Protecting Everything you Own
As electricians, highly qualified installers, and mostly as electrical engineers it would be ridiculously easy to talk glibly about Multi-layered Varistors, Gas-Tube Suppressors, Metal-Oxide Varistors, and all sorts of things that are outside of the experience of most homeowners.
Although such information is technically correct and useful, it is inappropriate. In politics this is called bafflegab, often used to hide something by making it sound too complicated for people to understand. It is designed to make people throw up their hands and capitulate saying “Do whatever you think is best.”
Trust is Earned
At Illuminations Lighting Design the last thing we want is for you to be confused about your electrical project. It is vitally important that you understand exactly why something needs to be done. Poorly treated, electricity is incredibly dangerous. One do-it-yourselfer type error can threaten a whole house and all the living beings within it.
You want the work done safely, according to the highest legal standards. Once it is complete, you need to know how to operate it, whether it’s a circuit pump for your swimming pool or a dimmer switch for your bathroom. Our customers are more than happy to tell you that we don’t speak “bafflegab”!
Whole House Protection
Surges are electrical over-voltages or “spikes.” That means that voltages go well beyond the expected 120 or 240 volts of a typical home or that currently exceeds design limitations. These generally only last for a few milliseconds (thousandths of a second) but can quickly destroy electronic components.
Nowadays we have electronics in our fridges, stoves, dishwashers, furnaces, air conditioners, telephones, and even in our computer-controlled electrical outlets and switches. Why? So your friend “Alexa” can alter the lighting, turn on the coffeepot, or adjust the household temperature.
It is even becoming common to have Bluetooth or Wi-Fi controlled light bulbs. That makes it possible to tell your household computer to “Make the living room lights a nice spring-green color,” or “turn on all the lights” when you think you hear a burglar…
They can be Destroyed in a Flash
You can have (literally) hundreds of tiny electrical spikes daily, and usually, you won’t notice any effects. Each little spike does a little damage, but it might take thousands before something would fail.
A single big spike, such as a lightning strike can kill every electronic or electrical thing you own in one shot. All these small spikes do their damage cumulatively and shorten the life of your possessions. They’re caused by motors turning on (garage door opener, central AC, clothes washer), or by high amp devices (oven, clothes dryer, pool heater). Whenever you see a light flicker or dim, that is a transient voltage/current change, and it can cause damage.
Big spikes are not limited to lightning, of course. Utility wires can be knocked down by high winds, flooding, or even by overloads like the FirstEnergy Corporation of Ohio experienced on August 14th, 2003. Transfer loads were so dramatic that transmission lines overheated and sagged until they made contact with trees causing “flashover.” Those short circuits affected the North-Eastern and Midwestern United States, and the Canadian province of Ontario to the tune of 55 million people left powerless.
Fortunately, these events have been rare in history, but our aging infrastructure means they will happen more often in the future. If you live in an area prone to power variances and lightning strikes it would make sense to protect yourself and your possessions. Here is how:
Three Areas of Concern
The first thing to do is to put a surge-protecting isolator between your meter and the incoming power line. That protects from spikes originating outside of your home. This can be done in a house or an apartment, as long as you have a separate electrical meter. The meter is simply removed, the surge protector is installed, and the meter is reattached. It only makes it stick out about another three inches.
The next step is to put another isolator at the fuse/circuit breaker panel. If anything gets by the first one, it gets stopped here, but the device serves a second function of detecting spikes caused by your household equipment as listed above. Anything with a high voltage or current draw can reflect on the whole house, so this extra layer of protection keeps your equipment from damaging your other stuff!
Finally, you have probably already taken care of the third area by putting your computers and entertainment electronics behind a surge-protected power bar. There is no reason to throw them away once the other components are installed, after all, they do provide extra outlets, but now they are just redundant protection that doesn’t cost anything to keep in place.
How does it work?
Technically, a MOV (Metal-Oxide Varistor) doesn’t conduct electricity well at low voltages. If the voltage goes high, it completes a different circuit and sends the current to ground.
Many people won’t “get” that so here is an analogy: Imagine you have a road and only a certain amount of traffic is allowed. If a big, out-of-control vehicle were to come along, this MOV device would (essentially) take away the road under that vehicle, and it would plunge deep into the ground. Then the road would reappear, and regular traffic would resume.
In more ways than you can imagine that image reflects what happens because the “overload” in harmlessly “grounded,” however, the point is this: This protection is fast, safe, and cheap. One destroyed fancy appliance (let alone a whole house-full of them), would pay for the security for your entire home.
At Illuminations Lighting Design we want you to be safe. You probably already experienced a loss from transient voltage spikes if you live in Texas—that’s probably why you’re reading this! Don’t let it happen again.
Call us and take advantage of our whole range of products and services, selected to protect you and your family! Big or small, we do it all!
We are experienced, licensed electricians who want to do the job you expect without emptying your bank account! Since there are so many ways do a job incorrectly, we urge you to call us, because…
We’ll do it right!
Call us today at 713-863-1133 and experience peace of mind and excellent service as we help you reach your dreams and keep your family safe. Take a moment to schedule a design consultation or visit us on Facebook to learn more about our lighting and electrical services. We’d love to hear from you!