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What is Surge Protector: Everything You Should Know

what does a surge protector look like

Surge protectors safeguard electronic devices from voltage surges or spikes that irreparably damage the equipment. These surges can occur for various causes, including lightning strikes, power outages, and electrical system faults. Individuals can protect their gadgets and save expensive replacements and repairs using surge protectors.

Surge protectors are extensively used in homes and companies to safeguard sensitive electronic devices such as computers, printers, TVs, audio equipment, and game consoles against power surges. As a result, consumers must be aware of surge protectors and their value in safeguarding their gadgets and avoiding damage caused by electrical surges. 

Understanding how surge protectors function and the many varieties available is thus critical for any person or a company that depends on electrical gadgets. In this guide, we will tell you what is surge protector, how its works, its types, and more. Without revealing more here, let’s dive right into it!

What is Surge Protector Extension Cord?

Many people wonder, “What is surge protector?” Surge protectors protect electronic equipment against voltage surges or spikes from lightning strikes, power outages, or defective electrical cabling. 

Surge protectors are often shaped like an extension wire or a power strip plugging into a wall socket, which powers several devices. Surge protectors serve as a buffer between the power supply and the connected equipment, reducing the voltage that passes through to protect it from harm.

A metal oxide varistor (MOV) regulates the flow of electricity in surge protection extension cords and power strips. When the voltage rises over a particular threshold, the MOV redirects the extra energy to the grounding wire, preventing it from reaching the attached equipment. 

The voltage a surge protector can withstand depends on its rating, measured in joules. Surge protectors with higher ratings can tolerate higher voltage spikes and provide greater protection for sensitive electronic equipment. 

Thus, it’s vital to understand what is surge protector. These are essential to safeguarding electronic equipment and avoiding damage from electrical surges.

How Does a Surge Protector Work?

Now that you know what is surge protector, it’s time to learn how does a surge protector work. A surge protector controls the electrical current, guaranteeing that only the correct voltage level is supplied to the electronic equipment. 

The surge protector redirects surplus energy to the grounding wire once the voltage surpasses a specific threshold, thereby averting potential harm to the device. 

The efficacy of a surge protector is contingent upon its rating, quantified in joules, which denotes the energy the device can assimilate before malfunctioning.

A surge protector comprises various components that collaborate to safeguard electronic devices against voltage surges. Let’s look at them:

  • Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) – The MOV is the key regulator of electrical flow, while capacitors and inductors filter out the noise and offer supplementary protection.
  • Circuit Breaker – The surge protectors’ fuse or circuit breaker is a crucial safety feature that safeguards against fires or overheating by interrupting the circuit in case of a power overload. 
  • Ground Wire – The grounding wire is a reliable conduit for diverting surplus energy away from electronic devices, safeguarding them against damage. 

The integration of these various components results in a robust surge protection system that effectively shields electronic devices from voltage surges and spikes.

Types of Surge Protection Devices

Surge protection devices come in different types, each tailored for specific applications and offering varying degrees of protection. 

The following are some of the most prevalent varieties:

Surge Protection Power Strips

These are the most common types of surge protection devices. These devices are engineered to simultaneously deliver power to multiple electronic devices while furnishing surge protection. 

Surge protection power strips come in various sizes, styles, and protection ratings to suit different requirements.

Surge Protection Outlets

These devices replace conventional electrical outlets and provide an elevated level of safeguarding compared to the standard ones. 

These devices are well-suited for safeguarding individual electronics or equipment in areas where power strips cannot be feasible.

Whole House Surge Protectors 

These devices are typically mounted at the primary electrical distribution board and offer comprehensive safeguarding for the entire household. 

The installation of whole-house surge protectors is a recommended measure to safeguard major appliances, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and heating systems, against potential damage.

Plug-in Surge Protections 

These compact plug-in devices offer single-device protection by directly connecting to the wall outlet. 

These compact, user-friendly devices safeguard infrequently used equipment like power tools and small appliances.

What is a Whole House Surge Protector and How Does it Work?

Whole-house surge protectors are placed in the building’s or home’s main electrical panel to shield all connected electronics and appliances from power spikes and surges.

When a whole-house surge protector is installed, any extra energy is sent to the ground wire instead of being absorbed by individual appliances. As a result, it may prevent power surges from damaging appliances, gadgets, and even the home’s electrical wiring.

The three main parts of the whole-house surge protector are the metal oxide varistors (MOVs), gas discharge tubes (GDTs), and ground wire. The MOVs and GDTs are voltage-sensitive switches that allow current to flow when the system voltage is high enough.

