You probably don’t think about power strips or surge protectors very often — until you accidentally fry a very expensive device. Once you realize you need one, it’s probably a bit too late. How do you know if the power strip you already have will suffice? Are there better options out there? We’ll do our best to answer your questions and more. Plug in and get ready, these are the best power surge protectors around.
What is a power strip surge protector?
A surge protector, also called a surge suppressor, often looks like a power strip in that it connects to an outlet and offers multiple ports for charging. However, surge protectors typically pack a bit more technology that helps to keep your devices safe. It’s all in a name, and surge protectors are meant to ensure that your expensive TVs and laptops can last through the unpredictability of life.
Is there a difference between a surge protector and a power strip?
Yes! Well, at least when it comes to protection there is. Power strips are basically just that — a long row of outlets that you can plug extra chargers or power cables into. Surge protectors, like we mentioned before, feature added tech that defends against unexpected spikes or surges in power. Typically, surge protectors are a bit more expensive than power strips that would offer a similar number of outlets.
If you have a pile of power strips laying around and you want to determine whether they’re surge protectors or not, the process is usually simple. Most power surge protectors will have a light on them or an indicator that says Protected. It should light up when the surge protector is active, and there might be a label on the back that indicates the suppressed voltage rating. As long as you can find some mention of protection or suppression, you’ve got yourself a surge protector.
Are all surge protectors power strips?
Although not all power strips are surge protectors, all surge protectors are power strips. A surge protector that offered just one outlet wouldn’t be very helpful — that sounds more like a heavy-duty extension cord. Many surge protectors offer a good number of outlets so that you can attach all of your important tech while keeping a bit of peace of mind.
Do surge protectors really work?
Of course they do, at least to a certain extent. Surge protectors won’t be able to protect against the very highest levels of spikes or surges, but they should be able to handle most everyday wear and tear. Many surge protectors offer warranties on your connected technology though, so if the worst should happen then you just might be covered by the manufacturer. Ideally, you won’t ever want to have to use this warranty as it’s probably a sign that the surge protector is only a fraction of the problem.
The best power surge protectors
Now that you have a bit of background, which power surge protectors are worth spending your hard-earned money on? Here’s our list of the best we can find. We’ve tried to include a variety of sizes as well as some niche outlets that may not be a necessity in every home.
Editor’s note: We’ll do our best to update this list of surge protectors as we find new options.
Up first on the list, you can take your pick between a three-outlet and a six-outlet option from Kasa. Both power surge protectors are generally identical, with individually controlled outlets and status lights. You can take things even further with schedules and timers that coordinate each individual outlet. Unlike some other power strips, the Kasa Smart options both feature compact plugs that play nicely with other devices. Hit this first button to check out the three-outlet version:
If you need more plugs, the six-outlet version will also add a third USB-A plug to the mix. You can check out the details and grab yours here:
Slightly larger than the Kasa options, this Belkin model comes in a stealthy gray finish with a total of eight handy outlets. It’s wide and flat as well, which should provide ample space for even the bulkiest of chargers. Once you load the Belkin with cables and cords you can tuck them away under the two plastic prongs because nobody likes a tangled mess of wires. The Belkin power surge protector is also equipped with a long six-foot cable so you don’t have to stash it anywhere near your outlet of choice.
If you’ve seen any of our other accessory guides, you know that Anker is a well-established name in just about every category. This is no exception, as the 12-outlet High Joule model from Anker is perfect for home theaters and heavy usage. It has more than enough outlets for all of your charging needs and Anker packed not just one protector, but two 4,000-joule units inside for maximum resistance. If it should happen to fail — which is highly unlikely — Anker also includes a $300,000 warranty for your connected devices.
Anker’s huge 12-outlet PowerExtend is a beast of a surge protector, but it would be wrong of us to ignore the manufacturer’s everyday options. Not every house needs a model with half that many outlets, so Anker has introduced three- and six-port models that take up far less space. Both options include two USB-A ports and a speedy 45W USB-C option so you can save your other precious ports for the devices that need the space. Check out the smaller, three-outlet model here:
It might help to choose the larger surge protector power strip anyway as it features a durable braided cable. You should have plenty of flexibility too as it stretches to a 6.6-foot length. Grab yours here:
You just might find that you need a surge protector with more than just your standard outlets. This option from APC packs 11 outlets as well as Coax inputs, network ports, and even DSL connections. It’s pretty much a small apartment’s worth of connections packed in one small package. While it would have been nice to see a way to manage potentially 18 cables, it’s tough to top the freedom of choice. The APC SurgeArrest can handle maximum spikes of 3,020 joules.
Although the SurgeArrest from APC is a top option for flexibility, this smaller model might be closer to what you need. It’s available with six or eight outlets, half of which are smart outlets. That means you can schedule timers and routines for half of your strip but keep the other half as a constant power source. In addition to the standard outlets, this APC surge protector has four USB-A ports — two of which are smart — so you can charge your phone but keep the outlets free and clear.
Many surge protectors tend to cost a bit more than their power strip counterparts, but this AmazonBasics offering shows that you can save some cash with a less programmable option. It’s packed with eight outlets — five on one side, and three further apart options on the other. The AmazonBasics surge protector has an impressively high maximum spike protection of 4,500 joules, though unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any smart outlets.
The last option on today’s rundown of the best power surge protectors is a bit different from the rest. Instead of packing all of your cables into a flat, rectangular design, this Belkin offering allows you to rotate each individual outlet for perfect positioning. You won’t have to tie cables in knots, and you should always know just which outlet you’re looking for. In total, the Belkin uses six rotating outlets and one fixed option and you can clamp the cables in place with a built-in management system.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Do surge protectors defend against power outages?
A: Yes and no. The surge protector won’t do anything when the power goes out because that isn’t a surge. However, it will help when the power comes back on as that’s where you’d see a spike.
Q: How much power can a surge protector handle?
A: It depends based on the power surge protector, but a good way to determine the maximum wattage is to multiply the number of amps by the number of volts. More expensive protectors will be able to handle more power.
Q: How to tell if my power strip has a surge protector?
A: As mentioned above, most surge protectors will have a mention of their suppressed voltage rating or an LED light that activates when plugged in.
Q: Are Ikea power strips surge protectors?
A: No, Ikea’s Koppla power strips are not surge protectors.
Q: Can I connect a power strip to a surge protector?
A: While it’s generally not a great idea, technically you can connect a power strip to a surge protector. The problem is that you may end up adding too many accessories and accidentally overwhelming the capacity.