The 10 Best Power Strips in 2024 - Surge Protector Reviews

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The 10 Best Power Strips in 2024 - Surge Protector Reviews

The 1980s brought us the computer age and also ushered in the surge protector. Most people had a desktop computer, a monitor, and maybe a printer—but add to those external drives, scanners, wireless routers, and other peripheral devices, and those two standard outlets most of us had were simply overwhelmed. Now we have laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other wireless Bluetooth devices, all connected to a surge protector.

Today, surge protectors often incorporate USB ports and surge protection. We’ve tested and vetted through our research a range to determine which are the best. But first, some buying advice.

The proliferation of wireless handheld devices that charge at lower voltages makes surge protection more important than ever. What most people don’t realize about surge protectors is that they wear out over time. With every voltage fluctuation they absorb, their lifespan is shortened. So, to be sure you’re getting the most protection you can, it’s a good idea to replace them every two to three years.

Power surges can occur for a number of reasons. People tend to worry most about lightning strikes, which can find their way to electrical wires and cause power spikes in the millions of volts. Most surge protectors can’t handle anything this large, so don’t rely on them during lightning storms—the best way to protect from this type of surge is to unplug your sensitive electronic equipment. More commonly, power surges are caused during storms when power lines are downed. When the power company’s transformers and complex switching systems try to reroute power or address changing demands, it can create inconsistent power flow with dips and bursts. The other common cause for surges occurs within your own home. Air conditioners, compressors, and electric ranges require a large amount of power, particularly when they start up. However, their need drops off quickly once they’re running, which can cause surges elsewhere in the house’s wiring. The amount of protection surge protectors provide is measured in joules. A joule is a unit of energy required to do a certain amount of work. One joule is about the amount of electricity used to light a one-watt LED for one second. To adequately protect an average home entertainment system or computers and related equipment, look for surge protectors rated in thousands of joules. Always check with the manufacturer, they usually provide examples on the packaging of what a certain model can protect.

Using the surge protector as a power hub for your home office? The amount of ports and outlets readily accessible is important to consider. Since you’re probably plugging in multiple devices, like a desktop monitor and a laptop charger, a surge protector can prevent overloading your wall outlet while still providing ample energy and protection for your tech. Among the surge protectors here, the most outlets you’ll find are 12 (anything more feels like overkill). And the models may include up to four USB ports.

While USB-A is still the most commonly used USB type and likely the first that comes to mind, USB-C is slowly becoming the standard because it has faster data transfer and charging speeds than USB-A. Plus, USB-C plugs are symmetrical, so they don’t have to be oriented one specific way to fit. This can alleviate some of that poking around you’ve probably had to do from time to time when trying to connect a USB-A cable. Many modern devices have the capability to connect via USB-C. Still, the adoption has been gradual, so it doesn’t hurt to consider a surge protector with a USB-A port or two just in case.

We’ve tested several surge protectors on this list. We researched the market, surveyed user reviews, spoke with product managers and engineers, and used our own experience with them to determine the best options. We plugged surge protectors in and tested them in kitchens, family rooms, workshops, and offices. We evaluated them based on ease of use, features, and how they performed in various situations.

For any surge protectors that we haven’t gotten hands on, we carefully selected them based on our knowledge and context from previous testing, as well as their designs, versatility, capabilities, and customer experiences.

APC has a lot of confidence in this 11-outlet SurgeArrest, so much so that it offers a $100,000 equipment protection policy. Short of using it in a research lab to protect scientific instruments, we had a hard time coming up with a list of equipment to match that total. Multiple layers of protection guard against power surges coming through your coaxial TV cable, telephone/DSL lines, and home’s electrical outlets. There are LEDs to indicate protection status and building wiring faults.

The six outlets are spaced nicely to accommodate large power adaptors, and all of them have sliding covers to keep out dust and debris when you’re not using them. The heavy cord swivels 180 degrees so that it can lay flat and out of the way, no matter which way it’s oriented behind furniture.

Because of the SurgeArrest’s size and features, we found it most useful for elaborate entertainment or computer equipment.

Belkin has everything covered with this 12-outlet surge protector. Connect phone/fax/DSL lines, coaxial cables for TV/cable modems, and ethernet and power cords for all your equipment to protect from surges and spikes wherever they come from.

The low-profile surge protector has six widely spaced outlets to accommodate large power adaptors, and a clip-on cable organizer keeps cords all heading in the same direction. The slim design helps it fit under desks and behind furniture, so you can set it up and forget it—although the protection and ground wiring status lights won’t be visible in this case.

Sliding covers protect unused outlets from dust and debris. Just remember they’re there, or it will be frustrating reaching behind furniture to plug something in. Finally, Belkin provides a $100,000 connected equipment warranty with this surge protector.

The Amazon Basics Surge Protector isn’t super compact, but it is a standout for how much surge protection it provides. 36,200 customers on Amazon give it an average 4.8 stars. Not only does it provide a high level of protection against surges, it comes with a green LED light that lets you know the surge protection is working and the wiring is grounded.

