A lightning bolt against a cloudy sky.
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Power surges are rare but potentially devastating events. In addition to damaging large electrical appliances, your smartphone could be at risk from a power surge too. So should you buy a surge protector for charging over USB?

A Surge Protector Provides a Decent Defense

Your smartphone or any USB chargeable device may be at risk of surge damage unless it is adequately protected. Adding a surge protector to your power chain certainly can’t hurt, especially one that is built into a power bank that can protect multiple devices

There are plenty of examples of smartphones and tablets being damaged by power surges on the internet, and there are even portable “travel” surge protectors you can use to protect your devices while you’re on the move like this Belkin Wall Mount Surge Protector with three AC ports and two USB ports.

Compact Surge Protector

Belkin Wall Mount Surge Protector

This surge protector allows you to avoid cord messes and potential damage.

It’s not a good idea to plug one surge protector into another, since this may interfere with the surge protection abilities of each device. You also won’t be adding any more protection beyond redundancy (the surge protector with the lowest voltage threshold will do most of the work, with the second providing redundancy).

You Don’t “Need” A Surge Protector

You don’t need a surge protector in the same way that you don’t need device backups or a case for your smartphone. Most people still choose to back up their devices and protect against physical damage, since these things provide added peace of mind.

The same is true of a surge protector, with the caveat that where you live can change the odds of a power surge by a fair amount. If you get a lot of electrical storms, lightning may cause a devastating power surge that can knock your whole house out. At the same time, malfunctioning electrical equipment on the grid can put anyone at risk of a surge that can do serious damage to unprotected devices.

If you’re concerned about power surges, a whole home surge protector like the Siemens FS140 will protect everything plugged into any outlet in your house for only a few hundred dollars. If you can’t install such a device on the mains, cheaper power strip surge protectors can still save your devices.

The fact remains that power surge events can be extremely rare. Many have never experienced one, while others have lost whole homes’ worth of expensive electrical gear, from fridges and computers to their smartphones and tablets.

Unplug During Storms, Too

If you don’t have a surge protector (and even if you do and you’re short on outlets), you can still take the simple step of not plugging your devices into the wall during a potential surge event.

The most common of these is an electrical storm, so make sure you keep one eye on the weather and maybe invest in a few USB battery banks for emergency charging.

The Best Surge Protectors

Assured Charging Power
Best Overall
Witeem Surge Protector
Easy on the Wallet
Best Budget
SUPERDANNY Surge Protector
High-Ground Convenience
Most Compact Design
Belkin Wall Mount Surge Protector
Great for the Office
Most Rugged Design
CRST Heavy-Duty Surge Protector
Highly Organized Convenience
Most Versatile
Belkin Power Strip Surge Protector
Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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