"Yeah..that's a great box," says Jewell as he prepares to plug in the high end surge protector. The box containing The Monster Power Blackout is covered in marketing lingo listing several different "advanced" features.
As expected, the device survives the test and reduces the voltage from 6000 units down to about 340. Jewell says that's a good range that should prevent damage to the electronics plugged into it.
"Usually the test is silent but if something fails it can go off like a firecracker," says Jewell as he readies for a test of our mid-range unit.
No firecracker on that test. The device works just fine, reducing the voltage to around 350.
The test also goes smoothly for the $6.50 device. It holds up to the 6000 volts.
What We Learned
"You want to protect your laptop while it's charging...your cell phone all those things. That ($6.50 unit) would be fine." Jewell says the cheaper model works. But only to a point.
"Whatever it is you're protecting TV, computer...you need to run every wire that's going into that through one of these (surge protectors)."
That means your cable, telephone, modem line - anything you connect to your electronic device - should go through a surge protector. So Jewell suggests getting a model that has all the connections you require.
He also recommends checking the box to see if the device is UL 1449 approved or certified. "That standard tells us not only that it limits the voltage but it survives repeated surges and that's a real important issue because when one of these fails, it usually fails silently and you don't know it has failed,".
Jewell also says he see no difference between our high-end model and our mid-range one.
"I don't see any advantage of this device over the lower cost one that we tested. That has the same inputs and outputs as this one," he says. The more expensive device has bright color coded outlets and extras like video filtering, but Jewell says the buyer would be paying for extra stuff he doesn't need.
Joule rating is also another factor to consider. That measures the amount of energy the surge protector can absorb. Generally, the higher the number, the better. However, Jewell advises that consumers not focus too much on the joule rating. He says it's questionable how much of an affect that has on the performance of a surge protector. Some other experts suggest the higher the joule rating, the longer the device will last.
The Bottom Line
Our test and Jewell's previous research shows the pricier surge suppressor isn't necessarily the best one. Look for the UL 1449 compliance to ensure the device has been tested under conditions similar to a lightning strike. Also, be sure to find a device that supports all the electronic equipment that will be plugged into it.