The Best Surge Protectors for Protecting Your Electronics

Our top pick is the APC Performance SurgeArrest P11VNT3

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A surge protector is a device that plugs into an electrical outlet, allowing you to plug multiple electronics directly into the unit rather than the wall. When a lightning strike or other electrical event causes the electricity flowing throughout your home to spike, the surge protector suppresses the extra voltage to save you from damaged or destroyed appliances.

We spoke to experts at the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), who recommend whole-house surge protection as a baseline. "The 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) introduced surge protection as a requirement for dwelling units," says ESFI program manager Daniel Majano. "Dwellings are now required to be protected by listed Type 1 or Type 2 surge protective devices (SPDs), which are typically installed in your breaker box or electrical panel. For full protection, a cascading system should be applied: whole-home as the first level, then point-of-use SPDs for specific products."

Especially for houses built before 2020 without whole-home surge protection, point-of-use (Type 3) SPDs are still a critical layer of defense for your most valuable electronics, so we researched power-strip-style surge protectors that are safe, dependable, and officially certified while still affordable and convenient enough for various household situations. Based on our research, the APC Performance SurgeArrest P11VNT3 is our top pick for its performance, extra ports, and protection level for the price.

Read on for our full list of the best surge protectors.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: APC Performance SurgeArrest P11VNT3

APC SurgeArrest Performance Surge Protector

Amazon

What We Like
  • High-end surge protection

  • Includes phone, cable, and Ethernet ports

  • Automatic shut-off feature

What We Don't Like
  • Limited Ethernet speed

  • No USB ports

  • Large size

For premium electronics like your TV, computer, and other multimedia equipment, APC's Performance SurgeArrest P11VNT3 is as dependable as they get. Its UL listing indicates it meets high safety testing standards, and a 3020-joule rating means it can absorb a whole lot of surge energy in its lifetime before it fails. A fail-safe feature also cuts off all power to your electronics after protection runs out, ensuring that no additional surges damage them after that point.

APC offers a variety of similar models with comparable protection, but a defining element of the P11VNT3 is its extra ports. In addition to 11 standard three-prong outlets (with safety shutters), you'll find ports to plug in a coaxial cable, telephone, and Ethernet line, with cables included to complete each connection.

Unfortunately, the downside to protecting your Ethernet connection through the P11VNT3 is that it limits your speed to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), even if you have a Gigabit internet network, which can be up to ten times faster than 100 Mbps. One hundred Mbps is plenty for basic web surfing, for example, but makes it tough to stream high-resolution video on multiple devices.

The P11VNT3 also lacks USB ports for device charging, a feature you can find on other surge protectors. However, if you're looking for a model to place on the floor behind an entertainment center or workstation, the product's bulky size makes it an excellent option for this use case.

Surge Energy: 3020 joules | Number of Outlets: 11 | USB Ports: 0 | Cord Length: 8 feet | Dimensions: 11.89 x 4.69 x 1.57 inches

Best for Large Adapters: Belkin Pivot Plug Surge Protector BP112230-08

Belkin Pivot Plug Surge Protector

Amazon

What We Like
  • High-end surge protection

  • Includes phone and cable ports

  • Cord management clip

What We Don't Like
  • No USB ports

  • No automatic shut-off

  • Large size

If you're plugging several devices with bulky power adapters into a single surge protector, even a large number of outlets won't help if they're packed too tightly for your plugs to fit next to each other. Belkin's solution with the Pivot-Plug Surge Protector BP112230-08 comes in the form of four outlets on either side that pivot outward up to 90 degrees, depending on how much space you need in order to squeeze your adapters in.

Add these to the four stationary outlets down the center, and you can plug in and protect up to 12 devices—plus a coaxial cable and phone/fax line. However, if features like USB ports for charging other devices and automatic shut-off are priorities for you, this large unit lacks those.

Importantly, the UL-listed BP112230-08 can reliably safeguard all the electronics you entrust to it. Rated at 4320 joules, it can withstand more surges than nearly any other comparable product. Once it exhausts that protection, power will continue to flow through, but a green indicator light will turn off to let you know it's no longer protecting your equipment. If a surge does damage your plugged-in property, Belkin offers a generous warranty of up to $300,000, but meeting the specific conditions to redeem that amount won't be easy.

