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A Surge Protector
(or Surge Suppressor
) is an appliance designed to protect electrical devices from voltage spikes. A surge protector attempts to limit the voltage supplied to an electric device by either blocking or by shorting to ground any unwanted voltages above a safe threshold. This article primarily discusses specifications and components relevant to the type of protector that diverts (shorts) a voltage spike to a ground, however, there is some coverage of other methods. The terms surge protection device (SPD)
, or the obsolescent term transient voltage surge suppressor (TVSS)
, are used to describe electrical devices typically installed in power distribution panels, process control systems, communications systems, and other heavy-duty industrial systems, for the purpose of protecting against electrical surges and spikes, including those caused by lightning. Scaled-down versions of these devices are sometimes installed in residential service entrance electrical panels, to protect equipment in a household from similar hazards. Many power strips have basic surge protection built in; these are typically clearly labeled as such. However, power strips that do not
provide surge protection are sometimes erroneously referred to as "protectors".