A surge protector is considered one of the most important electrical safety devices that is currently used in millions of homes and offices across the country. Indeed, these mechanisms save countless lives each year while limiting or eliminating damage to surrounding properties. Due to the fact that surge protectors are all but essential in modern power distribution, it proves wise to have a brief overview of what they are and how they work.
Examined in a simple fashion, a surge protector can be thought of much in the same way as the filament in a light bulb. This filament is rated for a certain power capacity. If the voltage exceeds that capacity, the filament will burn out and the bulb will cease to light. Surge protectors rely on the same principle. They are essentially semiconductors that are rated for a certain number of volts; in a household this number is generally 120 volts. Should excess power be in the line for whatever reason, the protector will react. This will cause a disruption in the voltage supply and protect electrical devices or individuals from the electrical surge.
These protectors actually work very quickly. To appreciate how quick they will react, it is important to understand the difference between a surge and what is known as a spike.
Thus, a longer lasting surge is more likely to cause a reaction in the protector and interrupt the electrical supply. At the speed of nanoseconds (billionths of a second), the level of protection offered is second-to-none and theoretically will save both lives and equipment. Should either a surge or a spike suddenly occur, a properly rated surge protector will provide adequate coverage against both instances.