Surge Energy: 4320 joules | Number of Outlets: 12 | USB Ports: 0 | Cord Length: 8 feet | Dimensions: 12.5 x 7.5 x 2.5 inches

Best Budget: Philips 6-Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip

Philips 6 Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip

Amazon

What We Like
  • Solid protection for the price

  • Automatic shut-off feature

  • Durable, no-tangle power cord

What We Don't Like
  • Limited surge protection

  • No additional ports

You can find plenty of low-cost surge protection options in stores and online, as long as you're willing to take on the risk of the reduced protection you pay for. The big-name electronics company Philips makes a 6-Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip that provides impressive protective features for its budget-friendly price.

The device is ETL listed, so it's certified by one of the nation's primary safety testing labs. Its 720-joule rating is enough for smaller, lower-value appliances, but it represents a lower end of surge protection that you might not want to risk with many big-ticket appliances. One important function it does include that competitors often don't is automatic shutdown. That means this surge protector won't keep your electronics running unprotected if it wears out without you noticing.

This model's main marketed feature is its braided power cord, and it indeed feels sturdy and resistant to twists and tangles. If the 4-foot cord length of the base model seems too short for your space, this model is available with 6- and 10-foot cable versions.

Surge Energy: 720 joules | Number of Outlets: 6 | USB Ports: 0 | Cord Length: 4/6/10 feet | Dimensions: 11.8 x 4.65 x 1.55 inches

Best Whole-House: EATON CHSPT2ULTRA Ultimate Surge Protection Power Strip

EATON CHSPT2ULTRA Ultimate Surge Protection Power Strip

Amazon

What We Like
  • Powerful surge protection

  • Relatively simple installation

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Requires electrical expertise to install

  • Much pricier than point-of-use SPDs

If you’re a homeowner with electrical experience, you may feel equipped to install a Type 2 whole-home surge protective device at your electrical service panel. In that case, the Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA is an option that's popular, effective, and relatively manageable to set up.

The device has a durable enclosure that meets standards for indoor or outdoor use and universal installation on the side of essentially any type of panel (provided you have a dedicated 50-amp double-pole circuit breaker available). As one measure of its protective capabilities, the CHSPT2ULTRA can handle a maximum single surge current of 108,000 amps. In comparison, a typical lightning flash might carry a current of 30,000 amps, so a good Type 2 SPD will often cover at least this figure.

One important thing to note is that whole-home SPDs offer protection for your entire residence by connecting directly to your electrical system. However, their installation is generally best left to a professional electrician.

Surge Energy: 108,000 amps | Number of Outlets: Not applicable | USB Ports: Not applicable | Cord Length: Not applicable | Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 2.5 inches

Expert Buying Tip

"ESFI recommends whole-home surge protection as the average home has $15,000 worth of electrical equipment that can be damaged by a power surge."—Daniel Majano, ESFI

Best Smart: TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300

TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300

Amazon

What We Like
  • Remote control through app and voice commands

  • Three USB ports

  • Energy monitoring

What We Don't Like
  • No automatic shut-off

  • Short power cord

  • Pricey for the amount of protection

The Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300 from TP-Link's Kasa Smart brand has six outlets and three USB charging ports that you can control wirelessly when you connect the device to your home Wi-Fi network. Once connected to the internet, you can operate the HS300 with the Kasa Smart mobile app or voice commands through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Microsoft Cortana. You can turn connected devices in each outlet on and off independently or group them together or with other smart products.

What differentiates the HS300 from plain smart power strips/outlets is its surge protection, which is ETL certified for safe and dependable performance. Its 1710 joules of energy absorption is decent, as is a voltage protection rating (VPR) that indicates it can bring surges down to 500 volts. (Premium surge protectors usually have a 330-volt or 400-volt rating.) Overall, its surge performance is middling; if strong surge protection is your priority, a dedicated "non-smart" alternative may be the better investment.

Like many other Kasa Smart products, the HS300 also provides real-time energy monitoring. This feature lets you track which of your devices use the most power and when so you can adjust your usage accordingly.

