Is a Surge Protector Necessary?

A few households have really experienced the real pain of not having a surge protector. I have lost expensive electronics to power surges before. It is not a fun experience. I remember one time, during a storm, our power went out and came back on really quickly. That caused a huge surge in our home’s electrical system that went through my computer’s power strip (which did not have surge protection) and ruined my computer’s power supply. I was not a happy camper.

Another time, we had a fire in our home and the firefighters had to cut through our electrical lines to get the fire under control. That created another surge that went through our home’s electrical system and ruined a few more electronics that were plugged into power strips without surge protection.

So, from my experience, I can tell you that surge protectors are absolutely necessary if you want to protect your expensive electronics from power surges. But what exactly is a power surge?

What Is a Power Surge?

A power surge, also called an electrical surge or voltage spike, is a sudden increase in voltage in an electrical circuit. Power surges can be caused by lightning strikes, downed power lines, faulty wiring, or simply when your power company makes sudden adjustments to the voltage it’s supplying to your home.

In most cases, a power surge is not a big deal and your electronics will be fine. But if the voltage spike is large enough, it can damage or destroy your electronic devices. That’s why it’s important to have surge protection for your most expensive electronics.

Benefits of Surge Protectors

Surge protectors provide a vital line of defense against power surges. They work by absorbing the excess voltage and redirecting it away from your electronics.

Surge protectors come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they have multiple outlets that allow you to plug in multiple devices. Some surge protectors also come with USB ports so you can charge your phones and other devices.

The best surge protector for your needs will depend on how many devices you need to protect and what type of devices they are. For example, if you have a lot of devices that need to be plugged in, you’ll want to get a surge protector with a high number of outlets. And if you have sensitive electronics, like computers or TVs, you’ll want to make sure the surge protector you get can handle those devices.

Drawbacks of Surge Protectors

Surge protectors are not perfect.

  • They can only absorb so much voltage before they are overwhelmed and stop working. That’s why it’s important to get a surge protector that is rated for more than the highest voltage spike you’re likely to experience.
  • Another drawback of surge protectors is that they don’t last forever. The components inside them can wear out over time, so it’s important to replace your surge protector every few years to make sure it’s still working properly.

Safety Precautions When Using Surge Protectors

Surge protectors are a great way to protect your electronics, but there are a few safety precautions you should take when using them.

  • First, make sure you plug the surge protector into a wall outlet that is not overloaded. Overloaded outlets are a fire hazard, so it’s important to make sure you’re not adding more devices than the outlet can handle.
  • Second, don’t plug surge protectors into each other. This can cause a fire.
  • And finally, make sure you replace your surge protector every few years to make sure it’s still working properly.

Is a surge protector necessary?

As someone who has had firsthand experience with the damage that can be caused by power surges, I can tell you that surge protectors are absolutely necessary if you want to protect your expensive electronics. But what exactly is a power surge?

A power surge, also called an electrical surge or voltage spike, is a sudden increase in voltage in an electrical circuit. Power surges can be caused by lightning strikes, downed power lines, faulty wiring, or simply when your power company makes sudden adjustments to the voltage it’s supplying to your home.

In most cases, a power surge is not a big deal and your electronics will be fine. But if the voltage spike is large enough, it can damage or destroy your electronic devices. That’s why it’s important to have surge protection for your most expensive electronics.


Best Home Theater Power Conditioner

With the rising cost of home theatre equipment, it has never been more important to invest in a good quality home theatre power conditioner. In this article, I have reviewed our picks of the best home theatre conditions that meet our minimum standards including features, benefits, drawbacks, and how to choose the best one for your needs.

What is a home theatre power conditioner?

A home theatre power conditioner is a device that is designed to improve the quality of your home theatre equipment’s power supply. It does this by cleansing the power supply of any unwanted noise or interference that can cause picture and sound problems.

A power conditioner is an electrical device that is designed to improve the quality of the power supplied to your home theatre equipment. It does this by filtering out any unwanted noise or interference that can cause problems with the performance of your equipment.

Benefits of using a home theatre power conditioner

There are many benefits to using a home theatre power conditioner, including:

  • · Improving the quality of your home theatre equipment’s power supply
  • · Reducing picture and sound problems caused by interference in the power supply
  • · Protecting your equipment from damage caused by power surges
  • · Increasing the lifespan of your home theatre equipment

How to choose the best home theatre power conditioner

When choosing a home theatre power conditioner, there are a few things you need to take into account, including:

· The type of equipment you have: If you have a lot of high-end equipment, you will need a power conditioner that can handle the higher power demand.

· The size of your home theatre: If you have a large home theatre, you will need a power conditioner with more outlets so that you can plug in all of your equipment.

· Your budget: Power conditioners can range in price from around $100 to over $1000, so you need to decide how much you are willing to spend on one.

Reviews of the best home theatre power conditioners;

#1. Furman Power Conditioner

Our overall best home theatre power conditioner is the Furman Power Conditioner. This conditioner is perfect for those who have a lot of high-end equipment as it can handle up to 15,000 watts of power. It also has 12 outlets so that you can plug in all of your equipment, and it comes with a 5-year warranty.

