How do I Choose the Best Small Surge Protector?

Keith Koons

Choosing the best small surge protector may seem intimidating, but deciding on just a few necessary requirements beforehand makes the entire process much easier for consumers. For example, does the whole house need protection, or just some specific devices? The number and types of devices will also determine the total number of outlets that the surge protector must provide. Since this small surge protector must guard against the largest possible surges likely to be encountered, it should also have a circuit breaker or fuse and meet the standard UL 1449 certification.

Some surge protectors contain a fuse, which will break if the system is overloaded.
Some surge protectors contain a fuse, which will break if the system is overloaded.

Starting an electric motor or the compressor in a major appliance like refrigerators or air conditioning units draws an extra current for a few seconds. A small voltage surge may follow when the motor reaches operating speed, and this can be enough to damage delicate electronics such as computer chips. Personal computers and related devices, such as monitors, printers and modems, should be guarded by a small surge protector for this very reason. In fact, since any electronic devices can be damaged by a voltage surge, televisions and audio/video equipment should be protected as well.

Lightning is one potential cause of power surges.
Lightning is one potential cause of power surges.

To protect the home’s electrical wiring and its heavy appliances from lightening surges, a panel surge protector is required. These types of devices are best installed by a professional due to their complexity. Even though this type of device is the largest and most expensive small electrical surge protector, it still leaves delicate electronic devices vulnerable to surges caused from within the home. So while this is an essential step towards protecting the electrical integrity of the residence, additional steps are often necessary.

Some electronic devices need what is referred to as an uninterruptible power source (UPS), which means that there is a constant draw of electricity to the unit. Most desktop computers should be powered by a UPS, since a power failure will crash the the computer and all unsaved work would be lost. For home use, a UPS should include a built-in small surge protector to prevent accidental overloads. Routers and wireless telephone base stations are excellent candidates for a UPS and its built-in electrical surge protector as well. A phone surge protector implements a similar technology, protecting telephones, televisions, and computers from lightening strikes that travel through communications lines.

There are a few other important features of a quality small surge protector as well. A small surge protector should be certified under the UL 1449 standard provided by Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, the surge protector should incorporate a fuse or circuit breaker to handle really large surges and, thus, provide the ultimate safety for electronic equipment. Ensuring that these extra precautions are implemented will guarantee that the small surge protector provides superior protection.

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