A Guide to the Best Surge Protectors
Nowadays, it’s a familiar problem in the workplace, or even at home, that we need more access to electricity than the number of wall outlets than were installed when the building was constructed. When you need to plug in a computer, monitor, and printer, you can settle for a small power strip to get more outlets. But, for sensitive electronics, you might want a surge protector instead. A surge protector protects equipment if there is a sudden voltage spike, like during a thunderstorm, or a voltage drop, like when there’s a power outage. And surge protectors can also include overload protection, to disconnect the electricity if the current exceeds what is allowed for your devices.
But surge protectors vary in size and the number of devices that they can accept. Some accept only three devices, while others can handle as many as twelve at once! And some have USB ports as well, to charge up a tablet or cellphone. Some also accept a phone line, to distribute it to several phones or a fax machine. And they also differ in how much current or voltage they’re able to accept. So, it’s worthwhile to be informed as to what’s out there on the market before committing to a particular surge protector. We’ll go through some of the specifications, to help you make a wise decision!
Types of Surge Protectors
With 110-120 V outlets only: These will help you plug in many more electrical devices and appliances that require to be hooked up to an electrical outlet. One example is the Amazon Basics 12-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector. It uses a MOV (= metal oxide varistor), which increases circuit resistance as the voltage increases, to protect your devices It also includes a circuit breaker that turns off the electricity if the current should exceed 15 Amperes.
Amazon Basics 12-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector
With USB ports as well: There are also surge protectors with USB ports, to allow you to charge tablets, cellphones, and other devices. An example is the Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip Surge Protector (Model No. KP303). (You can’t use the USB device with a disk-on-key to transfer data. The USB ports are solely for charging up devices.)
Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip Surge Protector
With phone, cable, and satellite line protection: You’ll be able to find surge protectors that have one phone line input and two phone line outputs. You can hook up two phones, or a phone and a fax machine if necessary. This will ensure that the phone and fax connections are always open. One example is the Belkin Surge Power Strip Protector (Model No. BP11223008). It also has coaxial cable ports, so that you can connect a cable box or satellite dish safely.
Belkin Surge Power Strip Protector (Model No. BP11223008)
What reviewers say
Here are some comments from customers, about their impressions of their surge protector:
Angled plug: Some surge protectors have their plug at a 45- or 90-degree angle, such as the APC Surge Protector. This is handy so that it won’t interfere with other devices that have to be plugged in nearby.
Not just for lightning strikes: One customer said that a surge protector doesn’t just protect against lightning strikes (which aren’t very common). Air conditioners, refrigerators, hairdryers, and vacuum cleaners can all draw several kilowatts of power and can cause a drop, and then a spike in current. So, it’s good to invest in a good surge protector. Just be sure to stay within the wattage of the surge protector: if it’s rated for 1800 Watts, don’t try hooking up portable heaters that can use 2000 Watts!
Warranty issues: Some surge protectors say that they will protect up to $50,000 worth of electronics, and guarantee to pay for damage due to the surge protector not working. Customers say that these warranty numbers are just for marketing purposes. Don’t rely on them to reimburse you if the surge protector fails!
These are some important specs and features that are worth looking for when shopping for a surge protector:
Power cord: Surge protectors can help clean up a lot of clutter from cables coming from all different devices. Choose the length of your surge protector’s power cord by what works best for your setup at home or work. Most of the products we reviewed had a 6-ft or 8-ft power cord. You can even find products with a 12-ft cord.
Mountable: Another feature that is popular is the ability to mount your device to the wall, or to a piece of furniture. The underside of the Belkin Power Strip Surge Protector (Model No. BV112234-08) has a number of mounting slots and holes to secure your device.
Back of Belkin Power Strip Surge Protector
Clamping voltage: A surge protector’s clamping voltage is the voltage at which it will start diverting power to avoid damaging your devices. The Belkin Power Strip Surge Protector has a clamping voltage of 400 Volts. You would probably like it to be lower. Also, the response time of the surge protector is important, noting how fast it will react to a power surge. It should react on the order of microseconds or even 1 nanosecond (one-billionth of a second).
Joules rating: You’ll see surge protectors all have a Joules rating. The Joules rating is the maximum amount of energy the surge protector can absorb before it can’t hold up anymore. A Joules rating of up to 2000 Joules is adequate for cellphones and tablets, while treadmills and home theater systems should require a Joules rating of 3000 Joules. Expensive, delicate electronics like computers and smart TVs deserve a high Joule rating, for a high level of protection. But, even if it has a Joules rating of 4320 Joules, like the Belkin Surge Power Strip Protector, you should still check that your surge protector is still functioning properly after a serious power surge or drop. It should have an indicator light that indicates that it’s still functioning.
We went through some of the items in the Best Reviews Guide list of the best surge protectors. Power surges and brownouts can occur unexpectedly. When you have a desktop computer, a printer, a smart TV, or a home entertainment system (and especially if you have all of these things), a surge protector is a necessity to protect all of these devices. Invest in a good surge protector today!