Guaranteeing the electrical safety of your home is essential, both for the occupants and for the various devices installed in the home. It is therefore important that we respect the electrical standards, have our electrical installation checked by an electrician, and be equipped with all the necessary electrical devices. This is why we need surge protectors and suppressors.
In this article, we will look at the common problems that are encountered while using a surge protector and how long a good surge protector lasts.
The average lifespan of a surge protector is three to five years. However, if your home experiences frequent blackouts, power surges and electrical shortages, your surge protector should be replaced every two years.
Do Surge Protectors Go Bad?
Yes, surge protectors can go bad. After a few years of suppressing power surges, a surge protector will eventually lose its ability to protect your devices and appliances effectively.
Surge protectors provide protection in quantities called joules. Think of this as a reservoir of protection. If a product has a protection of 1000 joules, that means it can take ten hits of 100 joules or one hit of 1000 joules. As a general rule, the more joules, the better the protection.
This means that over time, the surge protector will wear out and be damaged. Some multiple sockets have a system to assess this degradation.
Others don’t. If your device has been affected by a serious electrical problem, we recommend that you change your protection. In general, opt for a model with a light indicator to indicate the status of the protection, and remember to check it from time to time!
Surge protectors aren’t invincible. Surge protectors typically last three to five years, according to most estimates.
If you have numerous brownouts or blackouts in your house, you may want to replace your surge protectors every two years. If you know your surge suppressor just took a big hit, you should probably throw it out. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to replace them every two years or so.
By the way, if you want a device that is going to regulate your device’s voltage, and that will last longer, you can get an automatic voltage regulator. To learn more, check our article on surge protectors vs automatic voltage regulators.
How Can You Tell Your Surge Protector Is Bad?
Your surge protector will eventually stop protecting your equipment from power surges and turn into a useless power strip.
Normally a surge protector will have an indicator labeled “protected” with a green indicator light. If there is an issue, this indicator may change to red.
Other than that, it’s hard to ascertain when a surge protector loses its protective capabilities and becomes merely a power strip. However, if you’re still using an old surge protector from ten years ago, it’s probably time for a change.
As explained earlier, the lifespan of a surge protector is calculated in joules rather than years. It all comes down to the number of joules your surge protector has absorbed. However, the older your surge protector is, the more likely it is to fail.
If your surge protector is indicating that it is no longer protecting your devices or that it needs to be replaced, you should probably replace it. However, just because the warning light hasn’t gone on doesn’t mean your ten-year-old surge protector is still fully functional.
So, when should that surge protector be replaced? The longer it has been, the more vulnerable you are. If you know your surge protector has been subjected to a significant power surge, you should replace it right away.
How to Test a Surge Protector
There is no way to test surge protectors unless you operate in a specialist laboratory and have a large budget.
Obviously, getting a surge protection device with LED notifications is the quickest and easiest option. A visual (LED notification) or audio warning would be triggered if the surge protection device failed its own internal testing of the surge protection mechanism.
An alternative way to test a surge arrester is to ask your salesperson to test it on a 2500 amp lightning shock simulator. The test consists of connecting a bulb that works on the simulator while passing by the surge arrester. We then simulate a lightning strike of 2500 amps. Then we check if the lamp is still working. If so, your surge arrester is in perfect condition
When looking for a replacement, look for one with numerous LED indicator lights (as previously described) that will alert you when it can no longer protect your valuable electrical gadgets. This is probably the most effective way to test if your surge protector is still protecting your connected equipment.
Most high-end surge suppressors now have very visible, user-friendly LED indicators that are difficult to miss when a problem emerges. Some brands and types even have an audible alarm that sounds when the surge protection joules are depleted.
Do Whole House Surge Protectors Really Work?
Yes! To provide full lightning protection, a whole-house suppressor instantaneously prevents surges from reaching household circuits.
Individual plug-in suppressors will not protect equipment that is hard-wired rather than plugged in. Many expensive electrical items are hard-wired directly into your home’s electrical circuits, including large appliances like washers, stoves, and dishwashers, as well as garage door openers, exterior lighting, HVAC equipment, sprinkler systems, and security systems.
They are all hard-wired. Hard-wired devices are only protected by a whole-house suppressor that protects all circuits from exterior-originating surges.
A whole-house surge protector set at your main electrical panel by a competent professional electrician constantly “sniffs” incoming energy before it enters domestic circuits.
When a surge is detected, the suppressor sends the dangerously high voltage to the ground instead of allowing it to enter the house’s circuits. This device can protect your home from up to 40,000 amps of electricity.
How Long Does a Whole House Surge Protector Last?
A whole-house surge protector should last between two and five years. Because a surge protector’s useful lifespan is determined by the total number and magnitude of surges it absorbs over time rather than by years, any lifespan estimate will be a wide range.
We’ve assigned a 3-year average lifespan, but time isn’t the most important factor. Rather, the number and frequency of surges in a particular area will mostly determine how long a whole house surge protector will last.
How Long Does a Panamax Surge Protector Last
According to Panamax, even in high-lighting locations, the few protectors that have been damaged imply a field life (MTBF) of AT LEAST 500 YEARS, if not more.
While we don’t know how Panamax arrived at their numbers, they are considered some of the best makers of surge protectors out there.
What Happens When a Surge Protector Fails?
When a surge protector fails, it simply means that it has been compromised. In most cases, this means that the voltage spike is too much for the device to handle, which may lead to its breakdown.
In some rare instances, a faulty surge protector can fail in such a way that electricity continues to flow through your devices.
This is why it’s important not just to rely on one layer of defense when protecting your electrical appliances from damage due to surges or spikes in power.
Why Did My Surge Protector Turn Off?
Surge protectors are designed to be triggered when they sense power levels above a certain level.
If there is enough voltage in the system, this will cause your surge protector to turn off automatically after it has done its job of protecting your devices from dangerous surges.
This means that you likely don’t have anything wrong with either equipment or wiring since both can usually withstand much more charge than what caused the problem.
Can You Overload a Surge Protector?
Yes, there is the possibility of overloading a surge protector. This is because surge protectors are designed to handle a certain amount of electrical current.
If you plug too many devices into one outlet, it can surpass the limit and cause damage to your electronics.
This is why it’s important not to overload surge protectors with multiple appliances or power strips.
Should a TV Be Plugged into a Surge Protector?
Yes, connecting your TV to a surge protector is quite beneficial. That’s because it will prevent voltage peaks from causing damage to it.
We’ve already covered why you should always loom to change your surge protector. Surge protectors are not omnipotent devices that do not get worse. After they are depleted, they stop performing the function for which they were bought.
If you think your Surge protector is no longer functional, you should replace it straight away.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics.