Power surges can damage any kind of electrical and electronic components easily. The sudden spike in the voltage will destroy the components connected to the power socket. Such sudden voltage spikes are evident during lightning strikes and thunderstorms.
PC uses a Power Supply Unit (PSU) to properly provide power to all the hardware components. So, primarily, PSU should have proper surge protection to prevent damage. But do PSUs come with surge protectors? Let us find it out in this article.
Does a PSU have Surge Protection?
PSUs don’t come with a powerful surge protection unit. Rather they commonly have Over Current Protection (OCP), Over/Under Voltage Protection (OVP/UVP), Over Power Protection (OPP), Short Circuit Protection (SCP), and Over Temperature Protection (OTP).
Although the OCP, OVP, and OPP provide some sort of protection, sudden surges like lightning strikes cannot be handled by them. It requires a full-fledged protection system that can withstand huge amounts of voltage.
All the circuit components in a PSU are simple protectors and can’t withstand high voltage. Their capacity is very minimal and they can only protect against short time fluctuations and short spikes.
That is why it is always recommended to use a separate surge protection system to which the PSU is connected. This will help you to protect the PC from heavy surges and avoids potential damage.
Read: Best Methods to Monitor Power Supply Temperature
Difference between Surge Protectors and PSU protection units
Understanding the difference between the normal protection units in the PSU and the surge protectors will help you to use a surge protector effectively.
Surge protectors make use of powerful MOV, GDT, SPG, or TSS. These components can increase their resistance when there is a huge amount of spike in the voltage and using a least resistant path, they ground the voltage.
On the other hand, the protection units in the PSU makes use of sensor and simple circuit components like transistors and Zener diodes. The sensor monitors the changes in the input voltage and when there is a small spike, it cut off the power, ground the excess voltage, or opens the circuit to prevent damage.
Since the circuit components have a very small threshold, a surge like lightning cannot be protected by them. A protection unit like OVP or OCP can only contain small surges and spikes.
In a proper surge protector, you have Varistor made up of metal oxide or Gas, which can increase its resistance when there is a huge amount of voltage. This increase in resistance will not allow the high current to pass through and diverts it to a semiconductor which then grounds it.
Due to the varistor setup, you can use a surge protector for your PSU separately. Some models do have a small MOV within the PSU but don’t have the capacity to protect against lightning strikes.
Can a Surge Protector completely protect from lightning strikes?
Surge protectors can prevent your PSU and other PC components from lightning strikes. But you have to change it every year or after a lightning strike. Because the voltage from lightning is very powerful and the protectors will fail soon after it.
So, once a protector undergoes a lightning strike, it will conduct current to your PSU but it cannot protect against another lightning strike. Therefore, a surge protector can protect your PSU but you have to change it after a lightning incident.
Read: Does the Power Supply Affect Performance?
Benefits of Surge Protection in PSU
Although the protection units in the PSU don’t have much capacity, there are potential benefits for them. Also, when you use a separate surge protection unit, it will help you with the following:
- Surge protectors can help prevent heavy spikes in voltage
- They protect the internal components of the PSU from damaging
- They prevent the surged current flow from reaching the PC hardware components
- Even if there isn’t a large spike, they will provide protection with small fluctuations which you might not notice
- They prevent a fire hazard caused by the high voltage current passing through your power outlet
- Your PC gets the proper required voltage and each component of the motherboard are served with the appropriate power for them to function effectively
These are the benefits of using a surge protector in the PSU and it is the best way to prevent your PC from high voltage fluctuations and spikes.
Power Protection Tips for PSU
PSU is equipped with sufficient power protection systems like the OCP, OVP, OPP, etc. If it doesn’t have a surge protector, then you can use an external one separately. Apart from that you don’t need any special power protection equipment.
The components in the PSU are sufficient and when it is combined with surge protection, you don’t have to worry about it. If you buy some cheap quality PSU, there are chances for it to fail easily. Therefore, we advise you to buy a branded one and avoid any kind of early failures.
Additionally, you can ensure that your home electrical circuits are properly earthed so that there isn’t current leakage. This will help your PSU to survive longer and doesn’t damage the hardware of the PC.
If you are living in an area prone to unconditional weather changes and frequent thunderstorms, then it is important to have a large surge protection unit to prevent your overall electrical system. Along with this, if you use a distinct surge protector for PSU, it will be an added protection.
Make sure to buy PSU with a proper rating so that it will provide your PC with the appropriate voltage. Because when there is under voltage, it will provide proper power using the UVP system.
These are the things you should make sure to do when you have a PSU. This will help you avoid many power-related problems.
Read: How to discharge a computer power supply?
The PSUs have some sort of protection that can help you to prevent voltage spikes. But with heavy voltage surges, you need a separate surge protection system. There are many benefits in using such systems and with a proper PSU and surge protector, you can have better safety for your PC and related hardware.