Are old surge protectors safe?

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asked May 17 in Other-Electronics by what2makeofthat (7,420 points)
Are old surge protectors safe?

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answered May 22 by Micolucci (7,840 points)
Old surge protectors are usually safe but they may not be as effective as newer or a new surge protector is.

As the surge protector ages it can become less effective at preventing surges of electricity from effecting your appliance or electronics.

Surge protector power strips do eventually wear out although surge protector strips typically last between 3 to 5 years and some may last longer.

Most estimates put the average lifespan of a surge protector at three to five years.

But if your home is subject to frequent brownouts or blackouts, you might want to replace your surge protectors as often as every two years.

A surge light should be red for grounded and when the surge protector is working it should indicate a green color for surge protection.

A green light indicates surge protector is ready to defend against surges.

A red light is normally a power light that indicates that the surge protector has been plugged into an active outlet.

A switch light turns the protector on as well as a separate power light.

Appliances and electronics that need surge protectors include computers, printers, televisions, and refrigerators as well as televisions, freezers, deep freezers.

Surge protectors for your whole house also known as whole house surge protectors are worth the money.

Whole house surge protectors can protect all the appliances and devices in your house that are plugged in from surges which can destroy the appliances and electronics.

In addition to qualifying you for potential discounts from your insurance company, a whole house surge protector can save you the replacement costs of your many sensitive and expensive electrical devices, from your home entertainment system, to kitchen appliances, home office equipment and mobile technology.

Surge protectors are safe to leave plugged in although during a thunderstorm it's a good idea to unplug the surge protector to fully protect your electronics in the event of a lightning strike.

But other than that the surge protectors can safely be left plugged in all the time.

The yellow light on a surge protector indicates that the protection from a power surge is in place so the yellow light on the surge protector should be on and if it's off it means that the surge protection is not working.

Grounding is a critical element required for proper surge protection.

In regard to the question about whether surge protectors work on ungrounded outlets, the answer is “no.”

Surge protection equipment typically uses components called metal oxide varistors (MOVs) to divert excess current into the ground line.

The red light on the surge protector means that the surge protector is working and providing surge protection.

The yellow light should always be lit, as it indicates that the protection from a power surge is in place.

The green light indicates that the surge protector is grounded.

For maximum protection, you want the surge protector grounded and have the green light on, though it is not required.

When a surge protector flickers it can mean that the surge protector is going bad, has detected a fault or that the surge protector has been turned off.

If the blinking/flickering light on your surge protector is red or orange, it is most likely a power light that indicates that a surge protector has been turned on or off.

If that red or orange light has neon bulbs, they will degrade over time.

This causes them to blink and flicker.

Signs that a surge protector has gone bad include.

Feels hot: A surge protector that feels hot is not protecting your electronics.
Smells of burning plastic:.
Lamps flicker:.
Plugged in but not working:.
Broken fuse:.
It keeps turning off and on.

Also examine your surge protector to see if you can spot a red or green blinking light on the outside of the device.

Please note that this is not a foolproof system.

Just because there is no flashing light does not always mean your device is fine.

However, if it is flashing, you definitely need a new one.

Power surges occur very often.

While standard U.S. voltage is 120 V, the true amount of voltage constantly oscillates between a few volts up to 169 volts it is not until voltage passes 170 V that a potentially harmful power surge happens.

The difference between a surge protector and a power strip is the surge protector is a type of power strip that has surge protection to protect your electronics and appliances from electrical surges while the power strip is just a short type of extension cord with additional outlets without any additional surge protection.

A typical surge protector passes the electrical current along the outlet to number of the devices plugged into the power strip.

If the voltage happens to rise above the acceptable level, the protector will divert the extra electricity into the outlets grounding wire.

It's recommended that you replace power strips and surge protectors every 2 to 3 years.

However you can keep a power strip or surge protector as long as it's in good condition and the outlets are tight and not loose and you have no frayed wires on it.

Power strips can cause fires if the power strip is overloaded or if the power strip is bad.

If you overload the power strip then the power strip can start a fire.

Although if the power strip has a breaker on it then the breaker should trip when you pull too much power from the power strip.

Also never plug high wattage things into the power strip such as a space heater that runs longer than a few minutes or so.

Plugging a hair dryer into the power strip is generally safe as long as you don't run the hair dryer longer than 5 minutes or so at a time.

A space heater on the other hand would be a constant load which can heat up a power strip.

Space heaters should be plugged directly into an outlet.

If the power strip also has a frayed cord on it then it should be discarded and replaced.

A power strip gives you the ability to plug multiple devices into a single wall outlet.

A surge protector is a type of power strip which is specifically designed to withstand a power surge and keep your electronics safe.

As long as you don't overload the power strip or surge protector they should not cause any fire.

Also make sure the outlets are fitting tight and not loose and also make sure the outlet that you plug the power strip or surge protector into is tight fitting.

The loose connection of the outlet can cause the plug and outlet to heat up which can start a fire.

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