Protect Your Electrical Components And Data With A Surge Protected Outlet

Both the snow and ice of winter as well as the wind and heavy rains of summer can bring down power lines, creating a major nuisance. However, the real danger to your electrical components and important data stored in your computer comes when the power is suddenly restored. A strong power surge can permanently disable your components as well as destroy sensitive data on your hard drives. This can be prevented by replacing your standard electrical outlet with a surge protected model.

How does a surge protected outlet work?

An outlet than is enhanced with surge protection will immediately shut down when a power surge is detected, and will remain shut down until a reset button is pushed.

What do you need to install a surge protected outlet?

  • The outlet: A surge protected outlet will have an indicator light and a reset button in the center of the outlet, between the two receptacles. 
  • Open face plate: Your standard outlet is covered by a face plate that allows only the two receptacles to be exposed. Because a surge protected outlet has the reset button and indicator light in the center, you need an open face plate, which is basically a rectangular frame.
  • Flat head and Philips head screwdrivers

Removing the existing outlet

Before you begin, you must follow the first rule of electrical repair, which is to turn off the power to the component, which in this case is the outlet. You can do this by turning off the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the outlet. When this is done, you will begin by using your flat head screwdriver to remove the existing cover plate. You will then need only the Philips head screwdriver, and will first use it to loosen the two screws that secure the outlet inside the gang box in the wall. You can then pull out the outlet and disconnect the wires that are connected to the sides and top by loosening the terminal screws that secure them. You will encounter either one or two sets of three wires. Keep them separated as you disconnect them.

Installing the surge protected outlet

You will begin by placing the sub-plate that was supplied with the open face plate around the outlet. If one set of three wires was connected, you will connect the black wire to the top brass terminal, the white wire to the top silver terminal, and the green wire to the lone green terminal at the top of the outlet. Loop the wires under the terminal screws in a clockwise direction, them tighten the screws in the same direction until the wires are completely secured. If a second set of three wires was encountered, connect the black wire to the second brass terminal, the white wire to the second silver terminal, and the green wire to the single green terminal along with the original green wire. Push the outlet into the gang box inside the wall, and tighten the upper and lower securing screws, then snap the open face plate onto the sub-plate that was placed around the outlet before the wiring was connected. Turn on the circuit breaker and push the reset button on the outlet, and you're protected.