Surges & Spikes -Outages and other power disturbances

Surges and spikes can be present on our system for a fraction of a second before our equipment either corrects the disturbance or results in an outage. These can be caused by trees, animal encounters, normal electrical equipment actions and human intervention -- like digging into our underground electrical system -- or even lightning, rare as that is around Juneau!

While surges happen for an instant, surges can cause damage to your sensitive electronic equipment and appliances. The closer you're located to the source of a power disturbance, the more intense the surge can be. Think about damage that could occur if a tree should fall through your service drop. Since power disturbances are unavoidable for any power delivery system, protecting your equipment from this type of damage makes sense.

Most electric companies recommend two levels of defense:

  1. Meter-based surge protection to suppress the large surges that can come into your home or small business.
  2. Outlet-based surge protection and UPS battery back-up protection with voltage regulation for your computer and other sensitive electronics.

Note that Sixty-five percent of surges that cause damage to your equipment originate within your own four walls. Meter-based protection will not address surges caused internally.

Low voltage and brownouts also occur during outages and near-outages. These occurrences also take the tiniest part of a second, before our equipment acts to correct or break the connection, causing an outage. Unfortunately, it's harder to protect your equipment against voltage sags and brown-outs. AEL&P's system is vulnerable to this type of disturbance since we are not part of the grid whereby other generation sources can quickly replace lost generation.

Hydro, while a great resource for our power supply, is somewhat slower to respond to changes in voltage requirements in our system compared with fossil-based generation. Damage to your equipment could occur due to low-voltage problems. Meter-based protection and outlet surge suppression will not protect your equipment from this condition.

Have questions?

Give our energy guy, Alec Mesdag, a call at 463.6303. He can help.

AEL&P's Shopper's Guide to Home Power Protection