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Energy CostsIN CHARLOTTEJune 23, 2022by AndrewWhat’s the Difference in a Surge Protector and a Surge Suppressor?

A surge protector and a surge suppressor sound the same. But they are two different devices and do different jobs. Basically, yes, these devices are used to limit excess electric voltage. However, there are different functions, technologies and protection levels between a surge protector and a surge suppressor. What’s the difference in a surge protector and a surge suppressor?

Surge protectors stop voltage spikes and surges in electric devices. Surge suppressors regulate the voltage, making it steady and safe, in a surge or other irregularity. Before going on to more about what both devices do, and how best to use one or the other, what’s a surge? There are different causes of a power surge? What damage can happen with a surge?

What’s a Surge?

A surge is an abnormal, typically very instant and short, rise in electric voltage or a current. A surge is voltage going to 2,000 or more volts or amps going to 100 or more amps. Typically, an electric surge lasts 1-10 microseconds.

How a Surge Happens

A surge can come from natural or man-made sources. It actually is a quite frequent occurrence with electricity. The sources of a surge include:

  • From using high-voltage electric devices (for example, refrigerators, air conditioners and elevators)
  • Defective wiring
  • Failing or malfunctioning electric devices or systems
  • Power failures
  • Electric noise
  • Lightning

While these might be the sources that can cause a surge in an electric grid, an appliance, a computer or a device, there can be damage to the device, another device, the electric grid or people when there’s a surge.

Possible Damage from a Surge

A surge might be very sudden and short in nature, yet it can cause serious damages or losses immediately or in the long term. Some of the common damages are:

  • Personal injury or death
  • Failure or harm to digital devices
  • Unexpected outages
  • Loss of data, computer systems, other technology
  • Time loss
  • Downtime for a business or organization

What are Surge Protectors?

A surge protector is a tool or device designed to stop voltage spikes in electrical devices or appliances. It can trigger currents to flow if there’s a voltage more than the normal voltage.

What are Surge Suppressors?
What are Surge Suppressors?

What are Surge Suppressors?

A surge suppressor is a device with a different function. It has a function to regulate the voltage and keep the electric power constant if there’s a spike or surge.

What’s the Difference in the Two?

In a spike or surge, when there’s a sudden increase in voltage, and it goes into the level of a surge, a surge protector stops or blocks the surge. It does so by detecting it and cutting the power flow on a short-term basis. Another way of it may function and work is it cuts the electric flow permanently and dies on its own. The surge protector can turn the device off when there’s a surge. It can divert the current or extra voltage to a grounded wire.

A surge suppressor suppresses the voltage in a surge or spike, letting only a normal level of the voltage through to the device, appliance, computer or system it’s on. The voltage should remain at a safe, steady level.

Common Uses for Each Device

Surge protectors are made mainly for use in industries such as energy, transportation and telecommunications. Surge protectors are additionally appropriate for widespread use with digital devices such as:

  • Those connected to electricity (either that which is created in your area or from utility power providers)
  • Telephone lines (information, fax, modem and more)
  • Communication lines
  • Computer system data lines

Surge suppressors are for use in these residential and commercial types of electronic devices. They are primarily used with tools such as computer systems and telecommunication devices.

Best Uses for Protectors and Suppressors

Surge Protectors

A surge protector is best utilized with a PC. A computer has elements that are highly sensitive to changes in voltage. In case of a spike, these elements can be damaged instantly. It can damage essential data or functionality. might have shorten the life of your computer system, erase or destroy all of your information, or may do major physical damage, such as triggering a computer shutdown.

Computers are expensive items, and the data you save is very important and perhaps personal. Therefore, it is important to buy a surge protector and use it properly to save many potential problems.

Any large, costly electronics, such as with a TV and sound system, may need a surge protector. In this instance, the surge protector protects the lifespan of these devices or combined systems. Surge protectors are necessary here as a power surge on a large scale can cause a lot of damage.

Something as simple as a light bulb does not require a surge protector as the worst that would happen in a power surge is the light bulb burns out.

Surge Suppressors

Phone lines and high-voltage power lines can be hit by lightning strikes. Telephone wires and high-voltage lines run the same distances and through similar, very different and open, environments. Lightning can affect any kind of wire or line and cause major destruction and a danger, so surge suppressors can be used for both.


Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide electrical safety inspections and installation, inspections and work with GFCI outlets. In addition, our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.