An electrical surge or transient voltage spike protection device is a cost-effective and simple preventive measure that is installed between an AC electrical outlet receptacle and any electronic components. The most commonly used device is a single outlet surge protector, which can take many forms and may incorporate additional power conditioning or auxiliary protections for other related cables and wiring.
Surge protection is available in many configurations, from stand-alone wall outlets to Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS). Some facilities, offices and homes may have supplemental surge protection in lightning-prone areas, including lightning rods, power mains lightning arrestors, circuit breaker or fuse panel arrestors and similar heavy duty protection. Additionally, lightning-prone devices such as satellite TV and internet dish systems will have NEC grounded surge protection. Telephone lines, outside plant Ethernet network cabling, and CATV cables will typically have surge suppression technology incorporated into the demarcation and distribution panels. One important consideration – especially in the case of a single outlet surge protector for LCD TV – is the proximity of Radio Frequency Interference, as may be encountered near radar, high voltage power lines, radio repeaters and cell phone towers, and similar RFI sources. In these cases, the surge protector needs to be shielded or rated for RFI protection to prevent signal degradation, typically manifesting as artifacts appearing in a digital TV image.
One important distinction to consider is what constitutes a “single outlet.” The vast majority of US electrical wiring uses duplex receptacles wired as a single outlet, with two sockets for plugs. In the UK and EU, a single outlet is a single socket, often controlled by a switch in immediate proximity to the socket on the same outlet plate. Only single socket solutions will be examined in detail, although full duplex receptacle suppressors are worthy of consideration.
The most economical solution is an in-line plug and socket single outlet surge protector 1857 Watts – also seen as 1875 VA (Volt Amperes). This equates to a nominal 120 volts of alternating current (120VAC) line conducting a maximum of 15 Amperes of current. Watts and Joules are two common electrical terms used with surge suppressors and are not interchangeable. A Joule is defined as the energy it takes to produce one Watt for one second. A Watt is a unit of electrical power. A simple way to envision the distinction is that a Watt is generated electrical power and a Joule is dissipated heat energy. This type of single outlet surge protector with cord is ideally suited for laptop computer use. The Tripp-Lite C6 or C8 Traveler is an example of this style. Additionally, it protects phone/modem lines and has over-current and suppressor component proper operation indicators, and it has a substantial insurance protection policy included.
The best surge protector single outlet solution is an Uninterruptible Power Supply with power conditioning, LEDs and switches, digital display and multiple protected outlets. Priced 50 to 100 times more than a common single outlet surge protector with on off switch, it is for protection of high-end electronics where the value of the protection, 3% to 5% of the total value of the electronics attached to it, is a reasonable and prudent guideline.