LAST UPDATED: November 17, 2020
The Best Surge Protectors (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Your devices aren’t long for this world without a surge protector
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON November 17, 2020
We might not struggle to protect ourselves from what our ancestors had. But modern problems require modern solutions. When talking about electronics, not much is quite as dangerous as an unexpected surge of power. This occurrence can not only damage your devices but be a serious threat to your home. A surge protector is a simple yet practical line of defense you can use to prevent the risk of a surge frying your appliances. But, like everything else, you are bombarded with options. We’ve put together this buying guide to help you sift through the options and find what works best for your home.
For this guide, we are covering surge protectors intended for home use. If you need a surge protector for an RV, we strongly suggest you check out our buying guide for the Best RV Surge Protectors.
Efficient, versatile, and reliability make this our top pick. Features a total of twelve power outlets, and two USB ports. The 4,000 Joule rating provides a long and healthy lifespan.
- High number of outlets makes it possible to use this surge protector for multiple devices
- High Joule rating promotes maximum protection of appliances
- Flimsy build is off-putting
- Loose power switch and small indicator light do not reflect the overall quality of this tool
Two surge protectors for the price of one. This design features a total of six power outlets and two USB ports, which will prove useful in most settings.
- Low price point makes this an excellent option for anyone
- Inclusion of a wall mounting template helps keep your home organized
- Low Joule rating makes for a short lifespan
- Even a single surge may be all that this model can handle
Special design features a total of 12 power outlets, eight of which can pivot. This gives users maximum flexibility and allows them to make use of every outlet on this model at once.
- Pivoting outlets provide the necessary space to use all outlets
- High Joule rating provides maximum lifespan and protection of devices
- Pivoting outlets tend to move very easily
- This can prove to be very annoying in tight spaces
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Surge Protectors
- Protects your electronics. The most significant benefit of a surge protector is that it will protect your electronics from power surges. Without one, a spike in the power supply can fry those costly appliances you rely on every day.
- Protects your home. When electronics fail, several hazards arise. In the worst-case scenario, they can cause an electrical fire. A surge protector is an excellent line of defense you can use to protect your home and your loved ones.
- Can be used as an adapter. In many cases, the proper power supply may not be present. A surge protector can work as an adapter that will allow you to safely convert the power source. Even less sensitive electronic devices should always be linked to a surge protector when converting power supply.
- Cleans things up. In many cases, multiple electronic devices exist within proximity of one another. A surge protector can collect all the power cords and link them to the same source. When properly placed, this can clean up desks, entertainment centers, and other spaces.
Types of Surge Protectors
Most surge protectors on the market fall into this category. These surge protectors are very similar to a power strip on the surface but are very different. What makes them different from a power strip is that they will protect your device from power surges. Otherwise, they are very similar in appearance. Strip type surge protectors feature a power cord that separates them from the power supply and feature multiple power outlets. Some will even feature outlets that offer protection specific to an appliance adding flexibility to the unit.
This is another common type of surge protector on the market. These models are small power cubes that mount directly to the wall outlet with no power cord or extension. Most will feature multiple outlets to power various devices, but some can feature just a single outlet. These are small and compact, making them great for use behind entertainment systems, under desks, or in any other area where an outlet is hidden behind something.
Many surge protectors work to convert the power supply. Most commonly, they are built to allow devices that work on a 120-volt power supply to connect to a 220-volt outlet. It is imperative to use a surge protector in these instances because there is already a huge difference in the base power output.
While none are on this list, whole-house protectors may be something worth considering. These types work to protect any device plugged into any home outlet with no need for a separate device. These are far more costly than traditional offerings, but make for a much cleaner appearance of the home and provide peace of mind no matter where you are drawing your power from.
Holsem got its start in 2012 with the main focus of providing people with products that improve daily living. Its primary focus is on modern electronics and smart home technology. That includes everything from kitchen-ware to USB cables. Amongst its offerings, you will find the Holsem12 Outlets Surge Protector Power Strip and other surge protectors worthy of your consideration.
