What is a Surge Protector?
A device that shields computer and other electronic devices from surges in electrical power, or transient voltage, that flow from the power supply. Standard American voltage for home and office buildings is 120 volts. Anything over this amount is considered transient and can damage electronic devices that are plugged into an outlet. Even though power surges are so brief that they are measured in nanoseconds, they can cause considerable damage to electronic equipment.
How it Works
A surge protector works by channeling the extra voltage into the outlet's grounding wire, preventing it from flowing through the electronic devices while at the same time allowing the normal voltage to continue along its path. Electrical surges can damage computer equipment by burning its wires or gradually over time wearing down the device's internal components and even wipe out any saved data. Surge protectors can also protect telephone and cable lines as these also carry electric current.
Surge Protectors and Lightening
It is a common misunderstanding that surge protectors will protect systems from lightning, the most familiar source of power surges. Even the most effective surge protectors can not protect equipment from the sudden increase in electrical pressure of millions of volts that lightning can supply.
The best way to prevent damage during from lightning storm is to unplug devices that could be irreparably damaged. Surge protectors more commonly protect equipment from lower-voltage surges that occur frequently in modern electrical wiring. For example, devices such as refrigerators and air conditioners require large amounts of energy to switch motors and compressors on and off, creating surges in power that disrupt the steady flow of voltage. Faulty wiring, downed power lines and faulty equipment at the power source (utility company) can all cause power surges as well.
Surge protectors are also called power strips, surge suppressors and transient suppressors.
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
Webopedia's student apps roundup will help you to better organize your class schedule and stay on top of assignments and homework. Read More »List of Free Shorten URL Services
A URL shortener is a way to make a long Web address shorter. Try this list of free services. Read More »Top 10 Tech Terms of 2015
The most popular Webopedia definitions of 2015. Read More »
The Open System Interconnection (OSI) model defines a networking framework to implement protocols in seven layers. Use this handy guide to compare... Read More »Computer Architecture Study Guide
This Webopedia study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »What Are Network Topologies?
Network Topology refers to layout of a network. How different nodes in a network are connected to each other and how they communicate is... Read More »