The Furman Power Conditioner is a must-have for anyone who wants to protect their equipment from power surges and spikes. This unit features a 15 foot power cord, illuminated on/off switch, and circuit breaker. It also has EMI/RFI noise attenuation to keep your equipment sounding its best. The heavy-duty metal construction ensures durability, while the illuminated on/off switch makes it easy to see whether the unit is turned on or off.


  • · Can handle up to 15,000 watts of power
  • · Has 12 outlets
  • · Comes with a 5-year warranty
  • · Has EMI/RFI noise attenuation
  • · Heavy-duty metal construction


  • · It produces noise. According to one customer, the noise level is around 76 mVpp

Accell Flexible Surge Protector

Accell’s Flexible Surge Protector is your best defense against power surges. This surge protector features five outlets and a 1080 Joules of surge protection to safeguard your expensive electronics from damage caused by power surges and lightning strikes.

The unique design allows you to plug into all five outlets, even with bulky adapters and transformers attached, while the adapter-friendly outlet openings protect your power cords from wear and tear.

Plus, if one of the connected devices has an unexpected spike in energy usage, this surge protector will automatically shut off power to that device until it can be reset. It also includes a green LED to let you know that it’s protecting your equipment.


· Five outlets

· 1080 Joules of surge protection

· Adapter-friendly outlet openings

· Automatically shuts off power to devices that have an unexpected spike in energy usage

· Green LED indicator light


· The cord is only 3 feet long

CyberPower CPS1215RMS Rackmount Surge Protector

CyberPower’s CPS1215RMS rackmount surge protector provides critical power protection for data centers, network closets, and VoIP phone systems. This 120V/15A surge protector features 12 NEMA 5-15R outlets (6 front and 6 rear) and a 15 ft power cord.

The versatile rackmount options allow for the PDU to be installed vertically or horizontally. Additional features include network-grade plugs and outlets, industrial-grade metal housing, and cord retention tray. CyberPower offers a 3-year limited warranty with this product.


· 120V/15A

· 12 NEMA 5-15R outlets (6 front and 6 rear)

· 15 ft power cord

· Can be installed vertically or horizontally

· Network-grade plugs and outlets

· Industrial-grade metal housing

· Cord retention tray

· Three-year limited warranty


· Some customers have said that the outlets are too close together, making it difficult to plug in larger adapters

PDU Power Strip Surge Protector

The PDU Power Strip Surge Protector is a reliable way to protect your equipment from voltage fluctuations, power outages, and surges. With 150 joules of energy dissipation and 1200 amp peak impulse current, this surge protector strip can keep your devices safe and protected.

Additionally, the 9-outlet design lets you turn one outlet into nine, and the master power switch allows you to completely shut off electronics when not in use. Finally, the built-in ac noise filters eliminate unwanted radio frequency (RFI) and electromagnetic interference (EMI).

This power strip surge protector is designed for 1u rackmount installation for hassle-free cable management and provides a neat look to your workstation. It is made with a sturdy steel chassis, an aluminum front panel, and 6 feet long power cord that can withstand light tugging so you can convert any standard AC outlet into a mini charging station for smartphones/laptops w/a bulky charger.


  • · 150 joules of energy dissipation
  • · 1200 amp peak impulse current
  • · 9-outlet design
  • · Master power switch
  • · Built-in ac noise filters
  • · 1U rackmount installation


  • Some people have said that the screws that come with the product are too small, making it difficult to install

Furman M-8×2 Merit X Series M-8×2 Power Conditioner

Our next pick in this list of best home theatre power surge protectors is thei Furman M-8×2 Merit X Series Power Conditioner. As the name suggests, it comes with 8 outlets that you can use to power your devices. The outlets are well-spaced so you won’t have any problems plugging in larger adapters.

The Furman M-8×2 Merit X Series is a two rack space power conditioner with eight rear panel outlets. This unit features multiple protection systems to guard against surges, spikes and AC noise on your equipment. The 15 amp rating with circuit breaker and “Protection OK” front panel indicator let you know that your equipment is being protected. This model also includes three outlets with wall wart spacing for convenience.


  • · 8 outlets
  • · Two rack space power conditioner
  • · Multiple protection systems
  • · 15 amp rating with circuit breaker
  • · “Protection OK” front panel indicator
  • · 3 outlets with wall wart spacing


  • Short power cord

Pyle 19 Outlet PCO860

The Pyle PCO800 8 Outlet Power Conditioner and Surge Protector is a great way to protect your equipment from voltage fluctuations, power outages, and surges. With its 19-inch rackmount design, this surge protector strip can be easily installed.

Pyle’s 19 Outlet Rackmount Power Strip is a versatile, space-saving power strip designed for standard 19-inch racks. Its detachable mounting flanges can be configured for rack-mount, wall-mount, or under-counter installation. The power strip features 3 wide-spaced front panel outlets and 16 flexible rear-facing power cable outlet plugs, allowing room for AC adapters and transformers. An integrated USB port provides convenient simultaneous power supply to all your favorite devices. Premium safety features include an integrated switched front panel AC outlet and plastic cover encased power switch.


