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Angie’s List: Protecting Your Home from Power Surges

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Have you ever had the power go out in your home and when it comes back on you find out your television or computer doesn’t work? In this week’s Angie’s List, Jim Donovan explains what you should know about protecting your electronics from power surges.

“If an electrical mishap has zapped your computer, you know how frustrating and expensive that can be. Investing in various levels of protection from power surges can protect your appliances and computer,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

Surge protector outlets, or power strips, are a good step toward protecting your electronics.

“But be sure to look for a power strip that, with a warranty, will cover any damage caused to the appliances or electronics, not just one that covers the surge protector itself,” said Hicks.

It’s a good idea to take inventory of the items that need surge protection. Devices range in price from about $20 to $150.

“When determining which items to add surge protection for, take an inventory of your house. Make a note of how old the item is as well as how much it will cost to replace it. Then compare that with the cost of adding the surge protection,” said Hicks.

If you’re looking for more widespread security, talk to your electrician about whole-house surge protection.

“It actually stops voltage from being able to come in from either lightning, utility surge, and or surges that you have everyday from the interior of your home.

Your air condition compressor, refrigerator, other motors that where they turn on and turn off and cause voltage fluctuations,” said master electrical contractor, Brian Ashpaugh.

Where do power surges come from?

• Lightning
• Power outages
• Appliances, such as refrigerators or air conditioners, cycling on and off
• Tripped circuit breakers

Best ways to protect items in your home from surges:

• Surge outlets and power strips are a good first step toward protection. Prices can range from $20 to $150. Look for ones with a warranty that will cover any damaged items connected to the device. Some only cover the surge protector itself. They should also have an UL 1449 rating, which shows they have undergone testing.
• Whole-house surge protection stops the influx of voltage before it can come into your house. It is installed in the electrical panel(s), all incoming telephone, and data lines, cable and/or satellite incoming lines. The cost is based on how many electrical panels and phone/cable lines need protection.

Angie’s List tips for protecting your home:

• Make a list: Take an inventory of your appliances and electronics. Make a note of how old the item is as well as how much it will cost to replace it. Then compare that with the cost of adding the surge protection.
• Talk to your agent: Check with your homeowner’s insurance to see if your appliances and electronics are covered in the event of a power surge.
• Hire a pro: Electrical work can be dangerous – only a licensed electrical contractor should install and perform maintenance on a whole house surge protection system. These systems are easy to forget about once they are in place, but it’s important to have them serviced regularly by a pro.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3