The 10 Best Surge Protectors
Spike The Punch, Not Your TV
By contrast, a power strip has several available outlets for plugging many of your devices into one location.
Regardless of the technology used, your ultimate goal is to protect your most expensive investments.
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.
Surge protectors also come in many different shapes and sizes.
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.