  • · 19-inch rackmount design
  • · Detachable mounting flanges
  • · 3 wide-spaced front panel outlets
  • · 16 flexible rear-facing power cable outlet plugs
  • · Integrated USB port


  • Expensive

Furman Sound 8 Outlet Surge Suppressor

The Furman Sound 8 Outlet Surge Suppressor is a high-quality power conditioner that provides advanced noise filtering and surge protection for your valuable audio/video equipment.

With its Series Multi-Stage Protection Plus (SMP+) circuitry, this surge suppressor can protect your equipment from dangerous wiring faults and delivers pure AC power to keep your critical components functioning flawlessly. Additionally, the Furman Sound 8 Outlet Surge Suppressor features Zero ground contamination circuitry to ensure the delivery of clean power, as well as cable satellite and Telco connectors to provide additional protection for connected equipment.


  • · Series Multi-Stage Protection Plus (SMP+) circuitry
  • · Protects equipment from dangerous wiring faults
  • · Delivers pure AC power
  • · Zero ground contamination circuitry
  • · Cable satellite and Telco connectors


  • No ground fault or outlet wiring error alert light, the “protected” light doesn’t help with this. You might want to test the outlet with another surge protector that has one or buy a cheap little receptacle tester.
  • There is no RJ-45 Ethernet surge protection on these. One can always get a SEocate an outlet tester or another surge protector with an alert light to test the outlet.
  • Consider getting a separate Ethernet (RJ-45) surge protector, as there is no protection for this on the Furman.
  • Register your product within 15 days of purchase to ensure the full 3-year warranty.

Panamax MR4300 Power Line Conditioner and Surge Protector

Our next pick is the Panamax MR4300 Power Line Conditioner and Surge Protector, a great choice for those who are looking for a high-quality power conditioner with 11 outlets.

The Panamax MR4300 power line conditioner and surge protector is designed to protect your home theater system from damaging power spikes and fluctuations. Featuring 9 protected and filtered outlets, automatic voltage monitoring, and Panamax level 3 noise filtration, the MR4300 is the industries best protection for your AV components. With a $5,000,000 connected equipment protection policy and lifetime product warranty, the MR4300 is the perfect addition to any home theater system.


  • · 11 outlets
  • · 9 protected and filtered outlets
  • · Automatic voltage monitoring
  • · Panamax level 3 noise filtration
  • · $5,000,000 connected equipment protection policy
  • · Lifetime product warranty


  • May not work with certain types of equipment. If you have any problems, Panamax has great customer service and will help you troubleshoot the issue.
  • Not cheap, but you get what you pay for with this one.

Furman PL-PLUS C 15 Amp Power Conditioner

Our next pick is another brand by Furman, the PL-PLUS C 15 Amp Power Conditioner. This is a great choice for those who are looking for an affordable power conditioner with advanced features.

The Furman PL-PLUS C Power Conditioner provides the highest level of surge and spike protection available for home theatres. Furman’s exclusive SMP technology provides superior transient voltage suppression, clamping voltage transients to a maximum of +/- 15 volts. The PL-PLUS C incorporates Furman’s exclusive SMP (Superior Transient Response) technology for superior transient voltage suppression, which clamps transient voltages to a maximum of +/- 15 volts above or below nominal line voltage.

This is especially important when connected to unbalanced power sources such as generators, inverters and non-regulated UPS systems. Additionally, the PL-PLUS C features 3 sets of AC outlets (1 front, 2 rear) with switchable voltage selector for 115V or 230V operation, as well as EMI/RFI filtering to ensure clean power is delivered to your equipment.


  • · Transient voltage suppression
  • · Clamps transient voltages to a maximum of +/- 15 volts
  • · Switchable voltage selector for 115V or 230V operation
  • · 3 sets of AC outlets
  • · EMI/RFI filtering


  • Some users have reported problems with the switchable voltage selector.

Belkin PUREAV 12-Outlet Home Theater Surge Protector

Last but not least, we have the Belkin PUREAV 12-Outlet Home Theater Surge Protector. This is a great choice for those who are looking for an affordable power conditioner with advanced features.

The Belkin PUREAV 12-Outlet Home Theater Surge Protector is designed to provide your home theater components with clean, safe power. Equipped with 12 surge-protected outlets, this surge protector features Belkin’s exclusive Clean Power Stage 2 filtration technology to provide your components with the cleanest power possible.

Additionally, the PUREAV surge protector includes LED indicators for protection status and ground status, as well as an integrated 15-amp circuit breaker.


  • · 12 surge-protected outlets
  • · Belkin’s exclusive Clean Power Stage 2 filtration technology
  • · LED indicators for protection status and ground status
  • · Integrated 15-amp circuit breaker


  • Some users have reported problems with the ground status LED.

