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surge suppressor[′sərj sə‚pres·ər]
A device that is designed to offer protection against voltage surges on the power line that supplies electrical energy to the sensitive components in electronic devices and systems. The device offers a limited type of protection to computers, television sets, high-fidelity equipment, and similar types of electronic systems.
A voltage surge is generally considered to be a transient wave of voltage on the power line. The amplitude of the surge may be several thousand volts, and the duration may be as short as 1 or 2 milliseconds or as long as about 100 ms. Typical effects can be damage to the electronics or loss of programs and data in computer memories. Many events can cause the surges, including lightning that strikes the power lines at a considerable distance from the home or office; necessary switching of transmission lines by the utilities; and rapid connections or disconnections of large loads, such as air conditioners and motors, from the power line, or even other appliances in the home. Lightning is perhaps the most common.
The suppressor acts to limit the peak voltage applied to the electronic device to a level that normally will not cause either damage to the device or software problems in the computers. The device may include a pilot light, a fuse, a clipping circuit, resistors, and a main switch. The clipper circuit is the principal item, and the design of this portion is usually proprietary information. See Fuse (electricity)