Surge protection starts with protecting your outdoor devices from damaging surges. When most people think about which devices need surge protection, they imagine a lightning strike hitting their security camera or light fixture and destroying it, perhaps even sending a massive surge along the network and damaging or destroying other essential devices. Though lightning strikes are a less common source of surges, considering the weather is a necessary part of choosing a surge protective device (SPD) to ensure the safety of your outdoor devices.
When purchasing surge protection, make sure that you check a reliable weather service to determine if your area has a higher incidence of lightning or a higher density of strikes; and choose a device appropriate to the likelihood of getting struck. If you live in an area with a higher chance of lightning strikes, you may require a more robust surge protective device that can handle larger surges without self-sacrificing.
In general, surge protection that services outdoor electronics should be stronger and more rugged than surge protection for indoor devices—not only because of the possibility of lightning strikes but because of the general wear and tear from exposure. Your surge protection needs to be robust enough not just to survive a surge, but also to resist damage from rain, wind, dirt, winter storms and other environmental concerns that may create wear and tear on your systems.
Some environmental concerns that you may need to take into consideration are temperature, wind, rain, and dust. While most surge protective devices are designed to function in a wide range of temperatures, ingress should be your first concern when ensuring that your surge protector can endure harsher environments. Should water or dust make its way into the device, it may cause corrosion or humidity issues that can cause the device to fail, putting your electronics in danger. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association has an enclosure rating that creates an easily identifiable standard for the protection of electronics when completely and properly installed. A NEMA rating of 3R or higher is sufficient to protect your surge protectors, but look for a rating of NEMA 4X or higher for additional reliability.
When looking to install surge protection to keep your outdoor devices safe, ensure that your surge protectors also have adequate protection from environmental concerns. SPDs are designed to help your other devices survive lightning strikes, so ensure that you choose a device robust enough for the amount of lightning your area is expected to see. In addition, protecting your devices from ingress by checking NEMA ratings and choosing an adequately rated device will prevent environmental damage and help keep your electronics running in the event of a damaging surge event. While surge protection is designed to protect other devices, ensure that your SPDs are also protected from the environment.