Jim Rossman: Power surges can kill your gadgets, but protection is … – Bryan-College Station Eagle

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Surge protectors look like plug strips, but they have internal circuitry to keep dangerous amounts of electricity from getting through to the connected devices.
This week I received an email from a reader: “With the recent stormy weather in my area, I have need of new surge protectors for my electronic devices. Do you have any recommendations?”
I do have a recommendation, but I’ll admit I pulled it off a tech website I love. More about that later. First, some people think plug strips and surge protectors are the same thing. Not so.
I think everyone has seen a plug strip. You can buy them for under $10 at your local electronics or home-improvement store. They plug into the wall and give you six or more outlets to plug in your stuff.
Most people with an entertainment center or office in their homes have need for more outlets. Just looking around my desk at work, I have nine things I need to plug into power.
Plug strips just give you more outlets; they don’t really offer any protection from power surges.
What are power surges, and why would you want protection from them?
When it is stormy outside, the electrical service at your house can do strange things. You might see the lights get dim or even go out. Your TV may shut down. Your internet may or may not go out. Power may get cut off and then come back on more than once. This is not good for your delicate electronics.
Sometimes power can go surging through the lines and potentially damage anything you have plugged in.
Surge protectors look like plug strips, but they have internal circuitry to keep dangerous amounts of electricity from getting through to the connected devices.
Some surge protectors offer more than just AC plug protection. Some offer protection for coaxial cable connections or ethernet connections. You might not think of it, but your broadband modem has a power cord and a data cord coming in from the modem. Power surges can come in via ethernet or coaxial cable and damage your modem and even your TV.
Surge protectors will have a surge capacity that they can protect against. This capacity is expressed in joules. You want at least 1,000 joules, but more is always good.
Make sure it has enough ports and the right type (AC, ethernet, coaxial).
Also, don’t confuse a surge protector with an uninterruptible power supply, which has a battery to keep your gadgets powered on if the electricity goes out. Surge protectors will simply shut off power if a dangerous surge is detected.
As for my recommendation? I’ll let you in on a secret. While I review gadgets, I can’t review everything, but I know a place that does: Wirecutter (nytimes.com/wirecutter). This is a site owned by the New York Times, and it comprehensively reviews almost everything you might want to buy.
I’ve never been steered wrong by a Wirecutter review. I’ve been a subscriber for several years. Wirecutter recommends the Tripp Lite TLP1208SAT, which is a 12-outlet surge protector with coaxial and ethernet protection. It is currently selling for $49.09 at Amazon.
Tripp Lite is highly regarded, and the recommended model provides up to $250,000 of insurance if your gadgets are fried while connected to the TLP1208SAT.
Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.
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Surge protectors look like plug strips, but they have internal circuitry to keep dangerous amounts of electricity from getting through to the connected devices.
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