Sound Advice: Protect Your Electronics with Optimal Surge Protectors

Q. To the best of my knowledge TVs, sound bars and other expensive electronics do not have built-in surge protection, and it is hard to figure out which surge protector is best to protect your equipment. I see wall plug surge protectors with joule ratings of 250 to 2,100, as well as big units that sit on the floor that have a lot of capacity and features. The latter take up a lot of space and are hard to hide. Have you ever evaluated them?

PowerUI sells a 2,100-joule unit for $9.99 including shipping, while Best Buy sells a 1-outlet Rocketfish 540-joule protector for $19.99. Which would you buy? For TVs that receive over-the-air broadcast signals from an antenna over coaxial cable, there is the additional question of lightning protection that I haven’t delved into yet.

— S.B., San Jose, California

A. Many homeowners and renters insurance policies cover power surges, though a deductible is usually involved. If you have such a policy you may have some coverage for your electronics already. Even so, quality surge protection is a good idea. For your cable and antenna connections you can use an inline coaxial surge protector, which simply screws between two coaxial cables and requires no power supply. Parts Express sells one for $6.75. Just search on either site for “inline coaxial surge protector.”

I think one of the most important factors is the dollar amount of coverage provided by the surge protector company, and their history of paying claims. If 540 joules is enough for your purpose I would probably go for the Rocketfish based on the reviews, ease of getting one at Best Buy and the widespread access to the company if you do have a claim. Belkin is another company that sells a quality surge protector and has a good reputation for taking care of their customers. 

My personal choice is the Series VII Power from Austere. They are as fine a surge protector as you can buy and it is reflected in the features, quality engineering, jewel-like finish and even the packaging. The Series VII Power units filter the incoming power from electromagnetic or radio frequency interference, have indicators to show they are plugged in, grounded and have adequate surge protection capacity, and have built-in charging ports, including USB-C. I use them with my three best (and most expensive) systems and they provide tremendous peace of mind. Austere Power products come with a lifetime product guarantee and a seven-year guarantee to replace electronics damaged by a surge, regardless of the value. They sell for $199 (6-outlet) and $229 (8-outlet) and are components that fall into the “expensive, but worth it” category if you have a high-value system.

- Don Lindich, Sound Advice