Best Surge Protectors of 2022
Best Surge Protectors of 2022
If you’re not using the best surge protector to keep your expensive electronics safe from the next lightning strike or electric company grid switch, then you’re tempting fate. A power surge can damage a computer’s motherboard, fry a flat-screen TV, or turn your charging smartphone into a very expensive paperweight, which is why protecting them with the right surge protector is crucial.
Given that many devices that bill themselves as surge protectors offer little to no protection at all, understanding how surge protectors shield your valuable electronics from potentially damaging power surges is key to making a good purchase. Read on to learn about the features you should look for when shopping for the best surge protector and check out our list of top picks.
- Best Overall: APC Surge Protector
- Best Budget: AmazonBasics 12-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector
- Best for Travel: Belkin Surge Protector
- Best for Desktop: Anker PowerExtend USB-C 3 Capsule
- Best for Entertainment Centers: APC Surge Protector
How We Selected the Best Surge Protectors
Like most Americans, I own a small arsenal of electronics, all of which are susceptible to damage from power surges. To protect these investments, I have surge protectors throughout my home, ensuring these devices aren’t impacted should my home experience a power surge.
I applied my own experiences using these gadgets in reviewing more than 20 surge protectors for my list of the top models. In making my selections, I considered the amount of protection each offers. For larger surge protectors designed for computer stations and entertainment centers, I chose models rated for at least 3,000 joules of protection. For smaller mobile and desktop surge protectors, I chose models that could offer at least moderate protection against a power surge. A surge protector should also be an effective power strip, so I leaned toward those with numerous outlets and a variety of plug types. Finally, I selected surge protectors made by companies that back their products with warranties that provide coverage for the devices plugged into them.
The Best Surge Protector: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: APC Surge Protector
Why It Made The Cut: We couldn’t find a surge protector with a higher surge rating that offered this many outlets.
- Outlets: 12 + 2 USB
- Surge rating: 4,320 joules
- Equipment Protection: up to $300,000
- A whopping 4,320 joules of protection
- 12 outlets and two USB ports provide ample space for devices
- Backed by APC’s $300,000 equipment protection
- Built-in failsafe cuts off power if the surge protector ceases to provide protection
- One of the most expensive surge protectors on the market
While it may be among the priciest surge protectors on the market, you’d be hard-pressed to find more comprehensive protection than with APC’s surge protector, which can absorb surges of up to 4,320 joules before failing. APC also stands firmly behind its product with its lifetime equipment protection warranty that covers damage up to $300,000. That’s one of the highest levels of protection we could find in a surge protector. It also comes with a fail-safe mode that cuts off power if any of the surge protector’s internal parts become worn or damaged and can no longer provide protection.
APC’s surge protector makes for an effective powerstrip, too. It’s equipped with 12 plugs, including four with enough spacing to support larger plugs without covering other outlets. In addition to standard three-prong outlets, there are also two USB connectors, handy for charging smart devices. Despite its large capacity, the APC surge protector is surprisingly compact at just 1.3 inches thick, making it thin enough to fit in those tight spots behind desks or entertainment centers.
Best Budget: AmazonBasics 12-Outlet Power Strip Surge Protector
Why It Made The Cut: AmazonBasics’ surge protector offers a similar level of protection as other high-end models at a fraction of the price.
- Outlets: 12
- Surge rating: 4,320 joules
- Equipment protection: $0
- A high level of protection at an affordable price
- Offers 12 outlets including four spaced outlets
- 15-amp circuit breaker cuts off power at the surge protector
- Does not insure equipment connected to it
- Not as ruggedly built as other surge protectors
Although there are cheaper surge protectors on the market, most of those models don’t offer the protection and capacity this model from AmazonBasics offers at a better price. Its 4,320-joule rating puts it on par with some of the top surge protectors on the market (though it's important to note that Amazon does not offer equipment protection as other manufacturers do).
