Local Power Surge Blows Lights, Appliances

January 22, 2014

By Rory J. Thompson - Web Editor

Consumers often hear about power surges and the damage they can cause, but one Pennsylvania man who knows something about connecting with people electronically actually witnessed such a surge firsthand in his house.

According to the Scranton (Pa) Times Tribune, Ed Pikulski – digital audience director at the Times-Tribune – was home on Friday evening, Jan. 17, when the lights in his house started getting brighter, and then they started popping. That was followed by “thick, black smoke” which started flowing out of the home’s older TV set. According to the paper, Pikulski ordered his family out of the house as he ran around unplugging everything he could.

According to local utility company PPL and the local fire chief, one of the lines carrying power from a transformer to houses and businesses on the 900 block of Marion Street in Scranton fell out of its fixture, leading to the surge. Local reports say about 20 customers were affected by the incident, with many reporting blown and burned electrical appliances.

PPL spokesman Rich Beasley said that once the utility detected the surge, automatic “trips” were set off, de-energizing the power lines, “as they were designed to do.” Electricity was eventually turned on back in the neighborhood, about two-and-and-half hours later.

While such incidents are rare, they do drive home the message that a UPS (uninterruptible power supply), such as those available from MinutemanUPS, is a wise choice to have when connecting sensitive electronic devices.  Minuteman basically serves as a backup power source that can be running all the time, or set to turn on when main power is lost. 

In the home, the right surge protectors and UPS system can protect expensive consumer electronics from power surges and ensure they shut down properly. If you have a home office with multiple computers and other peripherals such as printers, make sure to consult with experts to guide you on choosing the right protection.

PPL later said it would reimburse customers for any damage to their homes and appliances caused by the surge.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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