We all know how much it costs to get our home in order; putting all the electronics of our choice in place. One enemy that challenges the life of your appliances is power surge. If you’re not careful, you may lose your most priced appliance to a power spike that lasts for just a second.
You probably have already taken steps to protect your TV set, your computer and even your home surround sound system; but what about your air conditioner? Did you think they don’t need protection too?
Don’t be deceived by the heavy-duty appearance of your air conditioner, a power surge can affect some of its sensitive electrical/electronic parts and leave you with huge bills for replacement parts.
Not only would a surge protector help you avoid spending on expensive replacement parts, but it will also protect your sensitive electronic components from any danger.
So, whether it’s a central AC unit, a split unit or a window air conditioner, this is one thing to seriously consider.
Does a window air conditioner need a surge protector?
Yes. Like any other type of air conditioner, a window AC unit should be shielded by a surge protector to prevent power surges from unexpected spikes.
Sometimes, the power supply may fluctuate- rising and falling- and this may cause the AC unit to turn off and turn on repeatedly.
Other times, a sudden spike in voltage may occur (with or without warning), sending too much voltage to the unit and causing some damages. To prevent this, a surge protector should be installed.
Decades ago, most air conditioners had mostly mechanical parts. Even the switch knobs were mechanical in nature and only very few electronic components were added. Those units were more resilient to surges.
Today, almost every air conditioner has numerous electronic components. They are high-tech and have control features like temperature, speed, thermostat, noise reduction and compatibility.
As high-end as they are, they require extra protection for a longer life span.
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How does a surge protector work?
A surge protector works by serving as the interface between the power source and the AC plug.
From smaller causes like faulty wiring, a faulty appliance or even a bad circuit breaker to major causes like a blown transformer downed power lines, lightening and other service issues, a surge can shield the impact of these occurrences by diverting excess electricity away from your AC unit and send the extra power into the outlets grounding wire.
So, only the amount of electricity required to power the AC is allowed to go through.
A surge protector uses a Metal Oxide Varistor called a MOV. This refers to oxide enclosed in semi-conductors that moves to action only when the voltage becomes too high for the AC unit.
It pulls the excess current and diverts it to the grounding wire without your AC unit shutting down. Without this unit, varying degrees of damage can be done to your AC.
Repeated minor surges will wear down your compressor over time until it becomes inactive, but a major surge (caused by lightning, for instance) may damage your system to the point of requiring a replacement of the entire unit.
What kind of surge protector do you need for an air conditioner?
Simply put; you need a durable and efficient surge protector for your air conditioner. But it’s more complex than that. To determine what kind of surge protector or suppressor is best for your AC, you need to consider the Type.
Surge protectors exist in three different ‘type’ categories, namely Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. While type 1 surge protectors are efficient for minor and partial discharge of lightning, type 3 models should only be used as supplements.
Of the three types, only Type 2 surge protectors have the Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) and can prevent higher voltages in electrical installations from spreading to equipment and appliances connected to it.
It is characterized by a current wave of 8/20 μs. If you need protection for your AC, the Type 2 Surge Protector is what you should look out for.
How much does an air conditioner surge protector cost?
A typical air conditioner SPD will cost anywhere between $60 and $150. They may be high-end products that cost a bit more, but you’re likely to get what you need for less than $150, especially if it’s for a simple window or split AC unit.
Top 5 Surge Protectors for Air Conditioners
1. Intermatic AG3000 120/240 VAC Universal HVAC Surge Protective Device
This universal air conditioner surge protective device is a 120/240 VAC powerhouse that features the TPMOV technology.
The Intermatic AG3000 is a durable and efficient surge suppressor that is UL 1449 listed up to the 4th edition.
Made of UV-resistant plastic, the device is 4X watertight and has the capacity to prevent excess electricity from hitting your HVAC system.
There’s also a green LED indicator that tells you when the device is functional and when it is not. You can be sure of the optimum value, covered by a 3-year warranty and up to $7,500 equipment warranty.
