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What's the Difference Between a Surge Protector and a Power Strip?

February 01, 2024

In today's digital world, most of us juggle multiple electronic devices simultaneously on a regular basis. However, traditional outlets simply can't meet the demands of many appliances and devices simultaneously. That's why many homeowners invest in power strips and surge protectors. These devices aim to power more than one electrical device from a single outlet. If you frequently multitask, such as charging up your laptop while running an electric fan, power strips and surge protectors can help you minimize energy usage and allow you to save money in the long run.

While surge protectors and power strips share some similarities, there are also a wide range of differences between them. Understanding the key differences between a surge protector and a power strip can help you make the best decision for your needs. In this blog, we’ll review everything you need to know about how these two devices compare and their pros and cons, including:

  • The role of a power strip
  • The role of surge protectors
  • Key differences between power strips and surge protectors
  • Choosing the right device for your needs

Looking to get the most out of your power strip or surge protector?

If you're searching for the most effective solution for your needs, our pros are here to help. Our dedicated electrical team is proud to offer flexible scheduling and financing options to meet the needs of every household we work with. Reach out today to get started.


The Role of a Power Strip

As the name suggests, a power strip is a long, vertical strip that contains multiple electrical sockets. You'll typically plug it into a standard wall outlet, which can supply multiple devices with electricity at once. By providing up to a dozen additional outlets, a power strip is a highly versatile and convenient option for those who regularly need access to several devices. Power strips can also be used in a wide range of environments, from offices to kitchens to workshops, allowing them to meet the needs of your lifestyle.

The Role of Surge Protectors

A surge protector looks almost identical to a power strip, which is why many people confuse the two devices. However, there are a few notable differences between them. The key feature that sets the surge protector apart is that it's designed to protect against power surges. Not only does it power multiple devices at once like a power strip does, but it also safeguards electronic equipment from overheating, burnt-out circuits, and other damage due to fluctuations in the power supply.

Key Differences Between Power Strips and Surge Protectors

Now that you understand what a surge protector does, we can delve into the main differences between power strips and surge protectors. As we discussed above, the main difference between the two devices boils down to the protection they offer. A power strip is a simpler gadget engineered to supply multiple devices with electricity from a single outlet. On the other hand, a surge protector is specifically designed to provide an extra layer of protection in the event of a power surge.

A power surge is a sharp spike in your electrical supply that can result from an electrical storm or a fault at the supply end. While most homeowners don't give much thought to these types of events, the reality is that they occur more often than most people realize. It's best to take the right precautions to keep these disasters at bay by investing in a surge protector, preventing damage before it occurs.

Choosing the Right Device for Your Needs

There are a variety of factors that should be taken into account in selecting a power strip or surge protector for your home, such as your home's overall power usage and the number of people in your household. In addition, if you live in an area that is particularly prone to electrical storms, we highly recommend adding a surge protector to prevent power surges from causing costly harm.

On the other hand, if you have relatively low electricity needs, a power strip might be sufficient for you and your family. Our trusted electricians will be happy to discuss your needs to ensure you're making the best decision for your home.


Keep your home's electrical system running smoothly all year long.

If you're still unsure whether a surge protector or power strip is right for you, contact us today. Our highly dedicated and compassionate team will happily guide you toward choosing the optimal device for your home.

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By Ty Lindsay

Ty Lindsay is the Director of Field Operations at Patrick Riley | Isley’s and a 15-year veteran of the plumbing and HVAC trades. In 2010, Ty earned his Journeyman’s plumbing license. He became a Master Plumber five years later and earned his Journeyman HVAC technician’s license that same year. Ty’s breadth of knowledge in plumbing and HVAC includes both residential and commercial work. He’s been a loyal member of the Patrick Riley | Isley’s team since 2016.