Appliances and electronics can be protected from surge damage by devices called surge protectors, which you’re probably already familiar with. The most affordable surge protectors resemble power strips, and don’t require any special installation. But there are also whole home surge protectors that can be hardwired to your electrical panel, providing protection to all your home’s outlets at once. Whole home surge protection is often the only way to protect hardwired equipment and appliances that plug into 240-volt outlets.
Surge protectors have one or more components called “varistors” which absorb or divert surging electricity, depending on the voltage. A varistor can only take so much of this damage before it stops working, however, so it’s important to monitor your surge protectors and replace them as needed. Some surge protectors stop the flow of electricity altogether when the varistors stop functioning, but others will let electricity flow unrestricted.
When choosing a surge protector, you may notice it has a “joule rating” – this is a measure of how much electricity the varistors can absorb before becoming ineffective. The higher the rating, the longer the device should last.