Protect Your Appliances During a Power Outage

April 3, 2013 Written by  Brianna Breach Comments Print
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Based on the positive response to our recent infographic about how to best protect your appliances during a power outage, we decided this topic warranted it’s own blog post.

Besides being inconvenient, power outages can harm your appliances. When your power comes back on after several hours (or even days) of being out, it can create a harmful surge of energy that can damage some of your electronic equipment. A power surge occurs when something boosts the electrical charge at some point in the power lines. We’d like to point out that power surges don't only happen when the power comes back on after an outage. They can occur directly before an outage (the surge can cause an outage) or without an outage even occurring.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you experience a power outage.

Make sure that all of your appliances are turned off. Your first instinct may be to go straight for your TV and computers when you experience a power outage, but make sure you turn off appliances in your kitchen and bathroom as well. This not only protects your appliances from being damaged during a power surge, but protects you in case your power goes on when you are away from home. For example, if you had your stove on when the power went out, not being home when the power goes on could be extremely dangerous.

If it's electrical, turn it off: stereos, televisions, stoves, microwaves, lights, etc. When the power comes back on, most devices demand a surge of power for their start up sequence and every appliance in every home trying to start up instantly just taxes the electricity infrastructure again. Leave one light or a radio on as an indicator of when power is restored.

There's another benefit for turning off all appliances and devices during an outage - it actually helps the utility get the power back up faster.

Don’t turn all your appliances back on right away. When the power goes on, allow your appliances a few minutes so that the energy can stabilize. It takes about twice as much energy as usual to restart your appliances, so if they’re on, you risk harming not only your appliances, but your breaker.

You can purchase an energy-efficient surge protector to protect electrical devices from power surges. According to Home Depot, when voltage jumps to unsafe levels, the surge protector redirects the excess energy away from connected devices. Do your research before purchasing one. A good surge protector will help you save energy and protect your devices, although note that no protector guarantees protection from every surge.

There are a couple different ways to add surge protection in your home. Choose from the following: surge protector strips, whole house surge protectors, battery backup and wall-mount surge protectors.

Specific appliances or devices need to be to be plugged into surge protectors more than others. Things such as power cords, telephone cords, ethernet cords, cable and satellite TV coaxial cables and USB cords are recommended.

We’d like to mention that people often purchase a power strip believing that they are the same as surge protectors. However, it is important to realize that they have different functions. According to the article Surge Protector vs. Power Strip, “A power strip is basically just an extension lead or power box that has sockets for attaching various plugs. A simple power strip cannot protect the electronic equipment from power spike or surges, as they usually do not contain EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) filters, or two terminal semiconductors, which act to deflect the excessive bouts of voltage if it exceeds its designated level.”

However, with advances in technology, consumers can now purchase smart strips that come come with built in surge protectors. They work to reduce your power usage by shutting down power to products that go into standby mode.

If you already have a surge protector, make sure it’s still effective. Surge protectors are weakened by surges. Make sure you replace yours as needed.

These represent a few ways to keep your household and your appliances safe when the power goes out. Don’t wait until the next outage to prepare for a surge; take time to do an inventory of your home and create a checklist of all the devices you need to unplug next time your power goes out.

Click the link to view our recent blog: How to Increase Energy Efficiency When You Are Renting or check back next week for more energy saving tips.

Sources - Home Depot,

power outage prep