The experts say it’s not just catastrophic events –like lightning strikes –that put modern electrical components at risk. There are ongoing daily power events around the house and farm that can wear out equipment and appliances

It took a bolt of lightning to convince Mark and Curt McNaughton it was time they did something to protect the power supply to their central Alberta farming operation.

In fact they had two separate, fairly recent lightning strikes that hit farm buildings and a power pole in the yard. There was no significant damage done, but when a circuit board on a main alarm system failed last fall it got them moving on a plan to buy surge protectors, which would help protect the motors and sensors that run equipment vital to the farm business, as well as all the appliances and other electronic devices used in the home.

“Just about anything that has a circuit board is at risk,” says Mark McNaughton, who along with his brother operate MDM Aqua Farms near Rumsey, north of Drumheller. “We had those lightning strikes, a couple pieces of equipment failed, but we were lucky. There was no serious damage, but we felt it was an important precaution to buy surge protectors, which I will be installing early this year.”

Along with cropping about 3,500 acres of grains and oilseeds, the McNaughtons, for the past several years have also developed an aquaculture business where they produce about 70,000 pounds of live Tilapia fish that wholesales as live, fresh product for mostly Asian markets.

The aquaculture business is housed in a separate building on the farm, that has to be heated, and water kept circulating through the tanks. They do have gas-powered generators that can be fired up in the event of a power failure, but when the alarm system itself failed last fall, they figured the surge protectors were needed.

The McNaughtons dealt with the Calgary-based Foothills Electric (to buy Surge Pure (surge protector units for the farm. Surge Pure products are also carried by Eccol Electric across Western Canada.

Surge Pure makes a wide range of surge protector models ranging from smaller residential units to large industrial units. The McNaughtons bought five of the mid-range Mach II surge suppressors that come with a full replacement lifetime warranty. McNaughton plans to mount each surge protector on electrical panels, attached to the main breaker in each panel box. There is one for the house, one for the shop, and three for the barn.

A surge protector isn’t just needed in the event of a lightning strike, says Doug Piebiak, with Foothills Electric. Dirty power and small electrical surges that wear down electric motors and

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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