2. Leviton 51120-1 120/240 Volt Panel Protector
This is another formidable Type 2 surge protector designed for big appliances like your window air conditioner.
In fact, this device is so powerful that it can protect the whole house. It has the UL 1449 ranking and runs on 120/240 V.
With the ability to knock down excess energy transients coming from the sub-panel or even at the point-of-use equipment.
Due to its efficiency and manufacturer’s trust, there’s a $25,000 warranty on any connected equipment. It may not have the looks you desire, but you sure can’t go wrong with this one.
3. Siemens QSPD2A065P Boltshield 2-Pole 120/240V Plug-In Surge Protection Device
The Siemens brand has proved itself over the years as a reliable and premium quality company.
With the Boltshield, they offer a unique plug-in surge protector that keeps your window air conditioner working all day long regardless of power spikes or overvoltages.
At 240 volts, this durable plastic SPD is thoughtfully engineered with the right Joule Rating, Safety Rating and Clamping for optimum performance.
And it’s not just talking, the manufacturers offer a warranty of 10 years and $50,000 for connected equipment or appliances.
4. EATON CHSPT2ULTRA Ultimate Surge Protection
Built for powerful protection, this EATON’s ultimate surge protector is UL 1449 certified and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
It is a Type 2 SPD, ideal for window air conditioners and whole-house protection. It is easy to set up and use, and connects smoothly to any load center.
The device has an acceptable voltage of 120/240 and is of the 3rd edition of SPDs. It is quite portable, extremely sturdy and has a fierce outward appearance.
What’s more, the SPD features a LED status indicator that notifies you about the state of your device.
5. Intermatic IG1240RC3 Whole Home Type-1 or 2 Surge Protection Device
The Intermatic IG1240RC3 comes fully equipped with just the right amount of wattage and power to stop every harmful voltage from getting to your window air conditioner.
The device meets the UL 1449 third edition requirements.
As a Type 2 surge protector, the device offers maximum protection against extremely high voltage caused by internal and external factors; suitable for 120/240 volt panels, whether single or split phase.
If you’re looking for reliable protection for your window AC, this is one unit you need to try out.
How to select the suitable surge protector for window air conditioner?
To choose the best surge protector for your window air conditioner, you should consider the following factors;
1. Joule Rating
This refers to how much energy the AC surge protector is able to receive. The higher the rating, the better.
For your air conditioner, it is best to go with a surge protector that has a joule rating between 1,000 and 2,000 joules. This is sufficient for power tools like air conditioners and other high-end appliances and equipment.
2. Safety Rating
UL is one of the most recognized and respected testing laboratories in the US and beyond. It is approved by OSHA as one of the recognized testing laboratories in the US.
So, be sure to look out for the UL 1449 security standard. It is the safety standard approved for Surge Protective Devices (SPDs) designed for air conditioners. When you see this, you should be at peace.
3. Clamping Voltage
You may also want to know the maximum amount of voltage the surge protector lets through before restricting the further supply of voltage.
This is what will tell you how much protection you’ll be getting. For best results, ensure that the maximum clamping voltage of the AC surge protector is lower than the operating voltage of the AC.
Be sure to look at the package for this information or consult an expert for these interpretations.
4. Number of Sockets
Some people may want to have more than one air conditioner or appliance connected to the Surge Protector.
However, you must be sure that the number of sockets is commensurate to the amount of protection the device can offer.
A multi-plug extension is likely to be more expensive than a single socket device, so be sure you’re ready to bear the extra cost. There are also those that combine a surge protector with a power strip.
Of course, bigger warranties are better. You need to buy your surge protector from a business that has been around for many years, offers high insurance payments, and gives you an extended warranty on your device.
Protecting your window air conditioner should be a priority. Failure to do so will cause you to spend even more money on repairs or replacement (if it gets to that).
Air conditioners are, perhaps, the most expensive home appliances to maintain, so it will do you a lot of good to ensure they are in good condition and protected from possible power surges.