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What is a surge protector?
by Nyal MellorApril 08, 2013
Simply put, a surge protective device (SPD) is a device designed to protect against damaging and dangerous short, high voltage transients that are created by devices outside or inside the home or studio.
There are many different protection mechanisms that are used in surge protectors. The principal ones being voltage breakdown (e.g. gas discharge, voltage limiting (metal oxide varistors), bandwidthsuppressors (inductor and capacitor filters) and opto-isolation. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. Some of the best surge protectors include more than one type of mechanism.
Lightning is the most catastrophic type of surge and much has been written about it*. The National Fire Protection Agency Code 780, which specifies standards for lightning protection systems, states that SPDs must be installed at all:
UL1449. Other relevant standards are UL 497C for coaxial and satellite surge protectors and UL 497A for phone lines. Do not choose a surge protector based on cost, choose it based on it's ability to protect.
* see the IEEE's Guide for Residential Lightning Protection, for more.