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What Is an Ethernet Surge Protector?

An Ethernet cable.
Ethernet cables plugged into an Internet switch.
Many computer users are familiar with the Ethernet cable, because that's what they plug into their computer or high-speed modem to connect to the Internet.
Lightning strikes sometimes cause power surges.
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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2014
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An Ethernet surge protector is a device used to protect electronic devices, typically home entertainment equipment or computer equipment, from damage due to surges in electrical current. Basic surge protectors typically work by plugging into a wall socket and providing a number of female plugs for other devices to then be plugged into it. An Ethernet surge protector works much the same way, but also provides “in” and “out” sockets for Ethernet cables to be plugged into the surge protector, providing protection from surges through an Ethernet cable as well.

Electrical surges can occur in a number of different ways and may potentially cause a great deal of damage to electrical devices that receive such a surge. These surges typically occur because of an excessive amount of electrical current running through a system. Such excess current can be introduced to a system due to an unusual fluctuation from a power source, such as a power plant that provides electricity to a home or business, or due to additional energy being introduced to the system. This can occur when a bolt of lightning strikes a home or business, and an Ethernet surge protector can help protect various devices from damage due to such a surge.

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An Ethernet surge protector is much like other types of surge protectors, but it also provides added protection for Ethernet data cables as well. Surge protectors typically function by plugging a single male connection into a wall outlet or similar electrical socket, and then providing a number of female sockets for other devices to be connected to the protector. This allows a surge protector to work as a power strip for multiple devices, while also protecting those devices. In case of a power surge, the protector will absorb the excess power, which may damage the protector itself, but not pass on the power to the other devices; in the case of an Ethernet surge protector, it will help prevent surges through the cable as well.

Surge protectors can typically handle a certain amount of excess power, which is indicated on the packaging and other information provided with the protector. An Ethernet surge protector works in much the same way, except it also provides plugs for Ethernet cables. In this way, an Ethernet cable can come from a modem, router, or similar device, and plug into the Ethernet surge protector; then a second cable is run out from the protector and to a computer, television, or other electronic device. A power surge can potentially run through Ethernet and phone cables as easily as power cables, so this added protection can help prevent damage from such sources.

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