Why you should trust us
I’ve been a science announcer for more than seven years, covering a wide variety of topics from particle physics to satellite remote sensing. Since joining Wirecutter in 2017, I’ve reported on portable power stations, solar chargers, USB-C cables, and more.
To dissever fact from fiction well-nigh surge protectors, our team at Wirecutter reached out to experts in multiple fields while writing the original version of this guide. We talked to Mike Hyland, a 30-year veteran of the utility industry and senior vice president of the industry’southward merchandise association (the American Public Power Clan), to learn about power grids and utility-scale surge protection. Nosotros chatted over email with Jack Loppnow, an insurance pro who has been in the industry since the 1960s, and got advice on what office homeowners and renters policies play in protecting your technology investments. We likewise interviewed Joe Solar day, director of global business organization development at TerraCycle Regulated Waste material, about how to recycle erstwhile surge protectors, power strips, and other common types of household electronic waste.
Additionally, we’ve asked Lee Johnson—an electrical engineer with more fifteen years of experience designing and testing electronics—to put our picks and new contenders to the test in six split rounds of testing since 2016.
Who this is for
A surge protector does much more than than supply actress outlets. It’s first and foremost a safety device—a relatively inexpensive way to protect expensive electronics. There’s little reason for anyone to leave their part, den, or home theater unprotected, or to hang on to erstwhile, worn-out surge protectors.
Yep, that’southward right: Surge protectors don’t concluding forever. Virtually estimates put the average lifespan of a surge protector at three to five years. And if your home is subject to frequent brownouts or blackouts, you might want to replace your surge protectors as oftentimes every bit every ii years. If you move every bit frequently as I practice, every couple of years, a good rule of thumb is to just get rid of your quondam surge protectors every bit you’re packing up and supplant them when you motility into your new place. If y'all take a cheap, bones power strip (or the kind of multiport adapter that plugs right into a wall outlet), it most likely never had worthwhile surge protection capabilities to begin with. No judgment—my college roommates and I relied on a power strip that my parents had bought for their first house decades before. But you should replace these subpar options every bit soon equally possible and be thankful that they didn’t take hold of burn or impairment your electronics (PDF).
The surge protection components within wear out a little more with each surge, and in that location’s near no mode to know how much protection remains. Many cheap models proceed to pass power to their outlets even after the protection is long gone. That’s why we propose looking for a surge protector with an car-shutoff feature, which stops the device from carrying power when the protection wears out.
Although surge protectors tin can’t do much to protect your property against direct lightning strikes—which are pretty rare, anyway—they can help with the much more mutual surges that originate inside your domicile or building. They tin also protect confronting occasional surges from your utility company and are especially worth having in areas with unreliable power grids.
Homeowners can opt to install a surge protection device (SPD) for their unabridged home, which is marketed on the premise of eliminating the need for plug-in surge protectors. However, the estimated cost to have an electrician install an SPD range from $500 to $1,000, and your dwelling’south electrical panel and utility service must exist modern enough for information technology to be safely wired in. Besides, whole-firm surge protectors are typically rated for a much higher let-through voltage than our picks, clamping at 600 to 1,200 volts rather than 400 volts or less. So although such a unit of measurement should exist able to prevent impairment to kitchen appliances, tabular array lamps, and other electronics that are less sensitive to surges, you’d probably still want to utilize a plug-in surge protector for high-end computers and AV equipment. Lee Johnson, our engineer, hasn’t personally tested any whole-house surge protectors, but he says they’re worth considering merely if you live in an area that’s at loftier risk for routine surges or line downings.
If your home theater costs more than a compact car, it may be worth considering surge protectors with serial manner capabilities. They’re superior to their more than common, MOV (metallic oxide varistor) counterparts in pretty much every way: Nosotros’ve tested several such models in the past and constitute that they let virtually no actress voltage through. Their non-sacrificial components are also designed to last indefinitely. The downside is that they tin cost more than 10 times as much to replace equally our pinnacle picks. Plus, our maximum-protection pick from Furman, which is a hybrid model that costs less than true series mode options, produced similar results in our testing.
