When you start searching for the best surge protector, you’ll quickly realize that these devices are not all created the same. If you can learn just a few important facts about surge protectors, and what some of their technical specifications mean, then you’re on your way to choosing the best one for your needs.
This article aims to arm you with some basic, but important, knowledge about what makes a surge protector for your home or office a good one. In the process, you’ll understand the different elements involved that make the best surge protector do its job well. Each of these elements is explained so you can make a more informed buying decision. Also included is a surge protector review of some great models that may just do the trick for your needs, including special kinds like whole house surge protector or a battery backup surge protector.
What a surge protector outlet does
All good models or surge protectors have one very important job: to keep your electronics plugged into outlets in your home safe from electrical changes. These changes can vary from the most notable nearby lightning strike, to the power going out and then “surging” back on when it is restored. Other possibilities include the electric company rerouting or switching electricity outside your home to just your ordinary and seemingly innocent static electrical charge that occurs everyday in your home.
The best surge protector is going to take any of the above problems and absorb and dissipate any electrical spikes that come through your home or electrical outlets. Their design will keep these anomalies from reaching your sensitive electrical devices, especially the expensive ones like a TV, home theater equipment and computers (PCs).
How the best surge protectors are rated
To understand in more detail how all this protection works, here are the features and specifications you’ll need to consider when evaluating the best surge protector. There are other factors such as price (value), warranties and more, but these are the technical factors that you should think about first.
UL Clamping Voltage
Part of the UL 1440 rating, this is the maximum amount of voltage allowed through the device during a spike. The lower this voltage rating, the better. Typical units will be at 400 volts.
One of the most common measurements used to rate best surge protectors, the joule rating is the maximum energy the device can absorb without burning out. You want to find a device capable of a minimum of 200. Better models will often be 4,000 joules or more.
As you can guess, this is how long it takes the unit to react to an electrical spike. In other words, how quickly can it dissipate the surge before it reaches your electrical equipment. Obviously the faster the better here. Good times start at 1 nanosecond, which is one-billionth of a second. Yes, this is fast…but so is electricity!
Measured in amperes (as electric current usually is), this is the maximum current the device can absorb before it fails. You want a minimum rating of 20,000 amps, and of course, the more the better. You don’t want any current reaching your equipment ideally!
This is pretty basic, but worth mentioning. This the number of lines or conductors that are protected in your outlet and plug. There should be three, a hot, neutral and ground. Acting as a home theater surge protector, you’ll want all three to use for those three-prong components.
This is a great addition that the best surge protector will have. It is a filter that will help reduce “noise” on incoming lines. This line contamination is responsible for freezing your PC at times, and probably more noticeable, audio interference. For electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, you’ll want a minimum of 30 decibels. Often though, you’ll see ratings of up to 75 decibels.
Number of protected outlets
Finally, a big factor to keep in mind is how many outlets your surge protector can protect at one time. You’ll see six typically, but 8, 10 and 12 are also very common. In addition, the best surge protector will also have in and out jacks for TV cable, ethernet and telephone. In other words, you get a telephone surge protector, ethernet surge protector and power surge protector all in one.
Considering all the above, value for the price and general purpose application there is one popular model on the market. Is it the best surge protector out there? Well, it all depends on what equipment you need to protect. But, if you want a model that can guard your equipment like flat-screen TVs, computers and home theater equipment then the Belkin 12-outlet surge protector is really great buy.
Known for its ability as a great lightning surge protector, this Belkin model comes with 12 outlets, telephone and cable (coaxial) protection. One of the best features is that it offers a $300,000 Connected Equipment Warranty. Now, that’s some confidence by the manufacturer in their product if they’re willing to cover that much.
Other specifications include: 4156 joules, 340 Volt dissipation, 216,000 amp maximum surge current and a response time of less than one nanosecond.
Check out the reviews at Amazon – for $20 you really can’t go wrong. Pick up a couple of these for your home theater surge protection and office/computer area.
A whole house surge protector is also an added way to add a level of safety for all the electrical outlets in your home. Installing a whole house surge protector is fairly easy and ranges in price from just over $100 to a few hundred dollars. See one here as a great example.
When evaluating other surge protectors, make sure you use the above information in your assessment. One mistake many people make is getting a multi-outlet strip thinking it offers surge protection.