The idea for writing this developed from a need amongst our clients and prospective clients. The subject matter — surge suppression —isn’t exactly what you would call exciting, and it shows how much of a nerd I am about technology. As a matter of fact, when this offering is working correctly, it’s completely invisible to the owner, and it is only when a catastrophic event happens that we think, I wish I had spent the money on that.
Technology is now so prevalent within our homes, and can have what seems like an infinite price tag attached. One would think it unarguable to spend the extra dollars to protect a system like this as much as possible. The truth is that when budget is the biggest driver, second to desire for the best product, of course, most try to cut corners when spending on this option. The often-answered question is “If I can’t watch it or hear it, why should I spend all this money on it?” Let’s delve a little into what surge suppression really is.
There are three categories within the surge suppression world that directly correlate to residential applications. In the order at which they actually work through homes, Category C: Service entrance, happens at your utility meter. This is where electricity first comes into your building. Category B: Branch circuit panel is at your circuit breaker panel(s), and Category A: Point of use is right by your equipment. Products are made to support each of the independent categories. It is also notable to mention that products are made for surge elimination as well as surge suppression. Think of them like this. The airbag in your car acts like a suppressor. It keeps you from getting hurt in the case of an accident, but the accident avoidance System in your car keeps the accident from happening altogether. This is more like surge elimination. These two offerings use very different internal components and technology to protect the products plugged in behind them.
Taking the subject just a little deeper, look at what the different forms of “surge” are so you can then expand upon the product offerings. The word “surge” is a very broad term we’ve all become accustomed to, but it really covers: voltage surge, over and under voltage conditions, electrical noise, current in-rush at turn-on, neutral to ground (n-g) voltage, voltage sags, and loss of power. It’s like calling all soft drinks “a Coke”. It is also very important in the conversation, that surge doesn’t come from where we all believe it comes from. Sure, all of us think of lightning as the top-of-mind culprit, but lightning strikes only account for 7% of surge damage to equipment. 13% of events include grid (provider) issues, 20% comes from electrical occurrences in neighboring buildings, and, topping out the list at a whopping 60%, problems within homes.
It’s considerable how many threats there are to electronics and technology. Considering good quality surge suppression and elimination equipment is a good insurance policy towards protecting your equipment. After 21 years in this industry, I can honestly state that the clients that put real emphasis towards great surge suppression and elimination solutions have the most robust systems we’ve ever installed. These are the systems we seldom have to service.
Communicate with your technology integrator or good electrician and have a good plan for Category C, Category B, and Category A coverage within your space and understand how they are different and why you need them all.