What is a surge protector?

A surge protector–commonly referred to as a power strip–is a device that protects electronic equipment such as televisions, appliances, computers and home theater systems from unregulated electrical currents, according to PC World Australia magazine’s website.

Function

According to PC World Australia, a surge protector acts as a buffer between wall outlets and electronic devices by “blocking or shorting” electrical voltage that is too high.

Types

Surge protectors are available in the form of boxes or strips that contain multiple outlets. Based on product listings from Radio Shack’s “Surge Protectors & Voltage Adapters” page, these devices can protect not only standard electronics and appliances, but also telephone/modem lines. A surge protector with a data outlet for phone, Internet and/or fax is recommended by PC World Australia.

Benefits

Surge protectors save energy, in that power to multiple devices can be shut off at the source. The Energy Star website from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy states that surge protectors accomplish this by disengaging “standby power consumption,” which remains if devices are turned off but left plugged in.

Cost

According to Radio Shack’s website, surge protectors and other voltage protection devices range in price from $6.97 to $349.99 as of April 2010. A standard multi-outlet surge protector is available for $9.99, while a protector with six outlets and a data outlet is available for $19.99. The highest priced items include Monster brand “PowerCenter,” which conditions electrical currents in home theater systems.

Considerations

Damage from high electrical voltage may not be immediately present. Unregulated electrical currents caused by spikes and and surges can remain in outlets and cables, eroding the condition of one’s electronics until they are no longer usable, states PC World Australia.

Source:

PC World Australia magazine: Surge Protectors

Radio Shack: Surge Protectors & Voltage Regulators

Energy Star: Energy Star at Home Tips