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Best surge protectors 2020: Reviews and buying advice

You only know for sure that you needed a surge protector after your equipment fries. Then it’s too late. For a very reasonable amount of money, you could put an almost literal firewall between your expensive (and cheap) electronics and the juice coming in from a wall socket. A surge protector throws itself into the line of fire, sacrificing its components again and again so that your devices stay functional.

These reviews are of surge protectors designed for a home office or cubicle, or a home-entertainment system. Such power mediators have a single function: keeping voltage from exceeding a certain rated level, beyond which equipment can blow a fuse, burn out its power supply, or completely fry its circuitry beyond repair. The surge protector takes a hit instead of your hardware or A/V system, and it could potentially save you hundreds to many thousands of dollars, depending on what you have connected.

You want to make the modest investment in a surge protector for the same reason you want to have a backup of your data: because there’s no going back after an adverse event. Getting ahead of a problem that may be unlikely but not improbable saves you from the enormous consequences if it occurs. (You do have multiple backups of your data, right?)

The ultimate smart surge protector

Yeah, not everyone will want to drop 79 bucks on a surge protector, but TP-Link really has produced the ultimate surge protector. All six of its outlets can be controlled and scheduled individually—and with a polished mobile app, no less—and you can also control any of them with voice commands. There are three USB charging ports here, too. Yes, it’s worth $79.

Best all-purpose surge protector

Belkin’s 12-Outlet PivotPlug Surge Protector (BP112230-08) won’t cut off power when it can no longer protect your devices, but it does offer low clamping voltage (330V on all legs). This is a very flexible and adaptable surge protector, with an eight-foot cord and both protection and ground-vault indicators. 

Best at powering-off when it can no longer provide protection

APC’s SurgeArrest Performance P12U2 is our new favorite surge protector that automatically cuts power when protection ends. It’s a 12-outlet model—two more than our previous pick had—and it has two super-convenient fast-charging USB ports. If you don’t need those two extra outlets and the USB charging ports, the Tripp Lite TLP1008TEL remains a good pick for about $14 less.

Runner-up

APC’s SurgeArrest is only slightly less flexible than Belkin’s offering, and it won’t cut off power to your devices unless its main line-neutral protection fails. It has one fewer outlet than the PivotPlug,and it doesn’t have those fancy rotating outlets, but it is well made and its receptacles are widely spaced to accommodate lots of wall warts.

The most beautiful surge protector

If you place tremendous value in design, the Austere VII Series surge protector is the most attractive device in this category. With a brushed-aluminum enclosure, polished beveled edges, and braided-fabric power cord, we haven’t seen anything else that comes close in terms of its industrial design. And it’s not just pretty, this surge protector has all the features you’d want to protect your expensive electronics. Whether you find that combo worth $200 is a up to you.

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