Or you connect it low impedance (i.e. less than 10 feet) to earth ground BEFORE it can enter a house. So one 'whole house' protector in the main breaker box (or meter pan) must be at least 50,000 amps.
Protection during each surge is defined by the quality of and low impedance (i.e. less than 10 foot) connection to single point earth ground. These well proven devices are found in any big box hardware store or electrical supply house.
They are provided by companies well known for integrity including Informatic, Square D, Died, Siemens, Polyphase (an industry benchmark), Sysco, Levi ton, ABB, Delta, Eric, and Cutler-Hammer (Eaton). Then that energy does not find earth ground destructively via the AC or furnace ... or computer, dryer, TV, or clock radio.
Then a surge need not be inside hunting for earth destructively via appliances. Then all 'at risk' appliances (dishwasher, FCS, furnace, clocks, recharging electronics, doorbell, central air (even when not in use), computers, garage door opener, routers, clock radios, LED & CFL bulbs, and every smoke detector) are protected.
Other interface semiconductors may be rated to withstand 2000 or 15,000 volts. Your concern is a rare transient that may overwhelm that superior protection.
A surge connected low impedance (i.e. less than 10 feet) to single point earth ground does not go inside to hunt for earth destructively via appliances. So a minimal 'whole house' protector is rated to connect up to 50,000 amps to earth.
Typically, power strips are cheap, multi-outlet products that are merely an expansion of a wall outlet. These usually have a circuit breaker (on/off switch) of some sort, but most don't offer any real “protection” from electrical issues.
Over time, the parts inside the protector wear down, reducing its effectiveness. To get some answers, the Wire cutter did a massive test on surge protectors, essentially blowing them up to see how well they worked.
There are a number of products on the market that claim to “condition” the power from the wall, promising improved performance in your gear. All electronics have a power supply that takes the incoming wall current (120v in the US), filters it for noise, and converts it into whatever the device needs.
If you want total protection, consider that phone and cable lines can carry power spikes too. Many surge protectors come with USB connections, so you can charge your mobile devices without having to use a wall warts.
Eve Systems While not offering much protection, a portable power strip might prevent marital friction, and/or invoke bliss from travel companions. Most portable power strips add two to three additional outlets, plus offer direct USB charging (see number 8).
Some will give you a warning or shut off when their protection drops below a safe level. If you know you've had a serious electrical event (like lighting blew out a transformer down the street), it's probably worth replacing your surge protector just in case.
If you live in an area with lots of thunderstorms, your gear is probably more likely to experience power surges. Even if you live in the desert, your A/C or refrigerator could kick power spikes back down the lines to your A/V gear.
A surge is an increase in the electrical charge in a power line, which in turn increases the current that flows to your wall outlets in your home. But when they do happen, most surge protectors will not be able to handle the extreme voltages that lightning produces and will fail to protect your devices.
Another type of commonly encountered surge is from power grid fluctuations. A power strip is a device that looks similar to a surge protector that contains a series of electrical outlets contained in an electrically shielded case that will allow you to plug in multiple devices at once.
Here we will talk about two types of surge protection: The first type is a whole-house surge protection/suppressor” which is a piece of hardware that connects to your electrical system before the circuit breaker box within your home and will protect your entire house from power line surges. This type of surge protector will give you better protection than a stand-alone surge protector that plugs into your wall outlet, simply due to the fact that all electrical points (outlets) are covered by this device.
For this reason, it is a good idea to have individual surge protection devices in all points of your home with electronics and appliances that require protection against surges. For more practical reasons, most of us will opt for an individual (stand-alone) surge protector device that plugs into your wall outlet.
How well these devices work will depend on how great a power line surge they encounter and their build quality. Small power line surges caused by appliances in our homes and power grid fluctuations should be no problem for these devices to handle.
Throughout the years I have personally never encountered a damaging power surge on any of my devices I deem important (TV’s, audio/video equipment and computers). My sister lost a TV and a DVD player to a power surge caused by a severe thunder and lightning storm.
My friend had a power line (grid) electrical surge that fried his brand-new plasma HDTV. My sister did have one installed, but it was no match for such an extreme lightning strike.
Look for a surge protector with a response time of less than one nanosecond (one billionth of a second). In addition, be sure the protector has an indicator light (s) that shows it’s working properly.
If the devices you are protecting have phone lines, Ethernet cable (for connection to a computer network) and coax cable (for satellite and cable TV), you want a surge protector that will allow for these types of connections to protect those devices. Here are links to a few manufacturers that provide quality surge protectors available at Amazon.
Conclusion All of our electronics and appliances in our homes are subject to power line surges. Most PC users understand that a power surge, blackout, or other sudden loss of electricity has the capacity to seriously hurt your computer.
A consumer-grade surge protector has multiple outlets as well, but it also includes a shorting mechanism and a ground line that will physically block excess electrical energy from reaching your devices. Surge protectors range from simple to complex, with pricier versions packing in ten or more electrical outlets, plus extra in and out lines for other types of electronic equipment like phone lines, Ethernet cords, USB power, and coaxial cables.
In the specific case of desktop computers, this is crucial: it keeps the PC powered up and prevents any unsaved work from being lost. Even with a large capacity battery, a consumer-grade UPS can only run a desktop PC and a monitor for twenty minutes to an hour (depending on the model you buy).
It’s a fail safe designed to give you enough time to quickly save your work or finish some crucial task, then power down safely and wait for the primary source of electricity to come back. But if your aim is simply to keep your computer from unexpectedly shutting down, an inexpensive model that can run it for a few minutes is enough.
If you need to keep something powered on for hours, like a refrigerator for temperature-sensitive medication or a security system, you might want to look into more industrial UPS options. A surge protector is intended to protect your electronics from physical harm, in addition to just being generally handy for multiple power outlets.
A UPS is probably warranted if you frequently do critical work on a computer and can’t risk it losing power even for a second. If you want both maximum electrical protection and a means of keeping your PC constantly powered, you can combine both a surge protector and a UPS.
He spent five years writing for Android Police and his work has appeared on Digital Trends and Life hacker. He’s covered industry events like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress in person.