Power strip vs Surge Protectors

A power strip, extension cord and a surge protector are people’s go-to devices when they need extra outlets for powering their electronic devices. However, these three devices are a bit different from each other in some form or another.

They may look quite similar from the out, but there’s a lot more to them that does not match. Here in this article, we discuss Power Strip vs Surge Protector vs Extension Cord and try to show the basic difference between them.

Power Strip vs Surge Protector vs Extension Cord Comparison

Surge protector vs Power strip

A power strip allows you to connect multiple devices to a wall outlet at your home and is a great choice for those who are running out of outlets to power their electronics. Some power strips also come with a circuit breaker that protects the wiring from overload. However, with all these benefits the only downside of a power strip is that it does not protect your connected devices from power surges and excess voltage.

On the other hand, a surge protector not just lets you connect multiple devices to a single wall outlet but also protects all the connected devices from an electrical power surge. Also, unlike power strips, a surge protector comes in different form factors like wall mount surge protectors and single outlet surge protectors. Also, the surge protector comes with different joule ratings which tells how much energy they can absorb to protect your devices.

An extension cord as the name suggests is a power strip with extended cable length. It is mainly used for providing power to a device that is placed far off from an electrical socket. You can get an extension cord with a single outlet or multiple outlets depending upon your requirements. Similar to a power strip, most of the extension cord does not protect the connected devices from a power surge.

Note: Some surge protectors come with an extended cord length. So, you can call them Extension Cord Surge Protectors. These surge protectors are easily available online for purchase.

Overall, a surge protector may look similar to the normal power strip and extension power strip but it does more than just providing multiple outlets and extended cords. As it protects your expensive electronics from getting damaged due to power surges, what a normal power strip and extension cord can’t do.

How To Differentiate A Surge Protector From A Power Strip And Extension Cord?

Since they all look the same, a question may arise in your mind like when you are buying a surge protector how can you be sure that you are buying the right product and not the other. Well, there are some noticeable differences between a surge protector and a power strip that can help you distinguish them. And the differences are as follows.

1. Joules Ratings

Surge protectors are rated with joules rating, which tells how much energy they can absorb to protect your devices against the powerful electrical surge. When buying a surge suppressor from the online or offline store do look for the advertised joules rating to confirm that it is a surge protector and not a power strip.

2. Protected And Grounded Indicators

Surge protectors have indicators that tell you whether it is working fine or not. Generally, you can see protected and grounded LED indicators on a surge protector, in some cases, there is only the protected indicator. However, these indicators are not present on a normal power strip which distinguishes them from a surge protector power strip.

3. Price

The price of a surge protector is generally more than that of a power strip. While you can get a power strip under $10, you’ll have to spend around $20 to get a decent multi-outlet surge protector. The price difference is due to the components used in the surge protector which are not present in the power strips such as metal oxide varistors (MOVs).

4. Cord Length

As discussed above, if a power strip has a long cord length then it is known as an extension cord for electronic devices. However, as some extension cord comes with surge protection then they fall under surge protectors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I plug power strips or extension cord into a surge protector?

The answer is both Yes and NO. You can plug a power strip or extension cord into a surge protector to provide protection to all your electronics provided you do not overload the surge protector. Ideally, you should not create a chain of power cords rather you should invest in a surge protector that has enough outlets and a cord length of your need.

2. What’s the difference between a power strip with a circuit breaker and Surge Protector?

People tend to believe that a power strip with a circuit breaker and a surge protector are the same as they both protect our devices. While it’s true that both a circuit breaker power strip and surge protector are there to save our electrical appliance but they both are not the same.

A power strip with a circuit breaker trips or breaks the circuit when more than the recommended amount of current starts following through it and prevents overheating in the wires. Though it does save the wires from catching fire, it does not protect our electronic devices from power spike. And hence they both are not the same.


We are now surrounded by more electronic gadgets than ever before and that’s what makes us lookout for power strips and surge protectors. If you just want an extended power cable or multiple outlets then a power strip or extension cord will do the job for you. However, if you want to protect your connected device against voltage surge then only a surge protector can help you.