Tessan’s Flat Plug Extension Cord is a compact option for when you only need a couple of extra outlets. Its size and shape make it easy to pack when traveling—we carried it in our laptop bag when working off-site. Four standard outlets, spaced far apart, means it was easy for us to fit devices with large plugs without overlapping. Three standard USB ports were enough to satisfy our charging needs and helped make this useful as a tabletop charging station.

You can also hang this Tessan flat on a wall or above a desk or nightstand if space is limited. We were surprised and impressed with the 3,940 joules of surge protection—that’s a lot for a surge protector this inexpensive.

Bestek’s 8-Outlet surge protector is ideal as an accessible, under-desk power solution. We found that eight outlets were more than enough for a fully outfitted, single work-station desk. Two of them are set apart from the others specifically for devices with large plugs. The other six are spaced more tightly, and we were able to use all of them with a range of standard plugs.

Four smart USB charging ports ensure each device is charged at the voltage and rate best suited for it, and they self-adjust the current when charging multiple devices simultaneously. The lighted on/off switch has an integrated circuit breaker for overload protection on all outlets, so your gadgets will be safe from fluctuations in voltage or a sudden lightning strike.

The unit has a 15-amp circuit breaker, so you can even power some appliances with it—we plugged in an 8,000-BTU window air conditioner without issue.

The AC outlets on this surge protector from One Beat have ample space in between them to accommodate bulkier adaptors like laptop charging blocks. There are two outlets on the front panel and two on each side, which is convenient if you’re plugging in devices with cords that aren’t as flexible and need to lay flat. It’s space-saving and not very long, so it will work well for desktops and workstations.

The surge protector auto-detects your connected devices for charging efficiency, and the lighted on/off switch has an integrated circuit breaker and will automatically cut power if the voltage gets overwhelming.

Honeywell’s wall plate surge protector allows you to get more usage from the standard outlets around your home while saving space and eliminating extra extension cords. It comes with two AC charging outlets, along with a USB-A and a USB-C port for compatible devices.

Another convenient feature is the integrated phone stand, because you can set your device right on top of the wall plate to finish charging. Items plugged in benefit from the 800-joule surge protection.

While this surge protector doesn’t offer nearly as many outlets or charging ports as a traditional surge protector, it’s still a viable method for making the most of your standard home outlets if you don’t need to plug in that many more devices.

APC’s six-outlet SurgeArrest is ideal for use near a desk or entertainment system. It has wall mounts on the back to hang it horizontally or vertically, but make sure it’s accessible, or the USB ports all the way at the end could be blocked. The main feature of this surge protector is how the six outlets swivel to provide ample room for large power adaptors or oversize plugs.

The power switch doubles as a circuit breaker reset, and when turned on, two LEDs indicate protection status and if the circuit is grounded properly. Finally, APC provides a $50,000 equipment protection policy.

This Jackyled is a convenient table-top power tower, if you will, useful placed in the center of a conference table in collaborative environments or for meetings. It has outlets on every side, with two USB ports each on two of the sides. There’s a power switch for each tier of the tower, so you can be selective about which equipment you power off and which you leave on. The power cord for this unit retracts and winds into the base, so there’s no extra cable looped around to deal with. Plus, the handle on top makes for easy transport in between rooms.

We especially liked the Surge Protector Tower on our project table where tools and equipment frequently come and go and we have several things happening at once. A modest amount of surge protection guards sensitive electronics, although we wouldn’t suggest using this as a permanent power supply for these devices.

The compact cube-shaped PowerPort from Anker is more of an extension cord with USB ports than it is a surge protector. Its tiny size means it doesn’t take up space on a desk and will always be close for easy plugging and unplugging.

The PowerPort comes with an adhesive pad to keep it from moving around, wherever you decide to put it—it’s super sticky, so you can even tack it on a wall. We were able to do away with multiple AC adapters thanks to this Anker.

There are three AC outlets and three USB ports, so it will power all the personal electronic devices you need for work or play. Its compact size also makes it ideal for travel, and the cube can easily fits into a briefcase or laptop bag. Similar to the Belkin and APC surge protectors, Anker has a connected equipment warranty, with coverage up to $25,000.

Amber is the Digital Content Producer for Popular Mechanics, Runner's World and Bicycling, where she covers a range of tasks for the commerce team. She also writes fashion and beauty content for Best Products. Her work has been featured across all of the Enthusiast Group sites. In her free time you can likely find her watching horror movies, reading a good thriller book, or listening to a comedy podcast.

Brad Ford has spent most of his life using tools to fix, build, or make things. Growing up he worked on a farm, where he learned to weld, repair, and paint equipment. From the farm he went to work at a classic car dealer, repairing and servicing Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Jaguars. Today, when he's not testing tools or writing for Popular Mechanics, he's busy keeping up with the projects at his old farmhouse in eastern Pennsylvania.

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