In terms of capacity, the AmazonBasics surge protector boasts some 12 outlets, including four spaced-out outlets for oversized plugs. The unit’s power switch doubles as a 15Amp resettable breaker, adding yet another feature for combatting power surges.
Bright green LED lights are reassuring, letting you know that your devices are protected (though the bright green beacon can be annoying at night for those using this power strip in the bedroom). Though the AmazonBasics surge protector is large at more than a foot long and 5 inches wide, its svelte profile of just 1.3 inches allows it to fit in narrow crevices behind a desk or entertainment center or keep a low profile on a desktop.
Best for Travel: Belkin Surge Protector
Why It Made The Cut: Of the compact surge protectors on the market, this one offered the best surge protection of any we could find while still being small enough for travel.
- Outlets: 3 + 2 USB
- Surge rating: 918 joules
- Equipment protection: $75,000 worth of equipment protection
- Compact size makes it ideal for travel
- Offers three outlets plus 2 USB connections
- No cumbersome cord to work with
- Comparatively low level of surge protection
It may not have the surge-stopping ability of full-size surge protectors, but this compact model from Belkin beats out most travel-size models while maintaining a size compact enough to fit easily into a computer bag. The Belkin Mini Surge protector plugs into a wall and offers three three-prong outlets and two USB outlets, more than enough to handle most people’s mobile workstations.
At just 7 inches long, 5 inches deep, and 2 inches wide, it's small enough for travel. And, while it doesn’t have the high surge ratings of a full-sized surge protector, its 918-joule rating is better than most compact options. Notably, it stands behind that rating with equipment protection coverage of up to $75,000.
Its design allows it to hug the wall with no wires to worry about. It features a long body that can swivel, allowing you to position it either horizontally or vertically to meet your needs. A small light emits an LED glow when the surge protector is plugged in, letting you know that it’s protecting your devices.
Best for Desktop: Anker PowerExtend USB-C 3 Capsule
Why It Made The Cut: The streamlined look of this desktop model is ideal for those looking to protect smart devices or a laptop
- Outlets: 3 + 2 USB and 1 USB C
- Surge rating: 300 joules + 15-amp circuit breaker
- Equipment Protection: None
- Streamlined look and design make it ideal for desktops
- Includes a USB-C connection for high speed charging and laptops
- Weighted base keeps it firmly in place
- Expensive for a device that only offers 300 joules of surge protection
The standard surge protector that sits on the floor under the desk or wedged behind the entertainment center isn’t ideal for smartphones, tablets, and laptops that get plugged and unplugged on a regular basis. While you can put one of those bulky surge protectors on a desk, such a setup just won’t do if aesthetics are important to you.
This streamlined model from Anker is a great alternative. It consists of two sides. On its front are two USB ports for smartphones and a 45-watt USB-C port that can power a laptop or fast charge a smartphone. On the unit’s back are three widely spaced three-prong power outlets.
The Anker PowerExtend sits upright as opposed to flat, allowing you to plug in smartphones and laptops without having to bend the cord at a 90-degree angle. It also features a weighted bottom with non-slip pads that hold it firmly to the desktop even when plugging and unplugging cords. A power switch on the face of the surge protector conveniently allows you to turn it on and off, and LED lights indicate when the power is on and the devices are protected.
Though the PowerExtend’s surge protection is nothing to brag about at a modest 300 joules, it is enough to provide moderate protection. Plus, it’s also equipped with a built-in 15-circuit breaker for added protection. The Anker PowerExtend is also one of the more expensive surge protectors on the market, coming in at a price that’s higher than less aesthetically pleasing surge protectors that offer better protection.
Best for Entertainment Centers: APC Surge Protector
Why It Made The Cut: Thanks to its ethernet outlet, coaxial cable connections, and numerous outlets, this surge protector is well outfitted for entertainment centers.
