The Custom Installer: Preparing for Disaster

Having lived on both coasts, I've personally sampled from the buffet of natural disasters each has to offer. I lived through the 1989 World Series earthquake, standing in a doorway trying to decide whether to be more worried about myself or my large tube TV, which was doing the Hippy Hippy Shake on its stand. And I've fled hurricanes in South Carolina wondering if there'd be anything to come back to.

The first step in figuring out how to protect your system is to determine exactly which kind of disaster you're most likely to face. Is it lightning? How about rolling blackouts and their accompanying power spikes? Or maybe it's theft?

Every system we install has surge protection. I've replaced protectors that have been twisted and scorched by massive electrical surges - giving up their lives like electrical bodyguards so the connected gear could live to play another day. One approach is to have a whole-house protector wired into the service panel, supplemented by local protection at the outlets.

High-performance protectors have high prices to match and usually come with a connected-equipment warranty that says the manufacturer will repair or replace your gear if it's damaged. But, as with most insurance policies, you need to follow every instruction to the letter - both before and after an electrical event - to avoid being denied.