Without a doubt, there is some confusion about a surge protector and how best to use one. Probably the most commonly used is the wall outlet surge protector and this is the one where the confusion starts for many people. There are several wall-outlet extenders that allow you to plug in several items at once, but they do nothing for surge prevention. While it is safe to use an outlet that is not surge protected for lamps, you do want some kind of protection for anything that uses electronics to run, including some kinds of lamps or lamps with fluorescent bulbs, to keep them safe from power surges. A wall surge protector is specially made for such prevention and protection.
All power in your home is considered AC power. You use it daily to power everything in your home and it is perfectly safe to plug items in that do not use electronics to make them run: lamps, power tools and some kitchen appliances for example. But when your appliances have microchips and other serious electronic parts in them, power surges can degrade the performance of these items or cause them to stop working outright. There are several causes of power surges and some are started by things in your home. What people don’t realize is how common they are and that it is possible to surge protect your wall outlets.
Lightning strikes are sometimes the culprit of surges, but unless you are in an area where this is common you probably won’t ever experience it. If you do, chances are your electronic devices will be destroyed anyway, with or without wall surge protectors installed. There just aren’t any devices powerful enough to stop the energy of a lightning strike. You may be safe in an indirect strike however, so if you have electronics that you care about and are considering whether it’s safe to just plug into wall outlet versus surge protector, using a surge protection device is your safest bet.
How damaging a surge will be is determined by various conditions. One is how high the voltage gets in the surge. Then there’s how much energy is stored in the surge and how long it lasts up to how long it takes to reach the apex of the surge. Spikes in power are classified two ways: ones that last 1ms or less and ones that last several milliseconds. The spikes that last several milliseconds fall into the “surge” category.
Chances are your power supply does not have an in wall surge protector outlet in it unless you have installed a whole house device. These install at the circuit board and start protection at the power source where your meter is or it can be installed on the other side of the breaker box between it and the lines going into the house. Otherwise, your outlets are unprotected.
Surge protectors are the most common form of power protection. They are unquestionably the first line of defense against power surges for all electronics. Surges lead to potential disaster for sensitive components of electronic devices. A wall outlet surge protector will not stop the damage from a lightning strike but it may soften the blow of an indirect strike. Putting a surge protector in wall single-outlet will definitely prevent damage from everyday internal surges.
In its simplest explanation, the best way to protect a one or two appliances is by installing a wall outlet surge protector.