Business | FPL | Selecting the Right Power Protection

Selecting the Right Power Protection

What you can do

If you experience an outage or repeated power problems:

   Why surge protection?

Surges and spikes are a fact of life, especially in Florida, where lightning strikes, dense vegetation and rapid population growth interfere with electrical service.

The most obvious problems occur when lightning travels down your electric, telephone or cable lines, destroying computer data or affecting the performance of electronics, including the circuitry in most business equipment. But damage may occur over time as smaller surges cause the gradual breakdown of electric components. The use of microprocessors in most business electronic equipment makes even this equipment vulnerable to surges and spikes.

   Sponging up voltage

Surge protectors act like electrical sponges, absorbing excess energy and preventing most of it from reaching your equipment. And, like sponges, surge protectors have a limited ability to absorb energy. So it is important to select a surge protector with the appropriate features and ratings to match the equipment you want to protect.

   Outside surge protection

Power surges are caused by electrical switching and, of course, lightning - either hitting near your business or traveling along the telephone, cable, satellite and electric utility lines that come into your business. These surges may damage equipment and electronics and sometimes harm your business's wiring.

Outside surge protectors - sometimes called surge arrestors - provide protection against these surges, especially when used with the plug-in surge protection inside your business. Outside surge protectors may be installed on your electric meter or panel and may be purchased with protection for telephone and cable lines.

   Inside surge protection

These smaller surge protection devices are installed directly between the equipment you want to protect and the wall outlet, acting as the last line of defense against surges generated inside and outside your business. Using inside surge protection in combination with outside surge protection will provide you with the best level of protection.

   Equipment needing surge protection

  • Personal computer
  • Laptop
  • Monitor
  • Printer
  • Copy machine
  • External Zip drive
  • External CD ROM drive
  • External modem
  • Networking equipment
  • Telephone
  • Fire/security system
  • Gas pump controls
  • Credit approval systems
  • Cash registers/point of sale terminals
  • Bar code scanners
  • Motor driven equipment


Surge protectors come in a variety of forms and can be purchased through:

  • Office supply stores
  • Home supply stores
  • Electronic stores
  • Computer stores
  • The Internet

   Before you buy

Before buying surge protectors, it's a good idea to survey your business to determine how many - and what type of surge protection - is needed. You can save money and space by purchasing multiple outlet surge protectors that prevent damage to several pieces of equipment. These units may come with a combination of outlets to protect your equipment from surges that travel along electrical as well as telephone, data and cable lines.

Surge protectors are available for each or any combination of the following types of connections:

Type of Surge Protection Needed


Telephone Line Protection

  • telephone
  • answering machine
  • fax machine
  • modem

Power Line Protection

  • all sensitive electronics (computer, monitor)
  • equipment with microprocessors
  • telephones
  • answering machine
  • fax machine
  • modem
  • stereo
  • TV
  • VCR

Cable Line Protection (Coax)

  • TV
  • VCR
  • cable modems

Digital Satellite Jack

Satellite TV

   Surge protection features: Know what you're buying

When you purchase a surge protector, check for the following features:


What to look for

UL listed transient voltage surge suppressor

Make sure your surge protector is UL listed to insure that it meets industry standards.

Clamping voltage

This is the amount of voltage the unit passes through to your equipment before diverting voltage to the ground. The lower the number, the better. The lowest clamping voltage recognized by UL is 330 volts or .33 kilovolts.

Joule Rating

This measure represents the amount of energy the unit absorbs. The higher, the better.

Alarm or Light

These let you know when your surge protector no longer works.

Power Shut Down Protection

This shuts power off when the surge protector has stopped working so that no electricity - and no surges - can flow to equipment.

EMI/RFI Protection

This guards again data loss, audio static, video interference and possible computer memory loss from electromagnetic and radio frequency interference.

Response Time Rating

The faster the surge protector can react to high voltage, the better.

   Do I need battery back-up?

If you have one or more computers, data lines, telephone systems or other peripheral devices, you may want to consider an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). The most common thing a UPS does is to give you a 5- to 15-minute "safety net" by switching your computer, or other equipment, to battery back-up during a power loss, giving you time to save data.

UPS units come in different price ranges. The most important thing in selecting a UPS is to make sure it is the right size for your needs. Many leading power protection vendors have product selection tools on their Web sites to help you buy the right model for your needs and budget.

For added convenience, our sister company, FPL Energy Services* has partnered with APC (American Power Conversion) to offer products such as: 

  • Surge protectors
  • Uninterruptable power supply (UPS)
  • Line conditioners


To find out more about these products:


*Note: FPL Energy Services is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., the parent company of Florida Power and Light Company (FPL).