Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Best Surge Protector 2021: Protect Your Gear With These Power Strips

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When it comes to your electronics, the last thing you’d probably get excited for is a surge protector. These aren’t the sexy pieces of hardware that grab headlines or turn your dusty old computer into a high-spec gaming PC. But, they are a key component to any high-end electronics setup in that they keep those electronics safe from the very power that they run on.A surge protector does more than just offer up extra power outlets so you can plug all your gadget into one spot. It also limits the amount of voltage that can pass through to your devices, helping ensure they aren’t damaged by a sudden spike. Some of these surge protectors will not just defend your devices from surges over their power cables but also block voltage spikes over other wired connections, such as Ethernet or even coaxial cables.

So, if you’re going to buy pricey electronics and want to keep them safe, you’ll definitely want to pick out a surge protector. And, since they’re not the most exciting product to shop for, we’ve saved you the trouble of searching for the surge protectors that are worth your while.

TL;DR These are the Best Surge Protectors

1. Tripp Lite TLP1008TEL

Best Surge Protector

Our Pick

Tripp Lite TLP1008TEL

On Amazon

If you’re buying a surge protector for your valuable electronics, you’ll want to get one that’s going to help you cover as many of them as possible. The Tripp Lite TLP1008TEL will do just that. It boasts 10 outlets, with six packed together and four spaced out, letting you keep large power bricks away from the bunch so you can actually use all the plugs.

The surge protector is built to handle 2,880 joules over its lifespan, which should help you get plenty of use out of it. And, when one day its surge protection wears out, you’ll know thanks to a built-in indicator light. That said, when that day comes, the strip will fully cut off power, so you’ll have to get a new strip then (You wouldn’t want a power strip without surge protection anyway, right?).

2. AmazonBasics 8-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector

Best Budget Surge Protector

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AmazonBasics 8-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector

On Amazon

You may want to protect your most precious and expensive electronics with a premium surge protector, but none of us are going to get the best surge protectors and put them on every outlet around our house. Where you just want to add some extra outlets and give your gadgets some added protection, the AmazonBasics 8-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector can get the job done for less than $20.

This surge protector offers an impressive 4,500 joules of surge suppression, so it should last you a good long while, letting you get extra value out of the purchase. Its clamping voltage isn’t as low as some more serious models, but it’s not uselessly high, and it’s a lot better than nothing. Thanks to the eight ports on this surge protector, you can keep quite a few gadgets safe with it, and it spaces the ports out nicely on one side so a couple thicker charging bricks don’t have to block their neighboring ports.

3. APC SurgeArrest P11VNT3

Best Multi-Port Surge Protector

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APC SurgeArrest P11VNT3

On Amazon

For most of us, when we think of a surge protector, we’re only thinking about power outlets. But, there are a lot of other wired connections that are also vulnerable to power surges. The APC SurgeArrest P11VNT3 solves this with a mix of different connections and surge protection for all of them. Given all it can do, it also proves to be a fairly affordable unit, and APC even offers a lifetime warranty and a protection policy to top it off.

With the APC SurgeArrest P11VNT3, you’ll get 11 power outlets, including several that are spaced out to accommodate larger power bricks. The outlets also feature sliding shutters for safety. The unit features connectors for coaxial cables, telephone/DSL, and RJ-45 Ethernet. So, you can protect your TV, your networking equipment, and just about anything you’re likely to wire up in your home. The APC SurgeArrest P11VNT3 is rated for 3,020 joules, so you’ll get plenty of life out of it. It also has indicator lights so you can ensure it’s still fully functioning.

4. TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300

Best Smart Home Surge Protector

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TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300

On Amazon

If the last piece of your smart home puzzle is a voice-controlled surge suppressor with its own mobile app, then the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip is just what you’re looking for. This 6-outlet strip also has a trio of USB ports. Each of the six plugs can be independently controlled via Alexa or Google Assistant. Using the mobile app, you can also group plugs and command them as a unit, and you can create scheduled events to toggle devices, or use IFTTT for additional programmability.

Each outlet gets its own recessed button to turn it on or off. Since it’s a smart device, it’s one of the few surge suppressors you’ll find with 802.11 b/g/n. It has a breaker for large surges and is rated for 1710 joules. But it will eventually fail with a closed circuit—meaning it’ll keep the power flowing without any surge protection—so keep an eye on the status light to know when it needs to be replaced.

5. Belkin PivotPlug BP112230-08

Best Surge Protector for Oversized Plugs

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Belkin PivotPlug BP112230-08

On Amazon

Too few surge suppressors acknowledge the reality of oversized plugs and transformers. The PivotPlug arranges four outlets in standard spacing down the middle and then four more on each side that can also pivot up to 90 degrees. With a little planning, you can connect virtually any array of oversized plugs. It also features a convenient cable trap, so you can thread most or all of your cords through a channel at one end, keeping everything tidy. It also includes coax and DSL/telephone port passthroughs.

The PivotPlug doesn’t have a resettable circuit breaker, but it offers a beefy rating of 4320 joules. When it fails it continues delivering power after the ability to protect is exhausted.

