Are your electronics protected as we enter the stormy summer season? Lightning strikes are more likely in the summertime, especially July afternoons and evenings. Here are some reasons why you need surge protectors and what to look for when buying them.
1. Surge protectors are NOT power strips
Power strips are multi-outlet products that are an expansion of an outlet. They usually don’t offer any real protection from electrical issues. They have an on/off power button that breaks the circuit. They are just like plugging into a wall outlet.
Surge protectors are inexpensive but offer some level of protection against power spikes. How much and how well varies considerably depending on the model.
2. Surge protectors are rated by joules
Surge protectors are rated according to joules (a measure of energy released over a period of time). In general, surge protectors rated for more joules are better. It will keep your electronics safe through one large surge or many smaller ones. The parts inside the surge protector do wear with time which makes it less effective.
3. Check out the manufacturer’s warranty
Many surge protector companies offer warranties up to a certain dollar amount on the damage sustained while using their products. It’s worth keeping your original receipts for your electronics and surge protectors just in case. Dollar amounts and policies vary according to manufacturers. It’s definitely something to consider when shopping for new surge protectors!
4. More outlets
Buy the surge protector with more outlets than you think you are going to need. That way, you will be able to protect more gear without resorting to plugging right into the wall outlet. Six outlet surge protectors are probably a good start.
5. Don’t forget about bulky plugs
Plugs that convert AC power into DC power need wider spacing between sockets. Those are the plugs that look like boxes with electrical prongs. A surge protector with wider spacing between sockets will fit those bulky plugs.
6. Surge protect your phone or cable lines
Phone and cable lines can carry power spikes and surges too. Look for surge protectors that offer connections for these lines.
7. They don’t last forever
Over time surge protectors wear out. If you have had your current surge protector for more than a few years, you should replace it. Some models will give a warning or shut down when the protection drops below an acceptable level. Other times you won’t know until a power surge damages your electronics. If you have had a serious lightning strike or a nearby transformer blew, you should replace your surge protector. It is hard to tell how much protection is left.