Finally, if you lot want to protect equipment that could be damaged by a sudden loss of power, a hard disk that’s susceptible to data corruption, or critical gear that can’t ever go down (such as a CPAP car to treat slumber apnea), you shouldn’t be looking at a surge protector at all. Instead, you need an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), most of which have born surge protection. (If that describes yous, read our guide to our top UPS picks.)
How we picked
We started our research by scanning the top results on Amazon, Google Shopping, and retailers like Domicile Depot and Walmart, too as the websites of well-known brands such as Accell, Belkin, and Tripp Low-cal, to compile a list of models.
Equally we did for previous iterations of this guide, we considered the different ways that people use surge protectors. We knew we wanted something heavy-duty for use with home office gear, game consoles in a living room, home theaters, or other power-hungry entertainment setups. Nosotros also looked at smaller units designed for kitchen outlets or bedside tables, as well every bit series way and hybrid models for people who desire the highest level of surge defense.
Nosotros looked for models in each of those subcategories that had several specific traits, including the following:
Automatic shutoff when the surge protector wears out:
We preferred that the surge protector take an machine-shutoff feature so that it never leaves your equipment inadvertently unprotected. Otherwise, we required, at minimum, an indicator light that will notify you when items plugged into the unit are no longer protected against surges.
At least eight Ac outlets for living room or role use:
We required at least eight AC outlets for the principal, runner-upwards, and top-of-the-line contenders, at least four for the nightstand contenders, and 1 to iv for our light-duty choice.
A surge protection rating of 400 volts or better:
Although we verified each model’south abilities in our ain electrical testing, we required that they be rated by ane of the major product-prophylactic corporations, UL or ETL, to bring a surge downward to (at most) 400 volts, giving preference to models that earned a lower, 330-volt rating. Lower is better when it comes to let-through voltage, the measure of how much extra voltage reaches your electronics.
High joule ratings:
A joule rating tells you nigh how much energy the surge protector can blot before it fails—in a video game, the joule rating would be the wellness meter—so, the higher the amend. Simply you never get to meet the meter itself, and how long the surge protector volition terminal is just an judge, so we didn’t put a lot of stock in the rating.
Convenient auxiliary ports:
We preferred (but did not require) our picks to have phone ports for the meaning percentage of people in the United states who take a landline phone or a dial-upwards cyberspace connectedness—about 37% and 0.6% of the population, respectively. We dismissed whatsoever nightstand or light-duty contender without at to the lowest degree i USB-A port with two amps or more.
At least a one-yr warranty:
A one-year warranty is a bare-minimum requirement for something that you’re trusting to protect equipment costing tens or hundreds of dollars and that yous’ll be replacing every few years regardless. Go along in mind that a warranty covers only defects in materials or structure and won’t help y'all when the surge components wear out every bit designed—and even a lifetime warranty doesn’t last forever.
Long power cord:
If a surge protector has a power string, the longer, the better. This makes it more convenient to employ and safer. (We explain in the Care and maintenance department why you lot shouldn’t plug a surge protector into an extension string.)
Sensible port layout and overall design:
To keep oversize plugs from blocking nearby outlets, we wanted the surge protector’s ports to be adequately spaced. And nosotros didn’t want something overly heavy or bulky that would look out of place in a room. Nosotros considered well-designed clamps, hooks, or holes for mounting the surge protector on a table or baseboard to be a bonus.
Over the years, nosotros’ve also identified certain features (marketing ploys, essentially) that you can safely ignore:
On the more than expensive surge protectors we’ve tested, racket filtration is a common “premium” feature that reduces electromagnetic or radio-frequency interference, which could cause information loss or audio/video disruptions in your connected devices. We measured the efficacy of this feature in past rounds of testing, but since most models performed similarly in this regard, we haven’t connected to test it. In any case, all quality ability supplies, whether internal or external, accept some noise filtration built in.
Continued-equipment insurance coverage:
Although many surge protectors are sold with this insurance, nosotros disregard it when deciding which models to examination for this guide. We suggest that you read the fine print, since ofttimes you’ll accept to jump through a bunch of hoops to collect in the effect of disaster. If you desire financial protection yous can count on, don’t become it from a tech manufacturer. Just make certain you’re covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy.