APC Backup Surge Protector

These are some general questions Review Surge Protector has received in regards to APC battery backup surge protectors. Keep in mind the information provided below does not pertain to a specific APC model but is more an overview of the standard standby APC Uninterruptible Power Supply line.

  • Why Do I Need An APC Battery Backup And Surge Protector For My Computer?
  • How To Install An APC Battery Backup Surge Protector
  • How Long Does The APC Battery Back Up Last?
  • • How Do I Recharge An APC Battery Backup surge protector?
  • • When Do I Need To Replace My APC UPS Battery?
  • • How Much Does An APC Surge Protector Battery Cost?
  • • Why Does My APC Surge Protector Backup Beep?

Why Do I Need An APC Battery Backup And Surge Protector For My Computer?


There is no real need for one, unless you experience power outages often. The benefit lies in having power from the battery backup when the power does go out. The APC UPS offers enough time to save any info you were working on and safely power down your computer without data loss or abruptly terminating programs. The amount of time you have to power everything down depends on the model, though. Some battery backups only permit you a couple of minutes, while other, more expensive models provide up to an hour or more. Sudden power loss to your machine can damage it and will certainly cause frustration with any loss of important work. While it’s not a necessity, it sure will come in handy at the right time.

How To Install An APC Battery Backup Surge Protector

When you decide to install your APC unit, make sure it’s in a place that is well ventilated and free of direct sunlight and humidity.

1. Connect the Battery;

For the most part, APC UPS devices are plug and play. Though the battery is shipped fully charged, there is some runtime loss during shipping and should be recharged to full capacity. It will still be operational upon installation even at partial charge though run time will be limited.

In some models the battery has one wire disconnected to avoid discharge prior to purchase. In this case, simply open the battery compartment and connect the wire and the device is ready. You may experience sparks during connection. This is normal.

The battery charges while plugged in.

Do not plug your APC battery back up surge protector into another surge protector. Also, do not plug extension cords or other surge protectors into your APC backup.

2. Check the Wiring Fault Indicator

On the back of some units is a Building Wiring Fault Indicator. This lights up if your outlet is improperly wired. This could mean the neutral and “hot” wires are reversed or that there is no ground wire or your neutral wire is overloaded. Your device will still work regardless, but you may experience limited protection and it could negate any warranty. If this is a concern for you, you’ll have to have an electrician fix the wiring.

If your device comes with software, install it at this point.

3. On one side of the unit are outlets for the battery backup with surge protector and on the other are outlets for surge protection only. You want your hard drive and monitor plugged into the battery backup side. This group of outlets is what provides backup power in the event of an outage, brown out or spike. All other peripherals should be plugged into the surge protector only side. Power supply to these outlets is active whether or not the APC unit is turned on.

Make sure you do not connect a laser printer to the battery backup surge protection side.

4. Connect any phone, fax or modem into the appropriate jacks on the back of the UPS.

5. Turn it on and test it. A green light will indicate the power is on.

6. Connect your pc and peripherals and you’re in business.

How Long Does An APC Battery Back Up Last?

How long a battery lasts is calculated as the Estimated Runtime (ERT). How much battery backup is provided will be determined by the overall power draw of your computer with peripherals.

For example, a standard APC Battery Backup with Surge Protection for Electronics and Computers with a 300W power supply will only get you 2 to 7 minutes of run time. The Plus models for the same computer will net you between 8 and 22 minutes.

As for any peripherals you want to connect to the APC device, there are outlets for surge protection only where battery backup is not necessary. This will conserve your ERT from premature discharge due to excessive load.

There are factors to determine the amount of ERT given per APC unit that will be markedly different from what is advertised on the APC website. Factors include temperature, battery age, recharge time, frequency of discharge, power draw and storage.

Broken down, it looks like this:

Temperature. The lower the temperature the less capacity to stay powered and at higher temperatures the capacity increases.

Battery Age. Not only does it take a few discharges and recharges for the battery to reach its maximum capacity, it also loses capacity as it ages as much as 80%.

*Although higher temperatures will increase a battery’s capacity, it will reduce the lifespan of the battery.

Recharging. Your battery will recharge as long as it is plugged in. Capacity can reach 90% rapidly but it can take up to 72 hours to fully recharge.

Frequency of Discharge. How often battery backup is necessary and for how long will affect the life and capacity of the battery. The more often it is called on the less effective runtime it will have.

Power Draw. How many items is needed for battery backup and how much power those items draw will affect runtime.

Storage. A battery will lose charge naturally on its own. Storing it in higher temperatures will increase the discharge. Typically it can be stored for 8 to 12 months before discharge in temperatures between 77° – 86° Fahrenheit. It will lose charge in about 4 months in temperatures over 100° F.

How Do I Recharge An APC Battery Backup surge protector?

Your battery charges while it is plugged in and connected to the UPS. Ideally, your battery will hold its charge for about six months before needing to be recharged and it takes about 72 hours to achieve full capacity again. It is important to recharge your battery immediately should it become fully discharged as this can damage the battery*.

Your UPS device will charge the battery while it is turned off.

If you decide to store your device, the battery should be disconnected after recharging.

