We’ve all heard the horror stories: “My laptop was plugged into the wall outlet and the power went out and when I tried to turn on my laptop, it had been fried…” The very idea is enough to make you shudder. Fortunately, there is an affordable little piece of technology that is designed to save all of your expensive and sensitive devices from being destroyed by a thunderstorm.
Surge protectors have been around for awhile and when most people buy a power bar to get more things plugged in, they’re (hopefully) actually buying a surge protector. What’s the difference? A power bar helps you get more outlets out of one wall outlet, and further away so that your cables aren’t stretched out, while a surge protector actually monitors the level of electricity coming in, and can switch off when a surge (sudden, sharp increase) comes down the wires which your devices aren’t able to handle on their own — that’s how laptops get fried!
Investing in a surge protector is smart for virtually all of your plug-in-able devices, whether that’s your home entertainment system, your home office, or different appliances in your kitchen. If you’re already looking to buy a power bar, you may as well get a surge protector (they cost the same anyway) so that you can have some ease of mind that you won’t come home to thousands of dollars of dead equipment!
In this list we’ve compiled, we have products from trusted brands like GE, APC (by Schneider Electric), and Belkin, which can get you anywhere from six to 12 extra ports out of one wall outlet, plus models have bonus USB ports, phone, and cable jacks as well.
Surge protectors don’t cost a lot money but they do make a difference in the longevity of your devices and appliances. As with anything, we don’t recommend you go buying blindly, so we have some tips and considerations included after this list for you to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy.
|Surge Rating:||800 joules|
|Number of Ports:||6|
|Product Dimensions:||4.95 x 11.43 x 28.58 cm; 476 g|
This surge protector from General Electric is the least expensive, though still reliable, solution to your gear protection needs. With six ports that feature twist lock safety covers, you can get a modest amount of protection for six devices. While 800 joules isn’t a huge safety net, if you live in an area with stable electricity, you can rest assured with this affordable model. With the protection indication light, you’ll know immediately when you need to replace your surge protector.
|Surge Rating:||4500 joules|
|Number of Ports:||8|
|Product Dimensions:||29.85 x 7.59 x 2.9 cm; 644.1 g|
Jumping up just a couple of dollars but leaps and bounds in protection, this AmazonBasics Surge Protector has eight ports with a 4500 joules energy rating! With a simple but clever design, it features five ports on one side, with the additional three opposite, but spaced out for clunkier plugs. While 4500 joules is a lot of peace of mind, it still has an LED light to indicate when it is actively protecting so that you know when it’s time to replace it.
|Surge Rating:||2880 joules|
|Number of Ports:||11 + 2 USB|
|Product Dimensions:||30.2 x 11.94 x 3.99 cm; 1.01 kg|
Now we jump up in price a little bit more but it’s because of the excellence in this Surge Protector. APC is a trusted name when it comes to protecting all your tech, and one of the best reasons is their warranty. While 2880 joules is kind of middle-of-the-road in terms of energy rating, APC comes with a lifetime warranty and a $250,000 connected-equipment protection policy — if you get a surge and it fries anything that was correctly connected to this surge protector, APC will repair or replace up to a quarter of a million dollars worth of stuff!
|Surge Rating:||4000 joules|
|Number of Ports:||12 + 3 USB|
|Product Dimensions:||32.77 x 11.94 x 3.56 cm; 907.18 g|
This model from Huntkey has 12 ports— six of which are standard sized, and six that are spaced out for more convenience and versatility. With the outlets facing 180°, you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to make all your plugs fit nicely — there’s an outlet for everything. With an energy rating of 4000 joules, it’s capable of protecting everything from a smartphone to a whole home entertainment system, and the outlets to power everything in between.
|Surge Rating:||4000 joules|
|Number of Ports:||12 + 2 USB|
|Product Dimensions:||3.99 x 17.81 x 38.4 cm; 961.62 g|
This is the first of two models we’ve picked out from Belkin, and this one is the most expensive surge protector on this list. With six standard ports and six spaced out ports — plus two USB ports — you’ll be able to plug in everything from your phone to your office printer to your kitchen stand mixer and not have to worry about any of them being damaged by surges and spikes. With two LED lights, you’ll know when your surge protector is working and when it’s not grounded so you can save all your devices.
Power surges are things you may know of from particularly aggressive thunderstorms. When lightning hits something important and everything goes dark, it’s because lightning has about a billion joules of energy, and nothing you have in your home is able to withstand that, so somewhere between your house and a generation plant, something has been overwhelmed and shut down because of it.
Sometimes though, even things in your house can cause a power surge. Have you ever wondered why things like a fridge, stove, or washing machine don’t just plug into a standard wall outlet? They require much more power and so they have cables and outlets designed to withstand much more power than your tablet or phone need. (And no, more power won’t charge things faster!) Of course, though, things can happen where one of these appliances sends its own surge of power back, and that power can knock out your home’s breakers.
Or maybe you just live in a place where the power frequently drops out? We won’t get into the nitty gritty about electricity and municipal power grids, so we’ll just say this: buy a Surge Protector. When your home gets hit with way more energy than it can possibly handle, don’t let that end up in your devices! Let your surge protector take the brunt of it!
When you’re looking at powerbars and surge protectors and you aren’t sure which is which, the easiest way to tell the difference is to see if one mentions anything about “joules”. As mentioned way above, a powerbar is simply additional power outlets — a splitter, essentially — whereas a surge protector is built to withstand a certain amount of joules beyond what is the standard output of electricity.
When your surge protector says it has an energy rating of 4000 joules, that means that it can withstand any combination that adds up to that value: 4000 all at once, or a bunch of mini-surges. But what happens when the energy rating is reached? Or worse, surpassed without you knowing? Well, your surge protector becomes a powerbar — your stuff isn’t protected anymore.
Here is one really good tip to keep in mind when buying: if your surge protector is going behind a TV stand or something, make sure you buy one with a very obvious LED light that tells you when your things are being protected. When the LED goes out, that’s how you know the total number of joules has been surpassed, which is helpful if you aren’t even aware of power surges that have happened.
Yes, but how frequently really and truly depends on where you live and what your electricity stability is like. Go for something with an energy rating of 4000+ joules and you’ll be good to go for a while.
Investing in a surge protector with a few thousand joules of an energy rating not only gives you peace of mind regarding your expensive devices and appliances, it gives you actual protection that can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Not only that, but who can argue against six to 12 plugs that are all equally protected for the price of one wall outlet? No one. Buy a surge protector and thank us later.
Did your favourite surge protector make our list? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!