“Smart” surge protection:
The smart surge protectors nosotros’ve come across thus far are actually more like “high-tech power strips,” says Wirecutter senior staff author Rachel Cericola, who covers smart-home devices. In general, their joule ratings are lower, and their let-through voltage ratings higher, than those of the picks in this guide. We’ll continue an heart out for improvements, just for the time being the performance just isn’t there—and as with whatsoever internet-connected device, with smart surge protectors you’re opening yourself upwardly to security risks.
Filtering our candidates through these requirements left us with a short list of six models to test against our existing picks in 2021:
- APC Performance SurgeArrest P11U2
- APC Performance SurgeArrest P11VT3
- APC Home Function SurgeArrest PH12U2W
- Belkin PivotPlug 12-Outlet Surge Protector BP112230-08
- Nekteck Ability Strip with 12 Air-conditioning Outlets NK-12A2UPD18W-6FT
- Tripp Low-cal Protect It 8-Outlet Surge Protector TLP825
How nosotros tested
In the US, wall outlets nominally provide electricity at 120 volts, but virtually electronic devices can handle more than, allowing them to operate on the 240-volt standard used internationally. In our rounds of testing, we subject each surge protector to a ridiculously powerful 5,000-volt surge and mensurate how much of the overflow voltage slips through. The resulting figures finer tell united states how many volts would exist able to reach and potentially damage your devices at habitation. No household ability surge exceeds 6,000 volts (PDF), and most don’t fifty-fifty come close, co-ordinate to the Plant of Electric and Electronics Engineers. The major exception would exist straight lightning strikes, only considering that a single lightning bolt carries upwards of one billion volts, no surge protector will salve your TV from one of those.
Lee Johnson, a veteran electrical engineer, fix our testing parameters for this guide, which we’ve repeated with the same equipment each year since 2016. We attach each model to an EM Test NX5 surge generator to produce surges from 200 volts to 5,000 volts in 100-volt increments along each of the three legs of the wiring—line-to-ground (L-1000), line-to-neutral (L-N), and neutral-to-ground (N-K)—and record the resulting output that would be passed along to any devices plugged into the surge protector. We follow that upwards with five consecutive surges of 5,000 volts and average those results. Nosotros record the output—lower is ameliorate, because it means the surge protector is holding dorsum more power from your devices—for all three legs of wiring.
In 2016 and 2017, Johnson dissected each surge protector to assess the components inside. He compared the thickness of the wiring, the size and arrangement of the protective MOVs, whether any filters or capacitors were incorporated into the designs, and the overall construction quality. For reputable brands selling surge protectors in the $15 to $fifty range, the guts were then similar that the dissection yielded no useful information, so we oasis’t torn downwards the models nosotros’ve tested since.
To further demonstrate the importance of using a surge protector, Johnson subjected a (very sometime) Dell LCD monitor to a v,000-volt surge, both with and without protection. Afterward taking the protected hit, the brandish powered on and displayed an epitome with no problem. In contrast, when he funneled five,000 volts directly into the unprotected monitor, it promptly cried out in pain, never to plow on again.
Our selection: Tripp Lite Protect It 12-Outlet Surge Protector TLP1208TELTV
We’ve tested dozens of surge protectors, and we are confident that the Tripp Light Protect It 12-Outlet Surge Protector TLP1208TELTV is the best i to employ with typical living room or function equipment. It provides all the rubber features you need, plenty of outlets, stellar surge protection performance, and noticeably nicer build quality than we’ve seen on other units nosotros’ve tested.
The Tripp Light TLP1208TELTV has an motorcar-shutoff feature that powers down the unit of measurement permanently when it has worn out and is no longer able to block power surges. Unlike nigh surge protectors, which keep to power electronics fifty-fifty after the protection is gone, our pick is prophylactic and trustworthy because you lot know that if information technology’s still providing power, it however has some protection left. In addition to its machine-shutoff function, the unit has ii little LED indicators: one that tells yous when surge protection is functioning and another that lets y'all know if yous accept a brusk circuit, a diddled fuse, or a wiring problem that requires intervention from an electrician.
