What Kind of Surge Protector Do I Need?

Knowing how to properly safeguard your equipment against power surges is a must if you are an electrician or operate in the electrical sector.

However, it might be confusing to sort through the many brands and models available today to find the one that’s ideal for your purposes.

That’s why we made this article—to assist clear up any confusion you may have concerning surge protection.

Identifying your surge protection needs is the first step.

There are three primary varieties: those designed to cover an entire building, those designed to cover a single residence, and those designed to be plugged directly into an outlet (similar but not identical).

Functions Surge Protectors

The purpose of a surge protector is to prevent damage to your electronic devices from sudden, excessive currents in the electrical system. In the case of a power surge or spike, the protector will cut off power to the device to safeguard any delicate inside components.

Electronic devices such as computers, TVs, home theater systems, videogame consoles, and appliances can be damaged by voltage fluctuations (surges) or even by a rapid drop in voltage, however, surge protectors assist prevent this from happening (spikes).

The usage of this device could have prevented the premature failure of expensive machinery when subjected to these brief but intense rises, such as air conditioners, laser printers, tools for building sites, refrigerators, etc.

Normally, a loud noise is all it takes to damage your brain, but a spike can have considerably more severe consequences. They only endure for milliseconds, but they pack hundreds of volts of power.

Storms and power line problems, such as downed trees that generate shorts on lines, are major causes of spikes, which can instantaneously or gradually destroy electronic equipment.

Devices connected to a surge protector or surge suppressor are protected from damage caused by spikes in voltage.

However, when they reach their maximum capacity, the equipment they were meant to protect is no longer safe, and you should replace them immediately.

Kinds of Surge Protectors

  • Surge protectors for power strips typically come with a wire that allows you to place them conveniently adjacent to your devices. Some of them even feature mounting holes so you can hang them on the wall right next to where they’ll be most useful, and their multiple power outlets range from six to twelve.
  • Surge protectors that are mounted on the wall don’t require a cord. They normally feature anywhere from two to six outlets, while some fold up into the device’s enclosure for portability.

In comparison to a standard power strip or multi-outlet adaptor, a surge protector is clearly superior. While power strips can be useful for providing more outlets, they do not provide any protection against surges.

Look for ratings on the package to determine if the product offers appropriate voltage/surge protection; anything with a rating of less than 1000 joules is not a suitable safeguard against electrical spikes in your home’s wiring system.

Choosing a Surge Protector

Now that you know what a surge protector is and how it operates, we can get into picking the best one.

Surge Protector vs. Power Strip

Simply plugging in a surge protector to an outlet won’t keep your electronics safe from power surges.

As an added complication, surge protector indication lights aren’t included on all power strips, so you have to be careful while shopping.

There may be a need for an upgrade if you frequently plug in different sorts of cords without first verifying their labeling and then discover that one has surged while another has been protected or if there is no light at all when plugged in.

When shopping for surge protectors, consumers should be on the lookout for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark or the label TVSS.

The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a group that performs safety checks on electronic products to ensure they adhere to industry standards. When it comes to health and safety, some consumers may be hesitant to switch to store brands.

It’s possible that you’re one of the people who is confused about the distinction between a surge protector and a power strip.

A power strip’s only advantage is its somewhat cheaper price. Still, the majority of them fail sooner than they should, so it’s not worth saving money on something so obviously flawed.

Battery Backups – UPS

An Uninterruptible Power Supply can protect your data and equipment from damage in the case of a power failure or surge.

This gadget can function in two distinct ways: in battery backup mode, it provides continuous power to all connected equipment in the event that electricity is not coming from the outlet while also storing energy in its internal batteries for any time when unexpected emergencies strike; and in utility mode, it automatically reverts to conventional AC if sufficient voltage returns.

Number of Outlets

The number of available outlets is crucial when shopping for a surge protector.

Always get a hub that has plenty of extra ports in case you decide to add more gadgets or accessories to your home theater or office setup in the future.

If you have a lot of electronic gadgets, don’t assume that just because your surge protector has multiple outlets, you can plug them all in at once. When plugged into an outlet, some power adapters are too bulky to fit, and others have connectors that are too huge to fit in conventional outlets.

That’s why it’s critical to provide room for other charges and laptops, as well as for any very large adapters.

Look at how many outlets each gadget will require before settling on a surge protector.

Connections

There’s a common misconception that surge protectors may only be utilized with electrical wiring, which can cause problems in the event of a power outage.

Phone lines, cable lines, and internet cables also carry potentially lethal currents. This is why many surge protector models include both input and output ports for these sorts, ensuring that your electronics are protected from power spikes no matter what.

Warranty

Keep in mind that surge protectors typically include warranties that will fix or replace your electronics if they are damaged by a power surge.

Manufacturers are naturally wary when evaluating claims for this type of electrical gadget because it can be difficult to prove whether your devices were damaged by an external source and not covered under warranty, such as damage caused by abuse or misuse.

Without any assurance against loss during transport from external forces like theft, the procedure makes no sense on little things like phones because you’ll have to pay to ship the product back and hire professionals to identify the problem.

Consider Performance Ratings

Your product’s packaging plays a crucial role in informing consumers. You need to prioritize these in order to get the most out of the deal:

Joules 

The energy absorbed by surge protectors is measured in joules.

