If you currently use power adapters or power plugs
Power strips provide a block of electrical sockets attached to a cable with a mains plug and you can choose the length of mains cable, typically between 1 and 5 metres. Many of these power strips have a built-in circuit breaker to protect against excess current, and of course the mains plug will be fused. Within Europe any plug or socket that does not have the addition of surge protection will not be CE marked, so look for this mark when purchasing.
Surge protection devices are sometimes referred to as surge suppression devices and our designed to protect against sudden increases in voltage known as voltage spikes, which can occur on your mains electricity supply. Any excess voltage detected is dealt with by normally shorting the unwanted voltage to ground. Some surge protection devices will also provide additional protection for some data communications devices as well as general appliances. There are 3 main features to look for when determining a good surge suppression device, and they are the Joules Rating, Clamping Voltage and Response Times.
A Joule is a unit of energy and a Joules rating will define how much energy can be absorbed when a power surge or voltage spike occurs. Surge protectors should have joules ratings of over 200 Joules, with good surge protection devices having ratings in excess of 1000 Joules. Good surge suppression devices will absorb a certain amount of energy and divert the remainder to ground. Most devices employ a MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor), which is normally comprised of metal oxide that connects the power to ground by means of two semiconductors with variable resistance. Resistance is high when the voltage is low and low when the voltage is high, allowing the additional current to flow to ground. The resistance will return to a high level once the power surge is over, allowing current to continue to flow to the attached devices.
The Clamping Voltage is the voltage level at which point the surge protection device will divert the excess energy away from the line. Typical clamping voltages range between 330 and 500 Volts.
A surge protector will be designed to respond to a voltage spike within a certain period of time, as it is impossible to respond instantaneously. A short response time will ensure that connected devices are not exposed to the excess voltages for too long a duration. The voltage spikes themselves take time to reach their peak voltage, so surge suppression devices are designed to react in several nanoseconds, which is before most voltage spikes would reach peak. Although some manufacturers quote response times on their products, this is not always an important factor when choosing a surge suppression product, mainly because response times of MOVs are always significantly faster than the time the average surge takes to peak.
If you are still using multi-outlet power plugs or adapters, then please consider replacing them with surge strips. For a few pounds you can protect your expensive audio or video equipment and also provide a safer environment in the home by having a more secure connection to your mains power outlet. Surge protection does make sense and will give you some peace of mind for your home appliances.