- Surge protectors prevent electronics from getting damaged in power surges, while power strips provide additional outlets to plug electronics into.
- Surge protectors have electrical ratings and on/off switches, and although power strips may have circuit breakers with on/off switches, they do not protect against power surges.
- Power strips have simple functionality, while surge protectors divert current into the ground wiring to protect electronics in the event of a power surge.
- Surge protectors are recommended for households experiencing frequent power surges, while power strips are a convenient option for powering multiple devices at once.
Do you have a television, sound system, game console, and cable box that must be plugged into the same wall, but you only have two electrical outlets? You need to power all of these electronics. The best option is extra plug-ins.
Two common devices you might invest in are surge protectors and power strips. These both benefit your household, including offering multiple plugs to power your electronics. However, there are also key differences. Learn more about surge protectors and power strips, discover the purpose each one serves, and determine which is best for your needs.
Surge Protector vs. Power Strip: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Category||Surge Protector||Power Strip|
|Price||These can vary in price but are typically more expensive than power strips.||These are generally cheaper than surge protectors.|
|Purpose||Surge protectors prevent electronics from getting damaged in power surges.||Power strips provide additional outlets to plug electronics into.|
|What is it?||A device that offers protection against lightning strikes and voltage spikes.||A unit that lets you plug various electronics into a single outlet.|
|When to use it||If you experience frequent power surges and lightning strikes at your home.||If you need to power multiple electronic devices at once.|
|Appearance||Like power strips, they are extensions of the wall outlet and have numerous outlets.||These plug into the wall and hold numerous outlets. They often have an on/off switch.|
|Common types||Point-of-use power strips with built-in surge protection|
Whole-home surge protectors
|Single-strip, rack-mount, |
cabinet, bench-mount, and
smart power strips
Surge Protector vs. Power Strip: What’s the Difference?
Homeowners often get confused between surge protectors and power strips. It’s understandable, as they look similar and both have multiple outlets. However, they provide different purposes and benefits.
Power strips are more common than surge protectors in households. Power strips offer the convenience of plugging in multiple electronics at once while using one wall outlet. With only two available outlets on most walls, this is difficult. Power strips let you plug in numerous electronics at once through its strip of outlets.
Like power strips, surge protectors have places to plug in multiple electronics. However, they do more than offer convenience. These protect your expensive electronics, like your TV and your computer, against a power surge.
A power surge is a quick, sudden spike in electricity. These are typically caused by lightning strikes and a voltage spike. These can happen randomly, and they can cause major damage to your electronics. It can cause them to overheat and burn out, ruining the devices and resulting in expensive replacements.
Both power strips and point-of-use surge protectors have similar appearances. These are long, slender devices with a long cord that gets plugged into a wall outlet. They both have multiple outlets on them so numerous electronics can be plugged in at once.
Surge protectors have electrical ratings on them. These Joules ratings reveal the maximum voltage the device can handle. Surge protectors also have on/off switches.
Power strips are often confused for surge protectors because some models have circuit breakers with on/off switches. However, these do not protect against power surges like surge protectors do.
Power strips have simple functionality. These devices get plugged into a single wall outlet and electronics can simply be plugged in. If it has a switch, it needs to be turned on, and the various electronics will get power. Smart power strips help households save money. They cut power to electronics that are in standby mode to reduce energy usage.
Surge protectors have a larger functionality. Point-of-use devices get plugged into a wall outlet and power any electronics that are plugged into the unit. In addition, if a power surge occurs, the surge protector will divert the current into the ground wiring, protecting the electronics.
Whole-house surge protectors offer even more protection to households. These are connected to the home’s electrical system. If a power surge occurs, it prevents the high voltage spike from hitting the home’s appliances and systems.
Surge Protector vs. Power Strip: 5 Must-Know Facts
- Surge protectors have Joules. The higher the Joule rating is, the better the device is at protecting your electronics from power surges. You should purchase one with at least 600 Joules.
- Surge protectors will decrease in effectiveness over time. It’s important to replace these if the light goes off, or after a major power surge to ensure it’s still effective.
- A surge protector can also be listed as a power strip. It has multiple outlets to plug electronics into.
- When selecting a power strip, take inventory of how many electronics you need to plug in and buy a device that will accommodate all of them.
- There are multiple types of power strips. Some common types are single-strip power strips, rack-mount power strips, cabinet power strips, and bench-mount power strips. These come in multiple formats for more convenience in various rooms.
Surge Protector vs. Power Strip: Which One Should You Use?
When choosing between a surge protector and a power strip, it’s essential to know what problem you are trying to resolve. One offers protection, and the other is convenience.
Surge protectors keep your electronics safe from electrical surges. Some of the key uses for these devices include protection against voltage spikes and power outages. They also provide long-term cost savings as you won’t need to replace electronics that are damaged by power surges. If you frequently experience major storms or often have power surges, these devices are a must for your household.
In contrast, power strips do not protect your electronics against power surges. Instead, these devices offer a convenient way to plug in multiple electronics at once. These devices make it possible to use one wall outlet to power multiple electronics. This saves you money by allowing you to buy an inexpensive device instead of hiring an electrician to install more outlets. In some cases, power strips do include surge protection. You need to look at the packaging carefully before buying it to determine if a particular unit has it.
Because of the multiple uses of surge protectors, they are the better option. You can use surge protectors to protect your electronics against power surges, while also using them to power multiple devices at the same time.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Artem Stepanov/Shutterstock.com.