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How to Protect Your Electronics from Power Fluctuations and Surges

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Most electronic equipment nowadays have built-in protection from power fluctuations and power surges. However, it’s still wise to practice some simple tips and invest on a couple of items that will help protect your electronics from unintended damage from energy fluctuations, power surges, and improper grounding, among other scenarios.

You’ll not only save yourself from additional repair (or worse, replacement) expenses for your appliances, you will also prevent other unwanted situations like a ruined power source or electrical fires.

Here are a few things you can do and install to protect your electronics.

Don’t Overload an Outlet
This is a common scenario during the holidays when over-enthusiastic homeowners string together multiple Christmas lights and plug them into the same outlet where multiple appliances have also been plugged. This is a recipe for disaster, especially if you have heavy power users, like washing machines and refrigerators, already using the socket.

To keep your electronics safe, never plug more than two appliances into an outlet that isn’t designed to handle multiple plugs. You should also avoid “piggybacking” appliances on extensions cords. Appliances that consume huge amounts of electricity, such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, and heat dryers, should have their own wall outlets. Finally, you should be aware of the amount of power that your electronics consume. Most electricians will recommend that each outlet or circuit should not support over 1,500 watts.

Get a Circuit Breaker
Circuit breakers protect your electronics by literally breaking the connection in the circuit when it shorts out or gets overloaded so that the current doesn’t reach the appliance in question. Unlike a fuse, which can no longer be used once it blows, a circuit breaker can be reset to resume normal operations. Circuit breakers can also turn off all the circuits in your home or workplace should the need arise; moreover, if a circuit breaker often trips, it can be an indicator of improper grounding.

If you have multiple appliances that use a huge amount of power, it may be wise to have them on separate circuits with their own breakers. However, you can also opt for high capacity circuit breakers for your entire home, especially if you don’t have too many high wattage appliances in constant use.

Use a Surge Protector and/or UPS
A surge suppressor protects sensitive appliances from power spikes and surges, while a UPS or uninterruptible power supply provides power to any equipment connected to it in the event of an outage or when the power line either has insufficient or oversupply of voltage.

The most common appliances connected to surge suppressors and/or UPSs are personal computers. This prevents the computer from shutting down unexpectedly, which may result in damaged data and corrupted files. However, if you so choose, you can also use a UPS for other appliances. For example, if you are keeping temperature-sensitive medication in your refrigerator, you can connect it to a UPS to maintain the temperature for longer.

Use Three-Pronged Plugs, Whenever Possible
The third prong in a three-pronged plug acts as a ground connection to protect the appliance or the user from an electric surge or electric shock, respectively, in the event of a short circuit, excess energy, or circuit malfunction. Most modern appliances have three prongs, so you don’t have to worry about this aspect. If you have two-pronged plugs and outlets, you may still be able to convert them. Just consult an electrician to see what can be done.

Unplug Sensitive Appliances During a Storm
Weather disturbances can cause power fluctuations, so while it may be inconvenient, it’s best to turn off these sensitive appliances — like gaming consoles and personal computers — during a storm.

For most of us, appliances are a big investment, which is why we want them to last as long as possible. With these simple steps, you can help protect your electronics and ensure that they don’t get damaged from unexpected electrical and electricity problems.

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