Surge protectors (or surge suppressors) are an affordable way of shielding your gadgets and electronics against random power spike damage.
Whether you’re planning to increase the number of power outlets or you just want to add an extra layer of protection between your electronics and direct power sources, you’ll eventually want to purchase a surge protector.
There’s no doubt that there are several varieties of surge protectors with each making different marketing promises.
So, it may be difficult to figure out what’s worth your quids and what’s just basic crap. Not to worry though. We’ll help you sort through it all with this article.
Here are the 10 things you should know about surge protectors.
1. Factor in the joules
The most important feature of surge protectors is their ability to shield your appliances from electrical spikes.
Thus, joules are used to measure the amount of protection a surge protector offers. Basically, the more joules your surge protector has, the better for your electronics.
Generally, it means the device can handle a large surge as well as multiple smaller surges before it affects your appliance.
However, the components within the protector tend to wear down over time, thus, reducing their effectiveness.
It is almost impossible to know how much protection power a surge protector has left or if the initial rating is even accurate.
2. Surge protectors and power strips
There’s a big difference between surge protectors and power strips. It is important to understand this before you purchase a power strip thinking it’s a surge protector and end up getting your appliance blown.
Power strips are basically cheap, multi-outlet products that are simply an extension of a wall outlet.
Typically, they come with a circuit breaker (more like an on/off switch) but often offer zero protection from electrical issues.
Some might have even a tiny bit of protection but generally, they’re all not so different from directly plugging your electronic into a wall socket.
However, we do have some low-priced surge protectors, but unlike power strips, they offer a much better level of protection against power surges.
3. You’ll need more outlets than you think
There’s probably no limit to how many outlets you will need from your surge protector. You’ll definitely want to increase the number of appliances in your household.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be getting rid of your present electronics. We are not necessarily saying if you need four outlets, get a 10, but getting a six won’t be a bad investment.
4. A warranty won’t be a bad idea
You can look out for surge protectors that come with a warranty. Some manufacturers offer a warranty (up to a specific amount) on the electronics connected to the protector.
You probably won’t ever need it though, however, it is not a bad idea to have it. But keep in mind that just because a surge protector comes with a warranty doesn’t always mean you’ll ever be compensated for damaged appliances.
5. USB port, good. Higher amps, better.
Newer surge protectors come with USB ports allowing you to charge your mobile devices without necessarily needing to have a travel charger.
This can come quite handy, to be honest, however, check the output amp rating before buying it. Usually, they are labeled as 1A or 2A (one amp or two amps).
Basically, the amp is how much flow you can get through the port. Thus, it will be better if you go for one that has at least 2 amps for faster charging.
6. Power ‘conditioners’ aren’t necessary
Several surge protectors in the market may claim to ‘condition’ the power from the wall outlet while promising an improvement in performance from your appliances.
We’ll let you in on a little secret – your electronics probably already do this. Generally, all electronics have a unique power supply (230 volts in Europe and 120 volts in the US) that receives incoming wall current, filters it for noise, and then converts it into whatever the appliance needs.
7. Have a portable power strip handy
As mentioned earlier, power strips don’t offer much in terms of protection. However, a power strip can help decongest your surge protector especially if you’re away from home.
Many hotels and hostels have few accessible outlets and if you’re among family or friends, they’ll need multiple outlets to charge their devices.
Most portable power strips come with two to three extra outlets. Some even offer direct USB charging ports.
8. Think of spacing for bigger plugs
Lots of devices utilize wall warts – these are plugs that convert AC power into DC power. Also, they resemble little boxes with electrical prongs sticking out.
When it’s time to purchase a surge protector, consider getting one that has a wider spacing between sockets or those whose sockets can be moved or rotated to accommodate chunky plugs.
9. Phone lines can be affected by power spikes too
If you want full protection, consider the fact that phone and cable lines can also be affected by power surges.
Fortunately, there are surge protectors that have connectors for phone lines. You might consider going for these types if necessary.
10. All things come to an end, including surge protectors
We discussed joule rating earlier, right? Great. Unfortunately, it also means that with time and constant usage, the surge protector will wear out.
Some have been programmed to give a warning or shut off automatically once their protection drops below a set threshold.
Most would just keep on working without protection. This can be scary as you won’t even be aware until a power spike damages your electronics.
If you’ve had a serious electrical event previously such as a blown transformer your home’s power supply is connected to, we recommend replacing your surge protector if you already use one.
In addition, if you have been using your surge protector for more than a few years, it’d be better to have it replaced.
Best Surge Protector for your Electronics
It can be quite stressful to go through all the available surge protectors on the market today. However, we can make things a bit easier for you.
If you’re looking for the best surge protector for electronics, check out some of the ones we have below.
Honestly, you have no reason not to get a surge protector for your appliances. However, how much you need it will vary.
If you live in a region that experiences lots of thunderstorms, your electronics are more likely to experience power spikes.
Fortunately, because most surge protectors are affordable, they’re worth getting. Also, don’t forget to replace them regularly just in case.