*Sulfation occurs in batteries that sit for a long time without being recharged. This is where large sulfate crystals form and harden on the battery plates. This can cause the battery to overheat when charged or cause the battery to not be able to hold a charge.

When Do I Need To Replace My APC UPS Battery?

In an ideal environment, your APC battery can last up to six years. But just like ERT variations, the life of a battery is determined by how its stored while in use and how often the battery is discharged.

Below is a guide you can use to optimize battery life. Keep in mind that this is a general guide and that each model APC battery backup has a different life expectancy.

  1. Keep it in a cool, dry place that is well ventilated. By well ventilated, it means leaving a couple inches on each side exposed to airflow.
  2. Temperatures should be kept at or below 77° F. This is the ideal operating temperature. Higher temperatures will reduce the life expectancy of the APC battery. In general you can expect about 50% reduction in as little as a fifteen degree increase. So, if your battery was expected to last for 6 years, operating it at higher than 95° F will shorten the lifespan to about 3 years.Your machine will always run warmer than actual room temperature so the ideal temperature level should be maintained.
  3. You should only need to calibrate your APC backup once or twice a year. Any more and you will reduce the lifespan of the APC battery.
  4. You should not store a battery for longer than one year after purchase. Loss of charge will occur after this point and sulfation of the plates may result in a fully discharged battery that sits for a long time.It is not recommended to store a battery that has already been used.
  5. You shouldn’t allow your APC battery backup to run out its full ERT capacity. This will reduce the life expectancy of the battery.

How Much Does An APC Surge Protector Battery Cost?

It depends on your specific model, but they run as little as $30 for the APC Back-UPS 350, 120V and as high as $70 for larger models.

Why Does My APC Surge Protector Backup Beep?

The problem with having an APC surge protector and battery backup is how large they are and how much space they occupy. Because of their size they are most often placed where they can’t be seen. The problem that this presents is that it makes it much harder to check that it is operating properly at all times.

One way APC has overcome this is by installing audible alarms to indicate different issues your battery backup might be having. Here are the meanings behind the various audible alerts:

  • An occasional single beep: This is normal. It indicates that your APC is protecting you normally.
  • Your APC unit is on battery power: There are two possibilities here. Four beeps every 30 seconds or so or 1 beep every five seconds. This alert occurs to let you know that the backup battery is in use due to an electrical power issue.The alarm ceases when power is restored to normal parameters.Sometime your APC device will switch to battery power if it detects a fault in the power flow. It acts as a line conditioner to ensure reliable power flow. Any included software that came with your APC product should be able to be tweaked to accommodate this if it happens often.If you run a generator to power wall outlets at any time, the APC unit may switch to battery power. This is because the generator is most likely too weak to maintain the power load required by the equipment running into the APC.Constant fluctuations in power flow (dirty power) can trigger battery backup. If this happens too often, check your manual to see how to adjust the input power trigger.
  • Your battery power is low: Continuous beeping. This means you are almost out of reserve power and the APC unit will shut down soon. This is a safety measure to prevent the battery from discharging too much. You have about 2 minutes to resolve any issues before shut down.
  • Capacity Overload: A constant solid alert. This means you have too many items connected to the APC and it is overloaded. Unplug non-essential items. When this is done the alarm will stop.If for some reason removing equipment does not cause the alarm to stop, try turning the APC off and unplug all equipment. Unplug your APC battery backup device from the wall outlet. Hold in the power On button until you hear a second beep. Let go of the button before the second beep stops. This will kick in battery mode and the alarm should stop.If it still continues, it means your APC unit has been permanently damaged and needs to be replaced.
  • Beeping continues for one minute and repeats every five hours. This means your unit failed a self test. Self tests are performed every two weeks (14 days) to check battery integrity. The continuous beeping means it might be time to replace your battery. To check the battery yourself, try the following:1. Make sure the battery is properly connected.
    2. Make sure the battery backup is not being overloaded (see above).
    3. Disconnect any external battery pack that might be in use and make sure the internal battery is fully charged. Hold the Power ON/OFF button until a long tone sounds. If after 15 seconds the LED battery indicator stays lit, it’s time to change the battery. If it turns off, you’re fine.
    4. If the product is still under warranty you can have the battery replaced by APC. Otherwise you’ll have to purchase a new battery.
    5. If software came with your product you can disable the alarm through that by going to the Configuration tab and then to Notifications Configuration at Battery Back-UPS Alarm. Adjust settings to your liking.

If your battery needs to be replaced, it should be done within a couple weeks to prevent damage to your system.


What Does the Surge Protector Joule Rating mean?

The simple answer is that a joule measures energy absorption. The higher rating in joules a device measures, the better the device is thought to be. With regards to surge protection, when the Joules rating is high, the surge protector is capable of handling a larger surge in a single event before it needs replacing. Think of it as the life expectancy of the surge protection device.

The prescribed joules rating can be misleading though, because surges range in severity and the MOVs inside the surge protector (MOV stands for Metal Oxide Varistor, a small semiconductor responsible for stopping the surge) will degrade every time a surge is encountered.