Since 1983, Belkin has been a leading supplier of innovative electronics meant to improve the quality of living. It is headquartered in Playa Vista, Calif., and now offers three brands: Belkin, Linksys, and Wemo. Dedication to the craft is how they can produce a quality product such as the Belkin 12- Outlet Pivot-Plug Power Strip Surge Protector and many others.
Surge Protectors Pricing
- $10-$20: Most surge protectors exist within this price range. However, most feature lower outlet counts and offer less protection.
- $20 and up: Surge protectors that list for more than $20 typically have higher outlet counts, better protective abilities, and will have a much longer lifespan. Adapter style protectors may also exist in this range.
A surge protector has a definitive lifespan and will only be able to absorb so much energy until it’s no longer capable of protecting your devices. The joule rating is a measurement of how much energy it will be able to absorb until it must be replaced. The higher the rating is, the longer it will last. It also coincides with how much protection it offers for devices, and again, a higher rating is always better.
Maximum Spike Protection
A surge protector is meant to protect your equipment from spikes in voltage. Therefore, it’s essential to pay attention to how much voltage it’s designed to handle. This will ultimately dictate how much it can take before failure and is no longer able to protect whatever is plugged into the outlet.
In all reality, a surge protector only reduces voltage. As an example, when it faces a surge to 6,000 volts, it may only reduce it to 600 volts, which will still transfer to your device. What it reduces the load to is known as clamping voltage, and it’s still possible that your device will fail when exposed to a surge of what can get through. Therefore a lower clamping voltage is always better.
- Ample Outlet Count: Outlet count is a secondary characteristic to consider. Of course, you will want one to support more devices, but it shouldn't outweigh a surge protector's performance. Still, if you have multiple devices near one another, a higher outlet count is a great way to save some money as you won't need to invest in various units.
- Power Conversion: If you are looking to convert a power supply, you can do so with the use of a surge protector. Many exist that are meant to convert 220-volt to 120-volt. With that said, if you are ever going to run a 120-volt device on a 220-volt power supply, you should always use a surge protector to preserve your equipment and your well-being.
- Power Cord Length: Surge protectors often feature a power cable, and the length of the power cable is worthy of paying attention to. More reach can be invaluable when it comes to being able to rearrange a room to your desire while still being able to protect your electronics. But you may also want a smaller cord to reduce clutter in spaces where an outlet is relatively close to your work station or entertainment system.
Best Surge Protector Reviews & Recommendations 2021
We think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile, reliable, and power-efficient model. Featuring six regular outlets and an additional six widely-spaced outlets, the Holsem has all of your plugs covered. Plus, it contains two USB charging ports with smart IC technology and one regular USB port, giving you plenty of options from a charging standpoint. The device features a 4000 Joule energy rating, making it powerful enough to support computers, televisions, or any other larger devices that need more juice. Additionally, this model features a 6-foot-long extension cord, key slots on the back to hang the device, power surge protection with built-in LED lights, and a double break overload switch for additional overload protection.
One small complaint is that the overall build quality is less than reassuring. The activation light is relatively small, and the power switch is very flimsy feeling. However, it performs exactly as it should, rendering these observations as nothing more than superficial.
For the best value—especially if you need two separate surge protectors — this is your best bet. Each power strip features two six-outlet surge protectors with another two USB charging ports. They also contain an 8-foot cord that is easy to handle and coil for storage. Plus the molded strain relief on the plug of the extension cord helps provide you with long-lasting durability. In other words, you likely won’t need to make another surge protector purchase in quite some time after buying this value pack. Each device contains an 1875-watt power rating and a 300 Joule suppression rating, and they even come with a surface mounting template for easy installation on your wall or any other surface. This is a great feature because it helps keep your home nice and organized.
Of course, as a budget-level option, there are some things to be aware of. This particular model will not last very long, and many report a short lifespan and the unit dying after a single power surge.
