Surge Protectors | Surge Suppressors Review
A surge protector, also called a surge suppressor, is a piece of equipment (a device) that protects and shields a computer or any electronic component or device from surges or spikes in electrical voltage (also known as transient voltage) from the source of power (in most cases, the AC Voltage being supplied by the local power company). In the United States, standard voltage is 120 volts AC. When any amount over the standard voltage is introduced (in the form of a voltage spike, surge, or for whatever reason), this overvoltage is considered a transient and could conceivably damage electronic devices that are plugged into the wall outlet or receptacle. Even when the transient surges can be measured in nanoseconds (an extremely short period of time!), this can be sufficient to cause extensive damage to sensitive electronic devices. Besides being called a surge protector or surge suppressor, these devices are also referred to as transient suppressors and power strips.
Surge protectors (surge suppressors) operate by directing the extra or transient voltage into the grounding wire of the outlet or receptacle, thereby stopping the voltage surge from flowing into the electronic equipment while simultaneously allowing the standard or normal voltage to continue to be delivered to the device. Voltage surges or transients can damage electronic or computer equipment and devices by damaging equipment power supplies, burning wires, or leading to premature failure of critical electronic components that are part of the electronic device or computer. In the case of a computer, voltage transients or surges can, in extreme cases, damage disk drives, resulting in the loss of saved data. If correctly installed, surge protectors (surge suppressors) can prevent damage caused by voltage surges or transients.
The internal components of a surge protector (surge suppressor) vary depending on the manufacturer design. Many surge protectors use a metal oxide varistor (also known as an MOV), to divert the excess voltage. The MOV essentially forms a connection between the power line (sometimes referred to as the hot leg) and the grounding line. Basically, the MOV redirects the transient voltage, while allowing the standard voltage to continue powering the electronic devices or computer connected to the surge protector. Other surge protectors employ a gas discharge arrestor, or gas tube. The gas discharge arrestor works the same way as an MOV directing the excess current from the hot leg to the ground line. In some cases, surge protectors also utilize a built-in fuse or circuit breaker. Simply put, a fuse is a resistor that allows current through (as long as the current is below a certain level). If the current exceeds this level, the heat generated by the resistance literally blows (or burns) the fuse, resulting in the cutoff of the electrical circuit. If, for some reason, the MOV doesn't redirect the surge, the excess current fries the fuse, thereby preventing damage to the electronic devices or computer. In the case of a blown fuse, it must be replaced before the surge protector can be used again; if a circuit breaker is utilized, the breaker simply needs to be reset.