Why is My Surge Protector Buzzing?

A surge protector doesn’t last forever, and when it goes up, you could have a massive problem on your hands. Even the best surge protectors have a limit. If you’ve noticed that your surge protector is buzzing, it might be time to find a replacement. 

Before you head to the store, it helps to know a bit about surge protectors, how they work and why they wear out over time. Knowing the basics will make it easier for you to identify any problems and make some swift replacements before any major damage is incurred.

How a Surge Protector Works

Surge protectors use special devices called metal oxide varistors (MOV) to prevent power surges and stabilize the current of electricity delivered to your devices. A working surge protector diverts excessive voltage to the MOV, which shields electronics and prevents damages.

Unfortunately, the MOV isn’t designed to go on forever. After a period of time, your MOV will no longer be able to do anything with a surge, and your protector will be reduced to nothing more than a run-of-the-mill power strip.

How long does a surge protector last?

When you buy a surge protector, you’ll probably notice it’s measured in a unit called a joule. One joule is equal to one watt of power dissipated over one second. If a surge protector offers, say 1000 joules’ worth of protection, you’ll have exactly that much protection.

Depending on the surges coming through your power lines, a surge protector could last several years or only several months. Generally speaking, the longer you have a surge protector, the more hits it takes.

Once the joules are used up, it won’t matter whether or not the protector still works and looks fine. It will stop effectively shielding excessive voltage, leaving your electronics at risk.

So why is your surge protector buzzing?

Buzzing is a strong indicator that your surge protector is near the end of its life. In some cases, buzzing may mean a high-voltage spike ruptured the power strip, or the protector could be overloaded.

Some buzzing can be linked to radiation within the surge protector’s coil wires. Depending on the frequency of the current, vibration can create a subtle noise. If you tap or move the device and the buzzing stops, it may be a physical malfunction more so than a complete breakage.

In most cases, though, you should consider any buzzing, warning lights or frequent outages as a sign it’s time to replace your surge protector.

Contact us today at GEN3 Electric & HVAC to discuss how we can protect your home against power surges and ensure that your most valuable electronics are always secure. Reach us at 215-512-4102 or book an appointment on the web!