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The Economic Toll of Power Surges and How to Mitigate Risks

An HVAC technician testing commercial HVAC equipment

It’s estimated that each year power surges cost U.S. businesses more than $26 billion in lost productivity, equipment repair and replacement, and lost time. Experts warn that an aging power grid and an increase in severe storms all across the country only threaten to increase the frequency and intensity of disruptive power surges and power outages.

What is a Power Surge?

A power surge is a spike in the electrical current traveling through the power lines and into your home or business. Power surges are caused by a number of things including lightning strikes to a home, business or power line, cycling of high power machinery, or by issues with the utility company itself. Whatever the cause, a power surge travels through power lines at the speed of light and can occur in a fraction of a millisecond, causing extensive damage to commercial machinery, equipment and electronics.

How Can a Power Surge Hurt Your Business?

If equipment is not protected by a multi-tier surge protection system when a business experiences a power surge, the spike in electrical current can burn out the sensitive electronic components in commercial equipment, machinery and computer systems. If the power surge is large enough, such as from a lightning strike, the excess electrical current can cause the wiring in machinery, equipment or a commercial building to heat up and burn like the filament in a light bulb. This heat can melt away the protective insulation around wiring creating the potential for a short circuit, which can lead to an electrical fire. Since most electrical wiring is often hidden from view, it can often be difficult to determine if a power surge has damaged wiring in equipment, machinery or structures until it’s too late.

In the case of electronic equipment, computers and computer networks, even a small power surge can damage the sensitive electronics inside these devices. This can result in loss of priceless computer data, such as customer databases, financial records, corporate records, computer software and much more. Even if an electronic device survives a power surge the strain on the device’s electronic components can cause it to unusual behavior and eventually fail.

How Can a Business Protect Against Power Surges?

There are a number of ways a business can protect itself against power surges. The team at Done recommends a two stage surge protection system in order to provide maximum protection. The first stage consists of a certified electrical surge protection system, which is connected to the main electrical panel of your electrical system. This device is designed to interrupt power to the electrical system in the event of a power surge, preventing it from spreading through the electrical system to sensitive equipment, machinery and electronics.

The second stage of this power surge system consists of dedicated surge protection devices, such as a quality plug-in surge protective device, on individual outlets to provide additional protection. In situations where power interruption to a computer or other electronic device is not an option, the use of an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) device is recommended.

At Done the safety of your commercial business’s electric service is essential. Our staff of experienced, professional, licensed and insured electricians are able to answer any question you have on surge protection for your business. We can inspect your current electrical system and identify your needs or any electrical safety issues, providing you the peace of mind of knowing that your business investments are well protected.

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