When nosotros sent 5,000-volt surges of electricity through the Tripp Lite 12-outlet model, it suppressed as much as any surge protector we tested (with the exception of series mode or hybrid options similar our upgrade pick). In our tests, it averaged a let-through voltage (the remaining amount of the surge that passes through to your devices) of 206.8 volts, well below UL’due south 400-volt (PDF) rating.
Note that every surge protector we tested came in under 400 volts except for the cheap, generic model we picked upwardly at a big-box store. That discount unit let through a whopping 517 volts on the chief (L-Northward) leg and provided no protection whatsoever through the other two legs. Don’t buy generic surge protectors if yous care about actual surge protection.
This Tripp Lite model’south 12 Air-conditioning outlets should be more than sufficient for about people’s needs—that’s enough for a TV, a gaming panel, a soundbar, and an excessive number of lamps. You lot tin can notice surge protectors with more 12 outlets (Tripp Lite, for case, makes 1 with 24 outlets), but they’re generally too large for around-the-house use, and they tend to lack peripheral ports like USB, telephone, and coaxial connectors.
The Tripp Low-cal TLP1208TELTV also has dual coaxial connectors, and so you tin can hook up your cablevision box, plus iii telephone ports. (Unlike Ethernet connections, telephone ports don’t support high-speed internet, and then although you lot can use these ports to protect a landline telephone, you can’t utilise them to shield network gear from damage.) If y'all’re setting up a media middle with equipment that requires a coaxial or phone connection, these actress ports are nice to take. Just as with AC outlets, power runs through them, and so they tin be affected by lightning and other types of surges; for example, a spike in power through incorrectly grounded cable lines (which are not uncommon) can destroy an unprotected cable box. Different our nightstand and low-cal-use picks, this Tripp Lite 12-outlet model doesn’t take whatsoever USB ports. But since this type of surge protector commonly sits out of reach (behind a couch, desk-bound, or TV stand) and is designed for more heavy-duty usage, we don’t recall USB ports are all that important.
The unit’southward outside matches its solid operation with a sturdy, utilitarian crush. Dissimilar with your run-of-the-manufacturing plant ability strips (or even the Hyper Tough surge protector we considered in a previous round of testing), its veneer seems built to stand to most minor scratches and scuffs. Information technology’due south compact enough to slide under a bed or entertainment center, and a set of holes on the dorsum gives yous the option to mount it on a baseboard. Its thick, rubberized cord is 8 feet long, making it convenient to run underneath bookshelves and couches. And unlike our other picks (except the Tripp Calorie-free TLP825), information technology has a 90-degree plug that’south ideal for tight spaces. Tripp Lite offers a limited lifetime warranty that protects against whatsoever defects or failures for the life of the product—merely be warned that it’s non considered a defect for the surge protection to eventually wear out as designed.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Our primary concern regarding the Tripp Lite Protect It 12-Outlet Surge Protector is that it’s a picayune tight on space. It has four well-spaced outlets for large power bricks, simply the single row of eight outlets quickly gets overcrowded, peculiarly with beefy plugs. Information technology would take been nice if some of the outlets had been located on a different confront of the torso, or if the unit had rotating outlets like Belkin’due south 12-outlet PivotPlug does. Information technology also lacks USB ports, which several of our other picks have, so you’ll demand to use a separate wall charger to charge a phone and other USB-powered devices. But the unit’s good overall performance outweighs these pocket-size drawbacks.
All-time for the nightstand: Accell Power Air
We similar the Accell Ability Air for light-duty use around the house, even though its UFO-similar looks might be off-putting for some. Similar our top option, the Power Air safely shuts down once information technology can no longer protect your electronics, so you lot’ll know when y'all need to replace it. The low-contour shape (well-nigh 7¼ inches in diameter and 2 inches high) is more than practical than nearly for sliding it under nightstands or end tables where space is at a premium. And despite its smaller size, the Power Air was able to suppress the most mutual surges about every bit well equally most larger models.
The Power Air’s car-shutoff feature will permanently power down the unit when it has reached the end of its life and is no longer able to suppress surges. That’s the safest way to be sure that your surge protector is really protecting your electronics. Even if you lot aren’t using this model to power pricey equipment, as you might do with one of our chief picks, information technology’southward nice to have the added peace of mind.
