Power boards are a common find in many Australian homes. This is especially true in areas where homes are older. Decades ago, people did not have as many electrical devices as they do now. Today, we do more than power our television or refrigerator with electricity. We also use it to run computers, gaming consoles, and a long list of household appliances. It’s also necessary to recharge the phones we carry with us all day long.
A home that was built years ago may have been designed with only one or two outlets per room. Power boards provide a way to expand electrical access without rewiring and installing new outlets.
The 3 Types of Power Boards
While many brands make power boards, these generally fall into three main categories:
- Basic Power Board – A basic model will get the job done most of the time. However, it does not offer anything in the way of protection. This is the cheapest option, usually available for under $10. It serves as an extender for your outlet – and that’s it. Plug it in, and you’ll have more space to power devices.
When purchased from a reputable retailer, basic power boards should meet Australian safety standards with overload protection, but they will not provide surge protection.
- Surge Protector Power Board – A power board with surge protection is a better choice. These cost a bit more, usually up to $30 depending on quality and size. They work with a metal oxide varistor, or MOV, that diverts current to earth during a power surge.
Each surge causes the power board to degrade, so it will eventually need to be replaced. If you see scorch marks on the board, that means the MOV is burned out, and you need a new one.
- Insured Power Boards – Insured power boards are surge protected but come with an additional benefit: insurance. That means there is coverage in case an appliance is damaged when using the board during a power surge.
These are even more costly, usually between $50 and $100 each. You should always read the fine print because coverage and payout limitations will vary from one company to the next.
Which Power Boards Are the Safest for My Home?
Your best option is to go with a power board that offers as many features as possible. Those that are also a surge protector and include things like child-safety features and RCDs (safety switches) will give you the best protection.
The downside is that those with more features also tend to cost more, but it is usually worth it in the end. Consider the value of the appliances and devices that will be shielded in case of a power surge. It’s also impossible to put a monetary value on the safety of loved ones.
When using any power board, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Don’t exceed the maximum power rating, do not piggyback multiple boards, and check often for signs of wear and damage.