. Your appliances are constantly subjected to small surges, which can gradually lead to long-term damage. Yes, this is a possible reason to get surge protection, but the following is a list of the importance of surge protection to help you understand better.

Cross-Reference: Lightning Surge Protectors

Importance of Surge Protection

Even though a surge protector protects against lightning, power surges can arise from within your residence due to any form of electrical malfunction. Or maybe through external sources such as lightning strikes that lead to overvoltage and cause extreme damage to your electronic equipment. A power surge can lead to dangerous consequences for your homes and businesses. Surge protectors are important to prevent these risks.

They absorb and deter excessive current from flowing through your electronic appliances or equipment. It eliminates the excess voltage from your circuits and delivers a lower resistance path for a lot of extra currents to flow.

Pros and Cons of Whole House Surge Protector

Now that we have learned whether a surge protector protects against lightning, let us understand its pros and cons for a better understanding.

Pros of Whole House Surge Protector

1. Protection of home devices

Nowadays, modern homes are equipped with dozens of modern solutions and equipment. So, the need for surge protection also becomes necessary. Installing a whole-house surge protector will allow you to protect your home electronics from damage by diverting the excess voltage during a power surge.

2. Protect your home electrical system

A whole home surge protector not only saves your home equipment but also protects the whole electrical system of your home. By preventing electrical surges from ever entering your home, it protects your home’s electrical wirings, sockets, and circuits from damage.

3. Provide peace of mind

A power surge can result in the loss of thousands of dollars because of damaged electronics and your home’s electrical system. Replacing your electronic appliances can be expensive. Even your home insurance won’t compensate for this damage caused by electrical surges. Installing a whole-home surge protector will assure you a peaceful mind by preventing this costly scenario.

Also See: What does a Bypass Switch in a UPS System Do?

Cons of Whole House Surge Protector

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1. High initial investment

Installing a whole-house surge protector is fairly expensive. On average, a strip surge protector device can cost you between $15 to $50. The whole house surge price is more than $100 and the overall cost including installation would be $200 to $700.

The pricing depends on the brand of protector and type along with your residence’s electrical and wiring layout. However, it is a one-time investment that would prevent the risk of your home electronics getting destroyed. This will also prevent the chances of further expense behind damaged appliances caused by power surges.

2. Not effective against all surges

Whole-house surge protectors are effective in preventing common power surges, but we cannot completely rely on this. Every whole-home surge protector is provided with a determined voltage protection rating (VPR), which specifies the maximum current the protector will allow toward your home’s electrical system. A high VPR protector might allow a smaller surge that could still harm your electrical appliances over time.

Also See: What to Do After a Power Surge?

Can a Point-of-Use Surge Protector Protect Against Lightning?

Unfortunately, the answer to whether this surge protector can protect against lightning is no. Point-of-use (POS) surge protectors are developed to protect one or more devices. These protectors are power strips that are installed between the devices and the outlet. They help to detect any excess voltage from bigger internal power surges before it catches your electronics.

However, it is not that effective to protect your appliances against direct lightning strikes. If such excess power surges reach your outlet, it will destroy the surge protector and the devices connected.

Nothing can deter direct lighting strikes from damaging your electronics. While surge protectors are effective in saving most devices, they can’t guarantee 100% protection, especially against direct lightning. Still, they are a solid investment to protect your equipment from common power surges and save on replacement costs. Before installing one, ensure your home is properly grounded for effective energy diversion.

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