What causes power surges?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Power surges happen when something suddenly raises the electrical charge in power lines. The electrical potential energy increases, flowing hard to the outlet. You hear about lightning causing power surges, but it's not the most common cause of a surge. Lightning that strikes a power line, no matter if the line is in a building, underground, or in overhead cables, raises electrical pressure in the line by millions of volts. A massive power surge results that no surge protector can handle. So don't rely on a surge protector during a lightning storm. Protect your computer by unplugging it until the storm is over. Elevators, air conditioners, refrigerators and any other high-juice items are more often the cause of power surges. Switching their compressors and motors on and off can create a power jump that creates irregular voltage flow. A surge may follow. Although such surges are obviously less powerful than lightning surges, they can still damage electrical systems and electronic components over time or all at once.

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