10 Shocking Facts About Power Strips - CNET

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With your ever-growing postulation of physics devices, possibly it seems your location ne'er has capable powerfulness outlets. Power strips and their much elaborate siblings, surge protectors, connection an casual solution: 1 plug successful the wall, galore outlets for your devices. But wait! There's much to these simple-seeming products than meets the eye. 

To start, did you cognize that powerfulness strips and surge protectors aren't the aforesaid thing? And that adjacent wrong those 2 categories, not each are created equal. There are a wide scope of prices and features to consider. Many travel with questionable selling promises, too, truthful it's hard to fig retired what's worthy the wealth and what's nonsense. 

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Adding further AC outlets and USB charging ports is incredibly useful, and often vital. Don't discarded wealth connected the incorrect one, however. Here's everything you request to cognize astir powerfulness strips and surge protectors.

Before we dive in, cheque out what makes a bully surge protector for a spot of background. This nonfiction is the updated successor to that 1 and covers the basics if that's each you need. Also, we've got tips connected hiding TV wires and products that assistance chopped cord clutter. Plus, quick tweaks that volition heighten your location theatre setup.

A 12-outlet powerfulness  portion   sits connected  a fake woody  floor. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

1. Surge protectors vs. powerfulness strips

Power strips and surge protectors, besides called surge suppressors, are different. 

Typically, powerfulness strips are cheap, multioutlet products that are simply an enlargement of a partition outlet. They're usually tiny and thin, sometimes fitting straight onto the outlet itself. They usually person a circuit breaker (on/off switch) of immoderate sort, but astir don't connection immoderate existent "protection" from electrical issues. Some mightiness person the barest level of protection, but they're each beauteous overmuch conscionable similar plugging into the partition directly.

Surge protectors are comparatively inexpensive too, but dissimilar powerfulness strips they connection immoderate level of protection. As their sanction suggests, surge protectors support your products from powerfulness surges astatine the disbursal of itself. But much connected that successful a moment. How overmuch they bash this, and however good varies considerably. They're usually a spot much elaborate, and often bigger, than a elemental powerfulness strip, though not always.

So what's a powerfulness surge? It's other powerfulness coming into your house. This could beryllium bash to an contented with the powerfulness lines successful your area, oregon much commonly, adjacent lightning. This further powerfulness tin harm your physics equipment, either each astatine ones oregon small spot by small spot implicit time.

A antheral   struggles with a knotted bundle of powerfulness  cables.

Yeah, not definite what to bash astir that either, buddy.

D-Keine/Getty Images

2. Joules are a measurement of extortion

Surge protectors connection extortion successful units called joules. Generally, the much joules the better, arsenic this means the instrumentality tin grip 1 ample surge, oregon aggregate smaller surges, earlier your cogwheel is successful danger. Over time, the parts wrong the protector deterioration down, reducing its effectiveness.

Unfortunately, there's nary mode to cognize however overmuch extortion a instrumentality has left, oregon if the archetypal standing is adjacent accurate. Buying from a reputable company, and 1 that includes a warranty, is simply a bully idea.

3. Some travel with a warranty connected your worldly

Some surge protectors connection a warranty (up to a definite amount) connected the cogwheel connected to the protector. For example, successful the US, certain Belkin models person up to $300,000 successful connected instrumentality warranty, and states: "Belkin Components volition repair oregon replace, astatine its option, immoderate instrumentality which is damaged by a transient voltage surge/spike oregon lightning strike, (an "Occurrence"), portion decently connected done a Belkin Surge Protector to a decently wired AC powerfulness enactment with protective ground."

You'll astir apt ne'er request it, but it surely doesn't wounded to person it. Keep successful mind, however, that conscionable due to the fact that the warranty exists doesn't mean you'll ever spot a dime from it. Note successful that Belkin punctuation the word "at its option." That means they'll travel up with immoderate crushed not to screen your claim. So don't usage this arsenic a replacement for location oregon renter's insurance.

4. Why you astir apt don't request a powerfulness 'conditioner'

There are a fig of products connected the marketplace that assertion to "condition" the powerfulness from the wall, promising improved show successful your gear. 

Here's the soiled small secret: Your cogwheel already does this. All electronics person a powerfulness proviso that takes the incoming partition existent (120 volts successful the US), filters it for sound and converts it into immoderate the instrumentality needs. Almost thing really runs connected 120 volts (or alternating current, for that matter), truthful unless you've got immoderate truly wacky (or cheap) gear, and unrecorded successful an country with bizarrely inadequate power, a powerfulness conditioner isn't thing you need.

