Whole house surge protectors, or type 2 surge protective devices, are very important electrical safety devices. If your home is anywhere in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, you should have a working whole house surge protector at all times.
If you don’t have a whole house surge protector, aren’t sure whether you have surge protection, or want to make sure your surge protection is functioning properly, get in touch with Early Bird right away. We can find, install, and test the right whole house surge protector for you right away.
What is a whole house surge protector?
A whole house surge protector is a device that is installed between your electrical meter and your home’s main electrical service panel. It’s usually hard-wired directly to your electrical box, where it connects directly to your panel’s grounding wire. Whole house surge protectors are also sometimes known as “surge arresters.”
What does a whole house surge protector do?
Power surges happen when too much electrical voltage suddenly travels through wiring. This excess surge voltage can slowly wear out or even quickly damage wiring and connected fixtures. There are multiple kinds of power surges. Internal power surges originate from within a “closed” system and are usually minor. External power surges occur outside of the system, and are usually much more significant and potentially damaging. Whole house surge protectors protect against these external power surges.
Whole house surge protectors intercept and redirect the excess energy created by external power surges away from your internal electrical system safely. These surge protectors help ensure that the dangerous voltage generated by lightning strikes, damaged power lines, or many other sources outside of your home can’t reach your systems. Installing a whole house surge protector makes sure medium to large external power surges can’t wear down or break your home’s wiring and fixtures.
How does a whole house surge protector work?
Whole house surge protectors work a lot like pressure-relief valves–but instead of pressure, they re-directing voltage. The protector allows the normal amount of voltage flowing into your main service panel through at all times. When voltage spikes, however, the surge protector activates like a pressure-relief valve would. First, it blocks the voltage, and then redirects it into your service panel’s grounding wire, where it can’t hurt your wiring.
Most whole house surge protectors redirect voltage using an internal component called a metal oxide varistor (MOV). MOVs consist of three main components: metal oxide, a power line, and another grounding line. The metal oxide connects to the MOV’s lines via semiconductors. When excess voltage passes through the oxide, it automatically redirects the excess through the grounding wire while continuing to send the normal level of voltage through the power line. This allows the internal system to remain powered and functional even as the protector redirects dangerous voltage.
Why are whole house surge protectors “type 2” surge protection devices?
There are three main types of surge protection:
Type 1: Service entrance protectors. These surge protectors are installed before the main breaker panel of your home. All of the electrical flowing into your home must pass through this protector before entering the service panel for distribution.
Type 1 surge protectors handle heavy-duty power surges that even conventional whole house protectors can’t handle. They have very high “joules” ratings, which are the amount of voltage the protector can safely redirect. Unfortunately, however, type 1 surge protectors often won’t stop small-to-medium-sized surges because they also have high “clamping” rating, which is the minimum amount of voltage required to activate the protector.
Type 2: whole house surge protectors. Whole house surge protectors are typically installed onto your main breaker panel. It intercepts and redirects voltage as it initially flows into your main system.
Type 2 surge protectors are considered highly effective for homes because they offer the most effective joules and clamping ratings. Their clamping rating is low enough to redirect small (but still harmful) surges, but their joules rating is high enough to successfully redirect most large external surges. Whole home surge protectors are usually the most practical form of external surge protection for homes.
Type 3: receptacle or “point-of-use” surge protectors. These most commonly include some (but not all) power strips. Receptacle point-of-use surge protectors protect individual fixtures from internal power surges.
Receptacle surge protectors are very useful for protecting valuable or sensitive electrical fixtures such as televisions or computers from small, internal power surges that originate within your home. Unfortunately, however, no receptacle surge protector has a high enough joule rating to redirect external power surges.
Do I need a whole house surge protector?
Article 230.67 of the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) requires all newly-installed electrical service panels that supply homes to have type 1 or type 2 surge protection. If you’re installing a new electrical service panel, then you do require at least a home house surge protector.
Existing electrical service panels do not require surge protective devices per the NEC, but Early Bird still recommends them for all residential dwellings in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Type 3 surge protectors cannot adequately protect your home from the large, outside surges whole house surge protectors redirect. Installing a whole house surge protector on your service panel will help preserve your electrical systems longer, reduce expenses from electrical damage, and prevent dangerous surge-induced malfunctions.
Can I install a whole house surge protector myself?
You should not attempt to install a whole house surge protector without the help of a licensed electrical professional. Installing a surge protector installation process is complicated, difficult, and dangerous without the proper tools and knowledge. Incorrectly installed surge protectors may not function correctly when you need them to, or they may even malfunction.
How can I get a whole house surge protector?
Contact Early Bird right away! Our professional technicians can choose the right whole house surge protector for your house, install it correctly, and make sure it’s working properly all in one quick service call. Call or get in touch online for same-day service now!
Surge Protection FAQ
A surge protector is an appliance that protects electrical devices from the voltage spikes power surges create. Even small power surges can inflict damage on your electrical fixtures over time. Installing a surge protector is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to keep your electronic devices safe from this damage.
An electronic device plugged directly into an outlet is susceptible to serious damage. Protect your gadgets from power strikes and surges by using a surge protector—they’re inexpensive and easy to use. They’re beneficial in the long run, too. Surge protectors help extend the lifespan of your electronics.