Savvy shoppers can save hundreds of dollars by shopping on Black Friday, and some of the best deals are on high-end electronics that are vulnerable to power surge damage. Many consumers are well aware of this danger and faithfully use surge protectors throughout their homes, but not everyone understands that surge protectors expire.
If you’re using a years-old surge protector to safeguard your computers, televisions and handheld gadgets, you might as well be plugging those devices directly into the wall outlet. Mister Sparky is here to let you know how good surge protectors go bad.
They Can Only Take So Much
Surge protectors fulfill their purpose by absorbing surges of excess electricity. Those surges can come from numerous sources -- there are big ones caused by lightning strikes and transformer malfunctions, and there are small ones caused by the startup of large appliances like your HVAC system.
When a surge protector absorbs those surges, the excess electricity flows into a metal oxide varistor, or MOV. And an MOVs simply don’t last forever. They might peter out after hundreds of tiny surges or blow out in grand fashion during one massive surge. But on a long enough timeline, they will always fail.
Even though your MOV might be toast, your surge protecting power strip or adapter will continue to transmit energy -- it just won’t protect your devices. So it’s important to be mindful and proactive about when your power strip needs replacing.
How Can You Tell?
This is the tricky part. Every surge protector has a finite amount of excess electricity it can absorb, but few have reliable ways of alerting users that their protective capacities have been exhausted.
Some surge protectors have indicator lights designed to show whether or not they are actively protecting. Unfortunately, these lights are not always 100% reliable. Others have printed expiration dates, but since surge protectors expire based on energy absorbed and not their manufacturing date, these expiration dates aren’t much help.
Because of these limitations, proactive users often replace surge protectors after approximately two years or immediately after they’re aware a major electrical surge has occurred. Since surge protectors are cheap compared to the electronics they protect, this is a smart investment.
What Else Can I Do?
If you’re tired of replacing your surge protectors every couple of years or fumbling with clunky adapters all over the house, you might want to consider whole home surge protection. With this solution, surge protecting technology is wired directly into your home’s main electrical panel, turning all of your ordinary outlets into surge protectors.
Maintained on schedule by qualified electricians, whole home surge protectors take away the guesswork of replacing adapters and maximize the convenience of using electronics at home. You can always call your local Mister Sparky for more details.
But if you’re not ready for whole home surge protection at this time, be on the lookout for Black Friday deals on surge protecting adapters! If it’s not time for you to replace yours now, it will be soon!