- Outlets: 11, plus ethernet, coaxial cable, and phone
- Surge rating: 3,020 joules
- Equipment Protection: $100,000
- Ethernet and coaxial cable connections are ideal for entertainment center setups
- LED indicators allow the user to monitor protection status
- Ample capacity to support numerous devices
- Not quite as much protection as what other surge protectors offer
To truly protect your entertainment center from power surges, you need to have a set of surge-arresting jacks that can accommodate all types of connections. It certainly would be cold comfort if your surge protector prevented a power surge from traveling through the power cord only to have it fry your TV through the cable line. The APC Surge Protector is well designed to accommodate the various connections used in entertainment setups, thanks to its inclusion of coaxial cable jacks for protecting TVs with satellite or cable TV connections and an ethernet jack for TVs and gaming consoles with a wired connection to a router. In addition to those specialty connections, it comes equipped with 11 three-prong outlets, providing ample capacity for entertainment centers with TVs, gaming consoles, and other devices with AC plugs.
While the surge protector’s inclusion of two RJ-11 phone jacks may have you wondering if the tech on this surge protector is up to snuff, rest assured it is. The APC surge protector offers 3,020 joules of protection and backs that with $100,000 worth of coverage.
This model also has useful light indicators that tell you when the surge protector is providing protection, experiencing an overload, or detecting a wiring fault. While the surge protector is large at a foot long and nearly 5 inches wide, its 1.6-inch profile allows it to fit into that tight crevice between the wall and the entertainment center.
Things to Consider When Buying the Best Surge Protector
A surge protector’s main purpose is to protect your electronics from power surges. That function is what separates these devices from a basic power strip. Surge protectors accomplish this by using Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs), an electrical component that absorbs excess energy and sends it to a ground wire. The MOVs in a surge protector determine the number of joules it can absorb before it fails. The more joules, the greater the amount of surge protection. Some electronics, such as an alarm clock, blender, or basic lamp, only require a surge protector that can absorb up to 1,000 joules for adequate protection. More complicated electronics, such as gaming consoles, flat-screen TVs, and computers, require more comprehensive protection of 2,000 joules and above.
Surge protectors vary in the number and type of outlets they offer. Smaller models may only have three or four three-prong outlets while some larger units offer up to 12. Surge protectors can also have USB outlets for charging smart devices and even connections for coaxial cable and ethernet lines. Plan ahead before purchasing a surge protector by first determining the number and type of outlets you’ll need to handle your setup.
An excellent indication of a surge protector’s quality is its warranty. Some surge protector manufacturers are willing to put their money where their mouth is by covering the cost of damage to devices connected to their surge protectors. This coverage ranges from $75,000 to $300,000.
Eventually the MOVs in a surge protector degrade and cease to function. When this happens, a surge protector can leave your valuable electronics vulnerable while giving you the false impression that they are protected. A good surge protector will have a fail-safe mode that cuts power to your devices when the surge protector ceases to provide adequate protection.
Q: How do I choose a good surge protector?
When selecting a surge protector, look at the surge rating. Choose a surge protector with a rating of at least 300 joules. For protecting sensitive or expensive equipment, such as a computer or flat-screen TV, look for a surge protector with a rating of at least 1,000 joules. Finally, make sure the surge protector has enough outlets to support all the components you need to protect.
Q: What is the difference between a surge protector and a power strip?
A power strip allows you to plug multiple devices into a single wall outlet by splitting that outlet into multiple outlets. A surge protector performs the same function as a power strip but also includes MOVs that can absorb excess power, protecting your devices from power surges.
Q: What is the most powerful surge protector?
The APC Surge Protector Power Strip, with its ability to absorb up to 4,320 joules, is the most powerful surge protector on the market. This high surge rating makes it ideal for protecting expensive sensitive electronics that are irreplaceable, such as a computer that holds important photos or data.
When selecting a surge protector, it’s crucial to consider the level of protection it offers as well as its capacity. Many devices that claim to be surge protectors offer so little protection that they’re little more than power strips. When shopping for a surge protector, pay careful attention to its surge rating and look for manufacturers that are willing to provide monetary coverage for the devices you connect to it.
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