A surge in power can occur at any time, but is often caused by high-powered equipment or storms that disrupt the normal flow of electricity. Surges can also occur after a power-outage, when the power comes back on.
Surge protectors are electro-mechanical devices that sit between power-sensitive (electronic) equipment and the wall outlet; their purpose is to protect the power-sensitive equipment from the effects of a sudden increase in power voltage. (Tom Harris has a terrific primer: “How surge protectors work”, at howstuffworks.com.)
Suggestions on purchasing a surge protector:
- Get one with an indicator light that signals proper operation
- Verify it is a “transient voltage surge suppressor” and meets UL 1449
- Expect to spend at least $15-25 to ensure proper quality and better ratings
Plan on replacing periodically; always replace when the indicator light fails (even if it is still providing power to the attached equipment).