Surge Protectors

One of the things you have to do when you work at home is buy and set up all your own equipment, which can be costly to say the least. In order to protect your investment, you’ll want to have a surge protector.

Unless you’re reading this at your local library or on your laptop while sipping a cafe breve at Starbucks, chances are you already own a desktop computer. If you do, you’ll need to invest in a decent surge protector if you haven’t already.

A surge protector is much more than a power strip…

When I got my first computer I thought the long strip of plugs the salesman suggested simply solved the problem of having to plug in all those cords into one outlet. There was a power cord for the monitor, the speakers and the tower and the printer. However, the surge protector does much more than give you enough space to accomodate all those plugs. It also helps safeguard your equipment.

I don’t profess to be an electrician. Although we have one in the family, I never picked up the terminology or the ability to wire even the simplest of light fixtures. Simple common sense tells you that a surge protector protects electronic equipment from surges. So, the real question at hand is… what is a power surge?

There’s an awful lot of places you can go online to learn how a power surge can destroy your computer and all of your hard work. HowStuffWorks.com is a good resource for understanding, you guessed it, how stuff works! They have a great article on power surges, spikes and the process of protection called, Surge Basics.

In simpliest terms, they explain that:

If the surge or spike is high enough, it can inflict some heavy damage on a machine. The effect is very similar to applying too much water pressure to a hose. If there is too much water pressure, a hose will burst. Approximately the same thing happens when too much electrical pressure runs through a wire — the wire “bursts.”

So, the standard surge protector, as they explain:

…passes the electrical current along from the outlet to a number of electrical and electronic devices plugged into the power strip. If the voltage from the outlet surges or spikes — rises above the accepted level — the surge protector diverts the extra electricity into the outlet’s grounding wire.

There are a lot of different surge protectors available varying in looks and price. Picking the right one is a bit of a struggle. Most have an little light that lets you know it’s protecting your equipment. Mine has a green light that lets me know that things are functioning properly. Some surge protectors also include phone jacks, in case you happen to still be using a dial-up connection, that will help protect your modem as well.

You’ll want to be sure that the one you pick is a “transient voltage surge suppressor” with a clamping voltage of 400 V or less. When the product description lists a number in joules, it’s talking about how much energy the surge protector can withstand before it gives out. The higher the joules number, the better the protection. You might also want to consider the delay time listed in the product description (if it’s even listed). Generally speaking – most decent surge protectors will kick in in less than a nanosecond.

Some surge protectors even come with an equipment coverage guarantee. Choosing a model that comes with enough of a guarantee to cover your lost equipment can’t hurt. Sometimes this feature is noted with a price followed by the initials CEW (Connected Equipment Warranty).

Reasonably Priced Choices Include:

One of the neatest ones I’ve found is the Split Surge Protector from Fellowes. What makes it unique is the fact that it comes on one cord with two separate outlet strips. That means you can have half of the outlets located on one side of your desk and the other half of the outlets on the other side which can make for a much more organized mess of cords. It comes with ten outlet spaces, a 15-amp circuit breaker, a $50,000 Connected Equipment Warranty, 1250 joules protection and an indicator light.

Belkin offers a SurgeMaster Gold Surge Protector that has 10 outlets and is rated at 3540 joules. For beefier office stations this would be a good choice. Although I’m not sure how data recovery protection would be guaranteed, Belkin says it comes with a lifetime $Unlimited CEW and DataRecovery.

Another interesting choice is the Powersquid Surge Suppressor. Powersquids, aptly named because they look like squids, are a unique approach, but I personally think they appear messier in use than the power strip surge protectors. Another downside for me is that they offer only 6 cord slots instead of 9 or 10.

If you like the powersquid appearance, and are satisfied with having 6 outlets, you might also want to check out Flexitiy LLC,s PowerSquid Model Comparison page to compare their $69 SQ3K and their $79 Calamari. Both come with a lifetime warranty, feature a Joule rating of 3240 and offer $4K CEW and $5K CEW respectively.

More Surge Protector Choices from Amazon: