A surge protector plugs into an outlet and diverts electricity to ground should the voltage from an incoming surge rise above the safe level. This is done by a component called a metal oxide varistor or MOV.
In a modern home, most outlets have three wires: line, neutral, and ground. Many surge protectors connect to all of them in pairs (line-neutral, line-ground and neutral-ground).
Surge protection is important for a number of reasons. The most well-known reason is lightning strikes, but even smaller surges can cause serious damage to your electronics. These power surges happen a lot more frequently than you might think, and can be the cause of a wide range of problems for your electronics and home appliances.
The Surge Protector Diagram Explained
A standard surge protector passes the electrical current along from the outlet to a group of devices plugged into it. If the voltage reaches an acceptable level, it diverts the extra electricity into the outlet’s grounding wire. The most common type of surge protector uses a metal oxide varistor, or MOV, to divert the excess voltage.
When a surge occurs, the MOV detects the change in pressure quickly and reduces resistance to divert the spike. The MOV is connected to the hot power line and the grounding line by a semiconductor that can change its resistance as the voltage rises or falls.
In order to install a surge protector, you must determine where you want it to be mounted. The most common places for surge protectors are on the power panel, but they can also be found in power strips used around the house.
If you are mounting the surge protector on the wall, insert the green, white, and black wires into a knockout or cable clamp and fully secure them in place. It is important to fully secure the wires because too much room between the surge protector and the wiring may allow dangerous sparking.
Some surge protectors include an integrated backup fuse. This feature is helpful for compliance with regulatory guidelines. It helps to prevent dangerous sparking if the protection fails or is disconnected due to a surge.
The Best Way to Wire a Surge Protector
When buying a surge protector, make sure you get one that will fit your specific outlets. Usually, surge protectors come with multiple outlets so that you can choose the one that is most convenient for your particular setup.
How to Wire a Surge Protector
Most surge protectors have four color-coded wires: one green (ground), one white (neutral) and two black (hot). If your surge protector doesn’t come with these wires, you can use them to wire the unit by following the wiring diagram that comes with the product.
In addition to connecting the power and grounding wires, you’ll need to attach one of the black leads to a switch. This switch is located near the circuit breaker for your home’s power supply.
The other black lead should be connected to a power strip or similar device that can be plugged into the incoming power. Depending on the model of surge protector, you can also use a breaker to prevent it from being tripped by a spike or surge. If you’re unsure which is best for your situation, it’s a good idea to consult an electrician.