How Does a Whole House Surge Protector Work? A Guide to Surge Protectors

In this article, you’ll be getting answers to questions and queries such as how to install a whole house surge protector, how does a whole house surge protector work, best whole house surge protector, and the pros and cons of a whole house surge protector.

First, let’s talk about what surge protectors are, their purpose and how you can benefit from having them installed in your homes.

What is a surge protector?

So what is a surge protector? A surge protector is used to protect your home and all appliances in it from spikes in voltage. The surge protector limits the flow of the excess electrical current as it blocks any extra current flowing. The surge protector protects from lightening and smaller surges of electric currents that are caused by the electrical appliances in your home.

One of these types of surges is the one caused when you attempt to insert a two-pin plug into a three-pin socket. There are just so many smart appliances in our home these days, and many of them have been designed to consume the least amount of electrical power, so not having surge protectors installed could result in many of your appliances getting fried. So the purpose of a surge protector is to protect you from all types of electric spikes, no matter how little.

What is a power strip surge protector?

So there is a surge protector, and there is a power strip. A power strip is what many people will call an extension socket, which can be plugged into a wall, and it then offers ports in which you can plug other devices; in fact, these days there are USB power strips.

These power strips with USB ports have something like an inbuilt charger, so your devices don’t get damaged. You already know what a surge protector is. So what is a power strip surge protector?

power strip surge protector

A power strip surge protector is an extension socket that comes inbuilt with a surge protector. Not all power strips come with surge protectors, so how do you know those with surge protection?

The power strip surge protector would most likely have a “Protection” light that turns on when plugged into the wall socket. As long as the light comes on after plugging it into a power source, chances are that the surge protector is still working. You could also check the back of the power strip surge protector for any specifications that indicate surge protection. So you could see things like Suppression, Protection, Suppressed Voltage Rating, and many more.

How does a whole house surge protector work?

So how does a surge protector work? A whole-house surge protector comes with a device inside that will create a low impedance path to the earth whenever the voltage in the circuited goes beyond a threshold. The reason why the device stays pretty long and rarely gets damaged is that the surge doesn’t last for long. It’s like a spike, after a few microseconds, it goes back to normal. It also comes with a fuse, which will protect the circuit whenever the device is overloaded, or when the spike is repeated over a longer period.

When used in the whole house, it kind-off gives you that same protection, but this time, it protects every electrical appliance, electronic and lighting points in the house. Are there pros and cons of whole house surge protectors? Well, yes, but let’s first talk about the whole house surge protector cost.

Read also: Best Power Strips with Long Cords and a Surge Protector

Surge protector cost

So how much do you think a surge protector will cost? On average, we have found that a whole house surge protector will cost between $300 and $500. If you don’t have experience with the installation of the whole house surge protector, you’d need to get an electrician who might also charge starting from $150 for one installation. This installation often includes protection for all your electronics and equipment in your home.

Pros and cons of whole house surge protector


  • The best defense against power spikes and surges.
  • Protects your investment. No doubt, you have spent a lot on your appliances and electronics, so having something to keep them safe is a great investment for everyone.


  • While they are greatly useful, it’s been found that around 15 percent of excess voltage still escapes through. So don’t stop using your power strip surge protectors even after you have installed the whole house surge protector.
  • Installation is expensive, sometimes going as high as half the purchase price of the surge protector.

Best whole house surge protectors

I thought you’d need help in choosing the best surge protector. I have included a list of my hand-picked selection of the best whole house surge protectors and some of their key features. Feel free to comment on which of them suits your needs most.

ProductRatingWhere to Find
Siemens FS140 Surge Protector6″ x 10″ x 4″, 120/240V, 140kACheck On Amazon
Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA120V / 240V, 108kACheck On Amazon
Leviton 51120 Surge Protector14.4″ x 8.4″ x 6.9″, 120/240V, 60kACheck On Amazon
Schneider Electric HEPD802.7″ x 3.8″ x 3.6″, 120/240V, 80kACheck On Amazon

How to install whole house surge protector

Surge protector installation isn’t rocket science, with some electrical tools like plier, cable strippers, screwdrivers and screws, flashlight, hammer, and nails, you should have all you need to start your surge protector installation.

While the process is simple, it’s recommended that you get an electrician to do the job for you, especially when you don’t have any electrical experience. Here is a pretty easy-to-follow video on how to install whole house surge protector that should help you handle your whole house surge protector installation like a pro:

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