The unit has half equally many AC outlets as our pinnacle pick, but half-dozen is sufficient for a lite-duty surge protector. Plus, it has two USB ports with a combined two.4 amps—upgraded from two.1 amps in an older model, the Accell Powramid—and then it gives you lot slightly faster charging speeds for about smartphones and tablets. Even if you plug in a reading calorie-free, a sunrise alarm clock, an essential oil diffuser, and a Qi wireless-charging dock—the makings of a well-equipped bedside tabular array—yous’ll yet have a couple of outlets to spare.
In our testing, the Power Air let only an actress 268.8 volts through, on boilerplate, when we tested information technology against v,000-volt surges. That puts it in the aforementioned course every bit our top picks, though their results were closer to 200 volts. Yet, it probably won’t concluding quite as long—it’s rated to blot but i,080 joules before it wears out, much less than the joule ratings of the Tripp Low-cal (2,880) and APC (iv,320) models. Even though our other picks have lifetime warranties, the 5-twelvemonth warranty on the Ability Air is advisable considering that’s almost equally long as y'all should proceed a surge protector anyhow, since most protection circuits will habiliment out in three to five years.
The Power Air is sleek and compact, with a flattish shape that makes it piece of cake to slide nether an stop table. Its half-dozen-pes cord is thick, flexible, and durable, and its outlets are spaced generously effectually the top of the unit, giving you full access to all of them. Lastly, its blue and green LEDs (which let yous know, respectively, if the unit is powered on and protective) are well marked and conspicuously visible on top.
For light utilize and travel: Tripp Calorie-free Protect It 3-Outlet Surge Protector SK30USB
If you lot desire something that offers solid protection in a small parcel—say, to ability a few appliances and a couple of smartphones on your kitchen counter—get the Tripp Lite Protect It three-Outlet Surge Protector SK30USB. In our total guide to small ability strips for travel, we recommend models with equally many equally four Ac outlets and up to two USB ports. Only whereas nearly of those power strips offer only low-level protection against ability surges, the SK30USB proved almost as protective as larger contenders in our testing.
In addition to three Ac ports on its front-facing side, the SK30USB has 2 ii.1-amp USB ports. It likewise has an auto-shutoff feature, making it one of but a few minor, portable surge protectors nosotros’ve found with this adequacy.
In our testing, the SK30USB’s let-through voltage (291.viii volts) was well under its 330-volt UL rating and our target range of less than 400 volts. Although its expected lifespan is shorter than that of the rest of our picks—it’s rated for 540 joules, versus ratings in the thousands for our other picks—it comes with a lifetime warranty, which is impressive for such an inexpensive device.
Equally for await and experience, the SK30USB is made of glossy plastic and has a sleek, streamlined design. Even though it juts out about an inch from the wall when plugged in, it blends into the background adequately seamlessly. Rather than the tiny LED y'all get on most surge protectors, the unit has a conspicuously visible strip of plastic on tiptop that lights up to indicate that its protection is working. (On the downside, this light might exist annoying in a bedroom while y'all’re trying to sleep.)
Information technology has a 3-prong plug, besides every bit a plastic rod that fits into the bottom hole of the second outlet, ensuring a snug connection. If you’re using the SK30USB at domicile, it besides has a screw that you lot can insert directly into the wall (replacing the screw in the middle of your wall outlet plate) for an fifty-fifty sturdier fit, only we don’t recommend doing this if you’re planning to use the unit of measurement for travel. The AC and USB ports are pretty tightly spaced, but that’due south to exist expected on such a small-scale unit.
For reaching faraway outlets: Tripp Lite Protect Information technology viii-Outlet Surge Protector TLP825
Many homes, especially older ones, don’t take a ton of outlets—and yous should never plug a surge protector into an extension string. If you have a wall outlet correct behind your desk or entertainment center, you’ll exist perfectly happy with our summit pick’s 8-human foot cord. But if your surge protector needs to wrap effectually a room, or fifty-fifty down a hallway, get the Tripp Light Protect Information technology 8-Outlet Surge Protector TLP825. It has fewer outlets and ports than the 12-outlet Tripp Lite TLP1208TELTV, but if you lot need the actress cord length, information technology’southward your best bet.
