Surge protectors regulate the supply of voltage to electric devices. They protect from spikes or surges of electric energy which may be damaging to equipment connected to an electrical supply such as computers, televisions, telephones, and stereo equipment. Many surge protectors are available with multiple outlets upon one surge protection strip for connection of several devices. Surge protectors are particularly useful during electrical storms and prevent burnout of many high cost household appliances and devices once extremely vulnerable to such voltage spikes.
Poorly constructed surge protectors pose a significant fire, shock, or electrocution hazard risk, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In the five years spanning from 1994 to 1999, the CPSC recalled over 2 million cords, surge protectors, and power strips due to faulty wiring or components, undersized wiring, loose connections, or improper grounding. Most of the recalled items were sold at discount stores and made in China. Many had counterfeit Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification labels, leading consumers to believe the surge protectors had been approved for safe use in the U.S.
Some examples of surge protectors recalled in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to documented injury, household property damage, or extreme potential for such risk through standard use by consumers are:
Some examples of surge protector general failure include:
According to the CPSC, 72 percent of sampled surge protectors from 83 different sales locations across the country failed to meet basic safety certification standards issued by the Underwriters Laboratories. In 1996, 7,100 fires, 120 deaths, 12,000 emergency room visits, and 2,500 general medical treatments were associated with faulty extension cords and surge protectors.