wikiHow to Protect Household Appliances From Electrical Disturbances

Many people's homes are littered with various appliances, from large mainstays like refrigerators and washing machines to smaller tools like toaster ovens and hair dryers. These appliances often prove crucial for day-to-day activities, and can be expensive to replace if damaged or destroyed. For this reason, you'll want to learn how to protect household appliances from electrical disturbances. The 2 main types of disturbances that you can protect against are voltage surges and power outages.


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    Use surge protecting power strips in your home. The quickest and least expensive solution for protecting appliances is plugging them into a power strip with a built-in surge protector. These power strips are usually equipped with a fuse that is designed to fail in the event of a voltage spike, cutting off power to your appliances and protecting them.
    • This option tends to provide the least protection against severe electrical disturbances, however, and your appliances may be damaged even if the fuse blows as designed.
    • Note that not all power strips or extension cords feature a surge protector. Note also that many surge protector strips will feature a switch that must be engaged for the surge protection to work.
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    Install a whole-house surge protector in your electrical panel. A more thorough and robust solution than using power strips is to install a snap-in surge protector directly into your electrical panel. A single protector of this type offers surge protection for your whole home, and can be installed easily if you are comfortable working in your electrical panel.
    • Because this type of surge protection engages before the voltage spike spreads through your home's wiring, it offers greater protection for your appliances than individual power strips.
    • Whole-house surge protectors are usually designed to accept 240 volts, which means you'll need 2 empty and adjacent 120-volt spaces in your panel to install this device.
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    Contact your electricity provider about meter-mounted surge protection. The most robust solution of all is to mount a surge protector along your incoming electrical line, just before your meter. This type of work must be done by a certified electrician and in accordance with your local utility provider's restrictions.
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    Install GFCI outlets throughout your home. In many countries, GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets are required in new kitchens and bathrooms; they are the electrical outlets with red and black buttons labeled "Test" and "Reset." These outlets monitor the electricity flowing into and out of each socket and shut off the flow if the difference exceeds a certain amount.
    • These outlets help protect against "ground faults" - when electricity flows out of an appliance's wiring and into the ground through the nearest conductor. If this conductor is a person, severe injury or death can result.
    • Updating your existing outlets with GFCI outlets (especially in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms) is a quick way to add additional protection against electrical problems with your appliances.
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    Protect appliances from power outages using an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS is type of large power strip that contains a backup battery. If any problems are detected in the incoming voltage (which includes both surges and power outages), the battery engages, allowing you to operate the appliance without interruption. This is especially useful for protecting desktop computers from outages that can cause lost work.


  • Note that severe electrical disturbances, such as voltage spikes caused by lightning strikes, are capable of bypassing any type of surge protection and destroying electrical components.

Things You'll Need

  • Surge protector
  • Uninterruptible power supply

Article Info

Categories: Electrical Maintenance