A powerfulness  portion   sits connected  a woody  level  with mode   excessively  galore  plugs successful  it.

Don't bash this.

DonNichols/Getty Images

5. Always get much outlets than you request close present

You're ever going to request much outlets. You'll undoubtedly adhd much gear, without needfully getting escaped of your existent gear. I'm not saying that if you deliberation you request 4 outlets, you should get 12 -- but astatine slightest six is astir apt a bully investment.

Ideally, you don't want your surge protector to look similar the representation above.

A large  surge protector with 11 outlets. APC

6. Get 1 with capable spacing for large plugs

Most modern devices usage "wall warts" -- plugs that person AC powerfulness into DC powerfulness and look similar small boxes with electrical prongs sticking out. Consider getting a surge protector with wider spacing betwixt sockets, oregon sockets that tin beryllium rotated oregon moved, to accommodate chunky plugs.

Note however the APC illustration successful the representation supra has respective close-spaced outlets, for tiny plugs, and six wide-spaced ones for partition warts.

A precise  confused canine  covered successful  powerfulness  cables.

Sorry, doggo.

Ирина Мещерякова/Getty Images

7. Power spikes tin travel to telephone oregon cablegram lines, excessively

If you privation full protection, see that telephone and cablegram lines tin transportation powerfulness spikes, too. Some surge protectors person connectors for these arsenic well.

A elemental  surge protector from APC. APC

8. USB is great, but cheque the amps

Many surge protectors travel with USB connections, truthful you tin complaint your mobile devices without having to usage their partition warts. Handy, for sure, but cheque what the output amp standing is. Generally, this is either 1 oregon 2 amps (often labeled 1A oregon 2A). This is however overmuch travel you tin get done the pipe, truthful to speak. You'll privation astatine slightest 2 amps for quicker charging.

Most modern phones person the quality to fast-charge, but you'll request to usage their partition warts for that. If you don't request to rapidly complaint them, though, these little powerfulness ports volition enactment conscionable fine.

Now playing: Watch this: USB-C gets large powerfulness boost

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9. Traveling? Get a portable powerfulness portion

While not offering overmuch protection, a portable powerfulness portion mightiness forestall marital friction, and/or invoke bliss from question companions. Most hotels and hostels person fewer accessible outlets, yet everyone has aggregate devices that request recharging. Most portable powerfulness strips adhd 2 to 3 further outlets, positive connection nonstop USB charging (see No. 8, above).

10. They don't past everlastingly

Remember the joule standing we discussed earlier? This is conscionable the archetypal rating. This gets little implicit time. In different words, surge protectors deterioration out. Some volition springiness you a informing oregon unopen disconnected erstwhile their extortion drops beneath a harmless level. Many volition conscionable support working, without protection, and you won't cognize it until a powerfulness spike damages your gear. If you cognize you've had a superior electrical lawsuit (like lightning blew retired a transformer down the street), it's astir apt worthy replacing your surge protector conscionable successful case. 

Most companies that merchantability surge protectors accidental they request to beryllium replaced each 3 to 5 years. Sure, they're motivated to person you bargain them much often, but with galore models nether $50, this isn't an utmost cost. 

Bottom enactment

There is nary crushed not to get a surge protector implicit a elemental powerfulness strip. If you unrecorded successful an country with tons of thunderstorms, your cogwheel is astir apt much apt to acquisition powerfulness surges. Even if you unrecorded successful the desert, your AC oregon refrigerator could footwear powerfulness spikes backmost down the lines to your AV gear. Either way, immoderate other extortion for your cogwheel is perfectly worthy the tiny quality successful terms betwixt elemental powerfulness strips and surge protectors.

One happening that's beyond the scope of this article, but worthy mentioning, are UPSs, oregon uninterruptible powerfulness supplies. These are similar surge protectors, but person built-in batteries truthful the instrumentality ne'er loses power. At least, not until the artillery runs down. They're not important for astir radical and astir equipment, but if there's thing successful your location that would origin superior issues if it mislaid powerfulness (CPAP machines, perhaps), they're worthy looking into. Just marque definite they acceptable your circumstantial needs.

Or to enactment it each simply: Since astir surge protectors are cheap, they're worthy getting (and regularly replacing) conscionable successful case.


As good arsenic covering TV and different show tech, Geoff does photograph tours of cool museums and locations astir the world, including nuclear submarinesmassive craft carriersmedieval castles, epic 10,000 mile roadworthy trips, and more. Check out Tech Treks for each his tours and adventures.

He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, on with a sequel. You tin travel his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.

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