Surge Protectors for computers are a necessity. Apple Mac laptops and iMacs are no different.
As I mentioned before – an Apple computer is practically ready to go right out of the box. Just plug it in and you are ready to rock n’ roll. Because of this ease of use – it is tempting to throw caution to the wind and forget about safety.
It is also tempting to skimp when it comes to these suppressors. I am not sure why human nature is like this – after all a Mac is a significant investment, so it is logical that the the cheapest power strip is not such a good choice.
Now common sense tells me that not all surge protectors for computers are created equal – but aside from a gut feeling – I was never sure how to determine which ones are the best. As a consumer – the following features meet my needs:
- good protection for my electronic devices, and
- lots of outlets that are spread apart (to accommodate brick style adapters)
Hmmm – it seems that I am easy to please.
As I researched these devices further – I came across a wonderful series of articles on how surge protectors work. It is interesting reading and goes in depth about the technical of what causes surges and how these affect different types of equipment. My take away from this is the following:
- Surges are not only caused by lightning but also by home wiring and by other appliances that are running in the house.
- These surges are detrimental to delicate electronic equipment (like an Apple Mac computer)
- Different types of surge suppressors offer different levels of protection
- An inexpensive power strip is little more than a fancy extension cord
- A general rule of thumb is the more you pay the better the product (but not always – as is typical with life)
- Check the UL rating of the suppressor – look for the terms “transient voltage surge suppressor” which means that it meets the criteria for UL 1449. Not a guarantee of quality but at least a point for evaluation
- Something called “clamping voltage” should be less than 400V
- Energy Absorption Dissipation should be between 200 and 400 joules but greater than 600 is better
- A Response time of less than one nanosecond is desirable
- An indicator light is very important – all surge protectors for computers can wear out after repeated surges. Apparently the strip will still be usable but will not offer protection. And indicator light is the only way of knowing if your stuff is being protected.
- Some products offer a guarantee if things that are plugged into it become damaged – this could be another indicator of quality.
I must provide a disclaimer here – that the information above is a summary of what I read in an article on the web and is purely an outline of points that I felt were important. Please do your own research and do not rely on this information alone before you buy!
That being said – I recently purchased two of this Belkin surge protector from Amazon.com -
After doing this research I found that this particular model is labeled as a “transient voltage surge suppressor”. It has a less than 400 V clamping voltage. But I could not find a rating for energy absorption dissipation or response time. I liked this particular strip because the outlets are far apart along the edges and closer together down the middle – thus accommodating a wide variety of plugs. It does have an indicator light and receptacles for phone lines and cable (neither of which I use).
As an aside, Windows converts will be excited to see the plug to an iMac – it looks like this:
I know, I am amused by the simplest things – but I was shocked to see this – no brick at all – just one simple plug. Wow. And yes, that is my Belkin.