Surge Protector Buying Guide

What is an electrical surge?

An electrical surge is an intense, short-duration voltage increase that travels through electrical wiring or other cables that transmit data or energy – for example, phone lines and coaxial cables for TV reception. Common causes of electrical surges include:

  • Lightning strikes
  • Power outages
  • Downed power lines
  • Tripped circuit breakers
  • Accidents and malfunctions at the power company
  • On/off cycles of large appliances and tools

What is a surge protector?

A surge protector is designed to protect any device with a standard AC plug from damaging power surges and disruptive line noise transferred through the electrical wall outlet. Some surge protectors include protection for phone lines, network connections, and coaxial connections for cable, antenna or satellite TV reception.

NOTE: Be careful not to confuse a surge protector with a power strip. They look very similar, but a power strip provides only an extension cord and additional outlets, with no protection against surges.

How does a surge protector work?

When the voltage rises above the accepted level, the surge protector suppresses the excess voltage to prevent it from causing harm. Specifically, internal components called metal oxide varistors absorb the excess voltage and divert it to the ground wire, preventing it from reaching the connected equipment. To function effectively, a surge protector must be connected to a properly wired and grounded AC outlet. Some surge protectors include LEDs that alert users to possible wiring problems.

What should you consider when buying a surge protector?

  • How many outlets you need
  • What level of protection you want
  • What type of equipment you will be plugging into your surge protector
  • Eco-friendly solutions
  • Environment
  • Cord length and plug design
  • Indicator lights.