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Information About Surge Protectors and How They Work

Summary: See the information about what is a surge protector?, how does a surge protector work?, do surge protectors ever wear out?, and how do I know which surge protectors are right for me?

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What is a Surge Protector?

A surge protector, also known as a surge suppressor, is a device that is made to protect electronic equipment from unwanted power surges or "spikes."

It takes only a tiny amount of voltage increase to damage most of today's sensitive electronics. These voltage irregularities are caused by many factors such as lightning, large appliances turning on, home wiring problems, and problems with a local power provider.


How Does a Surge Protector Work?

Surge protectors employ one of two devices to diffuse the unwanted voltage.

The most common is called a metal oxide varistor (MOV). The MOVs are placed inside the surge protector to "absorb" any excess voltage and then act as a "shunt" resistor to divert the excess current to the ground.

The second device is called a gas discharge arrestor (GDR) that acts similar to an MOV. When the voltage is at a certain level, the makeup of the gas is a poor conductor. When the voltage surges above that level, the electrical power is strong enough to ionize the gas, making it an effective conductor. It passes on current to the ground line until the voltage reaches normal levels, and then becomes a poor conductor again.

Both are equally effective in re-routing the transient voltage away from your computer.


Do Surge Protectors Ever Wear Out?

Although the exterior of the unit may appear in perfect condition, the internal components inside can only take so many spikes before they begin to become ineffective. The condition of these MOVs and GDRs is contingent on the age of the surge protector, geographic location, and condition of the home wiring.

Most if not all surge protectors have a recommended life-cycle set by the manufacturer.


How Do I Know Which Surge Protectors are Right for Me?

There are many different manufacturers of surge protectors. They vary in price, style, telephone line protection, and voltage handling capacities. Whichever one you choose, ensure that the surge suppressor has been tested and listed for the stringent requirements of UL 1449, the standard for transient voltage surge suppressors.


Go to the Dell Community Forum for More Information

Go to the Dell Community Forums to find out what others in the Dell user community are saying. The Dell Community Forums provide a place for Dell users to discuss support topics, learn, and help each other. Use the message boards to post questions and answers.


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Last Published Date

19 Sep 2023



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