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Lumbermen’s Underwriting Alliance SURGE PROTECTION A power surge, or transient voltage, is an increase in voltage significantly above the standard 120 volts or 240 volts. High voltages from power surges can cause electronic devices to heat up, like the filament in a light bulb, and burn. Even if the increased voltage does not immediately break down the device, it may put extra strain on the device, wearing it down over time. When the voltage increase lasts three nanoseconds (billionths of a second) or more, it's called a surge. When it only lasts for one or two nanoseconds, it's called a spike. Power surges can originate from external and internal sources. Lightning is an external source. When lightning strikes near a power line, it can cause an extremely large power surge. Other external sources include problems with the utility company's equipment and downed power lines. While lighting is a cause, it is actually one of the least common causes of power-surge-induced equipment failure. Internal sources include the operation of electrical devices, such as elevators and air conditioning systems, which require a lot of energy to turn on and off compressors and motors. This switching creates sudden, brief demands for power that upset the steady voltage flow in a building’s electrical system. Another internal source is faulty electrical wiring. While these surges are nowhere near the intensity of a lightning surge, they can be severe enough to damage components, immediately or gradually, and they occur regularly in most building's electrical systems. A surge protector is designed to protect the sensitive electronics in computers and microprocessorcontrolled equipment from power surges. A surge protector is designed to pass the electrical current to the electrical device plugged into it. When the voltage surges or spikes the surge protector diverts the extra electricity into the grounding wire. In the most common type of surge protector, a component called a metal oxide varistor, or MOV, diverts the extra voltage. There is a wide range of surge protectors available, both in performance and price. There is the basic $10 - $20 surge-protector power strip, which generally can handle surges of up to 6,000 volts. This device will provide some protection, but not from bigger surges or spikes, or lightning; in such cases, the best protection is to unplug the device. Another problem with standard surge protectors is that they can burn out with one good surge - a protector with a light that indicates if it is functioning properly is recommended. Better surge protectors can handle surges up to 20,000 volts and, with the exception of perhaps a nearby lightning strike, will protect against most surges. These systems can cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) has a listing program for surge protectors. A device should be listed as a transient voltage surge suppressor, which means that it meets UL 1449, Standard for Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors - this is UL's minimum performance standard for surge suppressors. Another alternative is a surge arrestor. These are installed near the electric meter, where the power lines enter the building. They are designed to protect equipment from external power surges; however, they won’t protect from power surges that originate internally. AN-6200 (06/10) (COPYRIGHT ©2004, ISO Services Properties, Inc. EngineeringAndSafety@ISO.COM) The information in this article was provided courtesy of Lumbermen’s Underwriting Alliance. www.lumbermensunderwriting.com For further information please contact your servicing Loss Prevention Representative, thank you.