How to Choose a Surge Suppressor

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A surge suppressor is an essential protective measure you should employ with all of your electrical devices, particularly your high ticket items such as computers, televisions, microwaves, DVD players and stereo systems. Power spikes or surges can affect the performance of your electrical equipment and even destroy it altogether. To avoid costly repairs or replacement costs, choose a surge suppressor for optimal protection.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer or other electronic device Plug

Instructions

  • Check the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) rating for the surge suppressor first. You should look for a UL 1449 clamping voltage with the lowest rating possible. The lowest UL rating available in regards to clamping voltage is 330 volts.

  • Look for a surge suppressor that also has three-line protection. Power surges can happen on the neutral, hot or even ground electrical lines, so a surge suppressor with this type of protection will defend all three.

  • Verify the surge suppressor's energy rating. It will be measured in joules, and the theory is, the higher the rating, the better the surge suppressor can absorb the energy passing through it. A rating of 700 joules or higher is optimal.

  • Confirm whether or not the surge suppressor has a power shutdown feature. This particular characteristic protects your electrical equipment in the event your surge suppressor has reached its capacity to handle electrical spikes and surges. The power to the surge suppressor will shut down before the fluctuating energy can reach your electrical devices.

  • Check the response time for the surge suppressor. You want one with a fast response time, around a nanosecond. The slower the surge suppressor takes to react to a power surge or spike, the longer your electrical equipment is exposed to potential damage.

  • Ensure the surge suppressor has an indicator light to show you that the unit is protecting your electrical devices. If the light goes out, you know there is a problem.

  • Look into other features of the surge suppressor that might be beneficial to you such as phone line, digital TV, cable or satellite protection. A noise filter can safeguard your electrical devices from electromagnetic and radio frequency interference. These features, while not necessary, add another layer of defense against power surges and spikes.

Tips & Warnings

  • For your more expensive electrical devices, choose a surge suppressor that comes with a warranty and even insurance for data recovery should a hard drive become affected by a power surge or spike. Check your indicator lights periodically to ensure your surge suppressor is performing optimally. The lack of a light means the electrical devices plugged into your surge suppressor may not be adequately protected.
  • Do not overload the electrical rating of the surge suppressor as this may leave your electrical devices unprotected. Do not plug your surge suppressor into an extension cord. The surge suppressor can only provide protection when plugged directly into the wall electrical receptacle.

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References

  • Photo Credit U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
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