Even if they’re switched off, tech devices left plugged in can be damaged irreparably by surges of power running through your home wiring system.
During electrical storms, for instance, a lightning strike can cause a spike along a nearby power line, which could lead to a power surge. Other problems with power grids and faulty internal wiring can also put your tech devices at risk.
The average household gets 350 power surges a year according to Belkin, many of which are harmless. At their worse power surges can cause house fires, but they can also damage your electrical equipment.
What is a power surge?
A power surge happens when the amount of voltage on the line increases temporarily.
A lightning strike is just one cause: a power cut or an increase in voltage when the power company switches distribution across grids can also cause power surges, along with internal sources such as faulty wiring. Even switching electrical goods which use a lot of power on and off can damage other devices in the home.
Power surges can vary in intensity but typically last less than a thousandth of a second. While a higher-power surge can cause instant damage, a series of shorter surges can cause damage in the long term.
How to protect your equipment from power surges
If an electrical storm is forecast in your area, don’t be afraid to unplug electrical items before lightning strikes.
Another solution is to buy a surge protector. A surge protector looks a bit like a plug adapter or a multi-socket power strip, but built-in technology means it protects connected devices by absorbing excess voltage. Over time a surge protector will extend the life of your electronics.
Tips for choosing a surge protector
1. Surge protectors versus power strip
Surge protectors look like multi-socket extension leads (or power strips), but don’t get the two confused: extension leads do not protect against power surges.
2. Connected Equipment Warranty (CEW)
Look for a surge protector with a CEW warranty, which covers any equipment damage caused by transient voltage when the device is connected to a surge protector. Make sure you check the terms of the warranty before buying.
3: How many ports do you need?
Make sure you buy a surge protector with enough ports to support the kit you want to plug into it. The Belkin SurgeCube 1-Way Surge Protector (£14.99) has one port, the Belkin 4 Way Surge Protection Split (£17.99) has four and the Belkin 6 Way Surge Protection Strip (£20.98) has six ports.
4: Surge protectors need replacing
Over time as surge protectors absorb power, they’ll begin to wear down, so make sure you replace yours every three to four years.