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Surge protectors prevent electrical power-supply spikes from reaching your equipment. Homeowners use them to protect TVs and other sensitive electrical equipment, while businesses can protect their computers and other mission-critical equipment. You need to ensure that you buy a protector that is suitable for the devices you're plugging in, offers enough outlets for your equipment and actually works as a surge suppressor rather than just a standard power strip.
Surge protectors are available with a number of outlets, from one to several dozen. Make sure that the model you buy has enough plugs to prevent you from having to daisy chain power strips together. Plugging one strip into another is a potential fire hazard, and can prevent one or both from working. While it is a good idea for you to buy a device with extra outlets, avoid paying more for than you need. It is also worth considering the size and style of the plug. Some plugs contain transformers that take more room than a standard plug. To counteract this problem, you can buy a surge protector with additional space between outlets, or that offers rotating outlets so that they will hold any plug design. The distance between your devices and the wall outlet determines the length of cord needed. A cord that is too long is messy and potentially hazardous, while a tight cord is also a potential hazard.
Some devices specify the types of items they protect. Those designed for home use will protect equipment like TVs and cable TV boxes. They will also offer protection for a home computer. These devices are especially vulnerable to surges because they contain microprocessors and internal memory. Business owners tend to require greater protection. Losing customer data can lead to the downfall of a business. If you need to ensure total protection, consider buying an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) that will provide enough power to safely save critical data. For some sensitive equipment, you might require an automatic voltage regulator, which levels out power delivery and prevents spikes and troughs. Some surge suppressors offer specific sockets for phone lines and coaxial cables, while a rack mount power strip can protect servers and server components. Power distribution units are also suitable for this purpose, and allow even greater control.
Protectors should include figures pertaining to their energy absorption and clamping voltage levels. Energy absorption is the amount of energy it will absorb before it fails. The higher the number the better, and you should aim for at least 600 joules. The clamping voltage is the surge level at which the surge protector will kick in. In this case, lower is better, and experts agree that 400 Volts or less is ideal. Some models even include a surge protection warranty, which means the manufacturer will cover you for some of the damages caused if a surge does get through.