Of course, safety is paramount when shopping for a surge protector—hence the “protector” part of the name. While all of these surge protectors are safe in their own right, this unit stands out amongst the competition. This six-outlet surge protector comes with a 10-foot cord for optimal reach. From a safety standpoint, it features an 800 Joule protection rating and integrated circuit breaker, as well as twist-to-close safety outlets that make it easy to seal off outlets when they’re not in use, thus protecting you from any shock. All things considered, this is the safest surge protector on the market—in more ways than one.
Users fell in love with this unit with its initial release because it had so many great features. But, GE decided to reshape the entire unit and do away with some of the things that made it stand out. While it is still a great option, if you are replacing your old one, you should be aware that it now has a new design.
If your main priority is charging your smartphones/devices, you’ll probably want something with a little more USB capabilities. This model features a total of six USB ports and is worthy of your consideration. This features a fantastic 1:1 ratio of AV outlets and USB outlets. This is great for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and a variety of other USB-compatible devices. The device’s built-in surge protector module can protect you from some serious power surges. Plus, the Hitrends protector features high-current overload and short-circuit protection for 100 percent safe charging, making this a safe and effective option for any type of smart device or electronics.
The abundance of USB ports is excellent; their performance is a whole different story. Only two are rated for 2.5 amps, which is what most modern devices rely on. The other four are only rated to supply one amp. That said, they are still great for maintaining battery levels, but charging will be very slow with the less powerful ports.
For something with a little bit more flexibility, a pivot-lug surge protector is just what you need. More specifically, we’d go with this listing from Belkin. This 12-outlet surge protector features four regular, stationary outlets along with eight rotating ones. The rotating outlets are great for hard to reach areas like behind a computer desk, TV stand, etc. In general, the Belkin is perfect for offices, home theater, and home appliances, as it features a 4,320 Joule energy rating and a 6,000v maximum spike voltage, making it one of the most powerful—and flexible—options available. The design allows you to get the most out of the pivoting plugs with its ability to be mounted in a fixed position. This is great because it will prevent cords from pulling it away from other models. Furthermore, this feature, in combination with the 8-foot cable, makes it possible to keep this surge protector out of sight, so your home will remain organized.
You will want to be aware that the pivoting plugs move very easily. This can be an alarming and annoying design. However, it still works perfectly fine and provides the flexibility you’re after.
When it comes time to select a surge protector that can function as a power strip to accommodate as many devices as possible, then look no further. This surge protector has a total of 12 120-volt outlets. That is more than plenty for the average desktop or entertainment system. But if that isn’t enough, it sweetens the pot with the addition of four USB ports. Each USB port also offers 2.4-amp charging to quickly power up any device that is hooked to it. Of course, the protective abilities are something to write home about as well. This surge protector has a 4360-Joule rating, which promotes ample protection for most instances. But, if it does fail, the fire-retardant casting works to keep all risks of an electrical shortage at bay.
Unfortunately, the design makes it challenging to use it with big power adapters. They will take up a lot of space and may even over multiple outlets on the housing. Thankfully, the high number of outlets still allows you to get plenty of use out of it.
If you’re after the best looking surge protector out there, you’ve found it. That isn’t to say other adapters aren’t aesthetically pleasing, but this one certainly takes the cake. That’s because it features a tasteful woodgrain design on its exterior. While that may seem like an odd thing to have on a surge protector, it makes sense when you consider the environment they are in. This design will match almost any home’s décor and won’t stand out like a sore thumb if it cannot be hidden behind a desk or otherwise. It features a total of six 12-volt outlets and four USB ports, making it a great option to keep on a desktop next to your computer. The look isn’t all, though. This model is constructed of premium materials to provide a quality product.
Unfortunately, it is only rated to handle just over 1000 Joules. While it will protect your devices, it will have a relatively short lifespan, and this can be a significant setback considering the price. Still, if aesthetics are a must, it’s a great way to go.