The MOVs and GDTs activate whenever a power surge or voltage spike, sending the extra energy to the ground wire instead of your electronics and appliances.

The whole-house surge protector would be useless without the ground wire. It is wired to the building’s grounding system, which channels any excess electricity safely away from the structure.

Difference Between Surge Protector Vs. Power Strip

Although commonly confused, surge protectors and power strips have distinct functions and varying degrees of safeguarding.

Power strips are simple electronic devices that connect multiple devices to a single electrical outlet. Typically, these devices have a switch or button that enables simultaneous activation and deactivation. 

It’s important to note that power strips do not provide surge protection and are not intended to safeguard electronic devices against voltage spikes or surges from lightning strikes or electrical malfunctions. Surge protectors are specifically engineered to protect electronic devices from voltage spikes and surges. 

The devices have surge protection mechanisms, such as a metal oxide varistor (MOV) or gas discharge arrestor (GDA), which effectively absorb and redirect the excess voltage to the ground wire, safeguarding the devices from damage. The joule rating of a surge protector denotes its capacity to withstand energy before experiencing failure.

One notable distinction between power strips and surge protectors pertains to their pricing. Power strips are commonly found and come at a lower cost, whereas surge protectors are priced higher due to their advanced protective features.

Acknowledging that certain power strips can incorporate a surge protection mechanism is imperative. However, their protective capacity is often limited and inferior to that of dedicated surge protectors.

Can You Plug A Surge Protector Into An Extension Cord?

Many rely on extension cables and surge protectors to power their electronics and safeguard them from electrical surges. But can you plug a surge protector into an extension cord? As we mentioned above, the solution is more complex than you think.

Multiple variables come into play, including the kind of extension cable, its amperage rating, the number of outlets it has, and its length.

Let’s examine these variables and their impact on your devices’ security and functionality.

Type of Extension Cord

The quality of an extension cable might vary greatly. Some are made for more complex tasks than others, and vice versa. The potential for overloading or overheating depends on the extension cable used and the amount of electricity that can flow through it.

The extension cord’s rating information should be displayed on the product’s label or package. A surge protector is usually unsuitable for a lamp cable or other low-current extension cord. Because of their thin construction and low amperage ratings, these cables cannot withstand strong currents or power surges.

Amperage Rating

Another aspect to consider is the amperage rating of the surge protector and the extension cable. The amperage rating specifies how much electricity can safely send through the item.

Always ensure the surge protector’s amperage rating is equal to or lower than the extension cord’s. For example, if the surge protector is rated at 15 amps and the extension cable is rated at 10 amps, you should not connect them.

Number of Outlets

Another factor to consider is the number of outlets on the surge protector and the extension cord. The more outlets you have, the more devices you can plug in, and the more chances of overloading or short-circuiting.

Hence, you should avoid plugging multiple devices into one outlet on the surge protector or the extension cord.

Length of Cord

The length of both the surge protector and the extension cable is the last consideration. The more resistance the cables cause in the electrical circuit, the longer they are.

This implies that your gadgets will receive less voltage and current, affecting their performance and longevity. It also means that more heat is created in the cables.

Do Surge Protectors Prevent Fires?

Surge protectors are designed to mitigate the risk of fires resulting from voltage surges. Voltage surges occur when the voltage in an electrical circuit surpasses the standard level.

Surge protectors can effectively mitigate the impact of voltage spikes on electronic devices, thereby minimizing the likelihood of electrical fires.

Surge protectors function by rerouting surplus voltage away from electronic devices and channeling it toward the ground wire. The process is accomplished by integrating surge protection mechanisms into the system, such as metal oxide varistors (MOVs) or gas discharge arrestors (GDAs). 

These mechanisms effectively absorb and redirect any excess voltage to the ground wire, preventing it from reaching the devices.

In the event of a voltage surge, a surge protector is designed to identify the surge and redirect it away from any connected devices. This protective measure effectively safeguards the devices from harm and minimizes the potential for electrical fires. 

How to Use Surge Protectors?

It was vital to understand how does a surge protector work, its different types, etc. However, not many users are aware of how to use surge protectors the right way.

We thought we should guide our users to the authentic and safe way of using surge protectors.

Below is a list of the five most common use cases of surge protectors, where we provide examples of how to use them safely:

Plug in the Devices Correctly

Remembering properly connecting your electrical gadgets into the surge protector is one of the most crucial aspects of utilizing a surge protector.