In our surge testing, the Tripp Lite TLP825 blocked all just 216.4 of the v,000 volts we pumped into it. That’southward but 10 more than volts than our pinnacle pick let through, which means about devices you plug into it will be well protected in the outcome of a common household surge.
Like our top pick, this model has an auto-shutoff machinery, and then it’ll end working when its surge protection has worn off. That way, you lot can recycle it (or utilise it as an ugly doorstop, bookend, or gear up-made sculpture) as presently equally it has stopped serving its primary purpose, rather than continuing to use it without knowing whether your devices are actually protected.
Despite beingness 25 feet long, the rubber-sheathed string is just equally flexible equally that of any other surge protector nosotros’ve tested. Like our tiptop selection, this model has a plug that is apartment and angles to the right, and the chief body is encased in a sturdy, plastic trounce. The unit and its cord are both a dusty white color rather than the typical black, which we think makes it alloy more easily into nearly rooms’ decor—unless, of course, you prefer a darker colour palette.
The TLP825 has four fewer outlets than the TLP1208TELTV and no coaxial or phone ports. Only if you need the extra string length and can live without those ports, that’south a fine trade-off.
Similar the other Tripp Lite models we’ve tested, this one is backed by a lifetime warranty. We’ve had good experiences with Tripp Lite’south customer back up in the past, and that can be helpful if you run into any issues with your unit.
For maximum protection: Furman Power Station 8
Almost people don’t need this caste of protection, but the Furman Power Station 8 (PST-8) offers the strongest surge protection of the dozens of models we’ve tested, besting even loftier-finish series mode surge protectors that cost hundreds more. Even though our tests showed that common equipment like computer displays tin can survive surges when protected by our less-expensive picks, spending more for added protection may be worthwhile in some cases—say, if your home theater, recording studio, or office workstation upkeep is in the five figures. If y'all adopt to take complete peace of heed no matter your situation, there’south no more than affordable way to get it than the PST-8.
In our testing, the PST-8 repeatedly immune just twoscore volts of a v,000-volt surge to laissez passer through to its eight outlets. Instead of relying on standard MOVs to absorb the entire surge, Furman adds extra protection: Once a surge goes over 137 volts, the entire unit of measurement shuts down to protect itself and any continued equipment (switching the unit on and off resets it). Any surge that gets through before the shutdown passes through a series of capacitors every bit well as a large inductor meant to filter the extra power. The large MOV, similar to those constitute in less-expensive units, sacrifices only function of itself equally a concluding resort after the filtering phase. This is why yous won’t find a joule rating listed for the PST-viii, according to Furman—since other surge protectors rely solely on MOVs to blot free energy, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparing.
The visitor likewise claims that the PST-eight’s circuit blueprint has led to a repair-replacement rate below 0.005% since information technology was introduced. In other words, for every 100,000 customers, only 5 have needed to repair or replace their units, and Furman says in all instances the damage was physical breakage (dents, cracks, or parts snapping off) rather than an internal failure. Given how constructive the setup was at swallowing our examination surges, we accept every reason to believe that the PST-8 will provide more protection for longer than standard surge protectors in the under-$l price range.
Senior staff writer Chris Heinonen, who has tested hundreds of TVs for Wirecutter over the years, uses the PST-viii to protect the array of Boob tube sets that crowd his living room at all times. “Information technology’s flipped two or three times when we’ve had flickering lights or other weird ability issues,” he told me. “I’chiliad e'er glad I take information technology for the expensive things—and I should probably go another i.”
This improved protection comes at a cost, though, and not just in terms of price. With but 8 AC outlets in full—plus two telephone ports and two coaxial connectors—the PST-viii could get out y'all short when you lot’re trying to power a lot of electronics. Its layout leaves something to be desired, too, with simply two AC outlets properly spaced to accommodate large plugs. Lastly, its 3-year warranty (no registration needed, simply valid only if you lot buy from an authorized seller) is one of the shortest we’ve seen, which is disappointing since we await its surge protection capabilities to last much longer than those of less-expensive models. (Furman says these units are often used by touring musicians and therefore subject to more than wear and tear than household surge protectors, hence the insufficiently short warranty.)
