How We Chose Our Ratings
You may think of a surge protector as something that protects your computer in case of a lightning storm, but surge protectors play more roles than just keeping your electronics safe. Learn how they can help you, the kinds of roles they can (and should) play in your home, and whether or not you need one--or several.
Keep reading to find our complete buyer’s guide to finding the best surge protector for you, plus, check out our list of the best surge protector options for 2019, including options for extreme protection, travel, and tight spaces.
How We Chose Our Ratings
Surge protectors protect some of your most expensive and valuable items; poorly designed surge protectors, however, don’t just fail to protect your property in the case of a power surge--they can be the cause of something as scary as a fire.
That’s why we’re so careful about choosing which surge protect to recommend. Honesty and accuracy are important to us, so we’re not just looking at available data on each surge protector--though we’re certainly giving that a thorough analysis. We’re also looking closely at customer reviews and testimonials to find out what people think.
How many reviews does each surge protector have? Are they mostly positive or are there some serious concerns you should know about?
We factor all this into our star ratings and make a point of letting you know which scenario each of the following surge protectors is best for. Our ultimate goal is to make sure you find the right surge protector for you, and that you feel confident with the choice you’ve made.
Top 6 Best Surge Protectors
1. Tripp Lite Isobar 10 Outlet Surge Protector
At almost $$, this surge protector from Tripp Lite is one of the most expensive on our list. But the protection it offers is hands down the best, so if you’re looking for a protector that can handle, say, all the expensive stuff in your home theatre, this is your protector.
It’s big--even with the right-angle plug, it still has a large footprint. And it doesn’t have any of the clever rotating outlets like the other protectors we’ve listed. But it does include ten outlets arranged so that you can use up to four bulky transformers or plugs, as well as additional coaxial, telephone, and ethernet connections.
This Tripp Lite protector comes listed at an incredible 3840 joules, with three diagnostic LEDs and a promise that if the protection light ever goes off, you can return it to the company for a replacement--and multiple reviewers back up the validity of this statement! If you’re looking for the best protection, the Tripp Lite protector is the right choice.
2. Echogear Power Strip Surge Protector
Echogear has managed to carve out a great niche for itself: cleverly-designed, highly functional surge protectors that offer a great deal of protection at a low price. We’re not ones to skimp on quality by grabbing the cheapest protector we can find, but there’s no need to skimp with this eight-outlet power strip surge protector from Echogear.
The strip’s eight outlets rotate, ensuring you’re able to use every single outlet, even if your cords are large. Extras like cable hooks are also helpful, but what we especially like are the safety features:
Like other Echogear products, this one rates extremely well--out of 500 reviews; it has an average 4.9-star rating on Amazon. Customers who do have problems are quick to point out how great the company’s customer service is.
At just a penny under $$, this strip protector comes at a great price (did we mention it comes with an eight-foot extension cord). Like us, however, you might be missing those USB connectors; fortunately, this model also comes in a six-outlet version that includes two USB plugs.
3. Bestek 8-Outlet Surge Protector
This 8-outlet surge protector from popular electronics manufacturer Bestek strikes a terrific balance between safety, affordability, and functionality. You’ll find eight outlets and six USB charging ports.
These days, it seems most of us need more USB charging ports than outlets, and most reviewers are deeply appreciative of the ration on this particular charging tower.
The protector is ETL listed with a dissipation rate of 1400 joules, making ideal for most applications--especially those at your desk or nightstand. It has a clever design: since it’s a tower and not a strip, it takes up minimal space on your floor or desktop, and it’s a cinch to plug in all manner of plugs.
We also appreciate the six-foot power cable and the safety door to protect children from electric shock. Finally, it has switches so that you can turn off outlets you’re not using, and utilizes smart USB charging to turn off those ports when your device is fully powered. This saves energy, your battery life, and keeps your appliances extra safe.
In the low $$, this protector isn’t cheap, but it’s not pricey, either--plus, reviewers love it. It has 440 reviews on Amazon currently, and 92% of those are four-star or higher.
