A surge protector [AKA surge suppressor] is an electrical plug-in device designed to distribute safe electrical voltages to other electrical or electronic devices. Surge protectors resemble power strips in appearance; however, they are more sophisticated and deliver a constant, continuous power supply.
In addition to connecting multiple devices to a single power source, surge protectors provide protection from frequent problems that plague conventional utility power. The most common of these problems are surges (temporary increase of voltage) and brownouts (temporary decrease of voltage). These disturbances slowly degrade many power supply units and cause premature equipment failure. The rising demand on our nation’s power grids is causing more brownouts than ever before (Gamble; Power Protect Your Computer).
The Inside of a Surge Protector
Toroidal Choke Coil: The toroidal choke coil is an electromagnet wrapped in wire. It filters out line noise as hot wire passes through it.
Metal Oxide Varistors (MOV’s): An MOV has three parts: a piece of metal oxide material in middle and two semiconductors joined to hot and ground wire. As a protective connecting unit it shifts unsafe voltage levels to ground wire.
Neutral Wire: The neutral wire is common in modern wiring practices for safety. It is used in conjunction with hot wire and ground wire.
Hot Wire: The hot wire holds passing current which contains excess voltage.
Fuse: A fuse is a resistor used to protect wiring from getting too hot. Fuses “blow or burn out”, thereby preventing electrical current from traveling further.
Ground Wire: The ground wire protects users from getting an electrical shock. It receives excess voltage from from MOVs. Most surge protectors contain a parallel circuit design whereby extra voltage is fed away from standard path to another circuit. Another design is a series circuit where electrical current is slowed; moreover it detects high voltage, stores electricity, and releases it gradually (Harris).
The majority of electrical currents diversion is done through metal oxide varistor or MOV. The MOV acts as a pressure-sensitive valve: based on level of voltage, electrons in semiconductors behave differently either creating lower or higher resistance. When voltage is correct, an MOV doesn’t do anything (Harris).
Specifications and Quality Considerations
Energy Absorption: Surge processors are measured in joules (the amount of energy they can absorb). The higher number, better protection: 200 joules provides basic protection, 400 is good and 600 or high is superior protection.