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In an age when all of our devices are rapidly becoming “smart,” some devices are an obvious and observable upgrade to their traditional, not-so-smart counterparts. There can be a noticeable evolutionary jump that’s plain to see in the smarter version, with new features that take the tedious tasks off of you, and expand your options for easily integrating the device into your life. Think about your first smartphone versus the flip-phone before it. Or your digital thermostat compared to the analog one your parents told you never to touch. The difference is night and day, hot and cold.
But while the smart devices that get all the glory are front and center, others that work behind the scenes sometimes tend to be forgotten. Surge protectors — the thing all your other devices plug into and protects them from getting fried — are a prime example. You probably purchased one forever ago, and don’t think about it until there’s a problem or you’re dusting behind your desk. But surge protectors have smartened up too, and now offer way more than just a place to plug in.
So what makes a smart surge protector smart?
Besides the conventional AC ports you’d expect with any power strip, the best smart power strips tend to offer more options to integrate into your home and lifestyle. Most feature at least a few different types of USB ports for charging your smartphone and other devices, and have built in WiFi connectivity. Once your wireless connection is set up, this is where the possibilities expand exponentially. Power can be turned on and off remotely – from anywhere – right from an app. You can also easily set your devices and lights on a timer while you’re halfway around the world, or start the coffeemaker while you’re still in bed.
There are more safety features as well, including advanced protection technology from leakage, and an automatic shutoff switch when it senses overheating or short-circuiting. A good strip will basically sacrifice itself to save your devices from a power surge or lightning strike. It’ll also dissipate heat faster, and suppress more energy than traditional strips. Plus you can knock down your electric bill by reducing the waste of standby-power.
Ready to spring for some smart strips? We’ve picked our four favorites here to help you smarten up your electronics and your entire home.
1. POWRUI Smart Power Strip With 4-Outlet Extender
Bring on the elements. This squid-looking strip is made for either indoors or outdoors, and ready to brave heat and cold, rain or shine, handling temperatures from -104°F to 104°F. It’s also earned an IP44 weatherproof rating, meaning it can handle water spraying and splashing from every direction. It’s ideal for outdoor holiday lights, patios, decks, and garage-based electronic devices.
It’s also super-easy to set up via WiFi, and works on a 2.4GHz network. Each outlet can be individually controlled by voice-command with Alexa or Google Assistant, and offers surge protection up to 1080 Joules.
2. Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip
Kasa offers their own app to not only control each outlet (say, to turn on your lights before you walk in the door), but also to monitor how much energy each plugged-in device is consuming. This is a feature that not many other strips seem to have, and can be extremely helpful when trying to cut down your monthly electric bill.
Another thoughtful design element is that the outlets are nicely spaced far enough apart to allow for bigger plugs, like an external hard drive, without overlapping onto the next outlet and making it inaccessible.
There’s also the option of voice-command using Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana, allowing you to have full control over your home’s lights, cameras, computers, and whatever you choose. The strip works securely on a 2.4Gz network and a solid WiFi connection, and offers 1,710 Joules of protection.
3. APC Smart Plug WiFi Power Strip
At 2,160 Joules of protection, APC offers the most of the bunch here to keep your expensive electronics safe. Fifteen amps of maximum current means that this can handle some hefty devices, like space heaters.
The APC app also has an excellent user interface, making it clear and simple when it comes to individually controlling each outlet. You can group them together by room, media type, or whatever category you choose, in order to control multiple devices at once. Same goes for the two smart USB ports (there are four in total).
A simple WiFi setup means no central smart hub is required. Just plug it in, and your device is instantly “smart.” You can link up multiple surge protectors too, allowing you to control several groups of devices simultaneously.
The outlets are well-spaced out, and voice control with Alexa is an option here, not only to operate each of the three smart outlets (six in total), but also flip the LED lights on and off as well.
4. HeyValue Smart Power Strip
HeyValue’s strip comes with their free “Smart Life” app, making it easy to control it from anywhere. Create a set schedule for your plugged-in appliances to turn on and off at certain times, without even needing to be home. Each outlet can be controlled individually when you name them on the app (the USB ports, however, all operate as one unit), and best of all, can be voice-controlled with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
This operates on the 2.4 GHz band, so be sure that your WiFi is on the same to make it work. It’s UL-certified, and ready to protect your appliances from overload, surges, leakage, and damage.