4. Echogear On-Wall Surge Protector
We’ll say right out of the gate that this isn’t the best surge protector for your high-end needs--for example if you’re trying to protect your movie room--but it is a great value and packs a surprisingly large amount of protection in a very small package.
It’s pretty small so you might be able to get away with traveling with it, but its pivoting AC heads are genius and allow you to use every one of its six outlets. It has no extension cord, so you’ll have to have an outlet big enough to handle fairly diminutive frame, and it’s UL safety certified at 1080 joules.
Our only complaint is that it has zero USB outlets, which means you’ll need adapters to charge your phones and tablets. That’s a bummer, but what’s not a bummer is the price on this little protector--it’s about $$, making it hands down the best protection for the lowest price on this list.
The Echogear Protector has 500 reviews on Amazon, and an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars, meaning 95% of reviewers gave this product four stars or more. We’ll take this little surge protector any day of the week!
5. Tripp Lite Portable Surge Protector
This is a great little travel surge protector from Tripp Lite. It doesn’t pack a ton of power, but its 540 joules is probably more than enough for your traveling needs, and at about $, it won’t break the bank.
It does come, however, with a UL rating, which can be difficult to find in a travel-sized protector. Plus, its single outlet is bolstered with two USB connectors, so if you need to charge several things, you’ll be able to with zero problems. Like most Tripp Lite products, this one works and works well--plus, the company promises to replace it if the protection light every goes out!
Customers rave about this pocket-sized protector with a folding plug (this keeps you from damaging your pockets or other items), awarding it an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. What’s also great about these travel charges from Tripp Lite is that you can find them in tons of other configurations--more USB connections, no USB connections, more AC outlets, telephone outlets, and so forth
6. Accell Powramid Air Slim
If you don’t want a surge protector tower and you don’t have room for a surge protector strip, you might enjoy this surge protector from Accell. Shaped in a circle, with six outlets lining the circle’s radius, this protector manages to save space without losing plug usability.
Its rate for 1080 joules (and its UL rated), plus it comes with a six-foot cord. It comes with two USB chargers and is small enough that you can fit it easily on your desk or counter--you don’t have to limit it to the floor.
Finally, reviewers report that the plugs are tight, a common problem among surge protectors because loose outlets mean your plugs can fall out easily. This is a great mid-level surge protector that’s not the best, but neither is it the worst. If you like the design, it’s a good option for most basic needs.
If you’ve already spent lots of money on a new phone, computer, or kitchen appliance, it’s tempting to grab the cheapest surge protector you can find at Walmart and call it a day. Unfortunately, the trend with surge protectors is “you get what you pay for.”
This doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune to get a good one, but it does mean you’re not getting much protection (if any) with a $10 protector. Keep in mind, also, that a cheap surge protector may rely on cheap components--and those can sometimes overheat, melt, or even catch on fire. Not good!
Instead, here are some signs of quality to be on the lookout for:
A UL rating doesn’t guarantee quality, but since UL is a non-for-profit that independently tests electronics like surge protectors for safety, it’s a helpful way to weed out the junk. You also want to make sure that you’re purchasing a surge protector or surge suppressor (same thing; different names), and not simply a plug extender or extension strip.
You should also make sure that your protector has some kind of indicator life or auto shutoff to let you know when a surge has damaged it. Otherwise, it’s worthless.
Additional Features To Look For In A Surge Protector
Here are the other things you should think about when you’re looking for the best surge protector:
Why You Need A Surge Protector
You might equate lightning with power surges that damage whatever’s plugged in, but lightning-caused power surges are rare. What’s more likely is that you’ll have a major power draw in your home or building from another appliance (like the AC or an elevator) or you’ll have a power surge caused by a faulty transistor on the power grid--something that’s impossible to predict.
That’s why you need a surge protector--because buying a $35 protector costs way less than replacing a computer and losing all your photos and files.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to finding the best surge protector, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Now that you’re armed with the facts, it will be a cinch to find the best protector for you and your needs.