Surge or Outlet


Winter is fast approaching, and with it comes winter storms, some pack a punch, with snow, ice, even thunder snow. I was home during a winter storm back in February. The winds had ripped a branch down next to the house; it caught on the electrical wires and blew out the transformer. A large “boom” then I heard a snap! That snap I heard was the snap of the mainboard of my new TV, and I knew it the moment I entered the room, $300 bucks gone in a flash, and more regret than you could count. Could I have prevented this? Yes.

If you are reading this, than you must be the one who does most of your families “Techy Stuff”, and you understand the difference between an outlet strip, and a surge protector. Wait, you don’t? OK, let’s clarify that indifference right now.

Outlet Strip

An outlet strip is just what it implies, a strip of outlets, usually more than three in a row. They are cheap, under $5.00, Some have a rocker switch, that turns on and off the power, some even have a resettable circuit breaker, that is there so if you melt your appliance, it trips the breaker so you don’t start a fire in the wall. It Does NOT prevent electrical surges. Power goes out, the switch/ breaker keeps it from going back in. These are good for extending outlets were more than 2 are needed on the wall. Christmas Lights are good for this, not good for protecting TVs, Computers, gaming equipment, laptops. IF you have any of these devices plugged into an outlet strip, look at the backside of the strip, you should see a disclaimer stating that “this device does not protect equipment from Electrical Surges or Lightning strikes”. You are playing with fire, so to speak. Use your own judgment, but if it were me, I would invest in the following…

Surge Protector

This is an outlet strip on steroids, usually costing around $40.00 for the basic model. They carry an insurance of $100,000.00 or more against property loss due to a lightning strike, or power surge. They are a single use item, hopefully you never have to use that single fuse, but if you do, $40.00 is a lot cheaper than $300.00. The fuse is designed to blow in a Nano second, twice the speed of a blink of your eye, and that stops the power surge from coming in and traveling up to your TV. The better units have at least 8 or more outlets, cable TV in and out, Phone line in and out jacks and a proper ground and supply light. The best unit to protect your TV, Xbox, and Computer for $33.00 is a Belkin 12-Outlet USB Power Strip Surge Protector w/Flat Plug, 6ft Cord – Ideal for Computers, Home Theatre, Appliances, Office Equipment (3,996 Joules)

As a side note, “3,996 Joules of protection,” a joule is the measure of energy absorption. The higher rating in joules a device measures, the better the device is. With regards to surge protection, when the Joules ratings are higher, the surge protector is capable of handling a larger surge in a single event before it needs replacing. Think of it as the life expectancy of the surge protection device. The prescribed joules rating can be misleading though, because surges range in severity and the MOVs inside the surge protector (MOV stands for Metal Oxide Varistor, a small semiconductor responsible for stopping the surge) will degrade every time a surge is encountered.

Remember, that surges happen daily in an average home. So, a surge device that has been hit by several surges will not be as effective against its joule rating as it would just out of the box.

Consumers looking for the most reliable protectors on the market should aim high when comparing joule ratings. Now where’s my cellphone? Thanks for reading, and keep your PC secure and your family safer.  Remember at “Hunt Technology”, you always get “Quality Service & Individual Attention” you deserve.

Hunt Technology, 320 Watson St., Ripon WI, 920-290-0936

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