Various reports are showing that power outages are on the rise across the United States. These outages are being attributed to various causes. For one, severe weather is becoming more prevalent throughout the seasons. Tornadoes, thunderstorms, heavy snows, and ice storms are leaving their marks on the nation. At the same time, the power grid is ageing, and keeping up with all the necessary upgrades and repairs has proven impossible. On top of that, the population and technology are both surging, leaving more people relying on electricity for a broader range of needs than ever before.
Delving Beneath the Surface of Electrical Issues
Those increasingly frequent and prolonged power outages are taking a toll on Americans as well as their homes. As it turns out, though, the problem runs even deeper than many people realise. Power outages are also damaging all the electronics and appliances that require electricity to function. Homeowners insurance providers and home warranty companies can help cover the cost of repairing or replacing those items if they’re damaged because of a power outage. As you’re contemplating that added layer of protection, though, take a look at some of the ways an outage can affect your expensive computers, electronics, and appliances.
The Impact of Power Outages
Power outages are classified as complete losses of power. They can be localised or widespread. They come from a range of causes, but the most common are power lines being damaged by storms. In some cases, they’re restricted to a single building or group of buildings and caused by internal electrical issues. Either way, they cut the supply of electricity to a specific area.
In terms of computers and electronics, power outages are widely known for bringing about a loss of data. They can also cause corrupted files and negatively impact the performance of the devices that are affected. The outages themselves don’t usually cause any permanent damage, but some of their resulting issues can certainly do a great deal of harm.
Dealing With Power Surges
Power surges are often caused by power outages. They can also happen when the power glitches out for a second and comes back on. Sometimes, power surges come from variations in the amounts of electricity being sent through an electrical system or machines that draw high volumes of power cycling on and off. These situations are where the real problems come into play.
During a power surge, the circuits to which your electronics and appliances are connected can produce more voltage than those items are equipped to handle. This may immediately short out an appliance, computer, phone, or other device or destroy its circuit boards and other components. On the other hand, the damage may not be evident right away. Ongoing low-grade power surges may damage your appliances and devices little by little, causing them to gradually stop working properly. You may see a slow decline in their performance before they actually stop working altogether.
Electrical Voltage Spikes
Similar to power surges, voltage spikes are sudden increases in the flow of electricity through a system or circuit. They’re generally more drastic than basic power surges, though. They’re often caused by lightning strikes, short circuits, electromagnetic pulses, and other serious developments. These spikes can, quite literally, fry your appliances and devices by damaging their internal circuitry. They’ll destroy electronics from the inside out. They tend to be far more detrimental to devices than power outages and surges.
Voltage slumps are the opposite of spikes. They occur when the voltage running through circuits is suddenly and drastically reduced. They may cause your computers and electronics to freeze or crash. In these situations, the damage to devices is usually minimal and limited to unexpected data loss. Still, being exposed to repeated voltage slumps can cause increasingly more serious damage over time. These issues tend to be more problematic in older homes and those with aging or damaged wiring. They can also happen in areas where the power grid is particularly weak.
Electrical interference, or noise as it’s sometimes called, could be considered the least significant of the problems listed here. This is usually caused by damaged wiring or faulty circuits in machinery. Interference usually doesn’t cause extensive damage, but it can cause some devices and other electrical items to temporarily malfunction. It may also hamper their performance from time to time or cause computers to freeze.
Protecting Yourself Against Electrical Issues
Power outages are going to happen, and they’re only going to become more of an issue moving forward. There’s no real way to prevent them, but you can minimise the impact they have on your home by having a backup generator installed. These systems are designed to step in when the electricity goes out, so they can prevent a great deal of frustration.
You can also purchase individual surge protectors for your electrical outlets. These devices protect against power surges and voltage spikes, so they can help prevent the costly damage they’re known to cause. Unfortunately, though, you’d have to have a surge protector plugged into every outlet to protect all your gadgets, electronics, and appliances. Even then, your electrical system would still be vulnerable.
Whole-house surge protectors are also available. They’re installed at your electrical panel and protect the entire building against power surges, voltage spikes, and other issues. This includes all the outlets and everything that’s plugged into them, the lighting, and the circuits. You’ll be safe from all the potential damage electrical issues can cause as well as the cost of repairs and replacements.
Power outages, surges, spikes, and other electrical issues can’t always be avoided, but they can be dealt with safely and effectively. Be sure to have your electrical panel and system inspected and maintained each year. Have repairs made to the wiring and other components of the electrical system as needed. Consider having a generator installed to combat outages. Have a whole-house surge protector installed to safeguard against surges and spikes or, at the very least, purchase individual surge protectors to safeguard your most expensive and important electronics.