What Is the Correct Surge Protector for a Microwave?

Household appliances such as microwaves can sometimes fall victim to power surges. These brief but powerful spikes can cause irreparable damage to your home equipment. During power surges, your microwave is also vulnerable to repeated attacks that can slowly destroy its electrical circuits over time. Using the correct surge protector helps extend the lifetime of your microwave and minimize the impact of an unexpected fluctuation in electrical power.

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Make sure that your surge protector meets UL standards for handling excess voltage.

Function

Thunderstorms, lightning strikes and sudden power cuts are all causes of power surges. When your microwave suddenly shuts off, the voltage your microwave was consuming is moved to another device or location. Surge protectors or surge suppressors protect electronic devices and appliances at their outlets when voltage exceeds the peak level of 169 volts. It suppresses the voltage to normal levels so that the equipment is protected.

Types

Service entrance surge protectors should be used as a first tier of defense for initial surges and reducing voltage before it reaches your microwave and other sensitive equipment. These surge protectors are generally installed on meters or electrical panels and handle surges up to 20,000 volts. However, purchase point-of-use surge protectors to protect individual home appliances, such as microwaves, from internal surges. These devices plug into wall outlets and manage surges as high as 6,000 volts. Point-of-use surge protectors for microwaves appear as plug-in outlets or strips; they sometimes feature lights or alarms when they need to be replaced.

Considerations

Surge protectors for microwaves should be listed to perform to the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1449 safety standard. This guarantees that the surge protector can able handle a 6,000 voltage surge and reduce it to levels between 330V and 400V. The surge protector should also have an internal fuse that breaks the circuit, blocking the surge from reaching and damaging other appliances and electronics. Also, choose manufacturers that provide a warranty for suppressors that malfunction. As long as you have proof that the surge protector malfunctioned, the manufacturer should cover the cost for replacing or repairing your microwave.

Expert Insight

Buying a $30 or $40 surge protector may not be economical for a microwave that costs under $100, according to "This Old House" writer Alan J. Kearney. Because surge protectors range from as low as $20 to as high as $150, replacing a microwave may be more practical than purchasing a large surge protector. If you decide to purchase a microwave surge protector, check to ensure that its outlet links to the grounding system. This will ensure that surge protector can divert the excess voltage to the ground, rather than to other appliances.