It doesn’t matter what size your business is or what industry you work in, nearly all modern businesses are vulnerable to power surges, especially if the proper precautions are not taken. And while power surges aren’t always avoidable, there are certain steps your business can take to better prepare and recover in the event of a power surge. To help, we’re offering insights on what exactly occurs when there is a surge in power, what that means for your business, and the actions you should take to minimize the effects.
What is a Power Surge?
A power surge, also known as an electrical surge or voltage spike, is a massive, sudden increase in electrical current. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) estimates that 60-80% of surges are created within a facility. For example, when large high-powered electrical equipment or appliances, such as elevators or air conditioning units, turn on and off, they demand a significant amount of energy which can affect the system-wide flow of electrical currents.
Poor power quality or problems with the local power system are also major sources of power surges. This includes anything from downed power lines, grid shifting, or even daily capacitor switching. While rarer, lightning strikes can also be a source of power surges. If lightning hits a power line, hits your office building, or even makes contact with telephone wires, this sudden burst or surge in power can travel through power lines or other materials resulting in damage to any connected electronics or electrical devices.
Is My Business at Risk?
Virtually every business is at risk to some degree of equipment and electronic systems being affected by power surges. Some examples of businesses and equipment that may suffer serious disruptions from voltage variation include manufacturing operations, businesses that depend on computers and other electronics, businesses that use security or alarm systems, healthcare facilities with life support systems and equipment monitoring, and information and order processing operations with heavy reliance on communications.
Guard Against Power Surges
It’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your business in the event of a power surge. These three defense insights can help your company protect its sensitive, electrical equipment:
- Strategically install surge suppression devices throughout your business. It’s important to understand that circuit breakers alone do not provide surge protection as surges occur too quickly for a circuit breaker to react and provide protection. That’s why setting up surge suppression devices at each access point is an essential defense against power surges. Surge suppression devices should be installed at the external point of entry, any electrical panels, and then at the point-of-use for any sensitive equipment. Having these layers of protection help target the electrical surge along its pathway and can help lessen its impact on your business and equipment.
- Choose the right surge suppressor device. When choosing surge protection devices, it is essential to choose ones that are properly rated and comply with safety standards. Surge suppression devices at the external point of entry and electrical panels must be installed by a licensed electrician and inspected periodically. Point-of-use surge protectors should be equipped with an indicating light or audible alarm that alerts you when it needs to be replaced.
- Consider an uninterruptible power supply. When a surge occurs and the main power source fails, an uninterruptible power supply provides emergency power. This power supply operates differently than a standby generator because it provides near-instantaneous protection from power interruptions. A power disruption could cause injuries, fatalities, business disruption or data loss; it is highly recommended to protect your business with an uninterruptible power supply.
An Independent Agent Can Help
If you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect against power surges, an electrical event can still affect your business and equipment. Your independent agent is an expert in guarding against risk and protecting your investment and can help you understand the specific risks your business faces. Standard commercial property insurance policies may not cover things like loss of income or costs of repair for damaged equipment if caused by a power surge, but your independent agent can tailor your business owner’s policy to best suit your needs with options like business interruption insurance or equipment breakdown coverage.
No business is immune to a power surge. Whether a change in electrical voltage is caused by high-operating electrical systems, power system problems or failures, or weather-related incidents, the damage these surges can leave behind could be devastating to your business and its operations. Here at Quincy Mutual Group, we believe that understanding these electrical breakdowns is the first step to guarding against them.
If you have more questions about protecting your business, we work with over 500 independent insurance agents who are ready to help. Visit our website to connect with a local agent near you: bit.ly/QuincyFindAgent