AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 0056B ACCREDITED

Differences Between Power Strips and Surge Protectors

Power strips and surge protectors are often conflated with one another, but they are two entirely different devices. While one is intended to protect the devices it is attached to, the other provides you with more outlet options. To better understand the differences between power strips and surge protectors, this blog will provide a brief overview of each.

Power Strips

A power strip is the more common device of the two and can be found in countless environments that have electronics or cabling. They are usually long strips with a series of outlets in it. With a cable on one end and nothing on the other, the cable plugs into an outlet in a wall, and the strip provides you with multiple outlets to power your devices. It is worth noting that everything you plug into the outlets on the strip will be powered by the outlet it plugs into on a wall.

Overloading a power strip is a common mistake that you should avoid at all costs as this can have dangerous consequences. As such, you must keep in mind that power strips can only handle a certain amount of watts. For example, in a typical 120V home, a standard power strip is equipped to handle up to 1800 watts. More than that, plugging in too many devices can result in overheating, electrical failure, and even electrical fire. Your devices can also get overloaded if the wrong type of device is plugged in such as floor heaters.

Surge Protectors

A surge protector is a type of electrical socket that protects your devices from a surge. It utilizes a specialized circuit to redirect electrical spikes to the ground without affecting the devices plugged into it. It is important to note that a majority of surge protectors function like power strips. For instance, surge protectors also have outlets for you to plug your devices in, and they have an ON/OFF switch as well. However, they are more costly than their power strip counterparts due to the specialized circuit it is furnished with.

A power surge typically happens when your supply of electricity is interrupted. Power surges usually occur when a big appliance turns on, when lightning strikes, or when an electrical transformer is hit by something. From major surges like those from lightning strikes to small surges and micro surges, damages vary based on application/device, wherein some may fry, melt, and malfunction. Without a surge protector, a professional emergency electrical contractor is needed.

Power Strips v. Surge Protectors

You may be surprised to find out that electrical power surges actually happen quite often. In fact, your home or business may experience a dozen small power surges a day with most of these causing little to no damage. It is the big power surges you need to worry about such as those that happen during a thunderstorm. To mitigate the risk of a power surge damaging your devices or appliances, incorporate a top-quality surge protector in your home or business and ensure that the devices plugged into your power strip are not overloading it. It is critical that you understand the biggest difference between these two devices, being the level of protection that they provide. While power strips offer no additional protection, surge protectors are designed as protective barriers around the products plugged into them.


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