There’s an old joke about people who work in IT; that they never get the respect they deserve. The joke goes something like this: when everything goes wrong, the boss comes in and yells “What do I even pay you people for?”. When everything is running smoothly, the boss comes in and yells “What do I even pay you people for?”. The same is true for many precautions we take throughout our lives; when the precautions are working properly, we might be inclined to think they were a waste, because we don’t see the consequences of not having taken the precaution.

That brings us to the topic of today’s blog post: whole-house surge protectors. These surge protectors are hooked up to your main panel, and they protect your house from big power surges. We’re talking about nearby lightning strikes, downed power lines, and other drastic events. These events cause quick, powerful surges that can overwhelm the capacity of more traditional surge protection devices like power bars. The types of events that cause massive surges are more common in rural areas, so if you live outside of Winnipeg, it’s even more important to get whole-house surge protection.

One thing you should know about these devices is that while they are whole-house, they are not “all-surge” surge protection. There are smaller surges that can sometimes be let through by these devices; remember, the main goal of these protection devices is to handle large scale electric surges. That means that even if you have one installed, you’ll still want outlets and power bars that protect against smaller surges all throughout your home. With these things in tandem, you’ll be protected against all kinds of surges, big and small.

There are events that even a bunch of surge protectors won’t protect you from. Specifically, a direct lightning strike to your home will not be stopped by a surge protector of pretty much any capacity; there’s simply too much electricity too quickly, and it’s going to overwhelm anything commercially available. Fortunately, the chances of your house being struck directly by lightning are quite low.

Surge protection systems rely on adequate grounding throughout the home in order to function properly. This is of particular concern in older homes around Manitoba; many built in the first half of the last century might lack important grounding features. One way of knowing about your home’s grounding is to look at your outlets; if they’re two-pronged, you’ll definitely need a grounding upgrade.

Installing a whole-house surge protector isn’t easy; you’re hooking it up to your main panel, so as you can imagine, it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. In addition, to get the right surge protector and ensure you have the right grounding, you’ll want an electrician to come and do the installation. While you’re getting that done, take the time to have them inspect your electrical; you might need knob and tube removal services, aluminum wire replacement, a capacity upgrade, or other must-have electrical services.