How do I Choose the Best Home Surge Protector?

Ken Black
Ken Black
Lightning is one potential cause of power surges.
Lightning is one potential cause of power surges.

Price, function and reliability are all key factors when it comes to choosing the best home surge protector to safeguard sensitive electronic equipment. Electrical surge protector and phone surge protector models could become overwhelmed if the power surge is too great. Therefore, getting the most protection you can afford and prioritizing which electronics require the most powerful home surge protector is key to getting value for the money.

Standard surge protectors have built-in grounding wire.
Standard surge protectors have built-in grounding wire.

Not all home surge protector units are created equal. Some have lower joule ratings, which is the ability to handle a certain intensity of power surge. A home surge protector should be capable of withstanding a power surge of at least 400 joules. The higher the joule rating, the more assurance you will have that your electronic equipment will be protected. Even so, very few, if any surge protectors are capable of withstanding the kind of extreme surges created by a direct lightning strike on a nearby power line; the only truly failsafe protection against this is to unplug the device as soon as you know an electrical storm is coming.

Another important consideration is what type of home surge protector you want. There are two basic types: the service-entrance protector and the point-of-use protector. The service entrance protector is designed to stop surges in the main lines entering your home, which is typically electrical, cable and telephone lines. These cost the most money but offer complete protection. Point-of-use devices are what many use, and often resemble basic power strips.

Some home surge protectors offer more than just protection from surges, and may be good considerations if you desire a multifunctional device. Uninterrruptible power supplies, for example, offer surge protection, but also have a rechargeable battery to provide a way for power to keep running for a certain period of time in the event of a power failure. For computer users, this type of device may prevent lost data from work that has not been saved.

A power surge station is a type of home surge protector that provides clean and consistent energy to electronic devices. This device plugs into a wall and has outlets for other devices, but creates an constant and steady electrical stream. Lower-end surge protectors often do provide this service. While most electronic equipment can deal with small fluctuations in the power source, this may be good for more sensitive electronics, such as computers.

If you are simply looking for a basic home surge protector, one other thing to consider is making sure there is an indicator light showing you it is working. Sometimes, a surge protector may protect equipment from a surge, but become damaged in the process. Without an indicator light, you may never know the system is not working normally. These can sometimes be found on low-end models, but not all will have them.

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    • Lightning is one potential cause of power surges.
      Lightning is one potential cause of power surges.
    • Standard surge protectors have built-in grounding wire.
      Standard surge protectors have built-in grounding wire.