Contributing Author: Gentle Heron
Sometimes it feels as if our plug-in electronic devices have taken over our lives. There just don’t seem to be enough outlets in most homes to accommodate them all. We use power strips and surge protectors as outlet expanders. Both plug into a wall socket and then offer multiple outlets for a variety of your electronic devices.
When purchasing either a power strip or a surge protector, look carefully at the orientation of the outlets on it. Usually you will want the outlets to be perpendicular to the length of the strip.
Power strips are the simpler of these two tools, and generally are less expensive. Be sure the one you use has a circuit breaker built in. If you connect too many electric devices to the power strip, it will kick the built-in circuit breaker rather than the one in the electric panel.
Surge protectors are the more expensive of these two tools, because they have additional protections built in. These protections are particularly important for home entertainment equipment and computers. Your more expensive electronics should be protected from sudden spikes of electric current that can come through any wired connection, such as from a lightning strike. Be sure that the surge protector you use offers both cable and internet protection. Check that it can handle digital television; if the surge protector is designed for analog signals, this could result in pixelation.
Check that your surge protector has a significant joule rating. Joules are a measure of how much energy the surge protector can withstand. It should also have an indicator light to show when the protection has burned out.
For both power strips and surge protectors, remember the old maxim: “You get what you pay for.” The most inexpensive products will not give your electronic devices the protection they need.
For more information on surge protectors:
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