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Surge protectors can shield electronics in storms

Oct 13, 2013 - From staff reports

Lee Crook of Artistry Web in Riverton is advising computer users to be equipped with up-to-date surge protectors.

"Any time there are unusual events, such as thunderstorms, high wind speeds, or snow that causes branches to bump into power lines, the natural ebb and flow of current becomes more violent," he said. "One of my customers had a really nice computer (and) the insides got fried because their surge protector either had too low of a rating or was too old."

A standard outlet is 120 volts, but the actual voltage can fluctuate to something higher or lower at any time. Crook compared the power flow to water coming out of a gardening hose -- the water comes out fairly consistently but can occasionally get pockets of air that cause it to sputter or stop.

Surge protectors absorb the extra electricity that comes through the lines during storms or outages and keeps expensive electronics from getting damaged. Because surge protectors are taking the hit, they wear out over time and need to be replaced. The number of hits a surge protector can take is shown in a rating.

Many people have surge protectors between 500-1,000 joules. Crook said these last only a few years at most. When surge protectors no longer protect, it is difficult to know because the protector still works but only as an extension cord. It supplies power, it just doesn't protect whatever electronic device is plugged into it. Crook recommends buying a protector that comes with a light indicating whether the device still will protect against surges.

Crook recommends people upgrade their surge protectors and purchase one with a rating of at least 3,000 joules.

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