How Does a Lightning Arrester Work?

Three single-phase pole-mounted distribution transformers. During an overcast sky or before a storm.

When you’re talking about electricity, safety is always one of the most important points to be made. Protecting yourself, your home, and your electrical appliances is a big part of having a functional home here in Tampa. And in our area, one of the biggest risks that can come up is a lightning storm. Lightning arresters are a great, effective way of taming these storms, and below, we'll discuss how they work and what they can do for you and your home!

Ready to equip your home with the best lighting defense there is? Our experts are proud to provide. Our service is fast, affordable, and always top-class. Contact Hoffman Electrical & A/C online today to schedule for your installation consultation!

What Is a Lightning Arrester?

Lightning arresters, or surge arresters, are a device that is installed to protect homes, structures, and power lines from dangerous surges of power. As you might expect, the primary defense is against lightning and the damage it can cause, however, residential surge arresters also provide defense against surges from other sources as well.

You’ve actually seen these before, whether you know it or not! Ever notice those cylindrical, ribbed bits on power lines? They’re usually a foot or two long, sometimes longer. These are commercial arresters used to protect power lines from the dangers of lightning storms.

How Does an Arrester Work?

You might be thinking about a lightning rod. And you wouldn’t be too far off. But lightning rods are actually limited in comparison and have far less versatility in use. Though the real difference is simple: An arrester is charged and “operates” when working, while the rod simply attracts and diverts incoming lightning.

Arresters are typically installed near critical appliances or points of entry, such as an electrical panel or near a generator. When potentially dangerous lightning strikes, the arrester activates and diverts the lightning to the ground, where it will disperse harmlessly. It’s important to note that an arrester does not stop lightning. It does limit and mitigate the electrical charge, but "diverts" is the accurate term, as it gives the lightning a safe route to travel rather than through your important electrical devices. You can think of it as a detour for dangerous electricity.

Arresters are a whole-home defense against lightning damage and help to drastically reduce the risks of damage. Something we can all be happy to have here in Tampa, where our storms can get extreme.

Surge Arrester Installation in Tampa & St. Petersburg, FL

As a Florida resident, you understand how important it is to protect your property from the damage caused by lightning.

If you’re ready to install lightning arresters in your home or at your commercial property, contact us today!

The Difference Between a Lightning Arrester & Surge Arrester

There are many, many things to be confused about when it comes to electricity. But of all the confusing things you could point at, it’s the terminology that gets most Tampa-area homeowners. What’s a lightning arrester? What’s a surge arrester? Is there even a difference!? It’s honestly a sticky topic, but it’s one we’ll be helping you understand today!

Looking for electrical protection equipment in the Tampa and Clearwater areas? Contact Hoffman Electrical & A/C online.

What’s the Confusion?

The big issue here is that there are actually a few appliances and terms all in play here, and many people, electricians included, misuse terms or attempt to use them interchangeably. Most noteworthy for this topic is the confusion with “surge arrester,” which is typically confused with “surge suppressor.” These two items both serve to protect your home electrical network, wiring, and appliances. But they do not do it in the same manner.

A surge suppressor works to mitigate transient voltages and power surges within your home by sending the excess power directly into the attached outlet or circuit grounding wire, reducing the risks of shorting expensive equipment. These are typically installed directly into the network in a whole-home protection system, or can be found in simpler tools like an outlet-expanding surge protector.

A surge arrestor, on the other hand, works to mitigate specific types of surges. It’s easiest to think of an arrestor (and this goes for a lightning arrestor as well) as a form of protection from external problems, such as those caused by lighting or power grid complications.

Okay, So What’s the Difference Between a Lightning & Surge Arrester?

When all is said and done, the difference is as simple as this: one protects your home from inside and one protects the home from outside.

Should lighting strike your home, the lightning arrester, installed externally, would attempt to immediately detour the electricity away from your home and appliances and direct it instead to safe ground.

The surge arrester would perform a similar function, but it would instead intercept the surge caused by the strike and send excess energy into the grounding wire or another acceptable and predetermined grounding application.

Do I Need a Surge Arrester, Lightning Arrester, or a Surge Protector?

When deciding what kind of home protection equipment suits your needs best, it all comes down to what you have to protect. Each tool can roughly perform the same task, and in most homes, any one of these tools will safeguard you and your appliances just fine.

However, that said, it’s always best to consult a trained and certified electrician! Each home is unique, and so are your electrical needs. That means, should you require a more precise or complex solution than “any one will do,” you’ll have the benefit of a specialist who can direct you to the ideal installation.

Still unsure which you need? Call Hoffman Electrical & A/C at 866-238-3243 and we can help.

