Individuals who own lots of home entertainment hardware are generally aware that their electronic devices should be plugged into a surge protector. Surges in Las Vegas, NV, can occur if there’s a thunderstorm or the power suddenly goes out and comes back on again. At Polar Air & Heating, Inc., we are well-versed in protecting AC units against surges. The following is some surge protection information to consider for your home’s AC unit.
What Is a Surge?
A power surge can occur during a brownout and during a power outage. The flow of electricity will be interrupted before it starts again. Since the electricity that was flowing has nowhere to go, there is usually a sudden jolt when power is restored. If that jolt makes it to your home, anything that’s plugged in and unprotected can be affected.
The strength of the surge varies. It can be as little as 5 to 10 volts. During a thunderstorm, the volts can be as high as thousands of volts. That could cause some serious damage, which is not ideal. For this reason, you have probably heard at least once that you should protect your electronic devices, especially the more expensive ones. Your AC unit is an investment, so it should be protected, too.
Can Surges Be Prevented?
Surges cannot be prevented simply because they are unpredictable. The next best thing is to be prepared. Investing in surge protectors is worth your while. They are not terribly expensive, and they have evolved. Today, they can power regular appliances with the traditional two and three-prong ports in addition to USB.
It might sound strange, but the bulk of a surge can actually be created internally as opposed to externally. Once a surge hits, it goes away within seconds. The appliances most impacted are the largest ones, like the refrigerator. The refrigerator gathers so much power that it can actually send a second surge through your home. That is the one that can take out an appliance like your cooling system.
Surge Protector for Your AC
Professionals in the HVAC industry and the technology field recommend investing in power surge protectors since they are inexpensive. If you live in an area where thunderstorms are common, the protectors are similar to a physical insurance policy.
When you browse through your options, you want to purchase the models that have the highest joules. Then, you also want to ensure that the cord is going to be long enough. A surge protector is different from a power strip. A power strip allows you to power more than one device from the same location, but it does not protect against a sudden surge.
It is worth knowing that a surge could go through the power cables as well as the phone and cable lines. When you purchase your surge protector, you may also be purchasing extra warranty coverage. Some brands offer a warranty if any damage is caused to the devices connected to the protector during a surge. So, be sure to read through the paperwork that is included with the product.
How Surge Protectors Work
The job of a surge protector is to protect anything plugged into it. When a surge occurs, it can cause damage. Some describe a surge as the equivalent of applying pressure to a hose that is turned on. Eventually, so much pressure is applied to the hose that it will explode. A surge carries enough pressure to cause damage. In cases where there is no obvious damage to an electrical appliance, you might notice it over time. Even if it does not cause it to stop working immediately, it can still hurt the appliance’s parts. The result is a product that does not make it to its expected lifespan.
A surge protector detects when the extra surge of power occurs. Instead of allowing it to go through the devices that are plugged in to it, the surge is diverted to the outlet’s grounding wire. The normal amount of power continues to flow to the appliances and devices plugged into them.
After a serious power outage, you are encouraged to replace the current surge protector. You want to ensure that the device is always able to operate at 100%.
Benefit: No HVAC Downtime
If you keep your AC unit well-maintained, then you can limit the amount of AC downtime that you experience, which is wonderful. If you have experienced AC downtime because it needed to be repaired during the summer, then you should be more motivated to keep the AC maintained and protected.
Benefit: Protection Without an Insurance Policy
When you purchase or renew your homeowner’s policy, you have to read through what it covers and what it does not. Often, this insurance policy will not cover damage to an AC unit or any other big-ticket appliance due to a power outage. Therefore, you need to take matters into your own hands.
A surge protector is like an insurance policy for your AC. First and foremost, the AC is more likely to survive a surge if it is connected to the device. Also, if there is damage because the surge was that strong, you can lean on the warranty. It may not cover the entire cost for a replacement, but it will cover some of the costs.
It cannot be overstated that an AC unit is an investment. Today, there are more energy-efficient options on the market, but they require an upfront investment. So, even if you are in the market for a new unit, you have to prepare for the cost.
Benefit: Saves You Money
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that Americans lose about $79 billion annually from damaged electronics caused by power disturbances. The power disturbances include brownouts, power surges, and blackouts. All appliances, from your coffeemaker to your AC unit, are equally vulnerable. The difference is that because the coffeemaker is so much more affordable than an AC unit, you are willing to take the loss on it. The AC unit is a different story.
When a power surge hits a central AC unit, the part that is most impacted is the compressor. HVAC professionals describe the compressor as the heart of the unit. So, if it is no longer operational, the rest of your unit is gone to waste, too. The unit will turn on and off, and you will still hear the fans run, but the air will no longer be conditioned or cooled off. Of course, providing cool air is the entire purpose of an AC unit. When it no longer conditions the air, you have a large piece of equipment taking up a lot of space and providing no output.
An AC unit that’s still within its warranty window may not be covered for this kind of damage, so go ahead and invest in a surge protector. If your system is already dealing with surge-related damage, reach out to Polar Air & Heating, Inc. in Las Vegas. We offer a full range of heating and cooling services along with air quality assessments, maintenance agreements, and some refrigeration services.