A power strip is an adapter you plug in to extend the electricity from a single wall outlet to a series of outlets. With a power strip, you can channel electricity to a multitude of devices, tools, and appliances with just one electrical outlet. However, you should never plug a high power capacity device or appliance, like an air conditioner, a refrigerator, or an electric space heater into a power strip unless it is specifically rated for this purpose since these devices can overload a power strip. To ensure your safety, always use a power strip according to the manufacturer’s directions.
The right power strip for you depends on how you want to use it, where you want to use it, and the features you want it to have, such as a heavy-duty frame, surge protection, and even smart home compatibility. The products below were selected as some of the best power strips on the market, according to value, efficacy, and product satisfaction.
- BEST OVERALL: APC Surge Protector with Phone, Network Ethernet
- RUNNER-UP: AmazonBasics 6-Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip
- BEST FOR OUTDOORS: POWRUI Outdoor Smart Plug, Surge Protector
- BEST SMART: APC Smart Plug Wi-Fi Power Strip with USB Ports
- BEST PORTABLE: POWERADD Travel Power Strip 5 Outlet Surge Protector
- BEST FOR POWER TOOLS: BESTTEN 8-Outlet Metal Power Strip
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Power Strip
Before choosing the best power strip for your needs, think about how and where you plan to use it, as well as the important factors below.
The right power strip for your needs depends heavily on how it will be used and which devices or equipment being plugged into it.
- Power tools need a rugged power strip with wide spacing between the outlets so larger plugs will not block adjacent outlets. These power strips also typically have a metal frame to protect them from impact damage and a higher power capacity so you can use them with larger appliances that could overload a regular power strip.
- Office equipment requires a power strip with multiple specialty outlets for a variety of devices, including modem outlets, USB outlets, and coaxial connections. These power strips will also normally come equipped with built-in surge protection to keep your office equipment safe.
- Household appliances can use simple power strips. Keep in mind that although many residential-use power strips have surge protection capability, they are not intended for high power capacity appliances or devices.
- Multimedia and smart devices need a surge-protected power strip because the sensitive electronics inside these devices can be easily damaged by a power surge. Power strips with multiple USB outlets and smart home compatibility are an ideal option for your smart devices.
- Outdoor equipment requires a power strip that is weather-resistant, temperature-resistant, impact-resistant, and offers surge protection to ensure you can power your devices without the risk of damage. However, larger garden tools, like a lawnmower or a snowblower, may not be suitable for all outdoor power strips.
Number of Outlets
The number of outlets you need in a power strip depends on both how many and what type of devices you want to plug into it. Remember that you should not plug high power capacity devices into power strips, regardless of the number of outlets.
Power strips can have as few as two outlets to more than 20. These outlets can be standard power outlets, USB outlets, USB-C outlets, wide-spaced outlets intended for larger adapters, and specialty connections like ethernet or coaxial connections. The number and configuration of outlets is mostly a personal preference; however, consider that as you increase the number of outlets, you also increase the size of the power strip. So, if space is an issue, then you may want a power strip with fewer outlets and a more narrow profile.
Length and Configuration
Length and configuration refer to the length of the cord and the type of outlets in the power strip.
- Cord length is always an important consideration because even if you don’t need a very long power cord, you want to strike a balance between purchasing a cord long enough for your purposes but not so long that it bundles up into an untidy mess. Cord length typically ranges from less than a foot to more than 20 feet, though the average length is approximately 6 feet.
- Outlet type is another factor to consider before you purchase a new power strip. You may prefer a product that only has standard outlets, or you may want USB outlets to make it easier to charge your smartphone, headphones, and other USB devices. Another option is a power strip with outlets that are compatible with smart home systems like Amazon Alexa so you can set up timers, turn the electrical outlet off from anywhere via an app, or control the power flowing to the strip through voice control.
In our technologically advanced society, many devices and appliances embedded with complex electrical systems are very sensitive to power surges, so surge protection is a feature of a power strip nearly everyone needs. Power surges typically occur when storms down electrical lines, and the power company attempts to reroute power or address power demands. These changes can create inconsistent power flow fluctuations, resulting in a power surge.
Surge protection—also referred to as the surge suppression rating of a power strip—is measured in joules (J) and normally varies, depending on the product, from as low as 100 J to higher than 4,000 J. When using a power strip for expensive or sensitive devices, it is important to invest in a power strip with a high surge suppression rating.
A standard power strip will allow you to run electricity to multiple devices, typically via an on/off switch. Smart power strips function similarly, but they can also connect with compatible smart home systems, like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, usually through a WiFi connection.
Once you connect the smart power strip to your smart home system, you can control the electrical supply to the paired devices through either voice control or a smartphone app. Some power strips even allow you to set up timers or schedules so your devices will automatically turn on or off.
While power strips don’t seem very dangerous, you can trip over the cord, electrocute yourself, or even start a fire if you use them improperly. To help protect you and your property, power strip manufacturers sometimes include safety features like full-metal housing, an internal circuit breaker, or ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Full-metal housing is especially useful in construction environments where impact damage is a regular risk. These power strips are made with a durable metal casing to protect the outlets, cables, and internal connections from damage, including a potential fire or short-circuiting of the power strip.
- Internal circuit breakers are designed to automatically turn off the power strip in the case of a dangerous system overload to help prevent damage to your electrical system.
- Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are typically installed in outlets in areas where water is a hazard. If a piece of electrical equipment comes into contact with water, a GFCI automatically cuts electricity to the outlet if it detects a short circuit to protect you from injury—and even death—from a dangerous electrical shock.
Our Top Picks
These top-rated products were chosen for quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best power strip for your overcrowded outlets.
This power strip is an ideal option for your office because it features multiple specialty connections to keep your equipment safe from power surges up to 3,020 J. It features 11 standard electrical outlets, including six that have wide spacing for larger adapters. You can also plug in your phone, fax, modem, or DSL line into one of three analog phone line connections; connect your network line with the two ethernet ports, and use the two coaxial cable connections for CATV, SATV, or a cable modem.
The power strip is equipped with an 8-foot power cord that has a versatile right-angle plug that swivels 180 degrees, giving you a range of options for connection and placement. It also features sliding safety shutters on the electrical outlets to protect your children and pets, as well as a built-in faulty wiring indicator so you can pinpoint potentially dangerous wiring problems in the wall circuitry.
If you need an economical power strip for a table lamp, a toaster, or another low power capacity appliance or device, then the AmazonBasics 6-Outlet Surge Protector Power Strip is an effective option at a very affordable price. The 6-foot power cord provides the flexibility to use the power strip where you need it. Choose between black or white to match or blend the power strip with your decor.
This power strip features six standard electrical outlets, including one wide-spaced outlet for use with large power adapters. In addition, each strip offers a pair of USB ports, along with two red lights indicate if the power strip is on and when the outlets are surge protected up to 790 J. If the red light indicator for the surge protection no longer illuminates while the power strip is on, then it is necessary to purchase a new power strip.
To increase the number of available outdoor outlets, consider this outdoor power strip that offers four electrical outlets and a short, 6-inch power cord. The power strip is designed to withstand wet or damp conditions and features built-in surge protection up to 1,080 J. It also provides extreme temperature resistance to both very hot (104°F) and very cold (-104°F) temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor use.
You can also pair this power strip with compatible smart home systems, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Via voice control or an app, set a schedule for your outdoor devices, or create an IFTTT (If This Then That) program so your devices automatically activate based on your preferences instead of having to walk outside and turn them on or off.
If you want a power strip you can control through your voice or a smartphone app, then this smart power strip is a strong option with its three smart electrical outlets and two smart USB outlets. It also features three standard electrical outlets and two standard USB outlets, giving you a range of connection and control options for your devices.
This power strip provides a cord length of 18-inches and power surge protection up to 2,160 J. Use the smartphone app to create schedules for your power strip so the lights, television, and other devices you have plugged in can be automatically turned on or off. With additional power strips, you can set up several groups of devices in the APC Home app for complete control over a maximum of six smart power strips.
Take this compact, portable power strip with you and keep your devices protected from surges with its surge suppression rating of 900 J. The donut shape of the power strip allows you to fit more outlets into a compact area so you aren’t struggling to fit it into your bag or purse. It includes a retractable 3.3-foot power cord that winds up inside the power strip itself for convenient storage and transportation.
The power strip offers five standard electrical outlets, two standard USB outlets, and one USB-C outlet so you can charge a variety of devices. The USB outlets feature smart IC—a system that detects the type of battery and optimizes charging so your devices are ready to go in a hurry. This power strip also features a fire-resistant shell and rubber feet on the bottom to prevent slipping.
One location in your home that almost always requires a heavy-duty power strip is the workshop, or even just the garage. Typically, these spots may have only one or two electrical outlets, which may not be enough for all of your tools or equipment. The BESTTEN 8-Outlet Metal Power Strip enhances your workshop or garage with a power strip equipped with a 12-foot extension cord and eight standard electrical outlets, including three wide-spaced outlets for larger power adapters.
The all-metal frame of this power strip protects it from impact damage, and it also features a built-in cord management system and a hanging hook so you can neatly roll up the cord and hang it on the wall when it is not in use. The power strip includes a built-in circuit breaker to help prevent fire or other damage that can occur with a dangerous overload, and an illuminated on/off switch with a transparent guard to prevent the power from accidentally being turned on or off.
FAQs About Your New Power Strip
Take a look below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about power strips.
Q. Are power strips dangerous?
If you use a power strip properly, it can actually reduce the risk of electrical fire by providing a safe place to plug in additional accessories. However, if you misuse a power strip, either by overloading it, using it for appliances it’s not rated for, or linking multiple power strips together (called daisy-chaining), then it can become a danger.
Q. What should you never plug into a power strip?
You should never plug high power capacity appliances, such as electric space heaters, refrigerators, microwaves, toaster ovens, and air conditioners, into a power strip.
Q. Is it dangerous to daisy chain power strips?
Daisy-chaining power strips means to link multiple power strips together in a series that connects back to a single electrical outlet. This is a big concern for fire-fighting professionals because daisy-chained power strip connections will almost invariably lead to an overloaded power strip that heats up until it burns out or catches fire.
Q. Why do power strips catch fire?
If you overload an electrical outlet, or the power strip itself, by plugging in multiple devices that draw too much electricity, like an air conditioner or an electric heater, the power strip can experience excess heat until it sparks a fire.
Q. How long do power strips last?
While there is some discrepancy between specific products, on average, you should replace a power strip after two years. However, they can last between three to five years if properly maintained.