How to Test a Surge Protector the Quick and Easy Way?
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Unless you happen to work in a specialized laboratory and a huge budget, there are really no way on how to test a surge protector. The quick and easy way is obviously to get a surge protection devices that come with LED notifications. When the surge protection device fails its own internal testing of surge protection mechanism, it would trigger a visual (LED notification) or audio alarm.
Another thing you have to be aware of is that all surge protection devices have limited life span. And typically after suffering from a couple of hits (from power spikes and surges), your surge protector will be no more than just a power strip where power is allowed to pass through to your plugged in devices without protection.
One thing for sure, if you are using a surge protection unit purchased more than a few years ago, it is probably in your best interest to replace it.
When seeking a replacement, be sure to get one that comes with multiple LED indication lights (as mentioned earlier) that would notify you when it is no longer able to protect your prized electrical devices. This is probably the best form of “test” to confirm if your surge protection device is still protecting your connected electronics or not.
Most high-end surge suppressors these days come with very clear cut, user-friendly LED indicators which is fairly hard to miss when issue arises. Some brands and models even come equipped with audible alarm to notify you when it has exhausted its surge protection joules.
One thing to note is that lifespans of surge suppressors cannot be measured in years. There is usually a specific amount of joules that it is designed and built into each model of surge protection devices. Once the surge protection joules are used up, it should warn you (*check LED indicator) that it is no longer capable of protecting your plugged in devices. Hence it is definitely the right time to replace it with a new unit.
*LED indicators are not foolproof
If your surge protector is warning you (via LED indicators or audible alarm) that it’s no longer protecting you or asking you to replace it, you should probably get a new surge protector without having to know how to test a surge protector. The built-in mechanism inside each surge protectors will constantly test for its surge protection capabilities and will trigger an alarm (visual or audio) when it is no longer able to protect your connected devices.
When shopping for surge protectors, be sure to look out for certification and compliant stamps like IEC 61643-1 / ANSI/IEEE C62.xx / UL 1449 etc. Since there is no easy way to physically or scientifically test out a surge protector, the best bet is usually to get it from reputable manufacturers like Tripp lite, APC, Belkin and so on.