Surge or Strip? Protect Your Home!

Power strips and surge protectors are among the most commonly used electronic accessory items used today. While oftentimes overlooked and taken for granted, power strips and surge protectors are actually vital pieces of electronic gear that allow you to connect multiple devices while providing protection from power overloads, surges and brownouts, and “dirty” power (inconsistent flow of electricity characterized by small spikes and drops in voltage).

Understanding the difference between power strips and surge protectors is important to know so you are able to select the right one for your needs. A common misunderstanding many people have is that power strips and surge protectors are the same thing, or that all power strips includes surge protection. This is likely due to surge protectors being included on many power strips and with the words “surge protector” being printed on power strips that do feature surge protection.

8203770520_3efb5cf4a0Some power strips are surge protectors, but not all are. Basically, power strips are designed to allow for the sharing a single electrical outlet with multiple pieces of electrical equipment. Power strips are generally a series of electrical outlets contained in an electrically shielded case, which are connected to a single cable with a male electrical plug on one side. This plugs into an electrical outlet. Simple power strips are sufficient if you will be plugging in devices that would not be damaged by electrical surges and just want more outlets.

Surge protectors are an entirely different piece of equipment than power strips. Typical surge protectors act as a power strips by allowing multiple electrical devices to be plugged into them, but they also prevent the electrical current from overloading an electrical device with too much voltage. When voltage increases in the electricity coming through a wall outlet, it can overload the wiring in a house and cause damage to unprotected electrical equipment. Such surges can be caused by natural phenomena, such as lightning, and can also be caused by electrical appliances, such as those with large motors inside. Different types of surge protectors provide protection from different kinds of electrical surges.

10069972293_bf7e65b260_oThere are different types other than a standard model of surge protector that can be purchased. One type of surge protector uses a gas discharge resistor. This type of surge protector uses inert gas that can ionize when there is an electrical surge and sends excess current to the ground line. After a power surge, these types generally need to be completely replaced, as the gas is discharged and the protection is no longer in the device.

Another type of surge protector uses a fuse that will burn out when excess current overloads the fuse. This will protect connected components but will destroy the fuse which will need to be replaced. Many people may choose to purchase the most inexpensive power strips available, thinking there is no difference, and not realizing the purpose and importance of a surge protector. If relatively expensive and sensitive equipment such as home electronics and computers are being connected to power strips, it is best to purchase power strips with a surge protector.

IMG_0008 2If you are unsure which type you have, or simply do not want to check and change out all of the current power strips in your home, a whole house surge protector is an excellent solution. Connecting directly into the electrical panel, a whole house surge protector regulates the electrical current entering the house,  whether it be too low or too high, and distributes it appropriately to all circuits in the electrical distribution box. It will prevent the irregular current before it even reaches the electrical component. The whole house surge protector will help prevent damage to electronics and appliances caused by surges, spikes, brownouts, and blackouts.

If you are not sure if you have surge protectors or power strips, or are interested in learning more about whole home surge protection, contact your local electricians. We offer whole home electrical safety inspections and can provide you with surge protection solutions that are best for your home. Schedule an appointment online today with Tiger Electrical Services, or call us at 1-866-TIGER70.




Photo 1 credit: capacitor original via photopin cc

Photo 2 credit: diversey via flickr cc

The Buzz About Electrical Safety!


Springtime and warmer weather bring about a flurry of activity in the Metro East — inside the home and outdoors — as well as the potential for accidents. Just as homeowners begin wrapping up their spring cleaning or landscaping in the yard, National Electrical Safety Month in May provides a good time to revisit the importance of safety when working around electrical lines or equipment.

Homeowners are seven times more likely to be injured at home than at work, according to the National Safety Council. For residents considering any home improvement repairs such as roof work, exterior painting, landscaping, or building a patio, following a few simple precautions can help avoid a painful and costly accident.

“We want to make sure our customers have all the information they need to stay safe this spring and summer as the warm weather rolls in,” said Ken Bowman, PECO’s (Pennsylvania Electric Company’s) manager of safety and industrial hygiene. “For example, it is critical that customers stay clear of the service cable that supplies power to the home. And, if you are going to work underground, call to have all the underground pipes and wires marked for your safety.”

“When it comes to any electrical work inside your home or working near power lines or underground cable, the smartest thing to do is to hire a licensed professional,” Boyle continued. “It is difficult at times distinguish between a phone line, cable line or power line or know the proper safety precautions. This work is sometimes best left to the experts.”


The following are a few simple safety tips that homeowners should follow while working inside and outside of the home. For more information on electric safety, visit our website.

  • Inspect your home for electrical safety. Check outlets and extension cords to make sure they are not overloaded. Examine electrical cords to make sure they are not frayed, damaged, or placed under rugs or carpets. Make sure the proper watt light bulbs are being used in light fixtures and lamps. Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in areas that can get wet such as the kitchen, bathrooms, or outdoors. Test your smoke detector batteries annually.
  • Hire a licensed professional to do the work. An older home may be inadequately wired for today’s electrical usage, putting your family at risk for fire and electrical shock. Hire a licensed professional to replace worn and outdated circuitry and add additional outlets to accommodate appliances and electronics.
  • Use electrical tools wisely. Inspect your electrical tools on a regular basis, including large tools such as table saws, drill presses, and bench grinders. Look for frayed power cords, broken plugs, or cracked housings. Never use a damaged product. Never use electrical tools in the rain or in wet areas — specifically, do not use electrically powered lawn mowers on wet grass. Use three-pronged outlets and plugs. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment like face shields, glasses, gloves, and boots. Refer to the owner’s manual for recommended protective equipment.
  • Call before you dig. When working underground, “call before you dig” — whether you are planting a tree, building a fence, or laying a building foundation, contacting an underground line can be harmful. Call Illinois One Call at 1-800-892-0123, three working days in advance, to have underground utility lines marked for safety.
  • Work safely outdoors. Be sure to use extension cords marked for outdoor use. An indoor extension cord can result in electric shock or cause a fire hazard when used outdoors. Call a licensed professional if your home repairs require work near power lines.
  • Look up, stay away, stay alive. Even momentary contact with electric lines can injure or kill. This applies to lines attached to utility poles as well as those entering buildings. Always keep yourself, your equipment, and anything you carry at least ten feet away from power lines. Contractors and other professionals needing to work within ten feet of a power line should call Ameren (1-800-755-5000) or SWEC (1-800-262-0326) in advance to make arrangements to protect the work area. Be aware of power lines that run through tree limbs and branches. Climbing or trimming trees near power lines is dangerous. Trees located near aerial power lines should always be trimmed by a qualified contractor.

It only takes a moment to pick up the phone and call a licensed professional to look over the area before you begin. The safety of yourself, your family, and your home is what matters most to us. Visit our website or call us to schedule an appointment today.


photo credit: Power Lines via photopin (cc)

photo credit: DIY… via photopin (cc)