What to Look For When Buying Surge Protectors

If you have electronics in your home, you should also have surge protectors. These tools act as a buffer between the power source and appliance you are powering. They limit the amount of energy that reaches the device. Should a spike in electrical current, or power surge, occur, the protector will redirect the extra voltage to a grounding wire in the outlet.

Not all products are built with the same reliability and quality. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for when buying surge protectors for your home.

Surge Protectors vs. Power Strips

Surge protectors and power strips look very similar. However, they do not serve the same purpose. A power strip splits the outlet into multiple ports to power multiple devices. It does not stop excess voltage from reaching appliances or computers during a power surge.

Make sure the product you choose is labelled as a surge protector. This should appear on the packaging. It may also say “interrupter switch” or “fused strip.” If you see the words “power strip,” chances are it isn’t a protector.

Surge Protector Prices

Price can also help you determine if you are buying the correct type of product. Surge protectors will cost more than power strips.

It’s usually best to do your research and check reviews before you decide on a specific product. Low price is attractive but doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the protection you need. And you most likely won’t know you are trusting a sub-par product until it is too late. Saving money now could cost you hundreds or even thousands in replacement electronics later.

Surge Protector Ports

Surge protectors are available with different numbers of ports. You should know how many you need before you start shopping. Some have six or eight, while others can have more. Choose a model that can accommodate your electronic needs.

Also, consider any future expansions that might occur. For example, if you plan on getting the kids a new computer or if you will be upgrading to a better entertainment system, you may want to choose a surge protector with more ports than you currently use.

Check the Clamping Voltage and Energy Absorption Rating

Clamping voltage refers to the amount of energy that must reach the surge protector before it starts redirecting and absorbing excess energy.  You should choose a product with a clamping voltage of around 400V or lower.

The energy absorption rating refers to the amount of power the surge protector can absorb. You should look for a device that can handle at least 600 to 700 joules. A higher absorption rating is better.