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The Best Power Strips and Surge Protectors to Keep Your Gadgets Organized and Charged

The 1980s brought us the computer age and also ushered in the power strip. Most people had a desktop computer and monitor, and maybe a printer—but add to those external drives, scanners, wireless routers, and other peripheral devices, and those two standard outlets most of us had were simply overwhelmed. Now we’ve got laptops, tablets, smart phones, and wireless Bluetooth devices, all connected to a power strip.

Today, power strips often incorporate USB ports and surge protection. We tested a broad range to determine which are the best. But first, some buying advice.

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What You Need to Know About Surge Protection

The proliferation of wireless handheld devices that charge at lower voltages makes surge protection more important than ever. What most people don’t realize about surge protectors is that they wear out over time. With every voltage fluctuation they absorb, their lifespan is shortened. So, to be sure you’re getting the most protection you can, it’s a good idea to replace them every two to three years.

Power surges can occur due to a number of reasons. People tend to worry most about lightning strikes, which can find their way to electrical wires and cause power spikes in the millions of volts. Most surge protectors can’t handle anything this large, so don’t rely on them during lightning storms—the best way to protect from this type of surge is to unplug your sensitive electronic equipment.

More commonly, power surges are caused during storms when power lines are downed. When the power company’s transformers and complex switching systems try to reroute power or address changing demands, it can create inconsistent power flow with dips and bursts. The other common cause for surges occurs within your own home. Air conditioners, compressors, and electric ranges require a large amount of power, particularly when they start up. However, their need drops off quickly once they’re running, which can cause surges elsewhere in the house’s wiring.

The amount of protection surge protectors provide is measured in joules. A joule is a unit of energy required to do a certain amount of work. One joule is about the amount of electricity used to light a one-watt LED for one second. To adequately protect an average home entertainment system or computers and related equipment, look for surge protectors rated in thousands of joules. Always check with the manufacturer, they usually provide examples on the packaging of what a certain model can protect.

How We Tested These Power Strips

The power strips on this list have been thoroughly vetted and evaluated by our test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience with them to determine the best options. We plugged these power strips in and tested them in kitchens, family rooms, workshops, and offices. We evaluated them based on ease of use, their features, and how they performed in various situations. We used a Sperry Instruments outlet tester to confirm circuit grounding when power strips had wiring fault indicators. If you need power strip or surge protector, chances are you’ll find one on this list to suit your needs.


Best Overall

APC V11PT3 SurgeArrest

• Outlets: 11
• USB ports: 0
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 3,020 joules
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: Yes
• Cord length: 8 ft
• Plug: 180°

APC has a lot of confidence in this 11-outlet SurgeArrest, so much so that it offers a $100,000 equipment protection policy. Short of using it in a research lab to protect scientific instruments, we had a hard time coming up with a list of equipment to match that total. Multiple layers of protection will guard against power surges coming through your coaxial tv cable, telephone/DSL lines, and home’s electrical outlets. There are LEDs to indicate protection status and building wiring faults. The six outlets are spaced nicely to accommodate large power adaptors, and all of them have sliding covers to keep out dust and debris when not in use. The heavy cord swivels 180 degrees so that it can lay flat and out of the way, no matter which way it’s oriented behind furniture. Because of the SurgeArrest’s size and features, we found it most useful for elaborate entertainment or computer equipment.

Best for Work Travel

Tessan Flat Plug Extension Cord

• Outlets: 4
• USB ports: 3
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 3,940 joules
• Circuit breaker: 10-amp
• Ground fault detection: No
• Cord length: 5 ft
• Plug: 90°

Tessan’s Flat Plug Extension Cord is a compact option for when you only need a couple of extra outlets. Its size and shape make it easy to pack when traveling—we carried it in our laptop bag when working off-site. Four standard outlets, spaced far apart, means it was easy for us to accommodate devices with large plugs without overlapping. Three standard USB ports were enough to satisfy our charging needs and helped make this useful as a tabletop charging station. You can also hang this Tessan flat on a wall or above a desk or nightstand if space is limited. We were surprised and impressed with the 3,940 joules of surge protection—that’s a lot for a power strip this inexpensive.

Most Complete Protection

Belkin 12-Outlet

• Outlets: 12
• USB ports: 0
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 3,940 joules
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: Yes
• Cord length: 8 ft
• Plug: 90°

Belkin has everything covered with this 12-outlet surge protector. Connect phone/fax/DSL lines, coaxial cables for TV/cable modems, and ethernet and power cords for all your equipment to protect from surges and spikes wherever they come from. The low-profile power strip has six widely spaced outlets for large power adaptors and a clip-on cable organizer to keep cords all heading in the same direction. The slim design helps it fit under desks and behind furniture, so you can set it up and forget it—although the protection and ground wiring status lights won’t be visible in this case. Sliding covers protect unused outlets from dust and debris. Just remember they’re there, or it will be frustrating reaching behind furniture to plug something in. Finally, Belkin provides a $100,000 connected equipment warranty with this surge protector.