6. Tripp Lite 2-Outlet Traveler

Best Portable Surge Protector

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Tripp Lite 2-Outlet Traveler

On Amazon

If you’re a frequent traveler, the gear you take on the road is probably unprotected. That’s where a portable surge suppressor like the Tripp Lite’s Traveler comes in. It’s a compact two-outlet surge protector that has a fully retractable three-prong plug for easy packing, and features a pair of outlets along with DSL/telephone sockets.

Tripp Lite managed to pack 1050 joules of protection in this small package, but be aware that it will eventually fail with a closed circuit, so keep an eye on the status light.

7. APC SurgeArrest P12U2

Best Surge Protector for Equipment and USB

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APC SurgeArrest P12U2

On Amazon

APC’s P12U2 is a go-to option for people who have a lot of things to plug in. It features eight normally-spaced outlets and four on the periphery that can accommodate oversized plugs. It also includes a pair of USB ports as well. If you worry about exposed outlets, fear not: This one comes with safety shutters. The power cable also has a rotating shoulder, so you can orient it in any direction without bending or kinking the cable.

It has a respectable rating of 4,320 joules, but like the other APC on this list, how it handles the loss of surge protection is a little dicey. The surge suppressor may cut off current to your equipment, or let it continue to flow with an indicator in the status light, depending upon how the MOVs fail.

8. Austere VII

Best Looking Surge Protector

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This is what a surge suppressor might look like if it were designed by Apple. The aesthetics may be lost if you keep your power strip behind furniture, but it’s hard to deny the beauty of this polished aluminum case with elegantly beveled edges and braided power cable.

Otherwise, this is a pretty typical surge protector, though its eight outlets are generously spaced to accommodate oversize plugs. But it includes a pair of USB-A charging ports, two USB-C ports, and a 45-watt high-power USB-C for fast charging.

Austere’s rating of 4,000 joules should last longer than similar models, though when it eventually fails, it’ll continue to power your gear.

9. Bestek Power Strip Tower

Best Surge Protector Tower

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Bestek Power Strip Tower

On Amazon

Sometimes a standard power strip can get pretty cramped when you’ve got a lot plugged into it. A tower-style surge protector can help ensure the things you plug into it don’t get in the way of one another, and the Bestek Power Strip Tower is a phenomenal option. With this tower, you’ll be getting a total of eight outlets with two to a side. Each outlet has a door cover as well, and the unit features overload, over-current, and short-circuit protections.

Those eight outlets aren’t the end of the story. This tower also features six USB ports on the corners, and each can offer up to 2.4 amps depending on what the device on the other end of the cable supports. The USB ports even have self-dimming LEDs that won’t disturb you at night. Topping it all off (literally), there’s a Qi wireless charging pad built into the top surface. Talk about a true tower of power.

10. CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS

Best Uninterruptable Power Supply

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CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD

On Amazon

With a uninterruptable power supply (UPS) you’re protecting your devices in a different way. This UPS from CyberPower is not only keeps power surges from hitting your sensitive and expensive electronics, it’s also a temporary battery back up that can keep your electronics powered on in case of a blackout.

The UPS takes the power in from your wall and then maintains a consistent output voltage, so your electronics don’t experience fluctuations that could cause issues. Another key feature is that it can keep your devices temporarily powered even if there’s a complete loss of power. This model is estimated to run for 2.5 minutes at full load or 10 minutes at half load, giving you a window of time to save important work before a power outage shuts down your electronics. All of the outlets on the CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD have surge protection, while six are also connected to the backup battery.

What to Look for in a Surge Protector

Surge suppressors may look like power strips. But while all surge suppressors do the job of a power strip, run-of-the-mill power strips don’t suppress electrical surges. Most surge suppressors rely on a device called a metal oxide varistor (MOV) to divert excess current to the ground, “clamping” the voltage to a certain level to protect your electronics.

MOVs don’t last forever, and depending on the design, can continue to behave like a dumb power strip and pass power to your equipment, or fail “safe,” cutting off power to your gear. I’d recommend using a suppressor that opens the circuit when the MOVs eventually fail, so your equipment isn’t left unprotected. The downside is your stuff may power down unexpectedly, and you’ll have to buy a new surge suppressor to get back in business.

Some specs you might care about: An indirect measure of the life of a surge suppressor is its rating in joules (basically, a suppressor with a rating of 4000 joules should last about four times longer than one with a rating of 1000 joules). The clamping value, in contrast, measures how much voltage gets through during any single spike, where a lower number is better for your gear. Expect to generally see values from 333 volts to 500 volts. Most surge suppressors also include a circuit breaker which can trip if a surge exceeds its abilities.

Convenience is also worth considering. You might want to find a model that spaces outlets far apart or uses some sort of pivoting system to let you fit oversized plugs on the strip.

Oh, and about those equipment warranties: I wouldn’t put much faith in them. The find print can be onerous, and I guarantee you’ll never collect money over an equipment failure that resulted from a surge-related problem.

More Expert Tech Roundups

Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh.

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark


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