The 10 Best Surge Protectors
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Rather than leaving your electrical appliances vulnerable to power spikes, lightning strikes, and other problems, keep them safe with a reliable surge protector. These devices can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint, as they’ll let you shut off multiple electronics at once when not in use. We’ve ranked various selections for durability, convenience, design features, and affordability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 27, 2020:
Do note that these surge protectors are Type 3, which means they provide local protection at sockets, though, ideally you want Type 1 and 2 whole home surge protectors in addition to these for ample coverage against different types of surges. Since the whole market is moving towards smart devices and added connectivity, I wanted to add a couple of smart surge protectors during this update. As their name suggests, these devices can be controlled remotely via an app or voice assistant like Alexa or Google Home, and this is obviously a great feature that affords a lot of flexibility, as you can turn off your plugs from the office if you’re worried you’ve left your iron on, or keep your lights on a schedule if you’re away. We do have a separate list for smart power strips, though that list may include power strips which don’t offer surge protection capabilities – however, most strips on the market nowadays do offer some form of basic surge protection. I also wanted to add a more compact model for travel, and that comes in the form of the Belkin SurgeCube.
June 17, 2019:
Power disturbances such as surges, lighting and spikes can happen at any time and cause expensive – and often, irreparable – damage to your gadgets and appliances. When choosing the best surge protector for you, be sure to get one that offers more outlets than you need. This way, as you acquire more gadgets, there’ll be a place for it. Also, consider that power spikes can affect phone and cable lines, too – so you might want one that can safeguard these, like the APC P11VT3 featured here; in addition to offering 11 AC outlets, it provides landline, DSL, and coaxial protection.
Joining the selection is the APC PH8U2, which has a handy thermal fuse component that enables it to react immediately to electrical faults and spikes, so your equipment stays safe. In addition, if its circuits ever become damaged, it disconnects your devices so they won’t suffer as well. This model has undergone stringent IEEE testing, and it received a rating for excellent protection and performance.
Retaining its top spot is the Belkin Power Strip, which has a thoughtful design that accommodates oversized plugs. This way, you’re not forced to leave some outlets unused because your adapter blocks take up considerable space. It features an ergonomically shaped edge, for a comfortable grip when you're maneuvering it under or behind furniture.
If you’re looking for an old-school power strip, the Uninex AWG won’t disappoint, as this basic model provides nothing more than a row of AC outlets. Just know that your large adapters will hog more than one outlet. For a tower model, consider the Lanshion 1875W, which can be placed on a desk or tabletop. It stays stable, thanks to its wide base, and it offers four USB ports on one of its sides.
Spike The Punch, Not Your TV
There is typically a delay, so the response time is proportional to the amount of exposure that a plugged-in device will experience during a power spike.
It's a safe bet that in today's digital age, most people own many electronic devices, including mobile phones, tablets, expensive flat screen televisions, computers, and other very large appliances around the house requiring lots of power. It stands to reason, then, that protecting all of your devices from overloads and power spikes is just as important as initially investing in them. The last thing you want is to spend all of that money on your brand new Sony LED television only to have it burn out, thanks to a spike in electricity during a lightning storm. That's where the surge protector comes in handy.
Also referred to as a surge suppressor or surge diverter, a surge protector is a device designed to protect electrical appliances from voltage spikes in your home or place of business. This is accomplished by either blocking or shorting to ground any unwanted voltage spikes that occur above a particular threshold. By ground, we mean a reference point to which electric currents can be measured in the context of a direct physical connection with the Earth itself.
It's important not to confuse a surge protector with a power strip. By contrast, a power strip has several available outlets for plugging many of your devices into one location. Many surge protectors have several outlets as well. However, that doesn't mean that the power strip also functions as a surge protector in every case. The good news is that many power strips do have built-in surge protection capabilities, hence your common use of the power strip in your bedroom. Just make sure you look at a power strip's specifications in the store before you buy it. Also, don't be afraid to ask if you aren't sure.
Surge protectors usually have ratings listed in joules along with the maximum amount of voltage they can withstand from a power spike. If a power strip is listed with a joules rating, then it's usually equipped with surge protection functionality.
Response time is important to be aware of, as the device won't operate instantaneously. There is typically a delay, so the response time is proportional to the amount of exposure that a plugged-in device will experience during a power spike. The longer the delay, the higher the exposure.
Surge protectors often include one of several primary electronic components, which include a metal oxide varistor (MOV), transient voltage suppression diode (TVS), thyristor surge protection device (TSPD), and a gas discharge tube (GDT) among others. These components all serve to divert unwanted energy away from the protected load through shunting. Regardless of the technology used, your ultimate goal is to protect your most expensive investments. Consider a surge protector a relatively affordable form of insurance for your appliances.
It's Time To Surge Forward
If you own several electronic devices and plan to use them all in the same place, then finding an affordable surge protector with the most available outlets is important. This is particularly helpful in bedrooms with many devices like clock radios, televisions, standing fans, etc. Finding a surge protector that's narrow is also a good thing if your intended location gets a lot of foot traffic. After all, you don't want people unnecessarily tripping over a bulky surge protector unit or accidentally unplugging your devices.
Finally, you need to consider where your wall outlet is and the length of the power cord that leads to the surge protector.
Finding a surge protector with a low clamping voltage is also a good idea. The lower the clamping voltage, the less power it takes before the protective components of your surge protector start to work and shunt the excess power. A maximum clamping voltage of 400 volts or less is generally recommended.
Surge protectors also come in many different shapes and sizes. For example, if you need one for a conference room, finding one with a circular shape and built-in USB ports might be useful, since the protector's footprint would be small, while having enough outlets for multiple users to plug in for presentations.
On-board, diagnostic LED indicators alerting you to the status of line interference also help to prevent damage to your plugged-in devices, which is definitely useful as device technology becomes more complicated.
Finally, you need to consider where your wall outlet is and the length of the power cord that leads to the surge protector. Keeping the device in an accessible, yet unobtrusive location will make it easy to plug in the rest of your electronics without too much cord clutter.
History And Future Of The Surge Protector
One of the first surge suppressors was developed by the General Electric company in the 1950s. Around the same time, similar devices appeared in Japan. The earliest forms of surge protectors used selenium rectifiers, which contained components used to convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) power. Later used were disc-shaped carbon piles for carrying the power currents.
Most modern surge protectors use spark-gap technology, meaning that the device will break down/suppress the electrical currents as the voltage reaches the maximum tolerance or rating for the device itself. In today's market, you can also find whole house surge protectors with an access panel if the idea of having several power strips with the technology built in isn't to your liking.
The future for surge protectors focuses more on enhancing their design rather than reinventing the wheel entirely. For example, some new models have been developed to incorporate resistance to both noise and phone line interference, while others offer redesigned outlet configurations for accommodating transformers and very tight spaces.