Whole House Surge Protection: What Really Is It?

We blogged awhile back about why it’s so important to have lightning arrestors and surge protection for your home or business during those nasty summer storms. For this blog, we want to cover an in-depth look at whole house surge protection to really show you what it is, how it works, and give you interesting facts about power outages that make whole house surge protection a must-need for any household or commercial property. Let’s start with the basics: the infamous surge.


What is a Surge?

A surge is an increase of electrical voltage. Because our appliances, electronics, and other machinery that are hooked up in our homes and offices can only handle so much electrical voltage to operate, surges can have really damaging effects on these electronics. Extra voltage can not only damage the wiring that is connected to these appliances, but it can even fry the appliance itself. Damaged wiring and electronics equals less money in your wallet between costly fixes and replacements. In order to keep your costs low and ensure your electronics throughout your home and office are kept in good working condition, it’s time to consider whole house surge protection.


What Is Whole House Surge Protection?

Whole house surge protection is what it sounds like: protection for your devices, appliances, computers etc. throughout your entire home or office, from surges that occur outside from something like a lightning strike on a utility line. A whole house surge protector is a device that is installed through your main electrical panel.


How Does Whole House Surge Protection Work?

Like mentioned, whole house surge protection consists of installing a surge protector device through your main electrical panel. Once wired in and mounted next to or near your main electrical panel, the device takes the extra voltage created by an outdoor surge like big voltages through the utility lines, and diverts the extra voltage through your home’s grounding path. This diversion of extra electricity allows all of your electronics, appliances, and devices to be protected from any wiring or internal damage that could occur if unprotected.


Protect Surges from Occurring Not Only in the Home, But Outside the Home!

Yes, it’s true. The most common of power surges occurs inside the home: According to the NEMA Surge Protection Institute, 60-80% of surges happen within the home, from your refrigerators and A/C units, to your washers and dryers, cycling on and off; however, the most powerful of surges occur outside the home, like downed power lines and lightning strikes. To make your home fully protected from power surges, don’t just rely on those plug-in surge suppression outlet strips. To have full protection from surges occurring in and outside your house, it’s recommended to supplement those plug-in surge suppressors with whole house surge protection for the protection of outdoor disturbances that create surges. Not only can they prevent outdoor surges from destroying your electronics, but whole house surge protectors can also prevent indoor surges from destroying other appliances. If extra voltage occurs on one appliance that is hard-wired into your electrical panel, the surge is diverted back through the breaker panel and is shunted to protect your other appliances and devices.


Power-Related Lightning Facts

We recently ordered a Murray space-saving circuit breaker and surge protection device for a whole house surge protection installation for a customer, and noticed some interesting facts on the back of the packaging worth mentioning (references to these facts are credited by the Insurance Information Institute and Electric Power Research Institute):

  • Each year, 30% of U.S. household power outages are lightning related
  • 5% of all insurance claims are lightning related, costing over $1 billion annually
  • In each household on average, there are 35 disruptive/destructive power interferences per year
  • Deregulation of the electrical utility industry is expected to decrease the quality of utility power in the near future



To protect your home’s electronic valuables from getting the zap, it’s crucial to supplement those plug-in surge suppression outlet strips with a whole house surge protector. They can protect appliances that are hardwired into your main electrical panel from indoor surges, and protect everything else when a surge outside strikes!