If you’ve got expensive gear around the home or dozens of devices that need an electrical outlet, then you may want to consider purchasing a surge protector. A surge protector adds another layer of protection in case of a random power spike.
But don’t confuse surge protectors with power strips. Power strips are just an expansion of a wall outlet. They typically have an on/off switch but don’t really protect your devices from electrical issues.
Surge protectors divert excess voltage into the grounding port of a wall outlet. Excess voltage can cause permanent damage to connected devices, such as terminal power failure or a gradual weakening of the circuitry over time.
An energy surge can be caused by a sudden energy draw, such as when a powerful appliance is turned on. In North America, anything above 120V is considered excess. However, smaller surges may occur anytime and without signs or warning.
Review the Features
When shopping for a surge protector make sure that it has enough outlets for all of your electronics, spacing to fit power bricks, and a long cable. Not all surge protectors are designed to offer enough space for power bricks, so keep this in mind when on the hunt for a surge protector.
Consider the Joules
Joules are simply a unit of energy. The higher the joules, the higher the protection. So if a surge protector has 500 joules of protection, it should be able to handle ten 50-joule hits, or four 125-joule hits, or one 500-joule energy surge. For bigger devices, such as a computer or home theater equipment, you may need surge protectors with a joule rating of at least 2500.
Check the Clamping Voltage and Response Time
Clamping voltage, also referred to as Voltage Protection Rating (VPR) or Suppressed Voltage Rating (SVR), indicates when the surge protector will activate. Lower numbers mean the surge protector is less tolerant of excess voltage. A surge protector with 330 V clamping will allow a lower surge, compared to a surge protector with 500 V clamping, before protecting the devices. The 330 V device is the better option.
Make sure the surge protector has UL 1449 certification to ensure it is safe enough for consumer use. If you don’t see a mention of this on the product packaging, then it may not be a good choice.