Surge Protector Vs Power Outlet: What’s the Difference?


With such a diverse range of electrical protection and management devices in the market, it is no surprise that you may get confused between a few. Each has intricate functions which can be tough to notice unless you pay specific attention.

Power strips and surge protector may look exactly the same, and function somewhat similar, however, this article will dive into the details of both the devices to give you a clearer understanding.

Power Strip Function

In layman’s terms, a power outlet is fundamentally an extension cord with a lot of outlets at one end.

Surge Protector Function 

A surge protection device is similar to an extension cord in terms of physical appearance, with a lot of outlets at one end, but it has higher power, which indicates that it can absorb, or “clamp” a power surge that has the ability to go downstream towards your more costly equipment and cause damage. You should employ a surge protector if you live in a vicinity that has a lot of disturbances due to weather, or a rural area, or in an infrastructure with a lot of heavy-duty motors inside (large furnaces or elevators).

Power surges can result from a myriad of different reasons such as lightning strikes, short circuits, power outages, tripped circuit breakers, amongst so many others (however, a surge protector cannot prevent damage caused to devices as a result of a lightning strike).

So How Does One Tell the Difference?

Surge protectors will showcase a rating in Joules of energy which indicates the maximum voltage it can handle from a power spike. You can locate these numbers on the box or strip itself. If there is no indication of any numbers, it is just a power strip. Surge protectors may be slightly more costly compared to a power strip, but just remember the savings from protection are innumerable.

In most cases, more joules results in better protection, as this means the device can handle a sizable surge or several smaller surges before the gear is jeopardised. Over a maintained period of time, the parts inside the protector deteriorate, reducing its effectiveness.

What Should Be Plugged Into a Surge Protector?

Your more costly appliances, such as your computer, flat-screen televisions, stereo systems, etc., should be plugged into surge protectors, as damaging them can be a burden. Smaller devices like clocks, coffee makers, and phone chargers don’t really require extra protection and can be plugged into a power strip. View surge protectors as an added insurance investment on your valuable appliances inside your home, just a little less expensive. Before leaving the store with what you think is probably a surge protector, take the time to review what you’re purchasing and use it properly in order to maximize its output and elevate your standard of living. 

You should not be in a scenario where you make a purchase but your appliance does not have a sufficient number of outlets for all of the devices you would like to link to it. It is good to play it safe and choose a surge projector that has 2 outlets more than the number you may actually require.

Surge protectors do wear out over a period of time, and some might warn you, but others won’t. If you’ve already had one major power spike, consider replacing your device. Modern forms surge protectors now come with USB connections to power mobile devices. With eminent brands such as #SchneiderElectricIndia in the market, it is no surprise to see such innovation and variety in the domain of surge protectors and power outlets. 


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