Surge Energy: 1710 joules | Number of Outlets: 6 | USB Ports: 3 | Cord Length: 3 feet | Dimensions: 14.17 x 2.49 x 1.48 inches

Best with USB Ports: Anker PowerExtend USB-C 3 Capsule

Anker USB C Desktop Charging Station

Amazon

What We Like
  • Fast charging for almost any device

  • Attractive, compact design

What We Don't Like
  • Low-end surge protection

  • Pricey for the amount of protection

The Anker PowerExtend USB-C 3 Capsule (also known as the Anker 623 Power Strip) offers a convenient combo of USB-C charging with surge protection in a more compact and clean-looking design than the traditional floor power strip.

On its front face are two full-size USB-A ports that deliver 15 watts of power each. One modern-device-friendly USB-C port supports up to 45 watts, allowing it to charge laptops in addition to smartphones and tablets. This port is also compatible with a variety of fast-charging technologies to quickly power up just about any device.

Tucked away out of sight on the back are three traditional AC outlets covered by the device's surge protection. Unfortunately, that level of protection amounts to only 300 joules, and a large surge could let enough voltage through to damage your electronics. For that reason, the PowerExtend USB-C 3 Capsule best serves primarily as a charging hub with some bonus electrical security rather than as full-time protection for important equipment.

Surge Energy: 300 joules | Number of Outlets: 3 | USB Ports: 3 | Cord Length: 6 feet | Dimensions: 7.9 x 3.1 x 2.8 inches

Best Heavy-Duty: Tripp Lite ISOBAR8ULTRA 8-Outlet Surge Protector

Tripp Lite ISOBAR8ULTRA 8-Outlet Surge Protector

Amazon

What We Like
  • High-end surge protection

  • Noise filtering

  • Automatic shut-off

What We Don't Like
  • No additional ports

  • Boxy, industrial design

  • Pricier than most consumer models

The Premium Isobar line of surge protectors from Tripp Lite doesn't look fancy, but they could be an ideal fit in any office, home workstation, or another setting where keeping equipment functioning is a top priority. On the outside, the ISOBAR8ULTRA has eight outlets, a lighted power switch, three LED indicator lights, and a 12-foot power cord with a sturdy, all-metal casing that guards the high-performance components on the inside.

The ISOBAR8ULTRA's UL-certified, network-grade surge protection includes an impressive 3840 joules of suppression for its lifetime, along with a maximum surge current rating of 97,000 amps reflecting its ability to handle large spikes. Additionally, the outlet arrangement uses what's called isolated noise filter banks, designed to help eliminate electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference and deliver cleaner audio and video from the equipment you plug in.

This level of performance, along with its higher cost, might be more than what average consumers need. However, this Tripp Life model offers valuable peace of mind when you have crucial systems or equipment you can't afford to lose.

Surge Energy: 3840 joules | Number of Outlets: 8 | USB Ports: 0 | Cord Length: 12 feet | Dimensions: 8.87 x 3.5 x 2.19 inches

Best Design: JACKYLED Power Strip Tower

JACKYLED Power Strip Tower

Amazon

What We Like
  • Good for multiple users

  • Retractable power cable

What We Don't Like
  • Modest surge protection

  • No automatic shut-off

While most surge protectors sit out of sight on the floor by design, the JACKYLED Power Strip Tower stands almost a foot tall, catching the eye with its unique profile and decor-friendly color schemes, including options resembling walnut wood.

The rotating three-level tower (taller and shorter versions are available) has ten widely spaced outlets and four 2.1A USB ports, with an independent on/off switch for each layer. You’ll find a carrying handle built into the top, and the power cord is retractable, so only the length you need is visible. The design considerations combine to make the device ideal for nightstands, coffee tables, and desktops. This tower could also be ideal for shared workstations, giving users easy access to outlets while protecting their equipment from electrical issues like overload, short circuits, and surges.

While the Power Strip Tower could be a welcome addition to many work or common spaces for less high-priority devices, it lacks automatic shut-off and offers a surge absorption lifespan of only 900 joules. You can find better long-term solutions for your more premium fixtures.

