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These APC units have great quality and a very reasonable price which adds up to excellent value
on October 7, 2016
For the non-techies, buying a surge suppressor is a very confusing process. The marketing departments want you to focus on the huge print telling you that their device is so good that they include a $100,000 !!! insurance protection for any device damaged by a surge. But don't be surprised when you find out that there are so many strings attached, you'd be lucky to end up with a refund on their surge suppressor. Instead, focus on a few basic technical specs and you will save yourself a lot of up front money and, therefore, be able to buy more surge suppressors to protect more of your equipment. By the way, I do not work for nor have I ever worked for or been associated with APC, I've just worked with computers for my entire career :-)
First, MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT BUYING A SIMPLE POWER STRIP WITH A CIRCUIT BREAKER !! Many manufacturers carefully word-craft their descriptions to make it appear that you are getting surge protection. In fact, you are getting nothing more than a very expensive extension cord with a cheap circuit breaker that won't protect anything other than starting a fire and that's not guaranteed either.
Three technical specifications to watch when buying a surge suppressor: joules, response time and UL certification. Joules isn't a rating on protection from a single surge, it is a rating on how many surges the suppressor can handle. It's sort of a life expectancy rating. The experts recommend looking for at least 600 Joules. This APC suppressor gives you almost double that amount at 1,080 Joules.
Response time is also important. This determines how long your equipment will be exposed to the surge before the suppressor kicks in and clamps the voltage down. For this APC suppressor, the response time is a very respectable 1 nanosecond. That's tech speak for 1 billionth of a second. Surges take a few thousands of a second to reach their peak, so this response time should be more than adequate.
The UL certification standard for surge suppressors is UL 1449. UL provides safety related certifications, not performance related certifications. A UL certification basically means that the surge suppressor itself and the equipment connected to it are extremely unlikely to blow up and start a fire when it's hit with a surge.
Ignore "clamping voltage". For technical reasons, you really want to watch the "Let-Through Voltage". UL certification does include the specification for Let-Through Voltage with levels of 300, 400 and 500. This APC unit has a UL certification with a maximum Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor (TVSS) Let-Through Voltage of 300 volts, which is the best rating that UL provides for surge suppressors. Other manufacturers often make a big deal out of clamping voltage but avoid mentioning that their UL Let-Through Voltage is 400 or 500 volts.
Finally, a huge feature in a surge suppressor is a "Fail Safe" function. When a surge suppressor reaches it's maximum Joules rating it quits providing surge suppression. The question is, how do you know that has happened? Most surge suppressors have an green idiot light (LED) that shows that the unit is still providing surge suppression. If you happen to notice that this LED has gone dark then you're in luck. Most people don't. A Fail Safe feature shuts the surge suppressor down so it no longer passes current through to your equipment. So, if your fail safe unit quits providing surge suppression, your equipment shuts down and you know the instant the surge suppressor has reached its life span. Very few manufacturers include a fail safe protection, so you continue merrily on your way until your $1,000 television or laptop suddenly melts down during a thunderstorm. APC provides fail safe protection on all of their surge suppressors including this unit.
Remember, these are surge suppressors NOT lighting arresting devices. A lightning strike on the power line feeding your home can literally blow wall sockets out of the wall. No surge suppressor is going protect you from all lightning strikes. For that kind of protection, you will need an electrician and some sophisticated protection installed at the point where your electric lines enter your home. That's an entirely different level of protection and, as you can imagine, far more expensive than a surge suppressor.
I own a half-dozen of these APC units and I live in Florida (lighting capital of America :-) For the price, I don't think you can beat this particular unit for everyday protection. These units have great quality and a very reasonable price which adds up to excellent value.