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Power Strip vs. Surge Protector: What’s the Difference?

power strip surge protector

Are you unsure whether you need a power strip or a surge protector for your electronics? You’re not alone. Many people don’t realize there’s a big difference between these two pieces of equipment or know when to use them.


Power Strips


A power strip gives you extra plugs to power several devices from one wall outlet. They often look like an extension cord with a row of plugs. Some power strips include an on/off switch that lets you turn off multiple devices simultaneously. However, regular power strips don’t protect against power surges or spikes.


Surge Protectors


A surge protector safeguards your valuable electronics from power surges. Computers, TVs, game consoles and other electronics are vulnerable to damage during a power surge. These can occur due to lightning strikes, electrical overloads or issues with your utility lines. If unchecked, these bursts of excessive voltage can easily fry delicate circuitry.


Why It Matters


Surge protectors contain components that divert excess electrical flow from your connected devices. This helps prevent damage and prolongs the lifespan of your gear. Some multi-outlet power strips include surge protection, but not all of them do. Always check the product specifications before making your purchase.


Quality surge protectors are rated by how much energy they can absorb. Manufacturers measure these surges in joules. For typical household electronics, you’ll want one rated between 1,000-2,=000 joules.


You can also install a whole-home surge protector. These are attached to where your utility lines enter the house for comprehensive whole-home protection. They have much higher joule ratings and may require an electrician’s help to install. Still, they’re a smart, straightforward way to shield all your electronics and appliances.


A basic power strip works if you only need extra outlet space. But to truly protect your electronics, spend a little more on a dedicated surge protector. Spending a little extra now could save you big bucks down the road.

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