Surge Energy: 900 joules | Number of Outlets: 10 | USB Ports: 4 | Cord Length: 6.5 feet (retractable) | Dimensions: 11.3 x 5.67 x 5.67 inches

Best Outdoor: POWRUI Outdoor Smart Plug

POWRUI Outdoor Smart Plug

Amazon

What We Like
  • Remote control through app and voice commands

  • Four outlets with extenders

What We Don't Like
  • No automatic shut-off

  • Short primary power cord

The POWRUI Outdoor Smart Plug offers multiple benefits for your outdoor electronics rolled into one device. The first is simply providing four outlets when most products of its type often supply only two. Each outlet has its own short extender cable, which helps make up slightly for the device's tiny main power cord. The outlets additionally offer a decent 1080 joules of ETL-certified surge protection, giving you more security than a basic unprotected outdoor power strip or timer typically would.

The plug also serves as more than a simple outdoor timer, thanks to the smart features that kick in if you connect the device to your Wi-Fi network. You can use the free mobile app to set timers and schedules or control the outlets remotely, and it supports voice commands from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The features work well with holiday lights or other decorative lighting that you want to kick on by themselves or that you want to control without stepping outside.

Finally, the POWRUI Outdoor Smart Plug has an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IP44 to attest to its weather resistance—specifically, protection against water splashes coming from any direction and objects over 1 millimeter, like wires and screws.

Surge Energy: 1080 joules | Number of Outlets: 4 | USB Ports: 0 | Cord Length: 6 inches | Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches

Best Splurge: Austere VII Series Power Surge Protector

Austere VII Series Power Surge Protector

Crutchfield

What We Like
  • Five USB charging ports

  • Noise filtering

  • Seven-year replacement guarantee for any value

What We Don't Like
  • No automatic shut-off

  • Much more than average users need

Surge protectors are generally made to preserve luxury items rather than serve as luxury items themselves. Not so with Austere's VII Series Power, which puts a premium spin on surge protection, starting with its elegant design and high-end materials. The sharply angled brushed aluminum casing gives it a distinct look, accompanied by a braided power cable that's durable and easy to bend.

The VII Series Power comes in 6- and 8-outlet varieties, each with five USB ports: two USB-A, two USB-C, and a USB-C Power Delivery port that supports up to 45 watts for charging laptops. It lists surge protection rated at an impressive 4000 joules, but unfortunately, power will still go through to your equipment if protection runs out. You can monitor the LED indicator icons for when that happens. As a bonus, noise filtration features help reduce interference from other devices that might affect your video and audio signals.

It's a significant investment for a surge protector, though Austere backs your investment with a lifetime guarantee on the product itself. This product also comes with a seven-year component guarantee to replace any device damaged while plugged into it, with no limit on the device's value.

Surge Energy: 4000 joules | Number of Outlets: 8 | USB Ports: 5 | Cord Length: 6 feet | Dimensions: 16.3 x 8.5 x 2.6 inches

Final Verdict

When it comes to point-of-use surge protection for home electronics, we recommend the APC Performance SurgeArrest P11VNT3 for its dependable protective capabilities, automatic power cutoff, numerous outlets, and additional ports. An alternative with comparable performance and features is the Belkin 12-Outlet Pivot-Plug Surge Protector BP112230-08, which includes rotating outlets that are helpful for large power adapters.

If you're looking to add a base layer of whole-home surge protection, the Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA Complete Home Surge Protective Device is widely compatible and more simple for a homeowner with enough electric expertise to install while still providing excellent levels of surge coverage to an entire residence.

What to Look For in Surge Protectors

UL Listing

A UL-listed device is one that has passed testing from the UL certification company, formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories. Organizations such as UL, Intertek (who provide the ETL listing), and the CSA Group (Canadian Standards Association) are among a select group of Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) that check whether products meet the accepted requirement for safe use. For surge protective devices (SPDs) specifically, the labs test whether they meet the UL 1449 standard.

"Third-party testing and certification of an SPD to the UL 1449 safety standard ensures the product is safe from shock, electrocution, fire, and arc flash when properly installed and operated," explains Bryan P. Holland, a Senior Technical Field Representative for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). "Unlisted SPDs may result in a hazard to life and property, and may also incorporate unsafe toxic materials, conflict minerals, or inferior materials not permitted by the standard."

Voltage and Surge Protection

Officially tested surge protectors receive various ratings based on their performance, which manufacturers may or may not disclose for their products. One of the more relevant figures is voltage protection rating (VPR), or clamping voltage. This figure represents the threshold where the device "clamps" down and prevents extra voltage from getting through, so a lower number is better. The best surge protectors have a rating of 330 volts, with the next-best rating being 400 volts, which still represents good performance.

Whole-home surge protectors, in particular, can involve even more ratings and technical figures, but if you have an electrical professional involved with the installation, they will factor everything in to determine the ideal solution for your home.

"Typical SPD ratings such as VPR, nominal discharge current (In), and surge current rating (SCR) are a design consideration," says Holland. Holland also notes they "need to be determined on a case-by-case basis by evaluating all the conditions that are present and a complete risk assessment of the premise's wiring system."

Joule Rating

The figure more commonly shown on surge protectors to indicate their performance is joule rating, which is the amount of energy the device can absorb before it stops functioning. It's not a number you can monitor throughout an SPD's lifetime, but the protection is "used up" when it faces a large surge event or, more commonly, many small surges across several years.

"The higher the joule rating, the more protection," says ESFI program manager Daniel Majano. "If you are protecting computers or higher-end electronics, you will need a joule rating of over 2,000."

Number of Outlets

Larger surge protectors might have eight to twelve protected outlets and allow you to plug in more devices, provided you're fine with a bulkier unit taking up more floor space. You can also find surge protectors designed to be compact and/or portable, with two to four outlets and occasionally USB ports for charging. Some travel units even have just a single outlet.

Another factor to consider is the size of the power plugs you intend to plug in. The outlets on many surge protectors, especially long power strips, are close enough that large AC adapter plugs will block off other spots. For multiple large adapters, look for a surge protector with extra space between outlets or rotating/pivoting outlets that let you reposition your plugs to fit.

FAQ
  • What does a surge protector do?

    Surge protectors use various technologies to suppress extra voltage above a certain threshold by redirecting it to a grounding line. On the most basic level, surge protectors do what their name implies: protect your electronic equipment from surges in electricity.

    "A power surge is a brief overvoltage event that can damage electrical devices and is a common cause of the failure of electrical equipment," says Majano. "Power surges can damage and reduce the lifespan of household appliances and electronics. Eighty percent of surge incidents are caused by internal sources. Surge protective devices protect against these damaging power surges."

  • What appliances need surge protectors?

    If it's something you plug into a wall outlet and you wouldn't want to see it damaged or destroyed, it could likely benefit from surge protection. "A common source of power surges inside a building are devices that switch power on and off, such as your air conditioning," says Majano. You might be okay with more basic protection for items like lamps and small kitchen appliances and investing in higher-end surge protectors for expensive electronics like TVs, computers with valuable data, and large household appliances.

    "Power surges can damage and reduce the lifespan of heating and air conditioning systems, washers and dryers, water heaters, ranges and refrigerators, lighting, and entertainment systems," explains Majano.

  • How long do surge protectors last?

    You generally need to replace a surge protector after a few years of regular small spikes and certainly after a significant surge event. The product's joule rating can give you a sense of its durability; it usually takes more time to use up more joules.

    The surge protector should also include some indicator for whether protection is active or not, or safer yet, automatically cut off power to your devices if it's no longer functioning.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Anton Galang is a freelance writer and reviewer with a degree in journalism who covers smart home products and other home electronics for The Spruce. He first started working in the consumer tech realm in 2007 as part of PC Magazine and, more recently, as a contributor for Lifewire.

In researching the top surge protectors for this article, Anton considered over 50 models across over 20 brands, consulting reviews from consumers and testers, as well as documentation from manufacturers and other electrical organizations. For expert insight on safety and technical factors, he connected with the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), speaking with Daniel Majano, a program manager who developed programs dedicated to the advancement of electrical safety in both workplace and residential settings. ESFI also shared recommendations from Bryan P. Holland, a Senior Technical Field Representative for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

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