How Many Joules Of Surge Protection Do I Need?

How Many Joules Of Surge Protection Do I Need?

Posted by Josh Theintern on Jun 1st 2017

Surge protectors are a great way to keep your electronics safe from power surges, but you already know that. So there you were shopping for a surge protector and you realized, “I have no idea what a Joule is or how many I need.” No worries, we’ve got your back. Below is all the info you’ll need to help choose a surge protector that is right for you. We’re proud of you for being proactive and using protection…for your gear.

Learn how many joules of surge protection you need

How many Joules of surge protection you need depends on a few factors like:

  • What type of electronics you are protecting
  • How often you experience power surges
  • How long you want your surge protector to last

But first, let’s dive deeper into what the hell “Joules” means. Who knows, it could be a question on your epic Jeopardy run someday.

Technical Definition: Joule rating tells you how much energy dissipation your surge protector is capable of. Higher = better.

What It Really Means: Think of Joule rating as how many “punches” of extra electricity your surge protector can take before it needs to be replaced. Make sure any surge protector you buy has a rating of over 400 Joules for the safety of your gear and longevity of protection. In the spirit of the punching analogy, here are Joule rating ranges with a boxer comparison from the Rocky movies:

400-999 Joules - Tommy Gunn

Echogear surge protector with over 400 joules is like Tommy Gunn

While he isn’t the best, Tommy is a solid fighter and he trained under Rocky before bailing on him to chase his dreams. Using surge protection in this range is definitely a huge step up for unprotected devices. Benefits of this Joule level include:

  • It comes in a smaller form factor for discrete placement and flexibility, like on the kitchen counter
  • Good for plugging in smaller electronics like small appliances, cell phones, and laptops
  • Most affordable level of quality surge protection
  • Additional outlets to power or charge your devices

If you're interested in an efficient surge protector in this Joule range, check out our compact on-wall surge protector. It even has USB ports to charge your phone or tablet.

1000-1999 Joules - Thunderlips

Surge protection packs a punch like Thunderlips from Rocky

He’s a great fighter that packs plenty of punch, and I mean come on, it’s Hulk Hogan. Surge protectors in this range are very effective, but at the end of the day can’t quite take the electrical “punches” that Rocky can. Here’s what you get:

  • Great surge protection for plugging in appliances and other expensive electronics
  • A happy medium between price and surge protection in many different form factors
  • Expanded plug capacity so you can protect more devices with a single outlet

For mid-level Joule rating and expanded outlet capacity, we’ve got 2 on-wall options. One has 6 rotating AC plugs, while the other has 4 rotating AC plugs and 2 USB outlets.

If you're looking for a surge protector in this range that doesn't need to be on the wall, check out our desktop power station, fully equipped with a phone stand plus AC & USB ports.

2000+ Joules - Rocky

For surge protection that can take punches like Rocky, choose ECHOGEAR

If you buy something with over 2000 Joules, then congrats, you've purchased the Rocky of surge protectors. In other words: “(Surge protection) is about how hard you can get hit and keep (protecting electronics). How much you can take and keep (absorbing surge). That's how (surge protection) is done!

If you are protecting expensive devices and want the longest lasting surge, choose this Joule level. The details:

  • Best option for all electronics, particularly expensive home theater systems
  • Provides maximum protection, while providing additional outlets
  • Usually in power strip form, and can lay flat on the ground to conceal cables
  • Can be harder to fit into smaller form factors, so not ideal for the kitchen counter

For the highest Joule rating and most lines of protection (you’ll learn about that if you keep reading), try our 8-outlet surge protection power strip.

In the end, the question of how many Joules you need really depends on what you want to protect and where you live. Think of surge protection ratings as a warranty for your electronics. If you are plugging in a $5k home theater system or home office, get more Joules. If you are plugging in smaller ticket items, fewer Joules will do just fine. Good surge products come with connected equipment warranties, so they literally can be an insurance policy for your gear against surge damage. Where you live will determine the risk for electrical surges. Most surges occur during storms, so if you often experience thunderstorms or hurricanes, make sure to protect all your valuable electronics. If you live in an area with an unstable electrical grid, surges, spikes, and sags can happen at any time, no storms required.

Also, think about where in your home you will be placing your surge protector. If it is in a high visibility area, consider a more compact option. Let’s just say that a 2000+ Joule surge protection power strip probably won’t look great on your new granite countertops.

However, Joules aren’t the only thing to consider when purchasing a surge protector, there are 4 other factors to consider.

Clamping Voltage

You can have all the Joules in the world, but if your clamping voltage is too high, you could still get surge damage. Clamping voltage refers to the amount of voltage that will cause your surge protection to kick in. Lower clamping voltage = better surge protection. High clamping voltage is like having a drunk guy on guard duty. By the time he realizes there is an intruder, it might be too late. As an easy way to determine clamping voltage, make sure what you buy is UL listed, which basically means a 3rd party has tested & verified a product to be safe. A UL listing ensures 500V or lower clamping voltage, which will do the trick. All ECHOGEAR surge products are UL listed, so you can trust that our clamping voltage is more like a guy that drank too much coffee. Very alert, and ready to protect your stuff from surges.

Lines of Protection

These bad boys are the pathways to divert extra surge away from your equipment. Cheap surge protectors will have one line of protection, which could cause a problem when large surges happen. With multiple lines of protection (3 is ideal), the extra voltage can be handled quicker, protecting your stuff better. An easy way to think of it is driving in rush hour traffic with 1 open lane vs 3 open lanes. Remember, smaller surge protectors will usually only have one line because of space limitations, so if you need 3 lines, look into the larger Joule rated products.

MOV Fireproofing

Fireproof surge protection components keep your home safe

On the inside of a surge protector, MOVs (Metal Oxide Varistors) are the punching bag that absorbs extra voltage before it is diverted away from your gear. In the event of a huge power surge or spike, voltage overload could start an electrical fire, even if you have surge protection. Check to make sure that your MOVs are fireproof, for the ultimate in surge protection. Nothing would be more depressing than a burned down house because you wanted to save a few dollars on your surge product. ECHOGEAR surge protectors have MOVs that are encased in ceramic, so no matter the amount of surge, you don’t have to worry about starting a fire. In the immortal words of Mr. Billy Joel, “We didn’t start the fire”.

EMI/RFI Noise Filtering

ECHOGEAR surge protectors filter harmful signals from your power

I don’t know how to tell you this, but you have dirty power. Appliances in homes produce electromagnetic interference in the power supply, which harms the longevity of your devices. On top of this, cell towers & radios produce radio frequency interference to make power even dirtier. If your surge protector is equipped with EMI/RFI noise filtering, power is cleaned up before it reaches devices, extending the life of your gear. While surge protection guards electronics during dangerous surges, noise filtering is constantly safeguarding your stuff from dirty power.

To wrap it up, the number of Joules you need from a surge protector depends on what you are protecting, where you live, and how long you want it to last. To get the best protection for both your electronics and entire home, consider the clamping voltage, lines of protection, fireproof MOVs, and noise filtering capabilities of surge protectors.

ECHOGEAR surge protectors are UL listed and pack many of the premium features above at different Joule ratings. See our entire lineup here.

Do you have any more questions about surge protection? Or maybe you just want more boxing analogies? Let us know by commenting below.