By Zach Motsinger
Those dusty black boxes stuffed behind entertainment centers that connect all of our devices can be misleading. While some of these devices are surge protectors, others are simply power strips. While one can help protect your equipment during a surge in energy the other is just a convenient way to plug in a lot of devices.
Why is this important to know?
Take a moment to calculate the cost of everything you have powered in your entertainment center: TV, Blu-ray player, streaming device like a Roku or Apple TV, and a stereo receiver. The cost of this equipment could be a big number.
Add a spring storm and you can begin to see the value of being aware of the level of protection you have.
Myth: These devices are basically all the same if they have an on/off switch.
Fact: Not true. One way to determine if you have a surge protector is to see if a joules rating is listed on the back of the device. If it has this, it is a surge protector. This number indicates how much energy the device can absorb before failing. If still uncertain, search the model number online to verify its capabilities.
Myth: My equipment is protected because I turn it off.
Fact: This is a good first step, but it needs to be followed by unplugging devices from the wall to be protected from events such as a direct lightning strike.
Myth: For the best protection you have to spend hundreds of dollars.
Fact: Spend what you find reasonable but be sure you have a unit that is UL 1449 rated. This is a test standard conducted by Underwriters Laboratories for this type of electric equipment. If you want to then review specific details, look for devices with the most joules.
ZACH MOTSINGER is member services technician at Orange County REMC in Orleans, Indiana.