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Can A Power Surge Trip Main Breaker? (Explained)

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Last updated on August 14th, 2022 at 01:28 pm

In the event of lightning or a power surge, there is a chance that a circuit would be damaged and cause damage to the home or appliances, especially the ones that happen to be on at the time.

Circuit breakers are installed to prevent the circuit from being damaged in case of an overload in current.

Although many circuit breakers are all over the service panel, the main breaker is usually installed dead center. That said, can a power surge trip the main breaker?

Although several other breakers are designed to carry the electricity, a sudden power surge can make the main circuit breaker trip, especially if there is too much heat or excessive current. And the main breaker is not able to handle the extreme power.

Can a Power Surge Cause a Breaker To Trip?

Once the service panel has been installed, several circuit breakers are installed all over the panel to protect the electrical circuits from any form of damage that may result from power overload or short circuits.

However, the circuit breaker may trip when excessive electricity passes through it or when the current load is too high, and the breaker cannot handle it.

In the case of a power surge, there is a chance that the circuit breaker will trip. This is because there are contacts inside the circuit that carry the power.  As a result, when there is excessive power, high levels of current, or overheating, this can cause a power surge which will then cause the breaker to trip.

The electricity supply is shut off to protect the circuits and prevent further damage when that happens.

Can a Power Outage Damage a Circuit Breaker?

A power outage can cause extensive damage to a circuit breaker. It can even fry a circuit breaker and cause damage to the other outlets. And if there is any device or appliances plugged in at the time of the outage or when power is restored afterward, it can also be damaged alongside the circuit breaker.

When there is a power outage or a power failure, and the voltage in the circuit becomes too low, the circuit will eventually trip.

Additionally, once the electricity is brought back after the outage, the unexpected and sudden jolt of power and increase in current can cause a surge in energy, significantly damaging a circuit breaker.

In addition to the power outages, a circuit breaker can also be damaged by lightning, faulty wiring, excessive electrical currents, and damaged wiring materials that cannot withstand the electricity passing through.

How Can You Tell if You Had a Power Surge?

Most of our lives involve the use of electrical appliances both at home and in our offices, factories and so on, of course, these appliances require electricity to function.

The electricity or power passing through the outlets is usually 120 Volts, and although this is not constant as it keeps fluctuating, the power doesn’t usually exceed 169 Volts.

When that happens, it is a power surge. Lightning strikes can cause power Surges. Most of the more powerful and potentially dangerous surges are caused by lightning.

In some cases, the electric utility company responsible for the power surge may be in the process of switching a power grid.

A malfunction in a nearby transformer can also cause a power surge. Furthermore, small power Surges can occur within the home.

One of the ways to know if you’ve had a power surge is usually the state of your devices. You can also tell by examining your devices, and you’ll notice the following.

  • When there has been a power surge, the lights or clocks on the devices or appliances in question will begin to flash.
  • You’ll notice that the device has gone off and it’s no longer functioning. Additionally, the device, power source, or outlet will smell and look burnt.

What Would Cause Power Surges in the House?

Power surges can happen quickly, and, likely, you may not notice that the power surge occurred at all.

Power surges that occur at home can be small but frequent.

When the power surges become frequent, it could cause damage to appliances and devices that are usually plugged in or attached to outlets.

A variety of factors causes these power surges.

#1. One of the factors responsible for electrical surges in the house is faulty wiring. Good wiring is essential for even distribution of electricity through the house, and when the wiring is damaged or the protective material is open exposing the inner wires, there isn’t enough electrical resistance, and it becomes easier for the current passing through the wires to increase to dangerous levels causing the power surges.

#2. Lightning strikes can also cause power surges. Because the function of the power systems is to channel power, it becomes easy for bolts of lightning to cause damage to it.

Because lightning is a form of electricity, when it strikes, the power systems accept the power, which is usually overwhelming in quantity. This causes a power spike which in turn causes a power surge.

#3. A power outage can also cause a power surge during a thunderstorm, heavy rain, or snowstorm. The power likely goes out, which is not a strange occurrence.

However, once the power is restored afterward, the sudden jolt of energy can cause a power surge which means that plugged appliances may be fried and the power system may be compromised.   

#4. An electrical or power overload can also cause a power surge when you draw excessive power from a single outlet. This can happen when too many appliances are used or the appliance being used has amperage levels higher than that of the circuit.

There may be a severe increase in current cases because of the excessive quantity of power being used.


Conclusively, a power surge can cause the main breaker to trip, which is essential to protect the appliances from getting ruined, although that may still happen in some cases. A power outage can also be responsible for damaging a circuit breaker.


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