Fast Facts About Surges & Lightning

Knowing about lightning surges, how lightning strikes, its unpredictability, where it comes from, can assist you in making the right decision around protecting against it.

Where Do Power Surges Come From?

There are several sources of power surges. They can originate from the electric utility company during Load Shedding. A common cause of power surges, especially the most powerful ones, is lightning. Power surges can originate inside a home when large appliances like air conditioners and refrigerator motors turn on and off.


Facts about surges

How Does a Power Surge Cause Damage?

A spike in voltage can be harmful to appliances and electrical devices in your home. An increase in voltage above an appliance’s normal operating voltage can cause an arc of electrical current within the appliance. The heat generated in the arc causes damage to the electronic circuit boards and other electrical components.

Smaller, repeated power surges may slowly damage your electronic equipment. Your computer or sound system may continue to function after small surges occur until the integrity of the electronic components finally erode and your DStv, cordless phone, or answering machine mysteriously stops working. Small power surges shorten the life of appliances and electronics.

“Know the Numbers” – Voltage

If the surge or spike is high enough, it can inflict some heavy damage on a electric appliances. The effect is very similar to applying too much water pressure to a hose. If there is too much water pressure, a hose will burst. Approximately the same thing happens when too much electrical pressure runs through a wire — the wire “bursts.” Actually, it heats up like the filament in a light bulb and burns, but it’s the same idea. Even if increased voltage doesn’t immediately break your machine, it may put extra strain on the components, wearing them down over time.

  • When the increase in Voltage lasts three nanoseconds (billionths of a second) or more, it’s called a surge
  • When Voltage only lasts for one or two nanoseconds, it’s called a spike

If the surge or spike is high enough, it can inflict some heavy damage on a electric appliances. The effect is very similar to applying too much water pressure to a hose. If there is too much water pressure, a hose will burst. Approximately the same thing happens when too much electrical pressure runs through a wire — the wire “bursts.” Actually, it heats up like the filament in a light bulb and burns, but it’s the same idea. Even if increased voltage doesn’t immediately break your machine, it may put extra strain on the components, wearing them down over time.


Facts about surges

The Power of a Lightning bolt

A bolt of lightning can reach temperatures approaching 28,000°C (50,000° Fahrenheit) in a split second. This is about five times hotter than the surface of the sun. Spectacular and unconventional lightning damage can be caused by thermal effects of lightning. Hot lightning (high-current lightning) which lasts for more than a second can deposit immense energy, melting or carbonizing large objects. One such example is the destruction of the basement insulator of the 250 m (820 ft) high central mast of the Orlunda radio transmitter, which led to its collapse. The intense heat generated by a lightning strike can burn tissue, and cause lung damage, and the chest can be damaged by the mechanical force of rapidly expanding heated air.

Protect all Inputs and Outputs

When using a Surge Protection device, protecting all input and outputs of your equipment is crucial.

A Surge can come from any copper line running into your home, so make sure to protect your telecommunications and data connections, not just your power connection.

If you’re protecting your TV, make sure to protect incoming lines from your Satellite dish or aerial as well.

Try getting a unit that has all these inputs and outputs in one device, thus your installation is referenced to one unit and protection can be guaranteed.

What is a Brownout?

A brownout is a partial loss of power similar to a blackout, but with less intensity, which may cause lights to flicker, electronic devices to turn on/off spontaneously, etc.

Brownouts are common when dealing with unreliable power providers and are often experienced after load shedding and in some cases can last for minutes.

This can also a primary cause damage to sensitive electronic equipment.