Surge Protection Information

Eighty percent of electrical problems in your home or office result from wiring or grounding issues. The rest typically occur because of an event in the power distribution system.

Although PGE works to reduce the impact of power surges and spikes on the grid, we cannot eliminate them.

Surge protection

The right mix of power surge protection help can protect your electric devices.

  • Outlet surge protectors prevent surges from reaching your appliances and sensitive equipment.  

  • Panel-mounted devices protect your home or businesses’ entire electrical system.  

  • Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices are ideal for office equipment and computer networks that must remain available. 

What is outlet surge protection? 

Simply plugged into wall outlets, this type of surge protection stops voltage spikes from damaging your valuable electronic equipment. Outlet surge protection diverts excessive electrical energy away from smaller electronics such as entertainment or computer systems. The energy goes to an electrical “ground” where it is dissipated without doing any harm. 

To enhance your protection and cover sensitive smaller electronics such as computers and cell phones, add outlet surge protectors for each piece of equipment you want to protect. 

Selecting the right surge protector 

 For best results, make sure your surge protector has these features: 

UL 1449 listed: A UL 1449 listing means the surge protector conforms to Underwriter Laboratory’s standard 1449 for surge protection devices, and is required for safety. A UL “power tap” listing is not sufficient.

Peak surge current: Also referred to as maximum transient current or maximum surge. If you have surge protection at your meter or circuit panel, 36,000 amperes per outlet protector is enough. Without surge protection at your meter or circuit panel, look for 54,000 amperes or higher. 

UL 1449 suppressed voltage rating: Also referred to as “clamping” voltage. 330 volts gives the best protection; higher voltage ratings give less protection. 

Energy rating (joules): Look for 700 joules or more; the higher the joules, the better.  Because testing methods for energy rating are not standardized, don’t base your choice on a joules energy rating alone. 

Other important features 

Depending on your electronics and appliances, you might want these optional features: 

  • Telephone and cable TV protection  

  • Extra connectors and outlets, with enough room for AC adapters (transformers) 

  • Status or warning lights that indicate the device is working (not just on) 

  • Electrical noise protection, including electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio-frequency interference (RFI) 

  • Warranty on surge protector of at least five years 

  • Warranty on connected equipment of $10,000 to $25,000 or more 

Outlet surge protection FAQs 

Q. How much does a good outlet surge protector usually cost?  For home use, quality surge protector prices can be found for as little as $10 to $15 for a small single-outlet model. Larger models with six to eight outlets can be about $35-$75, based on features. 

Q. What can’t a surge protector do?  It cannot protect you from power outages (blackouts) or power sags (brownouts). It provides only limited protection from surges and nearby lightning strikes. 

Q. Will a surge protector work in my older home?  A surge protector will only work if plugged into a properly grounded three-prong outlet. If your home features two-prong or improperly grounded three-prong outlets, talk to an electrical contractor about upgrading. 

Q. What about my old surge protector? The UL Standard 1449 became more strict in August 1998, so older versions may be less safe. The UL Standard 1449 must be stamped or embossed on the device for adequate protection.

If an old protector discolors, overheats or shows signs of melting, replace it immediately. If your old surge protector indicator lights are not working, it should be replaced. 

Plan for medical needs

Use medical life-support equipment? Have a plan in place and consider a backup generator in case of an extended power outage.

Backup generators

Generators can be a convenient backup during a power outage when used correctly. Review safety tips to protect yourself and our crews.

Splurge on a surge

Advanced surge protectors save energy, too. Visit the PGE Marketplace PGE.