You know that sinking feeling when your computer goes blank for an instant, or the lights flicker and then come back on?

That may have been the result of a power surge caused by anything from a lightning strike to a temporary (and sometimes not even noticeable) power outage.

Frequently, power surges cause no damage.  But a power surge can wipe out all the information on your computer, from vital financial records to school work to treasured photos.

As we count on electricity to power more and more items in our home – from entertainment systems to computerized appliances, we become more vulnerable to power surges.  And therefore, the need to protect against those surges with surge protectors is even more vital.

There are two types of surge protectors – whole house surge protectors and dedicated surge protectors.  This blog will discuss whole house surge protectors.

There are two types of whole house surge protectors:

Transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS) are connected to the main breaker board on the side of the internal wiring.  The TVSS is the more modern type of surge protector.

Secondary surge arrestors (SDSA) are connected to the breaker box on the utility side.  While they are not as modern, they are already fused.  You would need to make sure a TVSS has fuse protection.

When investigating whole house surge protectors, you may also hear the term “clamping voltage.”  Clamping voltage measures how much of a surge it takes to set off the surge protector.  It is recommended to have a clamping voltage between 330 and 800 volts, with the lower the volts the better.  Note that this applies to TVSS models only.

Another tip is to make sure the surge protector has an indicator light to ensure it is functioning properly.  If the light is off, you are at risk.  As long as the light is lit, you are protected.  Check the indicator light at least once a month.

Finally, make sure your surge protector comes with a manufacturer’s warranty that covers anything under the device’s protection.  Because of the device fails, the damage can be substantial.