Surge Protectors vs. Power Strips

Fairly often, almost always, in fact, people don’t realize that they have their 4K TV, Blu-ray player, DVR, and gaming system all plugged into what they think is something that will protect their devices should there be a power surge, or lightning strike. Sadly, the majority of the sockets that are filled en masse are power strips, not surge protectors. Yes, there is a vast difference between the two. A power strip is simply an extension of your power outlet that allows you to plug in more than two things. Although these typically have 6 or more outlets on them, it’s never a good idea to fill all available ports on them. A surge protector can look a lot like a power strip, but there is one glaring difference – a surge protector, with the right joule rating, can actually limit the voltage supplied to an electronic device by blocking or shorting to ground any voltage above a desirable threshold. This keeps your devices readily working, and with the right joule rating, even after a lightning strike.strip-surge

Joule Rating

A joule rating doesn’t mean much to most people. In fact, the science behind it will remind you of a science class from high school. However, the rating on your surge protector can make or break how well your surge protector functions. It’s recommended to get a surge protector that is rated 200 to 400 joules to for each set of electronics that you’re plugging in. Though, it’s better to have more protection, so a 600 or more rating will do you even better. The higher the joule rating, the better the chance your HDTV or iMac will withstand any power surges due to lightning strikes or voltage spikes.

Daisy Chains Are No-Nos

So you have limited receptacles (outlets) but you also have maximum electronics, so why not use a power strip or surge protector…or two. Not that anyone would get all Clark Griswold in real life, but power strips and surge protectors are meant to be single extensions for you to utilize so you can plug in more devices. If you’re going to use a power strip or surge protector don’t “daisy chain” them. A daisy chain, in electrical speak, is when you have one strip plugged into the permanent outlet, then another strip plugged into the initial one, and maybe more after that. This is a HUGE don’t. Not only could you overload the permanent receptacle, you increase the risk of electrical fire and shorting out your equipment. As with any other device you have, read the instructions and warnings that come with your power strip or surge protector, they’re there for a reason.

Buy More Than One Surge Protector

The general population has a home theater system that is separate from their office space. Sure, some may be the same room, or even in extreme cases, the same outlet receptacles but typically they are in different rooms. Keep in mind that it is a good practice to buy one surge protector for every area of electronics you intend to operate. If you have an abundance of electrical equipment, some areas may require two surge protectors just to be safe. Whole house surge protection is also available to protect everything from your computers and speakers to your washer and dryer. Most surge protectors with joule ratings in the high hundreds or even thousands are more than capable of protecting your electronics from lightning strikes, power surges, and the like. Power strips without any voltage deterring elements will not protect you from anything except lack of outlets.