Questions regarding power strips

January 17, 2011 at 06:20:14
Specs: Windows XP
I need help regarding power strips. In a few weeks I will be getting a new Dell and the power strip I have now is an older one and I noticed a slight spark when I unplugged something from it. I use it for my pc, printer, speakers, and monitor and want to make sure I have the right type for best protection. After doing a search online, there were so many different types with various prices and it further confused me. So, I am hoping someone here can help me with this. I know that some do have surge protection also.
Any help you can offer would be great.

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January 17, 2011 at 06:39:32
If your power strip has an on/ off switch you should use it before connecting/ disconnecting any power cords. Those actions can cause a power surge that can damage hardware.

Don't use 2 to 3 prong adapters on the cord either. If you live in older housing with only 2 prong plugs you need to upgrade the wiring.

Some power strips also have built in surge protection, some don't. Not all surge protectors are created equal. The level of protection varies widely. You need to read and decide.

No surge protector can protect you from all incidents. The only sure protection during electrical storms is to unplug devices. Coaxial cables and phone lines included. In all honesty, I don't even do that, but that is the only true protection from a close lightning strike or other cause of a power surge.

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January 17, 2011 at 06:53:29
Thank you for your reply. I understand there are times that nothing will fully protect electronics. I just needed some input as to the better ones..or if there are any that are better. I know price does not dictate that either. All the outlets in my apt. are 3 prong even though they are older apts. The power strip I have at present is at least 9 yrs old if not a bit older and I just want to get a newer one since I am sure since then the ones they have now are better. Maybe Im wrong but I just don't know if the brand matters or not.
Thanks for the info.

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January 17, 2011 at 07:15:33
The term "power strip" has become a catch-all term but actually, power strips & surge protectors are different things. All a power strip does is provide multiple outlets, it offers no protection. Make sure you get a surge protector. Generally, the higher the joule rating, the better the protection. Look for one rated for 600 joules or higher.

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January 17, 2011 at 08:51:35
Thank you for your reply. I do understand the difference and I have noticed some power strips also have a power surge. I appreciate you letting me know the number for the joules to look for. There were a few that said they have 800 joules.
I want to get a surge protector with multiple outlets for my new pc.
Thank you really helped.

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January 17, 2011 at 09:39:17
Better power surge / power spike protection devices have a stated $xxxx warranty against damage caused by power spike or surges, however you should check out the terms of that warranty, and who/where you contact if you need to make a claim. If who/where you contact is in the US or Canada, or the UK, etc., that's good; if they're in China, Taiwan, etc., don't choose that one.
If you have more than one such device connected to the computer, they must all be made by the same maker in order for you to be able to make a warranty claim.
You cannot use any AC extension cords to connect the device to the AC source, if you want to be able to make a warranty claim.
If the device does not have in/out sockets for a telephone cable, or in/out connectors for a coax cable, for the cable that connects you to the internet, you can get separate devices for that if you look around.

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January 17, 2011 at 12:11:31
The above people have offered good advice.

I will say this. If you think in any small way that your current device may be defective, then unplug it right now. We had a fire in an office in Dallas caused by a brand of strips. When looked at nation wide we found about 10 of them in some state of damage or near fire.
They go bad or maybe were manufactured bad but the result in either case could end in disaster for you and your possessions.

Why did it take me over a year to phone in a problem to ATT?

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January 17, 2011 at 13:03:04
I have read that each time a surge protector clamps down to prevent a high voltage it either weakens it or renders it useless as a surge protector. You should replace your current one if it is 9 years old.

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January 17, 2011 at 18:59:57
> I appreciate you letting me know the number for the joules to look for. There were a few that
> said they have 800 joules.

So an 800 joules protector will absorb surges that are hundreds of thousands of joules? It is near zero protection. Just enough above zero so that advertising (and others who do not ask damning questions) will hype it as 100% protection.

Even 100 years ago, protectors were properly earthed so that even direct lightning strikes did not cause harm. The difference between power strip protector promoted by hearsay and well proven effective protectors (that also costs less money) is defined by the NIST (US government research agency):
> You cannot really suppress a surge altogether, nor "arrest" it. What these protective
> devices do is neither suppress nor arrest a surge, but simply divert it to ground,
> where it can do no harm.

A surge too small to harm protection already inside appliances may damage that grossly undersized protector. Then retail rumors claim that protector did the protection. Nonsense. Any protector that fails does no protection. Surges too small to damage anything but the ineffective protector get the naive to recommend it.

Meanwhile, a 'whole house' protector from so many responsible companies means no surge energy is even inside the building. Why does your telco not shut down phone service with each approaching storm? They waste no money on power strip protectors. They earth 'whole house' protectors. Connected to overhead wires all over town, your telco suffers about 100 surges with each storm. And no damage.

You do same with products from Intermatic, Leviton, Square D, General Electric, ABB, or Siemens. Or that one protector from Cutler-Hammer is purchased in Lowes or Home Depot for less than $50.

Protectors go bad. One 'whole house' protector may only degrade decades later. But protectors intentionally undersized will fail as fast as possible. After all, its 800 joules must somehow absorb hundreds of thousands of joules.

Read its manufacturer specs. Good luck. Nobody will quote numbers for protection ... because even the manufacturer does not claim that surge protection.

Take a $3 power strip. Include some ten cent protector parts. Sell it for $25 or $150. It is a profit center. Buy the same protector circuit in a grocery store for maybe $7. Or read numbers for a UPS. UPS protection numbers are often smaller. And just enough above zero so that advertising can claim 100% protection. Yes, worry about the word scam.

Direct lightning strikes are typically 20,000 amps. So a minimally sized 'whole house' protector is 50,000 amps. Because a protector must protect from all surges - and remain functional. Numbers that power strip protectors will avoid. Professionals even 100 years ago, instead, were earthing a 'whole house' protector so that no surges cause damage. You find that same protectors in every telco switching center everywhere in the world. That is also what every informed homeowner installs.

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January 17, 2011 at 19:07:27
> We had a fire in an office in Dallas caused by a brand of strips.

How many joues inside it will absorb surges that are hundreds of thousands of joules? Those fires have been seen by most fire departments. Some scary pictures demonstrate what happens with protectors that are grossly undersized and not earthed: entitled "Surge Protector Fires"

How does that protector stop what three miles of sky could not? Another myth that promotes plug-in protectors. More reason why informed homeowners earth a 'whole house' protector ... that is necessary even to protect power strip protectors.

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January 17, 2011 at 19:12:09

What you write may well be true. However, the chance of a lightning strike is far less than the chance that a tree branch will drop onto a nearby Edison line and create a surge that the surge protector can handle.

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