Among the factors to consider when choosing a surge protector – how many outlets, the optimal cord length and options such as protection for a coaxial cable connection – perhaps the most important factor is the surge protector’s joule rating.


Surge-GroupA joule rating indicates how much energy the surge protector can absorb before it fails. The higher the number, the greater the protection provided. Keys to determining the amount of protection needed include the type and value of the equipment to be protected.


Valuable Equipment Needs a Higher Joule Rating Are you protecting a $500 PC or a $5,000 home theater? Obviously, the higher the value of your equipment, the higher the quality of surge protector required. While any device that gets plugged into an AC outlet can benefit from surge protection, inexpensive components such as lamps, digital clocks and blenders don’t need a high level of protection. A unit with up to 1000 joules of surge protection is adequate for these small electronics. Some components have sensitive circuitry requiring protection, but don’t store extensive data. A surge protector with 1000 to 2000 joules will provide sufficient protection for power tools and office equipment such as printers, copiers and routers. Consider the highest joule ratings – 2000 and above – for home theater components, gaming consoles and any computer that stores important data … anything from customer lists to financial information to irreplaceable photos and favorite music.


Location Also a Factor In areas with frequent lightning storms, a higher level of protection is required. However, Mother Nature alone doesn’t create all the surges playing havoc with your electronics. Problems at the utility company can also create power spikes. Within industrial areas, tools and heavy equipment can cause damaging surges and line interference too.


Even in the quietest residential neighborhood, up to 80 percent of all surges originate inside the home or office. When power tools start up, when the air conditioner cycles on and even when the refrigerator or oven kicks on and off, small surges you may not notice can strike your electronics. A whole-house surge protection system will not prevent these types of voltage spikes.