This past week in Kansas, we’ve experienced high winds, rain, wildfires, lightning, hail, tornadoes, snow and an earthquake.
Somebody cue the locusts.
I’m not typically a doom and gloom kind of gal, but seriously? This is last day of March. What ever happened to out like a lamb?
Since we’re at the beginning of the spring weather season–and since I just lost everything I hadn’t saved in the cloud–it’s time for our annual look at surge protectors.
Power surges occur when the flow of electricity is interrupted and then started again, or when something sends electricity flowing back into the system. Surges can range from five or ten volts when you turn on a small appliance to thousands of volts if lightning strikes a transformer. An external power surge is most commonly caused by a tree limb touching a power line, lightning striking utility equipment or a small animal getting into a transformer. But they can also occur when the power comes back on after an outage, and can even come into your store through telephone and cable lines.
You may recall from last year’s post that the life of a surge protector is measured in joules instead of years, so they’re rated by the amount of energy and extra voltage they can absorb. A basic surge protector uses something called an MOV, which stands for metal oxide varistor. When there’s a spike in voltage, the protector steers it away from your equipment and diverts it to the MOV, which is degraded with each hit. After the MOV has absorbed all of the joules that it can handle, the surge protector simply becomes a power strip.
Some surge protectors have little lights showing if they’re still offering protection, but some experts say these indicators cannot be trusted. They are also hesitant to give a “time” reference for replacing surge protectors, because they do not want to give a false sense of security. I’ve heard that anything older than 2 years should be replaced. And if you don’t remember when you purchased the surge protector, it’s time to replace it.
If you purchased new surge protectors when we talked about the subject a year ago, you probably only need to recall the number of major storms, lightning strikes and power surges experienced at your store. If that number is low, you’re probably good for another year. If you didn’t buy new surge protectors at that time, spend 300 seconds identifying areas where you need them. Then after you install the new protectors, either write directly on them or attach a piece of tape with the date of purchase clearly marked so you’ll have a better idea when it’s time to replace them.
The need to replace surge protectors is generally out of our control. But I had to laugh yesterday when I saw this post from Jennifer Willis Geraedts of Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery of Park Rapids, MN:
Sorry, Jen. I think it’s time for a new one.