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Your Guide to Buying Power Strips

Updated on November 06, 2014

You can control entire groups of electronics by plugging them into a central hub like a power strip. This allows multiple items to be turned off at once so you don't forget anything. Televisions, DVD players, and gaming consoles can all be turned off with the flip of a single switch. A single power strip can also be used to handle a counter full of small kitchen appliances, home office equipment or components of your entertainment system.

Power strips can be used in nearly every room in the house so you don't have to continually pull all of the electrical plugs to fight off phantom loads. In the last few years, several new types of power strip have been designed. Unfortunately, that can lead to confusion about which type is best for your needs. Don't worry, we've got you covered. This short guide gives you the basics of each variety and where they are best used.

Why Use a Surge Protector Strip

Easy to use

Cheap to purchase

Installs with a simple plug

Can be used with most household appliances

Protects your electronics from power surges


Surge Protector – the typical power switch surge protecting strip that is common in most households. These strips protect against uneven power delivery to your electronics but can only turn appliances off and on in batch mode (either all of them are on or none of them are on).

Masterless power strip – a masterless switch turns off when all of the appliances connected to it are turned to the off position. These strips should be used when you have several similar drawing appliances in one place. If you have a large appliance hooked to a strip with a bunch of low drawing ones, turning off the major appliance might confuse the strip and shut off power to all of the other devices.

Master controlled power strip – the master strip will have a designated master control port. When the device plugged into this port is turned off the strip will automatically shut down all of the other items plugged into it. This is a good option for home offices and entertainment centers where the television or computer can be plugged into the master slot.

Remote-controlled power strip – as the name suggests, this power strip is controlled by a remote. It's a great choice if you can avoid losing the remote.

Motion detector power strip – these activity monitor strips are useful in areas like the bathroom where people aren't apt to sit around. They can become annoying in a family room or on an entertainment center when they shut off a movie or video game system because no movement was detected for a short period of time.

Timer power strip – if you have a set schedule, this is the power strip for you. It will automatically turn off the power to your devices at the set time, every time. If you like to charge your phone, laptop or other handheld devices when you go to bed, this strip can turn them off at 2 am without disturbing your sleep.

As is often the case with energy efficiency, the best option may be to employ different power strips in different areas of your home. While the initial cost will outweigh the energy costs for the first few years that they are employed, power strips will quickly pay for themselves and result in net savings. How fast that happens will depend on how many, and what type, of electronics you use on a daily basis. For more energy saving tips check out your home's hidden energy drains.

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