This particular surge protector looks pretty typical, with one exception. Two of the adapters are spaced very far apart from the others. Why is this there? To accommodate large power adapters. As you’ll see with many, large adapters tend to take up a ton of space and even impede the use of other outlets. With this model, you won’t have that problem. Plus, there are another eight outlets with standard spacing to allow you to use electronics with large power adapters alongside those without. Your dollar goes even further with the addition of four USB ports that are capable of fast charging. As a surge protector, it has a 2100-Joule rating. While it’s not the highest rating, it is certainly enough to provide years of use.
You will need to know that this model does use a power cord that sticks straight out from the outlet and can be hard to plug in behind a desk or tight spaces. On an otherwise perfect design, this is something you may find to be very annoying.
This surge protector is an excellent runner-up for our choice of best value. It is a pack of two surge protectors, which furthers the value of your investment. But, that’s not the only thing to like about this entry. This design features a heavy-duty power cord with a great space-saving design. The head of the outlet places the power cord at a 45-degree angle. That not only makes it possible to fit into tight space but leaves the lower outlet open for use. The heavy-duty braided sleeve keeps it safe in these tight spaces as it won’t expose bare wires after light abrasion. It also has a total of six power outlets and two USB ports, which is very handy for most locations in your home.
Unfortunately, it does not offer a very long lifespan. The 600-Joule rating only lasts through a few surges before needing to be replaced. But, the low price point lessons the impact of having to replace it after a few instances.
This entry is a wall-mounted design that we know you’ll appreciate. For one, it features a total of six power outlets, so it effectively multiplies the number of devices you can run to a single outlet. Furthermore, it offers two USB ports that are capable of fast-charging your device. And if that wasn’t enough already, it has a specially designed top portion that allows you to keep a smartphone held on top of it while it charges. That will prove extremely handy when you need to charge your phone but don’t have a long enough cable to keep it on a raised surface. And the price is excellent too. If it were for more than a single surge protector, it would undoubtedly take the place of best value.
What’s not to like? It’s a low Joule rating. While 1680 is excellent for the price, it will only last for a portion of the time many others will. Still, it’s hard to complain about when you consider just how affordable it is.
- A power strip and surge protector are two different things. A power strip cannot protect your devices and should not be used in place of a surge protector.
- When buying a surge protector, you should always look for proper certifications that verify the ratings. Otherwise, you can be investing in a gimmicky product that will provide no real protection.
- A surge protector does protect your devices by redirecting spikes of voltage to the ground in your outlet. In return, this can trip your breaker and is something you should expect.
- Many people associate a surge protector with keeping electronics safe from lighting. This is not true. A surge protector cannot protect your devices from the extreme nature of a lightning strike.
- If you’re using power generated by a generator, a surge protector is an absolute must. Of course, if you need a generator, our buying guide for the Best RV Generators is the read you need.
- While they may offer additional reach, they are not meant to function as an extension cord. If you need a little more cable, we highly recommend visiting our Best Outdoor Extension Cord Review.
Q: What does a surge protector do?
A surge protector is used to protect electronics from voltage spikes. Surges of power can overload a device and destroy it, and a surge protector works to prevent that from happening.
Q: Do I need a surge protector for TV?
Your TV has microprocessors that are very delicate and can be destroyed from a power surge. Therefore, you should use a surge protector for your television.
Q: What is the best surge protector?
Which surge protector is best depends on your budget and application’s demands. However, our favorite is the Holsem12 Outlets Surge Protector Power Strip.
Q: How long do surge protectors last?
While it does depend on how many surges it is exposed to, and how powerful they are, a surge protector typically lasts three to five years.
Our favorite is the Holsem12 Outlets Surge Protector Power Strip. That’s because it’s versatile and innovative, plus it’s just the right level of protection most homeowners will want. However, Cable Matters 2-Pack 6 Outlet Surge Protector is an excellent option for anyone on a budget.