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Surge Protectors

May 16, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

Surge protectors are an important line of defense to protect your electronic equipment from power surges or lightening strikes.  Your equipment and data are at risk if you choose to omit this important item.

A momentary spike in the flow of electricity, caused by a lightening strike or power anomaly, can overload equipment and destroy the internal circuits.  In North America, the normal power rate is 120 volts.  However, electrical outlets are not the only source of surges – cable and telephone lines are also susceptible.  If you have either of those sources plugged into your equipment the same damage can occur.

When shopping for a surge protector, examine its Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating.  A UL rating ensures that the product meets minimal safety standards and provides quality surge protection.  Common surge protector and UPS manufacturers include APS, Belkin, Tripp Lite, and Minuteman.

Basic power bars offer several outlets but provide minimal surge protection.  These bars cost as little as $5 to $10.  Better quality protectors with multiple outlets can be purchased for $20 to $40.  Some surge protectors also include connections for cable or telephone lines; these models cost around $30.

For even more protection and security, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) provides surge protection as well as battery backup that allows data to be saved if power goes out unexpectedly.  This allows time for you to manually backup data and shut down your equipment if you fear a long-term outage.  UPS units typically cost between $50 to $200 for a home or small office-sized product.

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