Surge Protector Meaning: Surge protectors (also called spike suppressors, surge suppressors, surge diverters, surge protection devices, or transient voltage surge suppressors, or TVSSs) protect electrical devices from voltage spikes in alternating current (AC) circuits. Voltage spikes typically last between one and thirty microseconds and can exceed 1000 volts. The surge of electricity caused by lightning can endanger wiring insulation, causing fires. However, even modest spikes can destroy a variety of electronic devices such as computers, batteries, phones, modems, TVs, etc. that are plugged in at the time of the strike. Using a quality surge protector meaning it will divert the current to earth at a voltage that is 3 to 4 times the mains voltage. The spike may be absorbed by some devices and released as heat. The amount of energy they can absorb is usually measured in joules.
Electrical surge protection devices (SPDs) and transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSSs) protect against electric surges and spikes, including those caused by lightning, typically installed in power distribution panels, process control systems, communication systems, and other heavy-duty industrial systems. Residential electrical panels sometimes have a scaled-down version of these devices, to protect household equipment from similar hazards.
With a using a transient surge protector meaning you can either block or short the current to reduce the voltage below a safe level. The blocking is achieved by using inductors which inhibit sudden changes in current. Depending on the voltage threshold, spark gaps, discharge tubes, zener-type semiconductors, and metal-oxide varistors (MOVs) start conducting current or capacitors prevent sudden voltage changes. Multiple elements are used in some surge protectors.
The simplest and most efficient method of creating a large current flow is shorting the electrical lines (as in a spark gap) or clamping the voltage (as in a MOV). Through the resistance in the power lines, the shorting current reduces the voltage. Power lines (and/or the ground) dissipate the spike’s energy, which is converted into heat in the body of the MOV. Due to the short duration of a spike, the increase in temperature is minimal. On the other hand, if the spike is large and long enough, such as when there is a nearby lightning strike, there might not be enough ground resistance and the MOV (or other protection element) may be destroyed, melting the power lines.
Power strips or a device mounted outside can be used as surge protectors for homes. Modern houses use three wires for their sockets: line, neutral, and ground. It is common for protectors to connect to all three in pairs (line–neutral, line–ground, and neutral–ground), since there are times when both lines and neutrals have spikes of high voltage that need shorting to ground.