How To Protect Your Gear From A Power Surge

We’ve all been in a position where we needed more power outlets and purchased either a power strip or rack mounted unit that advertised it was a “surge protector” as well. That may or not have been true, and Radial has a great post about what exactly qualifies as a power surge and how to protect your gear from one. I’ve reposted some of the article here with the company’s permission.

MOV power surge protection on Bobby Owsinski's Music Production Blog

What are Power Surges?

In simple terms, a power surge is when there is an irregular high voltage spike occurring on an AC power line (which flows from an outlet). These surges happen very fast and can degrade — or even destroy — your valuable gear. Small spikes are more common and won’t fry your equipment on the spot, but they will ultimately shorten the lifespan of the device. Whereas it only takes one large surge to completely destroy sensitive components on a circuit board, and in some cases even start an electrical fire.

What Causes Power Surges?

The majority of power surges arise from circumstances that originate within the building. Examples of internal factors include overloaded outlets, old and overused extension cords, faulty wiring, or the presence of high-power electrical devices on the grid (i.e. air conditioners, vacuums, refrigerators). You have likely experienced something similar to this firsthand. For example, if you’ve ever flipped on a vacuum or hairdryer and noticed the lights dim for a moment, there was just a small surge.

However, the most damaging power surges come from external environmental factors. The most common example would be a nearby lightning strike. Any interference with power lines (ex. from overgrown branches) can result in a power surge as well. These types of surges can leave you turning on a device after a storm, only to find that it’s no longer working. That is unless you had some sort of surge protection present.

How Radial Protects your Gear.

The key component in a Radial Power unit that protects connected electronic devices from power surges is its high-quality MOV or Metal Oxide Varistor. This part acts like an airbag in the Surge Protector to take the “hit” of the high voltage spike before it reaches your gear’s circuit board, preventing damage from occurring.

What is a MOV?

A MOV is able to automatically change its internal resistance in response to incoming voltage spikes. This is hinted at in the name ‘Varistor’, which is a combination of the words variable and resistor. Once the incoming voltage crosses above a certain threshold, the MOV becomes a voltage-clamping device that stops the spike from passing through to any connected equipment.

The Varistor in the Power-1 (see the graphic above) uses a metallic oxide for its resistance material, making it a Metal Oxide Varistor. This is superior to standard Varistors because it is able to clamp down on voltage spikes faster, is more effective at ‘absorbing the hit’ from short-term spikes, and is also capable of handling higher energy levels before failure. As opposed to a fuse that needs to be replaced once it does its job, the Power-1’s MOV will automatically recover after all but the most extreme power surges, so you can continue to power your gear without worry for years to come.

A key differentiator between Radial Power units and other power strips in the market is the quality of the MOV. Radial employs made-in-USA MOVs that are more likely to provide full protection for a longer duration than the average suppresser from a hardware store. Additionally, all Power devices feature an LED indicator that displays the status of the MOV, so you’ll always have peace of mind knowing your gear is protected.

Click here to read more about power surges and find out more about Radial’s surge suppressors.

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