- What is a surge protector?
- Why use it?
- How surge protection works
- Blow a fuse, not your equipment
- Insidious spikes and sags?
- Line noise
Let's get this sorted right upfront: ALL electronic equipment that plugs into a wall, needs protection. Without it, your expensive home theatre, sound system, TV, entertainment centre or computer equipment will likely be damaged by the surges, spikes, sags and brownouts that afflict our electrical systems. You may not see the damage until the system fails, but it can still be there, gradually "eating away" at your electronics.
Power protection devices are most commonly called "surge protectors". Types vary, but the solution is simple. The best devices include combined surge/overload protection, power conditioning and noise/interference filtering. Let's look at how they can save you from the damage caused by unregulated mains power.
What is a surge protector?
Basically, this is a device that sits between your PC or other electronic equipment and the electrical mains (AC) outlet (ie, wall plug) and protects your equipment's power supply (and possibly communications lines) from electrical surges. Any power from the mains must pass through the surge protector to reach your gear. A surge protector regulates the current to connected equipment by either blocking or shorting to ground any "unsafe" voltage.
Usually set up in a "strip" or box form, surge protectors have several power outlets to plug into. Better versions will also have at least one data outlet to protect a telephone, fax machine or modem as these are also in danger from a nasty surge of electricity through a phone line.