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surge protector
Last modified: Thursday, May 29, 2003 

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.

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.

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 commonly called power strips, surge suppressors and transient suppressors.

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Digi-Key: Search for Surge Protection - Broad-line distributor web site features real-time stock status and pricing, online ordering, RFQ, technical support, product datasheets and photos.

Power Systems: Circuit & Surge Protection Equipment - Sells warranted/guaranteed surge protection equipment for computers, business phone systems, office equipment, whole house, and consumer electronics.

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For pages about surge protector . Also check out the following links!

Related Links

Comparison of power protection methods
Compares the level of protection offered by different types of devices, such as UPS's, line conditioners, and surge suppressors. This page is from "The PC Guide".

External power problems
Describes common electrical problems, such as line noise, surges, and brownouts. This page is part of "The PC Guide".

Protection against power problems
Describes devices, such as surge suppressors and line conditioners, that can help with electrical problems. This page is part of "The PC Guide".

Sponsored listings

Grainger: Circuit and Surge Protection - Broad line supplier of facility maintenance and repair equipment and products, including Circuit and Surge Protection.

QVS: Surge Protectors & Power Stripes - Manufactures cables and connectivity products for the computer and communication industries. Surge stripes, power strips, and wall mounts. Surge Protectors - Supplier of power surge protectors and strips for computers and networking. Circuit & Surge Protection - Online ordering of the Brickwall "non MOV" series mode surge protector which does not divert surge to ground but blocks it. Also audiophile units.

Reliable Procurement: Circuit & Surge Protection - Offers MRO supplies and equipment for industrial and utility use, including circuit and surge protection products.

related categories

Electronic Technology


related terms


clamping voltage

power conditioner

power supply


voltage regulator

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