A surge protector with a higher rating can sustain either more powerful single strikes or more repeated hits of the same size before failing.

For example, let’s say that our gear is 500 joule-protected and it’s taking 10 impacts of 50 joules each, then each impact will be absorbed by only 5% of that total, which is not very good.

Verify the joules rating of your gadgets to ensure their security. Invest in a surge protector with more than 2500 joules of protection to safeguard your computer and home theater system.

Clamping Voltage 

Indicating when a surge protector will activate to deflect excess voltage is the clamping voltage, also known as the Suppressed Voltage Rating (SVR) or Voltage Protection Rating (VPR).

While the safety provided by joules is reassuring, it is the maximum clamping voltage that proves to be the most useful.

A larger tolerance can be found in a surge protector with lower numbers, so keep that in mind while you shop.

Choosing Option A over B, which offers 500 V protection but tolerates larger surges and spikes before taking action, is the best choice if a 330 V clamping voltage is required (which can damage equipments).

Response Time

The speed in which a surge protector may react to divert excess power is measured in nanoseconds. While computers and other electronic devices may appear to respond instantaneously, in reality, they need time to set up and begin functioning.

The sooner your surge protectors activate and have greater power to deflect electricity before it causes harm, the higher the clamping voltage should be.

If you care about both speed and accuracy, look for electrical protection systems with a response time of one millisecond or less.

UL 1449 

All surge protectors sold in the United States must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the UL 1449 safety standard.

It can be difficult to determine whether or not a power strip is safe if you don’t check the packaging, as this certification takes into product performance testing and account design requirements .

You don’t want to buy a surge protector only to realize it’s too small or lacks the functions you need. Before you buy something, make sure you’ve read the reviews first.

Conclusion

A surge protector shields your electronics from damaging spikes in electrical current. Power strip surge protectors often have a cable that allows you to position them close to your electronics. Some of them even come with built-in hangers so you can place them conveniently close to where they’ll be used the most on a wall. Wall-mounted surge protectors can be used cord-free. While power strips can be helpful for adding extra outlets, they do not offer any protection against surges.

You should be cautious while looking for power strips because not all of them come with surge protector indicator lights. When shopping for a hub, make sure it has plenty of extra ports so you can connect anything you need. If your devices are damaged by a power surge, the surge protector’s warranty will normally cover the cost of repairs or replacement. Before deciding on a surge protector, count the number of outlets you’ll need. If you want to keep your computer and entertainment system safe from power surges, look for a surge protector with more than 2500 joules of protection.

The United States mandates that any surge protectors sold within its borders meet the requirements of the UL 1449 safety standard. Before purchasing, make sure to verify the product’s performance and the account design specifications.

Content Summary

  • Knowing how to properly safeguard your equipment against power surges is a must if you are an electrician or operate in the electrical sector.
  • However, it might be confusing to sort through the many brands and models available today to find the one that’s ideal for your purposes.
  • Identifying your surge protection needs is the first step.
  • Devices connected to a surge protector or surge suppressor are protected from damage caused by spikes in voltage.
  • Surge protectors that are mounted on the wall don’t require a cord.
  • In comparison to a standard power strip or multi-outlet adaptor, a surge protector is clearly superior.
  • Now that you know what a surge protector is and how it operates, we can get into picking the best one.
  • Simply plugging in a surge protector to an outlet won’t keep your electronics safe from power surges.
  • It’s possible that you’re one of the people who is confused about the distinction between a surge protector and a power strip.
  • A power strip’s only advantage is its somewhat cheaper price.
  • An Uninterruptible Power Supply can protect your data and equipment from damage in the case of a power failure or surge.
  • The number of available outlets is crucial when shopping for a surge protector.
  • Look at how many outlets each gadget will require before settling on a surge protector.
  • There’s a common misconception that surge protectors may only be utilized with electrical wiring, which can cause problems in the event of a power outage.
  • This is why many surge protector models include both input and output ports for these sorts, ensuring that your electronics are protected from power spikes no matter what.
  • Keep in mind that surge protectors typically include warranties that will fix or replace your electronics if they are damaged by a power surge.
  • Your product’s packaging plays a crucial role in informing consumers.
  • Verify the joules rating of your gadgets to ensure their security.
  • Invest in a surge protector with more than 2500 joules of protection to safeguard your computer and home theater system.
  • Clamping Voltage Indicating when a surge protector will activate to deflect excess voltage is the clamping voltage, also known as the Suppressed Voltage Rating (SVR) or Voltage Protection Rating (VPR).
  • While the safety provided by joules is reassuring, it is the maximum clamping voltage that proves to be the most useful.
  • The sooner your surge protectors activate and have greater power to deflect electricity before it causes harm, the higher the clamping voltage should be.
  • If you care about both speed and accuracy, look for electrical protection systems with a response time of one millisecond or less.
  • UL 1449 All surge protectors sold in the United States must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the UL 1449 safety standard.

About Blake Sutton

Blake has worked as an electrician for over 10 years, receiving his Journeyman Electrician license in 1998. Looking to take his professional electrical career further, in 2008 he received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from the University of Texas in Austin. Blake now works full time as an electrical engineer, specializing in power systems.