Surge Protection – What, Why, and How!

Surge protection devices come in many shapes and sizes. The basic job is the same, though. A surge protection unit is a device meant to regulate power anomalies and protect your equipment from them. Power anomalies such as a surge or spike can occur to one degree or another in any type of utility power.


Surges are sudden jumps in electrical voltage caused by irregularities in the power lines. When the surge comes through the power lines, into a business and through the outlet, the sudden spike in current can cause damage to appliances and household electronics.


Since all utility power is subject to surges, it is important that you protect your electronics from them. The functionality of the surge protector adds a level of security you need and want.


In most surge protectors on the market, there is a component inside called a Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV). The MOV exists to safely re-route the surges.  


A Metal Oxide Varistor consists of three components, a portion of metal oxide connected via two semiconductors to the surge protector’s power and ground lines. The semiconductors are highly sensitive to current and voltage. When the voltage is below a certain level, the electrons in the semiconductors flow in such a way as to create a very high resistance. When a surge comes through, the semi-conductors detect the jump and respond to the MOV.  


Once the surges have been dealt with, the MOV detects the drop in voltage to regular levels and does not absorb and redirect the regular current. The MOV functions as a run-off valve which catches only the excess and does not interfere with the regular voltage and current.


While you may not care about the how and you may not need to know the specifics of the what, you should really understand the importance of the why! Every business needs surge protection in place to prevent costly damage to electrical devices and expensive downtime.