Choosing The Best Surge Protector

Choosing The Best Surge Protector

If you’ve been looking for the best way to protect electrical equipment in your home from electrical surges, then you would be wise to invest in a surge protector for your home. While not every type of surge suppressor is right for your needs you can find one easily by knowing what you are looking for. The following information will help you in choosing the right power surge protector for your home.

When considering the best surge protector you need to know what to look for. If you are protecting your personal computer then you do not want to spend five dollars on a basic power strip. Basically these offer a convenient way to plug many items into a two prong outlet. It won’t provide protection if your outlet experiences a power surge. Being unprotected is the surest way to damage your equipment.

belkin surge protectorYou don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on surge protection either. Unless you are running a major electrical operation at your home and choose to run whole house surge protectors, a mid range price tag on a surge protector will suffice. You can find one of top quality for less than $20 at any home improvement store. It doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles either. Look for one that can take enough voltage to protect your computer, for example, and one that alerts you that it is functioning properly. These will have a green light or some kind of indicator on them to let you know they are working properly.

Quality Home Appliance Surge Protectors for under $20


The basic guideline to help you determine which kinds of home surge protectors you will need is outlined below. These vary in price from a basic extension cord to an Uninterruptable Power Supply, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

  • Your basic power strip. As stated, this is a simple strip of about four to six outlets. It doesn’t provide much more than a convenient way to implement many applications with one outlet. These are not recommended for serious electrical equipment like desktops or air conditioners, but are more for lamps and such.
  • UPSWall surge protectors. Like the ones pictured above, these are similar to basic power strips but will vary in range of protection based on simple needs. Typically these work best for household appliances. Smaller electronics still have delicate circuitry which means they are susceptible to the damaging effects of power surges. Household appliances like microwaves, coffee machines, other electric kitchen appliances, chargers for cell phones, as well as chargers for cordless tool batteries will benefit from surge protection of this kind.
  • A Power Surge Station. A surge station sits on the floor and has a main cord that plugs into your outlet. It offers high voltage clean power surge protection. Oftentimes you have the option of a phone jack to help protect your landline phone and many include circuit breakers. They run a little over $30 up to $100.
      There are two basic kinds of power stations.

    1. Home Theater Surge Protector A step up from your basic wall surge protector, this device works great for HDTVs, plasma televisions, home theater equipment, satellite TV systems, all television media (DVD, DVR, TiVo and game consoles). They can offer cable line protection for incoming coaxial lines and even phone line protection. A bit more expensive, but well worth it when you consider the cost of a plasma or LCD television.
    2. Computer Surge Protectors. These are similar to home theater surge protectors, but can also offer DSL or network protection through Ethernet connections. Protect your computer and all peripherals with this device. Read the Ultimate Guide To Computer Surge Protectors for more information.
  • The UPS, or Uninterruptible Power Supply. These are the home theaters of power surge protectors. They are about the size of a hard drive and have every feature of the surge station but they convert AC power to DC power and utilize a battery to store the energy in case of an emergency. While it isn’t really a surge protector it will allow you time to save your work and shut down your computer. The disadvantages of a UPS are one, it may suffer damage itself in a power surge and two, it can cost over $150.

You should be able to discern which devices are the best surge protectors based on the above guidelines. Most of the time a basic quality surge protector will be all you need to protect your small, low tech electrical equipment. While shopping for a surge protector, check to see that a UL rating is on the package. This is a standard that identifies all surge protectors. If the one you are looking at does not have the UL1449 rating, do not purchase the unit. While it may seem like an unnecessary worry, choosing the best surge protector is serious business when it comes to your electrical needs.

More Tips:

A surge protection device blocks excess electricity from entering your electronic equipment. It can protect equipment from surges up to 6,000 volts. HOWEVER, not all surge protectors can provide the same protection. Your basic device cannot withstand the voltage intake that a power surge station can. The risk of overflow is measured in Joules. A surge protector with a high Joules rating will last longer than one with a smaller rating. Even with a high Joules rating, a device will not last forever. Even the best surge protectors should be replaced every two years.

Joules Guide:
200 – 1000 Good
1000-2000 Better
2000+ Best
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  1. Barbara DeRose says

    Question – I just purchased a 129.00 Surge Protector from Best Buy for my LED TV and receiver.
    It has all the colored plugs for each component. Today – the Dish installer tells me that I MUST plug my receiver into the wall outlet and NOT a surge protector. IS THIS TRUE?
    After reading all this information it seems he is wrong.
    Why does the surge protector have a specific spot for the HD Receiver?

  2. Steveo says

    Couple of issues of note:
    1) Joules have little/no meaning in the world of SPD’s. The term has predominately been dropped within the industry for years now as the term doesn’t have real value/meaning to the products function, operation or performance. Those that still use the term are pretty much using it as a marketing gimmick.

    2) Unless the surge protection within any device (Dish receiver) is UL or equivalent – listed or a recognized component – there is little if any surge protection present (refer to last sentence from #1). This also applies to UPS products in general as well.

    3) Most off-the-shelf surge protectors have a protection life of around 6 months in an active surge environment. In general – if you’re using “plug-in” surge strips of mass produced and mass marketed manufacturers it’s a good idea to replace them annually.

    4) You get what you pay for. A $20.00 plug-in surge protector is not quality (refer to #3). Sorry, it just isn’t.

    5) Why you wouldn’t plug your Dish receiver into a quality surge protector – I have no clue. A surge protector is a “non-load bearing” device. It shouldn’t affect anything. 95 + % of the surge strips out there won’t even turn on unless there’s actually a change in voltage (goes above 150 volts). I’d argue the Dish guy is clueless. The only issue I could see is if the receiver is sending a signal over the power side (and this would make no sense – unless it’s somehow between equipment). Plus, this would only be an issue if you were using a surge protector with frequency responsive circuitry. You aren’t getting a frequency responsive circuitry unit for $20 or on 95 + % of the units off the shelf. Again, this tech guy I don’t think understands surge protection – but at the end of the day, it’s your call.

  3. says

    UL 1449 devices all work the same way – they use Metal Oxide Varistors to divert the surge energy to the ground line. This is not good because these products are in parallel which means that they can only see voltage rises. But the damaging surge energy comes from the in-rush current. The best way to illustrate that is to consider when most electronics fail – on power up. How many times have you turned on a computer or tv and nothing happens or worse, you hear the zap and smell the burnt mother board? None of these UL1449 devices will protect against current rise. You need a UL1283 power quality filter that is in series with the power wave. There are only three companies that make these types of products – Surge X, Brickwall, and the originator of the technology – Zero Surge. There are so many recalls of UL1449 products – 15 million units last year alone! The Series Mode technology has never failed in 25 years of protecting the most demanding equipment.

  4. Tina says

    We had one of your products hooked up to our Coffee Maker and Phone Charger and had a Dog Automatic Waterier in the other outlet. Not plugged into the Surge Protector! Well when lighting stuck close, the power in our house went out for a split second. Well in the End the Surge Protector protected the Coffee maker, BUT the Auto Dog Water dish was SMOKED! We have the surge protectors around our house and not everything is plugged into them. But we will buy one for the New Dog Waterier when we get one! lol Thanks for a good product!

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