Remember, that surges happen daily in an average home. So, a surge device that has been hit by several surges will not be as effective against its joule rating as it would just out of the box.

Consumers looking for the most reliable protectors on the market should aim high when comparing joule ratings.

Where Did The Term Joule Come From?

The term joule was originally named after physicist James Prescott Joule. While there are several technical definitions and formulas associated with calculating joules, in terms of electricity it is the amount of energy required to produce one watt for one second.James JoulesPhoto Credit: Wikipedia

A surge protector joules rating defines how much of a surge a single unit can absorb in a single event. Units are tested under harsh conditions to see the amount of energy in surges they can handle without fail. If a unit fails at a higher rating it will be rated with the measure it previously passed without fail.

This absorbed energy is released after the event occurs and the unit is capable of absorbing its initial capabilities when it is reconnected to electrical equipment and free of the power surge.

When you are considering a unit, you must consider more than just the joules rating, however. In this type of equipment it is the combination of the surge protector joule rating and the clamping voltage that determines the overall quality of a device.

The clamp voltage will let through surges and divert the unwanted energy from the line without directing all of the energy to the absorption system. Units with a high joules measure are not always the best if there is no protective device to directly dissipate energy elsewhere in the protector.

Experts in the joule system recommend investing in a protector with a rating of 200 to 400 joules. Some will even recommend higher protection with ratings of at least 600 joules.

There has been a wide debate over the joule rating as a parameter for comparing surge protectors though. This rating alone does not mean one protector is better than another. MOVs in the unit you choose should not only absorb the surge, it should also divert the spike and redirect it to ground to prevent overloading the unit.

Most of today’s units have indicators letting you know the device is properly grounded. If it is not, then you will not be protected, regardless of the joules rating or clamping voltage.

Other factors determining how many joules is required is based on how many electronic devices the surge protector has to protect. A multi-outlet protector should definitely have a higher rating, enough to protect several items.

You must also consider the devices you are protecting and whether or not other protectors are installed in the electronic device internally. An electronic with surge protection installed on it will not benefit from being attached to a second device. In fact, it may negate any protection that would otherwise be there.

Always choose a reliable brand respected in the industry and use more than just the surge protector joule rating as the parameter of comparison. Once you find an efficient unit you will have the peace of mind you need in the event of an unexpected power surge.


What is a Surge Protector

The most common use for a surge protector is for people with a personal computer who need to plug many cords into one outlet. Often times it is referred to as a power surge strip or a surge suppressor. If you own a desktop computer then you know your two-pronged wall outlet is unable to host all the cords from the many components of a computer. This is where a surge protection device comes in handy.

While it allows for a convenient way to plug in multiple items into one outlet, the most important use of computer surge protectors is to prevent power surges. A surge in power that overloads your wall outlet may damage your computer’s electronic equipment, or worse, cause an electrical fire in your home. One thing to note however, is that is there no benefit to having one surge protector plug into another. In fact, you can cause more damage to your equipment by doing so.

A power surge is just what it sounds like, a surge in power to your electrical supply. It sends too much energy through the electrical wiring in your home and heats up. This extra energy can damage the electrical components of your equipment over time. It could be a lightning strike that sends a surge to the power lines to your house. In this case when lightning strikes near power lines, it causes a boost in the flow of energy enough to overpower even your surge protector. It is best to turn off any equipment in the event of an electrical storm.

Protect your electrical equipment with a quality home surge protector.

A typical wall outlet can take 120 volts of electricity. Anything more is considered a surge if it lasts for more than a few seconds. A more common household cause of surges is high-powered electrical equipment like air conditioners. When you turn them on it takes a great deal of initial power. This can trigger a surge and lead to overloads which can damage the equipment or even lead to fire. However, faulty wiring is the leading cause of most house fires involving power surges.

What a surge protector does is it passes the electric stream to different components plugged into it. If there is a surge it sends the extra juice to the grounding wire through a device called a metal oxide varistor, or MOV. It looks like a heavy coil and acts as a semiconductor between the house wiring and the ground wire. In normal use it allows current to each outlet supply. If the wiring in the house takes on too much electricity, when it hits the MOV, the extra electricity gets redirected to the ground wire as the normal level of energy continues to the outlets.

Where To Install A Surge Protector

Eighty percent of electrical issues around the home or in the office come from bad wiring or grounding issues. 20% are a direct result from your local service provider’s equipment. To reduce any possible damage from energy spikes or power surges, keep one simple rule in mind: Whenever you can, try to keep sensitive electronic equipment separated from the areas where your large energy-sucking appliances are plugged in.