If you lot have pricier-than-boilerplate gear, though, these trade-offs make sense. Although the PST-viii isn’t quite as user-friendly, it volition provide more protection than our other picks. And information technology’south sturdily built overall, with an aluminum trunk and a long, 8-foot cord.
Care and maintenance
Whether your surge protectors are sometime or new, hither are a few basic guidelines that will help you ensure that they remain effective:
- Never daisy-chain multiple surge protectors to add together outlets, and never plug a surge protector into an extension cord (PDF). This is an easy way to exceed the current ratings on the surge protector and even the wiring in your walls. The best-case scenario is that you trip a breaker or blow a fuse. The worst-case scenario is that something starts melting—that’s the opening act for an electrical fire.
- Never plug a surge protector into an ungrounded outlet using a three-prong–to–two-prong adapter. Bypassing the ground negates about of the benefits of using surge protectors, since typically two-thirds of their MOVs are tied to the ground leg.
Use three-prong plugs, or polarized plugs (with ane bract that’southward thicker than the other),
whenever possible. This decreases the run a risk of electric shock, according to the Consumer Product Safe Committee.
- When you first plug in a surge protector, make sure the condition lights don’t report any problems. Near protectors accept a single grounding light that indicates whether there’s a ground fault. If it shows that at that place is one (typically by beingness unlit), call an electrician every bit soon as possible to make up one's mind whether you have a wiring problem. A ground mistake could fry your devices, electrocute someone, or start a fire.
- E'er replace your surge protectors afterward any large outcome, such as a lightning strike downwardly the block or multiple outages in rapid succession. And if you’re plugging in new gear, check each outlet for fire marks or any sign of damage.
- Every three to 5 years, supplant surge protectors that lack an auto-shutoff feature. Otherwise, they’ll keep passing power to your devices long later their protective MOVs take worn out. If y'all have a power strip without any surge protection (or one that’s so old you lot tin can’t remember if it ever did), get rid of it.
- Don’t plug a space heater into a surge protector. Space heaters and other appliances with an open heating element (such as toasters or pilus dryers) use a lot of power, increasing your chances of overloading the outlet. A surge protector adds even more resistance that can allow oestrus to build up, potentially catching burn or damaging the device. The warning tags and education manuals that come with open-estrus electronics (which a lot of people skim or ignore completely) often warn against using them with extension cords, power strips, or surge protectors. To be on the prophylactic side, plug them direct into the wall.
- Never cover upwardly any function of a surge protector or extension cord with rugs, poufs, or other decorative items—no matter how ugly your surge protector is. This blazon of direct contact prevents heat from escaping, which could start a burn down.
- Recycle your surge protector when you’re washed with it. If non properly disposed of, materials within a surge protector can exist harmful to the surround. When your surge protector has reached the end of its life, drop it off at a local municipal recycling center (you lot can search for one in your area at Earth911) or purchase a prepaid shipping box from TerraCycle Regulated Waste to mail your old electronics to a fabric recovery facility (with this option, you lot’ll get a certificate after showing that your items accept been recycled).
What to look forward to
Nosotros’re interested in testing some models with replaceable surge protection, such as Charg’s SurgeSwap cartridges, as a more sustainable alternative to our picks. These devices permit y'all to supplant a single component, rather than the entire surge protector, when its protective capabilities have worn off.
We’re likewise interested in testing avant-garde power strips, such equally those from TrickleStar or Bits Limited, which are designed to automatically cut off ability to nonessential devices when they’re not in employ. This prevents your switched-off electronics from slurping small amounts of electricity throughout the day—a mutual phenomena known as trickle charging, phantom charging, or vampire charging—and helps keep your utility bills low.
Other skilful surge protectors
If the Tripp Lite SK30USB is unavailable, go the APC Essential SurgeArrest PE3WU3. The 2 models are near identical, except the latter had a worse let-through voltage in our testing, allowing 350 volts compared with the onetime’due south 291.8 volts—not great, but still well under our 400-volt cutoff.
