Should Whole House Surge Protection Be on Your List This Holiday Season?
As we get closer to Christmas, more people here in Clarksville, TN, are putting up trees, lights, ornaments, decorations, and all kinds of festive décor. You might not have thought about it, but all these extra lights add up and can put considerable strain on your home’s electrical system.
It’s truly unfortunate that the holidays are essentially the peak season for electrical fires in homes. There are many factors at play here, and a lot of it comes down to people overloading their home’s electrical system.
It’s not just Christmas lights that are to blame here. With colder weather, people spend more time inside, and that means more time running appliances, electronics, devices, and electric heaters. Of course, there’s also the frenzy to try out new gifts on Christmas morning. Whether that’s a new TV or a fleet of toys that need charging, it all adds up.
You’ve likely already come to rely on conventional power bar surge protectors for most of your more expensive electronics like televisions and computers. But did you know that you can apply this same principle to your entire home as well?
Whole house surge protection could be just what you need to add another layer of protection to your home’s electrical system.
Why Whole House Surge Protection Matters Today
In the scheme of how long homes have had electricity, whole house surge protection is a relatively minor development. Electrical surges in particular only affect certain kinds of electronics.
In the early days of home electricity, these electronics simply didn’t exist. A power surge through an electric toaster won’t do much other than make it get a bit hotter, and the worst-case scenario for a lightbulb is it burning out.
However, an electrical surge can quickly destroy electronics like computers, televisions, and other devices. The sensitive and complex circuits inside promptly burn out under excessive electrical flow. Today, your house is probably filled with these kinds of devices that can be wiped out by a power surge entering your home.
Keep in mind that this is just about everything with any kind of computer chip inside. That’s probably your refrigerator, dishwasher, laundry machine, and just about everything else.
While it’s only the chip itself that’s going to need to be replaced, that’s probably the most expensive individual part on any appliance. The chances are that you’re just going to have to replace the device entirely.
How Can Whole House Surge Protection Protect My Home?
Whole house surge protection works on the same basic principles that any power bar surge protector does. When too much power starts to come in, it shuts off the connection. The difference is the amount of current that these two types of surge protection can handle and how quickly.
A large enough power surge is still going to make its way through a power bar surge protector to damage electronics. Every surge protector can only handle so much. Beyond that limit, it can’t help. The ratings on whole house surge protectors are much, much higher than individual surge protectors.
In general, a whole-home surge protector is going to have a maximum surge current capacity of about 30,000 amps, although some range much higher. This range is the kind of level that protects your home from major grid surges that would otherwise have severely damaged multiple devices within your home.
These kinds of surge protectors are so reliable that most manufacturers extend significant warranties covering potential damage to equipment if your surge protector fails to protect them. These values range in the tens of thousands of dollars, so you can tell that the manufacturers are very confident in their results.
Even if you do choose to upgrade your home’s electrical system with whole-home surge protection, there are still plenty of other steps you can take to ensure the safety of your home and prevent electrical fires. These simple holiday precautions could be what you need to avoid disaster.
How to Handle Your Christmas Lights
Christmas lights are a big part of the holiday season but can also be a serious electrical fire risk if they aren’t handled properly. There are many different things to keep in mind when setting up your Christmas lights, and it’s one area where you can’t afford a lack of caution.
Make sure you’re using the right extension cords. For one thing, you should only use outdoor extension cords. They’re clearly labeled anywhere you buy them and can be recognized by their increased thickness. With snow and rain outside, you don’t want to risk electrical shocks from potentially damaged indoor extension cords.
Ideally, you’ll also have a surge protector power bar for your lights. Keep in mind that the kind you use for a television or computer inside won’t do. You run into the same issue as with the extension cords. You need an outdoor surge protector that can handle the elements.
Another important safety factor to consider when putting up Christmas lights is excessive chaining. Most kinds of Christmas lights allow you to plug in several in a row as a chain. This approach is convenient, but you can only string so many together before there’s an issue.
The first set of lights in the chain is going to have electricity for all of the following sets flowing through it. This overloading can quickly lead to overheating and potentially melting the protective insulation. Now you could find yourself dealing with exposed wiring that’s an immediate shock and fire hazard.
You really shouldn’t have more than three strings of lights in a row. While it might be inconvenient, that’s simply what the safe thing to do is. If you’re having trouble finding enough outlets for your Christmas lights, there’s a decent chance you’re overloading your circuits anyway.
Beware of Improper Space Heater Use
Space heaters might be convenient, but they’re also a major cause of electrical fires during the winter. These portable appliances generate heat from electricity, warming up the room that they’re in. However, it takes a lot of electricity to create any amount of heat.
This inefficiency means that a lot of power is moving through the wiring leading up to the space heater. Heavy usage isn’t an issue for properly wired homes that can handle that much current, but using extension cords and power bars with them can have serious consequences.
Basically, almost every extension cord or power bar out there won’t be able to handle that much power. They’ll overheat, and eventually, the electrical insulation around their wires will melt. This melting can lead to electrocution if anybody touches the exposed wiring.
It can also lead to electrical fires. They can get so hot that they catch on fire, which can quickly spread. You shouldn’t use space heaters unless they’re plugged directly into an outlet, and also be mindful of placing them too close to curtains and other flammable items.
Don’t Overload Outlets
Every circuit in your home only has so much capacity. Once too much electricity starts flowing through the circuit, your circuit breaker should trip. With more electrical use during the holiday season, you could see this happening more often.
Whatever you do, don’t try to force circuit breakers to remain closed. That’s one of the fastest ways to start electrical fires in your home.
Instead, you should consider that you just have too many things plugged into one circuit. Keep in mind that multiple outlets in a room could be running on the same circuit. Try unplugging some things to see if that solves the issue.
If your circuit breakers seem to keep tripping no matter what, it could be a problem with your wiring or electrical panel. Something may be damaged, or you might just not have the capacity needed for your current electrical demands.
In either case, your best bet is to reach out to licensed electricians to get to the bottom of the problem. The team at Travis Electrical is highly experienced in electrical troubleshooting and can give you a reliable quote on any panel or wiring upgrades or repairs you might need here in Clarksville, TN.
Professional Whole House Surge Protection in Clarksville
Travis Electrical has spent the last 14 years providing our friends and neighbors here in Clarksville, TN, with reliable electrical installations, repairs, and maintenance. If you’re interested in improving the safety of your home’s electrical system, we’ve got plenty of options available for you.
Our professional electricians can ensure that all of your home’s electrical components are up to date and safe. We can also provide you with a simple and effective whole house surge protector installation. Just give us a call today to get an honest and reliable quote for any of your electrical needs.