Verify that all cables are in good working order and that plugs are firmly put into outlets.

How to Use It?

A surge protector is necessary if you have expensive electronics like a television, audio, and gaming console. Ensure the plugs are in before plugging anything into the surge protector.

Keep the Surge Protector Close

Keep the surge protector near the electronics as feasible for optimal protection. If a power surge or voltage spike occurs, the surge protector can detect and safely redirect it away from your electronics. Long extension cables and power strips may diminish a surge protector’s efficiency and should be avoided.

How to Use It?

For instance, if you have a desktop computer, you may shield it from power spikes using a surge protector. Put the surge protector on or near your workstation and connect all your electronic devices.

Don’t Overload the Devices

It’s not a good idea to plug in too many electrical gadgets simultaneously into a single surge protector. There is a maximum amount of electricity that a given surge protector can safely manage. Your expensive electronics are at risk if you overload your surge protector and cause it to overheat and fail.

How to Use It?

For instance, you may use a surge protector to safeguard your computer, printer, and other electronics in a home office. Avoid overloading it by plugging in more power-hungry gadgets than the unit can handle when using a surge protector.

Example of dont overload the devices on surge protector.

Check the Temperature Repeatedly

When powering many devices simultaneously, surge protectors may reach dangerous temperatures. Your surge protector’s temperature should be checked regularly to ensure it is not becoming too hot.

How to Use It?

Your surge protector’s durability and efficiency may be compromised by overheating. It’s a good idea to check the surge protector’s temperature occasionally if you use it to power your home theatre system and plan on watching a movie or playing a video game for a long time.

Avoid Water Splashes

Water might have negative impact on surge protectors since they are electrical equipment. Your surge protector should be kept from water sources, and you should not get any water on it.

How to Use It?

Your surge protector should be unplugged and dried thoroughly if it becomes wet. If you use a surge protector in a damp environment, like a bathroom or kitchen, move it elsewhere.

Benefits of Surge Protectors 

Surge protectors protect electronic devices from power surges, spikes, and fluctuations. Surge protectors offer several advantages, including enhanced safety, protection against power surges, and safeguarding electronic devices from damage.

Provides Peace of Mind

Surge protectors are a reliable solution for users seeking to safeguard their electronics, particularly in regions with unpredictable power grids or during extreme weather conditions. 

If storms cause power outages, homeowners can use a surge protector to safeguard their appliances and devices from voltage surges. Implementing this measure can effectively mitigate the likelihood of device damage and avert the need for expensive repairs or replacements.

Increases Lifespan of Home Appliances

Surge protectors serve the dual purpose of safeguarding appliances against sudden damage and prolonging their longevity. Electronic devices, including computers and televisions, contain delicate components that are susceptible to degradation over time because of voltage fluctuations. 

A surge protector can effectively mitigate voltage fluctuations and enhance longevity.

Protection of Appliances from Damage

The first advantage of using surge protectors is their ability to safeguard electronic equipment against harm resulting from power surges.

If the appliance is linked to a surge protector, the excess voltage will be absorbed by the surge protector, thus averting it from reaching the device.


Well, there you have it – a complete guide on “what is surge protector.” We’ve also covered the Whole House Surge protectors and how they work. In addition to extending the life of appliances and ensuring their proper operation, they also provide their owners peace of mind. 

Different kinds of surge protectors, such as UPS surge protectors, whole-house surge protectors, and point-of-use surge protectors, provide differing degrees of protection. 

Hopefully, you know everything there is to know about what is surge protector. If you have any confusion, feel free to contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions on What Is Surge Protector 

Do I Need a Surge Protector?

It would help if you used a surge protector to safeguard your electrical equipment from power surges, spikes, and oscillations. It is a low-cost method of protecting your electronics and extending their longevity.

What Are The 3 Different Types of Surge Protectors?

Point-of-use surge protectors, whole-house surge protectors, and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) are the three kinds of surge protectors. Each kind offers different degrees of security for your electrical gadgets and appliances.

Do Surge Protectors Use A Lot of Electricity?

Surge protectors do not use a lot of power. When there is no surge or spike, they are passive devices that require no power. They only utilize energy while protecting your gadgets from a surge or spike.

What Does a Surge Protector Look Like?

Surge protectors exist in various forms and sizes but often resemble power strips with many outlets. They normally feature a switch for turning the outlets on and off and an indicator light to demonstrate that the surge protector works properly.

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