Did you know that the standard voltage in the United States is 120 volts? If the voltage rises above this, you can quickly encounter issues. In a commercial setting, there is a multitude of devices and appliances that require electricity, such as:

  • Business computers 💻
  • Commercial-grade freezers and refrigerators 🧑‍🍳
  • Elevators 🛗
  • Large-scale lighting 💡
  • Air conditioners 🌬️
  • And much more! ➕

If there’s a power surge at your commercial building, you’re looking at damaged electronic equipment and potential power outages. For this reason, commercial surge protection is vital. Let’s take a deep dive into why surge protection is important and the type of surge protectors you need.

What Are Power Surges?

commercial surge protection what is a power surge

A power surge or voltage spike happens when significantly more voltage comes through wires and into devices. These random power surges are often unpredictable, but they are typically caused by:

  • Electrical Overload: When too much power is drawn from one circuit, an electrical overload can happen. Extension cords and plugging too many devices into one circuit are common culprits.
  • Faulty Wiring: Damaged or exposed electrical wires can cause internal power surges. Watch for signs of faulty wiring, such as burning smells coming from outlets, buzzing sounds in outlets, and frequently tripping circuit breakers. If you notice these signs, turn off the electricity and contact a professional.
  • Lightning Strikes: If lightning directly strikes power lines, it can produce a large voltage (up to 100,000 volts of electricity 😱). When this happens, the electrical system is forced to accept the excessive current, which causes a large power surge.
  • Power Outages: If the power grid fails, it causes a power outage. Returning the connection can sometimes cause a sudden jump in current, which equates to a power surge.

Typical power surges send 500 to 1,000 volts through any particular wire or cable. Keep in mind that these circuits are only meant to handle 120 volts!

Why Does Your Commercial Building Need Surge Protection?

So, power surges happen sometimes. You may even go years without experiencing one. Then why are they a bad thing?

If your commercial building isn’t protected against power surges, a surge can damage your electrical devices and appliances. In some cases, appliances can overheat and even catch on fire. Even small surges can cause damage.

For commercial businesses, a power surge can mean:

  • Lost income
  • Downtime (Lost productivity)
  • Needing to replace expensive equipment

The best way to avoid the dangers that can come from power surges is to install surge protectors. Surge protectors block excess voltage from reaching your electronics during a power surge. These surge protection devices can prolong the lifespan of your appliances and electronic devices.

Surge protection devices (SPDs) have many benefits, including:

  • Saving money. It costs far less to install surge protectors than to replace appliances and devices.
  • SPDs reduce energy usage and energy costs by ensuring unused equipment doesn’t use power.
  • Limits the chance of a fire starting from a power surge.
  • Helps keep the equipment reliable and operational.

The 4 Types of Surge Protectors

commercial surge protection power surge protector

Surge protectors aren’t one size fits all. As you approach getting the necessary surge protection devices for your commercial building, take a look at the different types below.

Type 1

These kinds of surge protectors help filter the power that enters your building. It’s essentially a go-between between the municipal electrical grid and your business’s service panel. A type 1 surge protector ensures that external factors like lightning strikes are diminished before entering your internal power system.

Type 2

Often referred to as “whole home surge protectors,” type 2 protectors get installed along the main service panel in your building. They help reduce both internal and external surges. Type 2 devices protect sensitive electronics on your internal electrical grid by reducing spikes in power triggered by internal devices.

Don’t be fooled by the “whole home” nickname— they’re quite useful in commercial settings as well as homes. These protectors do a great job of minimizing large and small power surges, especially compared to type 3 protectors.

Type 3

You’ll quickly recognize a type 3 surge protector. These are the most common devices that you can buy from department stores. Typically, type 3 protectors are the last line of defense and can protect against small and medium surges. They’re best used to supplement type 1 or 2 protectors, not to completely replace them.

Use a type 3 protector when you need to plug multiple devices into one area.

Type 4

Last but not least, we have the type 4 protector, which is often left off of many lists because it’s not as common. This provides wired-in surge protection for commercial and industrial machinery and equipment. Large-scale equipment like motor drives and programmable logic controllers benefit from having this specialized surge protection.

Industrial surge protection devices usually get fitted on a DIN rail mount.

Leave Your Commercial Surge Protection in Capable Hands

Whether you need to upgrade your existing surge protection devices or install brand new ones, Electric City is proud to be a local licensed electrician that can lend a helping hand. We’ll get started by assessing the specific needs and capacity of your commercial property, and then we’ll move forward with installing the critical equipment.

Protect your business for the long haul, and contact Electric City today for a free consultation!