Spring is notorious for damaging, severe storms. Not only do these storms pack a punch of high winds, extreme downpours, and disastrous hail, they also come with dangerous lightning strikes. Everyone knows that when a storm rolls through the area, it’s time to take shelter — not just so you won’t get drenched, but also so that you’re out of harm’s way and won’t risk getting struck by lightning.
Unfortunately, your home’s air conditioner doesn’t have the luxury of being able to come inside before severe weather hits. Your family relies heavily on this system to keep your home cool and comfortable as the temperatures outside start to get warmer. But what happens if a lightning strike causes a power surge in your home? Does it have any effect on your cooling system? What about other appliances? Read on to learn more.
Power surges vs blackouts
It’s important to understand the difference between two electricity-related events — a power surge and a blackout — and what they mean for your family’s home. A blackout may occur during a spring storm, but it’s likely the result of damage to a line, or to something at the power station. When a blackout occurs, there will not be any electricity in your home. Power is restored once the issue with the line, plant, etc. has been resolved. These events should not cause damage to your appliances or electronic devices.
A power surge, on the other hand, is the result of a fluctuation in the electrical current that’s fed into your home. Often, when lightning strikes a power line, it will cause an extreme spike in voltage in the electrical current, and once it makes its way into your home and your devices that run on electricity, it could cause serious damage.
How does a power surge cause problems for my AC?
Your home’s air conditioner has a built-in capacitor that helps control and regulate the amount of electricity that’s fed into it. However, when a power surge occurs because of a severe storm, the capacitor may not be able to handle the substantial increase in electrical current. As a result, the heat generated from the excess electricity could cause irreparable damage to the capacitor, as well as to the circuit board inside the cooling system. When this happens, it’s likely that the air conditioner will either not work at all or won’t function as efficiently as it once did.
To prevent a problem like this from happening in your home, consider installing a surge protector. The device works in a similar fashion to regular power strip protection devices, but it’s designed to withstand much higher voltages.
Could a power surge affect my other electronic devices or appliances?
Your home’s electric-powered devices and appliances were likely designed to make use of the standard 120 volts. When a power surge causes a spike in the current in your home, these items aren’t properly equipped to handle the fluctuation. As a result, it could cause them to stop working as well as they once did, or may even cause them to no longer be usable at all.
To help prevent power surge damage to the devices and appliances in your home, consider using quality surge protection power strips. These can often be purchased at your local home improvement/hardware store, or at an electronics/home appliances store.
Additional tips to help prevent damage from spring storms
If a spring storm is forecast for your area, be sure to do the following:
- Unplug all appliances, including your TV, stereo, gaming consoles, kitchen appliances, and even chargers that may be connected to your phone, smart watch, or tablet.
- Leave your router plugged in in case your cell phone service provider’s network goes down during the storm. This way, you can still use your home’s Wi-Fi to stay updated on the latest weather conditions.
- Switch your thermostat to “OFF” for your air conditioner. There is a lesser chance of your AC getting severely damaged by a power surge from the storm if the unit is turned off.
- Consider enrolling in the Surge Protection $2,000 or Surge Protection $4,000 plans from Oncourse Home Solutions. The affordable surge protection plans give you financial protection and peace of mind regarding your home’s electronics and electric appliances valued at $100 or more, including computers, gaming consoles, kitchen and laundry room appliances, and more.