Unexpected surges and load shedding are our current reality; we must therefore protect our precious home appliances and electronics from harmful effects. (Image: supplied)
Many of us own electronically powered gadgets, appliances, and computers in our homes. Power surges can cause damage, which is often irreparable to many types of electronics or appliances. Computers can even experience data loss due to a power surge. There are things you can do to protect your valuables – and it’s easier than you might think.
What is a surge?
In South Africa, the standard electrical voltage is 220/230 volts at a frequency of 50 Hz. Surges occur when the voltage exceeds the standard and flows at a higher voltage and frequency. When the normal operating voltage is exceeded, an electric current arc may occur. This generates heat – and it is this heat that damages an electronic circuit board and, by extension, an affected electronic device or device. Power surges can occur during a process of switching the power grid or can occur unexpectedly due to a malfunction of a transmission line or a nearby transformer. Load shedding, and even a case where lightning occurs during an electrical storm, can also result in power surges.
Lower surges are also possible if a large-wattage electrical device turns on and off too often, such as a refrigerator or air conditioner. The motors and compressors in these devices generally require a considerable amount of energy to turn on and off; and therefore if they do, the normal voltage flow in the electrical system is disturbed, resulting in overvoltage. Damage from lower surges can be incremental and accumulate over time. A major power surge can cause more permanent damage instantly, but smaller disturbances generally tend to shorten the “lifespan” of a particular device or device over time.
4 indications that your devices or electronic devices have suffered a power surge
- The clock or lights of a device or device are flashing
- There may be a burning or pungent smell near the device or device (especially near the power source)
- The device or device is not working or appears to be turned off
- Power strip or surge protector may need to be reset
7 ways to prevent the damaging effects of a power surge
Sometimes a utility company may need to perform maintenance work, which can lead to power surges. Anything else will probably be unexpected. So, to best protect small or large power surges from damaging your valuables, the tips below can be helpful in getting into the habit of implementing:
- Unplug electrical appliances and appliances from the power outlet when not in use or during an electrical storm. It will help you save your valuables, reduce the chance of damage, and even conserve valuable energy.
- Be careful not to overload your outlets, especially appliances that use large amounts of electricity. Valuable items, such as computers, laptops, widescreen TVs, or internet modems or routers, should ideally not be plugged into the same outlet, as they usually consume a lot of power and also have sensitive printed circuits. Items such as air conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators should also have their own dedicated outlet or power strip.
- Use surge protectors for your electrical panel, as well as outlet adapters. These usually divert excess energy around when a power surge occurs instead of letting it flow into the circuit to which your valuables can be plugged. Surge adapters are a simple solution that you can implement yourself, but all protectors on your DB boards should be installed by a certified electrician.
- Consider buying a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This is useful for protecting your Internet or fiber optic connections and your electronic devices such as a modem and router. It also allows you to be able to continue using your computerized devices even during a load shedding round.
- Use a surge protection power strip. Those power strips that have a built-in surge protector usually have a fuse that is designed to fail if a voltage surge occurs. When this happens, the power supply is not reaching your appliance or plugged-in appliance; and thus prevent damage during a power surge.
- Allow an electrician to check your electrical panel or fuse box to make sure you have adequate power for your home and your electrical appliances and appliances. If you’ve noticed a few flickers or blackouts, it may indicate circuit breaker issues. A certified electrician can help make sure that you can perform a sufficient upgrade if necessary.
- Check the details of your home insurance plan. Does your plan cover damage caused by a power surge? It’s a good idea to make sure you know 100% whether your plan has taken into account the different types of risk scenarios your valuables may be exposed to; provide sufficient coverage in the event of a power surge causing a need for repair or replacement.
On the Discovery Insure Home Insurance Plans, there are different levels of coverage for surge claims that result in damage or require replacement of an insured item. Discovery Insure customers can also upgrade their Essential and Classic packages to higher amounts of surge coverage for a small monthly fee. For discovery insure surge coverage, call us on 086 751 751 or speak to your advisor.
This article and content are sponsored, written and provided by Discovery Insure.