The 1980s brought us the computer age and also ushered in extension cords. Most people have desktop computermonitors, and maybe a printer—but add to that external drive, scanners, wireless routers, and other peripheral devices, and the two standard outlets that most of us have are overwhelmed. Now that we have laptops, tabletsmartphones, and wireless Bluetooth devices, all plug into power strips.
Today, power strips often include a USB port and a surge protector. We tested a variety to determine which is the best. But first, some buying advice.
The Best Power Strips
What You Need To Know About Surge Protection
The proliferation of wireless handhelds that charge at lower voltages has made surge protection more important than ever. What most people don’t realize about surge protectors is that they wear out over time. With every fluctuation in voltage they absorb, their lifespan is shortened. So, to ensure you get the most protection, it’s best to replace it every two to three years.
Power surges can occur for a number of reasons. People tend to worry the most about lightning strikes, which can find their way into power lines and cause spikes of millions of volts. Most surge protectors can’t handle anything this big, so don’t rely on them during a thunderstorm — the best way to protect against these types of surges is to unplug your sensitive electronics.
More commonly, power surges are caused during thunderstorms when power lines fall. When utility company transformers and complex switching systems try to reroute power or cope with changing demand, it can create inconsistent power flows with dips and bursts. Another common cause for spikes is happening inside your own home. Air conditioners, compressors and electric stoves require a lot of power, especially when they are turned on. However, their needs drop rapidly once they run, which can cause spikes in the home’s wiring elsewhere.
The amount of protection a surge protector provides is measured in joules. The joule is the unit of energy needed to do a certain amount of work. One joule is the amount of electricity used to light a one watt LED for one second. To adequately protect the average home entertainment system or computer and related equipment, look for a surge protector rated in the thousands of joules. Always check with the manufacturer, they usually provide examples on the packaging of what a particular model can protect.
How We Tested This Power Strip
The power strips in this list have been thoroughly vetted and evaluated by our test editors. We researched the market, surveyed user reviews, spoke with product managers and engineers, and used our own experience with them to determine the best options. We plugged in these power strips and tested them in kitchens, living rooms, workshops and offices. We evaluate them based on their ease of use, features, and performance in various situations. We use a Sperry Instruments receptacle tester to confirm circuit grounding when a power strip has a wire fault indicator. If you need a power strip or surge protector, you’ll likely find one on this list that fits your needs.
Another Great Choice
Due to the mix of high demand and supply chain issues, we’ve found that some of our favorite power strips run out frequently. If you find some surge protector out of stock, there are other options we can recommend. While we haven’t tested this power strip yet, it is in stock and comes from a brand we trust and has performed well in past tests. More details on these alternatives can be found at the bottom of our list.