Best for the Desktop

Anker PowerExtend USB-C 3 Capsule

• Outlets: 3
• USB ports: 2 USB A, 1 USB C
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 300 joules
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: Yes
• Cord length: 6 ft
• Plug: 90°

The PowerExtend is more of a power outlet, complete with USB ports, than it is a power strip. It’s ideal for a desk or work surface, where you may need to charge mobile devices or plug in a laptop regularly. The unit is weighted and has non-slip pads on the bottom, so it didn’t move around when we were plugging and unplugging USB or power cords. When we pushed the power switch, three LED lights indicated that power was on and that both ground protection and surge protection were functioning. It has three widely space standard power outlets on the back, which allowed us to plug in various sizes and combinations of AC power adapters. One of our favorite features was the 45-watt USB-C port, which allows rapid for charging of compatible phones and laptops.

Best One-Size-Fits-All

APC PE6RU3 SurgeArrest

• Outlets: 6
• USB ports: 2
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 1,080 joules
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: Yes
• Cord length: 6 ft
• Plug: 90°

APC’s six-outlet SurgeArrest is ideal for use near a desk or entertainment system. It has wall mounts on the back to hang horizontally or vertically, but make sure it’s accessible, or access to the USB ports all the way at the end will be limited. The main feature of this power strip is how the six outlets swivel 180 degrees to provide ample room for large power adaptors or oversize plugs—this helps keep the unit’s footprint small. The power switch doubles as a circuit breaker reset, and when turned on, two LEDs indicate protection status and if the circuit is grounded properly. Finally, APC provides a $50,000 equipment protection policy.

Best Under a Desk

Bestek 8-Outlet

• Outlets: 8
• USB ports: 4
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 600 joules
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: Yes
• Cord length: 6 ft
• Plug: 90°

Bestek’s 8-Outlet power strip is ideal as an accessible, under-desk power solution. We found that eight outlets were more than enough for a fully outfitted, single work-station desk. Two of these are set apart from the others to accommodate devices with large plugs. The other six are spaced more tightly, and we were able to use all of them with a range of standard plugs. Four smart USB charging ports ensure each device is charged at the voltage and rate best suited for it. The unit has a 15-amp circuit breaker, so you can even power some appliances with it—we plugged in an 8,000-BTU window air conditioner without issue.

Most Versatile

Monoprice 8-Outlet Rotating Surge Strip

• Outlets: 8
• USB ports: 0
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 2,160 joules
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: Yes
• Cord length: 6 ft
• Plug: Standard

The Rotating Outlet Surge Strip packs a lot of outlets in its compact footprint, with two fixed and six that rotate 180 degrees to accommodate plugs and power adapters of different sizes. Mount the unit horizontally using the slotted holes on the back, and keep the cords in order with two fold-out guides on the end. The illuminated power switch doubles as a circuit breaker reset, and there are two LED indicators to show surge protection status and that the circuit is properly grounded. We found the Surge Strip to be a good all-around option, with ample surge protection for sensitive electronics and flexibility for any size power adapter.

Most Outlets

Powsaf 18-Outlet

• Outlets: 18
• USB ports: 3
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 4,100 joules
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: Yes
• Cord length: 6 ft
• Plug: 90°

There’s barely a surface on this power strip from Powsaf that isn’t covered with outlets. While we wouldn’t recommend using all 18 at once, we did find the plentiful options allowed for plugging in multiple cords with large AC power adapters without blocking needed outlets. Because of the size, we didn’t use this power strip on a table or desk top, so while the three USB-A ports were nice to have, they weren’t readily accessible. At 4,100 joules, surge protection on this Powsaf is among highest we tested—good, because this is the type of power strip we’d tuck behind something and use to power all our fancy AV equipment. It is supplied with tabs to hang vertically or horizontally.

Best for Travel

Anker PowerPort Cube

• Outlets: 3
• USB ports: 3
• Power switch: No
• Surge protection: No
• Circuit breaker: 15-amp
• Ground fault detection: No
• Cord length: 5 ft
• Plug: Standard

The compact cube-shaped PowerPort from Anker is more of an extension cord with USB ports than it is a power strip. Its tiny size means it doesn’t take up space on a desk and will always be close for easy plugging and unplugging. The PowerPort comes with an adhesive pad to keep it from moving around, wherever you decide to put it—it’s super sticky, so you can even tack it on a wall. We were able to do away with multiple AC adapters thanks to this Anker. Its size also makes it ideal for travel, easily fitting in a briefcase or bag. With three outlets and three USB ports, it will power all the personal electronic devices you need for work or play.

Best for Collaborative Workspaces

Jacklyed Power Strip Tower

• Outlets: 10
• USB ports: 4
• Power switch: Yes
• Surge protection: 900 joules
• Circuit breaker: 13-amp
• Ground fault detection: No
• Cord length: 6.5 ft
• Plug: Standard

This Jackyled is a convenient table-top power strip, useful in collaborative environments or meetings placed in the center of a conference table. It has outlets on every side, with two USB ports each on two of the sides. There’s a power switch for each layer of the tower, so you can be selective about which equipment you power off and which you leave on. The power cord for this unit retracts and winds into the base, so there’s no extra cable looped around to deal with. We especially liked the Power Strip Tower on our project table where tools and equipment frequently come and go and we have several things going on at once. A modest amount of surge protection guards sensitive electronics, although we wouldn’t suggest using this as a permanent power supply for these devices.

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