We all know how important it is to have a surge protector for the computers in our homes and offices. A power surge can wipe out crucial data on a computer that can set you back in a major way recreating files for days. But, have you thought about what a power surge can do to your appliances, in particular your HVAC system? A surge in power can actually damage your HVAC system and cause it to stop working. When your heating and cooling system goes down, you can be without a comfortable temperature for a while--it could be hours or days.

Having a surge protector can protect your systems from interruptions in power. R & S Mechanical has a team of experts who are available to help you deal with interruptions in power that threaten your inside comfort and the condition of your HVAC system. In this article, we give you information about power surges and why it is important to have a surge protector for your HVAC system.

What is a Power Surge?

A power surge alters the voltage of power that is flowing into your home or business. The power that comes through the typical wall outlet is 120 volt AC power. However, the voltage doesn’t come at a constant 120 volt; in fact, it can fluctuate between 0 and 169 volts. During a damaging power surge, the voltage exceeds 169 volts.

What Causes a Power Surge?

Power surges can result from several causes. A large power surge is usually caused by an external source while a small, even undetectable, surge is caused by internal sources.

External Sources

External power surges could be caused by:

  • Lightning
  • Blown transformers
  • Downed power lines
  • Other electrical service issues

Sometimes the electric utility company can generate a power surge when it switches power grids. Surges can also occur if there is a malfunction in a nearby transformer or transmission line. But, some of the most powerful power surges occur as a result of a lightning strike. Lightning can travel as far as ½ mile, putting your HVAC system at risk.

Internal Sources

Internal power surges may be caused by:

  • Faulty wiring
  • Faulty circuit breaker box
  • Faulty appliances

A majority of power surges are generated internally from appliances in your home. These surges are usually short and small so they won’t cause significant damage alone. But, over time, they can affect the motors in your AC unit causing damage and shortening the life of your HVAC system.

How do Power Surges Cause Damage?

When there is a boost in voltage above a device's normal operating voltage, it causes an arc of electrical current within the device. The heat that is generated from this arc can cause damage to the electronic circuit boards and other components within the device. A major power surge such as one from a lightning strike can cause permanent damage immediately. Smaller surges, like the ones that occur when your air conditioner cycles on, can cause damage in tiny increments that accumulate over time. These small surges can decrease the longevity of your devices.

How a Surge Protector Works

Surge protectors don’t prevent power surges. They are designed to protect devices from surges by being a pass-through for electricity from the source to the device that is plugged into the outlet. A surge protector uses a metal oxide varistor (MOV), which is composed of oxide sandwiched between semi-conductors. When the voltage is correct, the MOV does nothing. If the voltage gets too high or spikes, the MOV pulls the electrical current into the grounding wire. The MOV can do this without shutting down your AC unit.

How a Surge Protector Can Help

Just like an insurance policy protects your home and car, a surge protector can provide insurance, so to speak, to prevent potential damage to your HVAC system. Surge protectors divert excess electricity away from a device or appliance and into the grounding wire for electrical outlets.

Surge protectors for HVAC systems don’t plug into an outlet. Instead, they utilize the grounding wire for the system to prevent damage to the HVAC. In the case of lightning strikes, a surge protector can redirect a high voltage surge into the ground and away from the HVAC system.

Getting a Surge Protector for Your HVAC System

If you want to prolong the life of your HVAC system and increase the safety of your home or business, you should have an HVAC surge protector installed. You can find surge protectors in a wide price range, but you need one that is effective and suited for your specific needs. A quality surge protector that contains MOVs is best obtained through an HVAC professional. Our team of technicians at R & S Mechanical Services are experts in determining the right one for any situation.

Call R & S Mechanical Today for HVAC Surge Protection in Raleigh!

If you want to protect your HVAC system and prevent major damage from power surges, call us at R & S Mechanical. Our professional, expert technicians can advise you on the type of surge protector that is appropriate for your specific situation. Your comfort and peace of mind is our number 1 goal! Call us at (919) 823-7368 or visit us online to request a service.