Some of the more sensitive appliances and electronic devices include:

  • Computers, servers and modems
  • VCRs, DVD players and stereo equipment
  • Answering machines and fax machines
  • Security systems
  • Garage door openers
  • Digital clocks
  • Any equipment that needs constant, uninterrupted power

Your typical power-hungry home appliances are:

  • Laser printers
  • Photocopiers
  • Washers and dryers
  • Electric and microwave ovens
  • Hair dryers and electric razors
  • Electric tools
  • Electric furnaces and air conditioning

One flaw with surge protectors is that a strong surge, as with a lightning strike, can burn out the metal oxide varistor and essentially disable your power strip, leaving you unprotected. If you purchase just any power surge strip chances are you are buying something that will not last very long. Don’t spend money on cheap equipment. You need to spend a little money on a quality protector and it is best find one with a warning light to indicate that your unit is working properly.

Most modern electronics will benefit from surge protection.You won’t need to use one on every appliance in your home, certainly not lamps and clocks. Major energy consuming appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers are where they are best used. Components within modern electronics can also be more sensitive to surges. Things like microwaves, your computer or DVD player and television. If you just need more outlet resources, a basic power strip will do the job, but for these devices you need to have a worthwhile idea of what you need when choosing a surge protector.

Let’s recap where a surge suppressor will work best in your home.

  • You do not need to use surge protection for small electrical appliances, such as alarm clocks, lamps, a clothes iron or hair clippers, although they would benefit too.
  • Use one for all of the components to your computer. You don’t want to run the risk of burning out the processor in your desktop and losing valuable data or having to replace your computer.
  • Home theater systems are items that you should run through a protector. You can find many quality home theater surge protectors in local electronic stores, but Monster is a name you can trust.
  • Entertainment center components is another area that should use a quality protector.

In the event of a power surge you want your electronic equipment to be protected from damage and having to be replaced prematurely down the road. Investing in a quality surge protector will prevent this from happening and may even prevent a fire in your home. If you are looking for power surge protector reviews, read further and you will find other informative posts and more.


Surge Protector vs Power Strip

What’s the first thing someone does when they need more outlets than what the two socket wall option provides? They look for an extension cord. An extension cord or extension lead, power board or power strip, whatever you want to call it, provides extra outlets for that specific need but it doesn’t address the bigger issue with multiple items sharing power from one source. That would be the possible creation of power surges from attached equipment drawing too much power into the strip. The result is damaged equipment and quite possibly a fire. The answer to this issue is a surge protector with multiple outlets. Which leads to the question: What is the difference between a power strip and a surge protector?

What Is A Power Strip?

Basically, it’s a tool that allows you to plug multiple items into a standard wall outlet via a series of connected electrical outlets.

It comes in forms ranging from a single plastic coated head with two or more outlets to a device with a bank of outlets encased in a metal oblong box. The latter typically has an LED switch that lights up when flipped to the “ON” position.

The cord length will vary on each, but leads to a male plug that connects to the wall outlet. This allows the user to attached multiple electronic devices to the power cord without needing extra wall outlets.

Power strips come in handy when power supply is in short demand, but they are a temporary solution to what could be misused for long term necessity. In other words, a power strip is not meant to be used as a permanent rewire for electrical power.

The power strip doesn’t regulate power flow or block over-voltages; it merely distributes the power to any equipment on the live circuit so that the equipment can operate.

How Does A Power Strip Differ From A Surge Protector?

Here’s the kicker. A power strip is not a surge protector, but a surge protector can be a power strip.Flickr photo by Xjs-Khaos

The two look identical at first glance. Both have LED switches that alight when on. Both are encased in a protective metal box and have a series of outlets mounted into the casing.

The difference is that a surge protector can block power surges; a power strip cannot.

Every home experiences the duress of electrical fluctuations. That’s because power distribution isn’t perfect. Many factors can interrupt power flow and create unstable situations. While there are some external forces on the blame list at times, most of these causes come from happenings within the home.

Watch the lights flicker when you turn on the air conditioner or when the refrigerator compressor kicks on. That “sag” in power can disturb power flow and create a hazardous situation for electronics that require a constant connection.

Your computer is a perfect example of this. If the power supply dips below what your computer requires, it may shut off. Whatever you were doing at the time will be lost. That premature shut down can damage the circuits inside the computer.

Or that trip by the compressor on your fridge could create a surge on the line. A refrigerator uses a large resource of power when it turns on. This draw of electricity can create a back surge on the circuit once power is attained. This surge then travels to the nearest outlet and enters whatever is attached on the other side.

Using your computer again in this example, a strong enough surge can melt or degrade circuitry, resulting in a damaged machine.

The result is a costly repair or complete replacement.

A surge protector acts as a barrier to surges. It catches the line surge and blocks it from entering your electronics while allowing normal power flow through. The excess flow is absorb by the semiconductors within the device and sent to a ground wire where it is slowly released harmlessly.

Read more about how a surge protector works.

How To Tell If A Power Strip Is A Surge Protector

Quite simply, a surge protector will indicate so on the package. It often states a joule rating, which measures its surge absorption power (higher is better).

Unless a power strip says it has surge protection, it doesn’t. It may indicate something similar, like surge suppressor or surge arrestor. These are the same things as a surge protector.

What It Boils Down To

A power strip should only be used in a temporary situation and on items that are not component sensitive. Very few electrical items today lack some kind of circuitry. Lamps might have delicate lighting rigs and even some motorized electronics are equipped with digital readouts.

