Controlling Power Surges

Power or voltage surges are very short periods of high voltage that happen in the blink of an eye. An extremely high voltage surge can damage major appliance motors and totally destroy sensitive electronic equipment.

While you can buy an inexpensive surge protector, I recommend getting one of the more expensive models which usually carry a warranty, in case they fail due to lightning. Also, make sure to get a protector that has phone jacks to protect equipment such as fax machines, and computers.

You can also have a professional install a surge protection device at your home’s breaker box to stop the surge BEFORE it enters the house. But even the most effective surge protectors give you no guarantee in the event of a direct lightning strike.The best way to prevent damage during a storm is to simply unplug devices that could be damaged beyond repair.


  1. Jeanette,
    Good question. As someone who was once struck indirectly by lightning, I have a very personal interest in the subject. The effectiveness of lightning rods has been questioned ever since they were invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s. The current thinking is that while they don’t attract a strike or prevent one from occurring, they can help reduce damage by directing the electricity to the ground. This is mainly a factor if you live in a tall or exposed building. Regardless, I would still use a surge protector for electronic equipment and unplug it from the wall during a storm. And don’t forget to unplug cable and telephone lines from the equipment, too, since a surge from lightning can come in on those as well.

  2. What is the correct surge protector to have installed at the fuse box to protect our home? We live in the country and experence surges often. Thank you

  3. I live in the Southwest (Tucson) and we have incredible summer “monsoon” storms with some of the most intense lightening storms. Lightening strikes can travel through phone lines from up to a mile away and take out your computer through your phone line plugged into your DSL modem or internal modem. I don’t know if the same is true for coax for cable TV/modem into the PC through the Ethernet cable, but why tempt fate?!?
    Unplug the PC during lightening storms.

  4. I’ve also heard of lightening hitting power lines, traveling down the line and taking out networking switches or ports on a switch. Not much to do there except put a really decent surge suppressor (with high # joule clamping) to provide clean power to the networking equipment.

  5. Hello: I have a surge protector with 2 phone jacks. One says in the other says out. I need to connect Directv to a phone line. How do I make this work? Do I need 2 cords? Where does the out phone cord go to? I’m confused.

    • Hi Diana,
      Yes, you’ll need an extra phone cable to run the phone line through the surge protector. Connect the cable that comes from the wall jack to the “in” or “input” jack in the surge protector, and cable that goes to the phone (or in your case, the DirectTV converter box) to the “out” or “output” jack.


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