Why did my surge protector fail?

Our computer was hooked up to a surge protector. The electriciy had been previously taken out by a storm once or twice before, so I know it worked. This time however, TXU turned our electric off without warning, or proper reason. It's complicated but it was their mistake. Our computer was on when the electric shut off, and it blew two or three capacitors. So the comp is pretty muched ruined. How come the surge protector didn't work? Is there a difference electrical wise between the power being manually turned off and a thunderstorm knocking it out? Is it more energy or something? Also, if you know if TXU would be responsible for the ruined computer, please tell me. It really was thier fault.

4 Answers

  • rowlfe
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Old age. either real or artificial, is likely why your surge protector failed. The active ingredient in a surge protector is like the brake pads on your car. They get used up over time. If used gently, they last a long, long time. If used really hard, they may just work one time. That lightning strike may have used up 99% in one shot instead of a fraction of a percent every time you shut off the load. OK, as to WHY these things get used up over time is because of a unique property of inductors, specifically, electric motors. When you de-energize a motor, the magnetic field collapses at the speed of light. In doing so, the field generates a huge voltage spike at the motor terminals, called an "inductive kick". This high voltage spike is transmitted back down the wiring and hits anything connected. This effect is exactly the same as what happens in the spark coil of your car. Except in the spark coil this is done on purpose to fire the cylinder via the spark plug. The spark coil provides 20,000 to over 50,000 volts each time it fires. The surge protector did the job it was supposed to do every time your refrigerator motor shut off, protecting things from the inductive kick several times a day, and each time a little of the surge protector was used up just like your brakes every time you stop your car. Sorry, you do not get to blame your utility company for turning the power on or off since that is what happens to your equipment each and every day through normal use. The only difference in your case is the location of the switch used to turn the power on and off. Read the fine print. Had you read the information on the package that surge protector came in, you would have known that if used to protect things from something like a lightning strike, it should be replaced immediately. What you MAY have is a case against the manufacturer of the surge protector. Locate the package and documents and read up on the warranty and what they will do if the protector fails to perform. They will KNOW if it failed through poor materials and workmanship which is covered or if it was "used up" by something like the lightning strike which is not covered. I'll bet there is a disclaimer for big surge events such as the lightning, so even though their device failed and resulted in damage, it is not their fault. The lightning strike is considered an act of god and there is no legislation that will cover an act of god for repairs under a warranty. They will have tested their devices to destruction so they have examples to show how exactly your protector failed. Your failure will likely match a failure because of a huge event, which is exempt from coverage. So, NO, it is NOT the fault of your utility company as you seem to think, rather it is the surge protector itself that failed. It died an early death probably from the lightning strike. You were fortunate. When my power lines were struck a few years ago (200 feet from my house), my surge protectors were not up to the task and my electronics in my whole house ended up toast in spite of whole house protection installed in my power panel AND surge protectors at each outlet. The manufacturer of the surge protection for the house paid me for my loss (35 cents on the dollar because of used equipment) because it failed after installation by a certified electrician. The individual outlet protectors were exempt because of what was in the fine print. At least I got something back instead of nothing.

  • 10 years ago

    Surge suppressor (the correct term) work by shorting the voltage to ground rather than letting it pass through to your computer or other appliance. Some also will block the current. A large surge will destroy the varistors and other components causing it to fail. They are rated in Joules which is an indicator of how much power they can divert before they fail. It is normal for them to fail in a lightning storm if they receive a large surge beyond their Joule rating. You should only use the ones with indicator lights that tell you it is still working so you will know if it has been fried. Generally, you get what you pay for, and the cheap ones don't work well. Here is a link for more info. I don't have this particular brand. http://www.yourdictionary.com/computer/surge-suppr...

  • 10 years ago

    Get a surge protector with a good warranty, and avoid those cheap ones at all cost.

    Like the last poster stated, they are not 100% but do a good job for the most part.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Surge protectors aren't 100% fail-safe protection. Some companies offer warranty protection if equipment is damaged by a surge using their surge protectors.

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