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Do Surge Protectors Wear Out?

Yes, a surge protector isn’t designed to last forever and will eventually wear out.

The bad news is that it’s almost impossible to tell when a surge protector wears out. 
Which means, you might think your appliances are protected against dangerous power surges when they really aren’t.

But don’t worry, we’ll explain how surge protectors work, when you should replace them and we’ll also give you tips on how to avoid damage from electrical surges.

Have specific surge protector questions for a Florida electrician? Just ask us

How (and when) surge protectors wear out

Surge protectors basically work like sponges. But instead of absorbing liquids, surge protectors absorb any unsafe levels of voltage before it reaches (and damages) your appliances. But unlike a sponge, a surge protector can’t just wring out all the voltage it’s absorbed and start fresh. 

You see, every surge protector has a specific amount of voltage that it can absorb before it dies. This number is called its “joule rating” (a joule is a unit of energy). Typical surge protectors usually have anywhere from 400 to over 2,000 joules. The higher the joules rating, the better.

Here’s how it works:

If a surge protector with 800 joules takes a 200-joule hit, it has 600 joules worth of protection left. Likewise, if a surge protector with 1,000 joules takes ten 100-joule hits, it won’t offer protection anymore and will need to be replaced.

How do I know how many joules my surge protector has left?

Good question. The answer? You don’t.

Unfortunately, surge protectors aren’t designed to give you any indication of how many joules they have left. Some models use LED lights that cut off when they’re out of joules but these rarely work correctly.

And it’s impossible to estimate how many joules your surge protector should have left because it all depends on:
  1. How many surges it’s absorbed since it was installed
  2. How many joules it can absorb before it “fries and dies”

That said, our professional advice is to replace your surge protectors every 2 years.

However, you’ll want to replace your surge protector now if any of the following has occurred since the surge protector was installed:

  • Your area has had several power outages
  • There’s been construction in the area 
  • There have been nearby lightning strikes

The best approach is a “tiered” approach

If you want to keep your point-of-use surge protectors living longer and provide even stronger protection against dangerous electrical surges, we recommend layering up on surge protectors.

Here’s what we mean:

Layer 1:Install a whole-home surge protector. These surge protectors are installed at your home’s main electrical panel and prevent high-voltage surges from ever entering your home’s electrical system.

Layer 2: Install point-of-use surge protectors between the outlet and your expensive electronics. These surge protectors protect against smaller voltage surges that are created inside the home, usually from larger appliances cycling on and off.

Have questions about surge protection? Ask a Florida electrician

If you have questions about whole-home surge protectors or point-of-use surge protectors, we can help.

Just contact us. Our team of reliable electricians is ready to help protect your home and expensive electronics from dangerous electrical surges.

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