When should you replace your surge protector?
Because their lifespan is measured in joules, not time, there is no simple answer. The older the surge protector is, the more likely it has failed or it is near the end of its service life. If your facility has weathered a serious electrical storm or other power line problem since you first plugged in your surge protector, consider replacing it now or inspect it to see if the LED indicates it is still working.
The start of summer, with its more frequent thunderstorms and severe weather, is an especially good time to check your surge protectors so that your electronic devices are protected at a time when they are most needed for emergency response. Some recommend replacing surge protector every two years, just in case. As for any electrical device, read the instruction manual for information on its specifications and proper operation.
Some common misconceptions about power surges
Myth: As long as my building or the power lines to it are not directly hit, my equipment should be ok.
Even if the lightning strike does not directly contact the building or the power lines into your building, the secondary effects of lightning, including earth current transients, atmospheric transients, secondary arcing, electromagnetic pulse or EMP and ground potential rise, (GPR) can degrade or destroy electrical system components. Current induced by a lightning ground strike close to a building has been know to flow in through the ground wire and destroy equipment.
Myth: As long as I plug my devices into a surge protector, my equipment should be ok.
Voltage spikes can come in over any line, including phone and cable lines and damage equipment. Some higher-end surge protection devices offer protection for phone and cables lines. They may also include built-in EMI/RFI protection for these lines. All surge protectors must be adequately sized, rated, and fully functional to offer protection. The best protection of all is to unplug the device!
If you are in an area or building that is prone to lightning strikes (for example, located on a hill) or you need surge protection for heavy equipment, data centers, etc, consult an electrical professional.
Visit CIRMA.org/Storm & Hazard Center for additional risk management information.