Your best bet is to apply surge protection when in doubt.


What Is A Varistor?

A portmanteau of variable resistors, the varistor is the active semiconductor in many surge protection devices that stops power surges. It is a voltage-dependent resistor (VDR), meaning it operates in a non-conducive (or standby) mode until a higher than normal flow of electricity passes through it.

The higher the voltage entering the varistor the less resistance the varistor has to current flow and vice versa.

The type of varistor used in surge protectors is a Metal Oxide Varistor (or MOV). It looks like a small, colored ceramic disc with two needle-like prongs used as plugs. The ceramic shell houses tiny grains of zinc and other oxides clasped between two plates (which act as electrodes) to create what is called a diode through which current is allowed to flow in one direction only.

During a surge, the varistor heats to a point where it is switches to a highly conducive state (meaning it turns on) and the direction of current changes (clamps) to the direction of the ground area. This response time is instant, less than a nanosecond.

The change in power flow is dependent on the amount of surge power entering the MOV. So, regular current will continue on to power your electronics, but excess will be drawn into the MOV and redirected to the grounding area once the amount of current exceeds normal levels. This is referred to as clamping voltage.

Once the threat of surge power has ebbed, the varistor cools and returns to its non-conducive state.

The only problem with varistor technology is that each surge will degrade its ability to suppress a surge and eventually the semiconductor will fail to respond. In addition, the lifespan of a MOV, which is measured by its joule rating, varies so true value is indeterminable.

The delayed degradation depends on how quickly the MOV can disperse excess heat and return to a normal temperature. Several factors contribute to this, environment being number one.

In a perfect scenario the MOV will never encounter a surge and will therefore retain its effectiveness indefinitely. However, surges are common in every household and so the next best combatant to slow degradation has been for manufacturers to install up to three metal oxide varistors in a single device.

Other factors include design of the surge protector in which the varitors are encased and how well varistor manufacturers construct their product.

What you, the consumer, can do to lengthen a surge protector’s lifespan is to keep your device in as well ventilated an area as you can.

Nonetheless, if you live in an area where electrical storms are prevalent, the lifespan of your MOV-based surge protection device may be shortened.

As a side note, if you’ve ever wondered why some surge protector manufacturers charge high dollar for MOV-based devices, this should make you wonder even more: A standard MOV costs somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 cents.

While some would argue you get what you pay for, quality cannot always be measured by how expensive something is.


Is There A Surge Protector For Refrigerators?

The long and short of it is yes, there is a surge protector for refrigerators, but there is some controversy over this subject as not many people see the need to protect a fridge from power surges. The reason you want one between your fridge and the outlet is that on most modern refrigerators, there are motherboards controlling digital displays and other electronic functions.

Normally a surge wouldn’t bother a large appliance like a refrigerator. Compressors are too clunky and fairly impervious to the destructive nature of power surges, so there really is no need to prevent surge damage to a refrigerator compressor. You do, however, need to protect those electronics.

So what is sufficient refrigerator surge protection? Well, most units pull around 220 watts. This is a lot of energy to get the compressor to kick in. Homes in the U.S. run 110V power flows, so when the compressor starts up it pulls about double the power above the normal flow in your home. This will, without a doubt, cause a surge at the outlet and will send the extra energy flow up into your appliance where it will slowly degrade the electronics of the motherboard. This is why you need surge protection for refrigerator units with modern amenities.

Of course if you don’t have a newer model then it is ok to plug in your refrigerator without a surge protector. Overall, the unit should protect upwards of 2500 watts, which may be difficult to find with a 220V rating. The higher wattage will allow the compressor to work without tripping the surge protector. Most devices, though, should not be affected by the start of the compressor as clamping voltage is typically set at 330 volts. Clamping voltage is the amount of juice the surge protector will let through before it considers it a power surge.

Another measurement to look at is Joules. For refrigerator surge protection, Joules is moderately important. You only need a 1 outlet surge protector, but it has to have a high enough Joules rating to be effective. Joules is somewhat ambiguous because it is not regulated. It measures how much voltage a device can absorb before the MOVs burn out. MOVs are what help stop surges.

A typical device will have somewhere around 3 MOVs. These are little semiconductors that attract heat and are perfect for diverting surges. They will degrade with every surge they absorb so you will eventually have to replace your surge protection device. As far as Joules goes, it is recommended to have at least 750 Joules for a refrigerator surge protector, but as mentioned, the more the merrier.

Some people look to GFCI outlets for protection. You should not plug your refrigerator into a GFCI outlet. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt. These stop power faults related to water intrusion. Your fridge will “sweat” from time to time and these outlets will trigger a response from the GFCI as the metal where the “sweat” occurs grounds to the unit itself. When detected, it will trigger the breaker on the outlet to shut off. The result should be obvious. So find a 120V refrigerator voltage spike protector and save yourself some costly repairs or replacements. Try Belkin or Tripp Lite for the best surge protector for a refrigerator.