Surge & Lightning Protection Services in Tampa, FL

Need some help getting the ideal electrical protection system for your home? Contact Hoffman Electrical & A/C online now! Our certified and trained electricians have been serving Florida homeowners for years, and we would love the chance to help you get the right protection for your electrical needs.

Ready to install lightning arresters in your home or at your commercial property? Contact us today for a surge arrester estimate in Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee, or Pinellas County!

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Why Should I Install a Lightning Arrestor?

Not sure whether a lightning arrestor is the solution your property needs to protect it? Like many specialty tools used in managing lightning and other sources of electrical surges, it can be difficult to figure out what’s appropriate without the help of an experienced electrician. To help you decide the experts at Hoffman Electrical & A/C put together a brief list of the advantages offered by a lightning arrestor installation.

Minimizing Property Damage

A lightning arrestor installed on the exterior of a building can prevent structural damage to your property due to lightning and similar discharges. This can save you a huge amount of money if your property sees regular exposure to lightning due to location, materials, or other factors. It can also protect against secondary damage, such as strikes that hit nearby trees and cause branches to fall.

Prevent Damage to Lines

Outside of direct damage to your property, a lightning arrestor can help prevent damage to the fragile wires and cables outside. As with the more general protection against damage to the structure of your property, it’s a significant money saver—a lightning arrestor costs very little compared to what significant damage to the wiring of your property might cost you. More importantly, you’re looking at a substantial improvement in safety when you install a lightning arrestor on exposed wiring; a lightning strike may not be likely to pass into your building under anything but the most bizarre of circumstances, but it might damage wires enough to do serious harm.

Avoiding Outlet Surges

Smaller lightning arrestors serve a different purpose inside of a building, where they can be used to minimize the impact of surges at the outlet. These can range from extremely simple devices little more complicated than the average power strip to feature-rich pieces of advanced electrical equipment. Determining the appropriate fit for your needs can be difficult, but any of these devices when properly installed will protect occupants and devices against natural and artificial surges.

Electromagnetic Interference

Many general surge arresters and electricity filtering devices used in homes feature small-scale lightning arrester structures in combination with more advanced feature sets. This can help clean so-called ‘dirty’ power and keep your lines operating as they should even when storms roll in or other electromagnetic sources contaminate them. If you’re interested in EMI filtration, make sure you discuss the best solution to the problem with a qualified electrician.

Ease of Use

Compared to other solutions for dealing with surges, interference, and natural electrical phenomena, a basic lightning arrestor is usually far simpler to install and utilize to full effect. A licensed electrician can quickly install a lightning arrestor with no trouble, allowing you to reap the benefits of the system as soon as possible with minimal investment.

Lightning Arrestor Installation in Tampa, FL

If you’d like to learn more or want to inquire about having a lightning protection system installed on your property, contact Hoffman Electrical & A/C today for service across our Pinellas County service area. We’ll be glad to help you figure out the best installation for your needs, give you an estimate on the cost, and set up an appointment.

How to Properly Use a Power Strip

They're not really our favorite way to gain some electrical access, nor are they the most effective. But honestly speaking, if you live in a home, you’re going to end up needing a power strip—or two—eventually. Whether you’re trying to fit in some kitchen appliances or you’re setting up a computer desk, it’s just hard to have enough outlets!

But before you go plugging away, the experts at Hoffman Electrical & A/C would like to have a quick chat about power strips, safety, and you.

Find yourself needing more electrical power access in your Tampa home? Skip the strips and give our certified electricians a call about installing more electrical outlets in Florida!

Proper Power Strip Use: Some Do’s & Don’ts

We know, they seem pretty much plug and play. But the reality is that electrical fires are frighteningly common, and we don’t want you getting hurt or hurting your home when you don’t have to! Don’t worry, these are all fairly simple; it’s just a bit of know-how that might save you some trouble.

When using a power strip:

Outlet Installation: The Best Option

If you need more access to power, there’s a better way to get it done! Your friendly neighborhood electricians are here to help, and we can install new, safe outlets anywhere you need them. It’s a much safer, stronger, and more effective option, and it’ll last forever.

Want to learn more about outlet installation for your home in Tampa, FL? Contact the experts at Hoffman Electrical & A/C online today to set an appointment for your consultation!

Extension Cord Safety

extension cordHow many times have you observed your neighbor using a weed-whacker that is connected to a series of four or five extension cords in order to reach the far corner of the yard? Probably plenty of times. When using a series of cords, be sure they are all the same rating, and check with the manufacturer or your local licensed electrical contractor to see if it is safe.

Extension Cord Ratings

Extension cords are rated by the thickness of the wires inside using a standard known as AWG (American Wire Gauge).