Surges and spikes

Electricity spikes and surges are caused by sudden increases in voltage in the electricity network. This can be triggered by storms, lightning strikes, accidents, or simply switching an appliance on or off.

Surges and spikes can damage or destroy appliances and even start fires.

How to protect your appliances

Appliances most at risk are computers, printers, fax machines, microwaves, stereos, televisions, DVD players, and medical or communication equipment. Power surges can come through telephone lines and damage connected computers and fax machines.

You can buy surge protectors to protect your appliances and wiring from surges and spikes. Note that these aren’t the same as safety switches. Surge protectors help protect sensitive electronic equipment and safety switches help to protect people.

Surge protection options

There are three surge protection options.

  1. Portable - surge protection power boards plug into a powerpoint and protect the connected appliances. Some also include telephone protection. Note that some portable surge protectors need to be replaced after there’s been a surge.
  2. Powerpoint - these are installed by licensed electrical contractors. They replace regular powerpoints and protect vulnerable appliances.
  3. Main switchboard - these are also installed by licensed electrical contractors. They indicate when there’s been an overload and a new module should be installed. If the spent modules aren’t replaced, appliances still work but aren’t protected from future surges.

If there’s storm activity in your area, turn off and unplug sensitive electronic equipment if you can. Lightning is the most common cause of damaging surges and spikes.