Similarly, if you tin’t go the SK30USB, or if you lot desire more USB-A ports, consider the Tripp Lite Protect It Personal Charging Station with 3-Outlet Surge Protector SK34USBB. Information technology had a slightly worse let-through voltage in our testing, and we don’t think its congenital-in phone holder is especially attractive or practical. But if yous don’t heed those drawbacks, it has all the fundamental features our picks offering (UL certification, an auto-shutoff mechanism, and a lifetime warranty) and 4 USB-A ports, which is more than than nosotros’ve found on any other pocket-size, portable model nosotros’ve tested.
If you’d rather have two USB-A ports instead of our top selection’s coaxial and phone ports, and don’t mind sacrificing some surge protection, consider the APC Performance SurgeArrest P11U2 or APC Home Office SurgeArrest PH12U2W. The former has 1 fewer outlet than our top selection while the latter has a shorter cord, and in our surge tests they both let through more volts than our top option (309.2 and 268.6, respectively, compared with 206.eight), but they should still provide plenty of protection for most household devices if you can overlook those drawbacks.
If our top selection is unavailable, the APC Performance SurgeArrest P11VT3 is another skilful alternative. The two models are nearly identical, except the P11VT3 blocked fewer volts (all but 270.8, compared with 206.8) in our surge tests and has ane fewer outlet.
Some other skillful culling to our top choice is the Belkin PivotPlug 12-Outlet Surge Protector BP112230-08. It’s like to our choice in many ways: Information technology has an car-shutoff mechanism, an 8-foot cord, three telephone ports, two coaxial connectors, and a lifetime warranty. Information technology too performed a smidgen better than our elevation pick in testing, blocking all but 202 volts. Yet, the rotating outlets don’t offer a ton of do good over widely spaced, stationary outlets (unless you have exceptionally broad or oddly shaped plugs), and they add a lot of bulk to the otherwise streamlined unit.
The Tripp Lite SpikeCube used to be our besides-great pick for light utilise and travel. But unlike our current pick in that category, it doesn’t have an auto-shutoff feature, nor does it offer USB ports, and it has only ane AC outlet. It’s rather homely, also.
The Accell Powramid and Accell Powramid Air are older versions of the Accell Power Air. When we tested them in previous years, both performed worse than our electric current option in terms of allow-through voltage. Their extra summit likewise makes them harder to slide under a nightstand.
We similar the expect and experience of the Anker PowerPort Strip PD 6, and the fact that it offers a fast-charging USB-C PD port in addition to two USB-A ports and six Ac outlets. But it’s one of the most expensive and least protective options we’ve tested, and information technology’s not UL or ETL listed.
The Tripp-Lite Protect It 6-Outlet Surge Protector TLP66USBR has four USB ports, whereas the almost that many other models have is ii. But in testing, we found that information technology offered less-than-stellar surge protection. Plus, its extendable USB hub feature is hard to maneuver and not all that useful (it seems like a gimmick).
The 12-outlet APC Performance SurgeArrest P12U2 used to be a runner-up pick in this guide, and information technology really blocked more volts (all merely 205.2) than our acme option did in surge testing. However, information technology’south no longer a pick because it has a slightly inferior auto-shutoff feature that kicks in only when the main (L-N) leg wears out. This means that if either of its other 2 legs (L-Thou or N-M) breaks down outset, information technology will continue to send power to your devices, and they could sustain harm in the result of a surge.
The Nekteck Power Strip with 12 Ac Outlets NK-12A2UPD18W-6FT blocked all but 218 of the 5,000 volts we pumped into it, and it has just as many outlets (12) equally our elevation pick. Nevertheless, it lacks an auto-shutoff feature, and so it’ll go on working long after its surge protection wears off—putting your devices at risk of damage from power surges.
Although the PowerAdd 12 in ane Surge Protector has an impressive array of six high-amp USB-A ports in improver to its 6 AC outlets, nosotros found that it didn’t slide as neatly under a nightstand or bed every bit more streamlined models like the Accell Power Air. It let through more volts than the Power Air did in our testing, as well.
Nosotros’ve been asked virtually Amazon Basics surge protectors, but we haven’t tested whatever because the models we’ve seen don’t have an machine-shutoff feature. This ways that, one time the protection wears off, your devices will be vulnerable to surges—which defeats the purpose of buying a surge protector in the kickoff place.