Surge Protection

Is buying a surge protector necessary? I am considering it, as I will be traveling with a laptop and obviously cannot afford to have it damaged or fried completely, but I'm wondering if buying a surge protector is overkill? It's $50 that I'd much rather spend in Europe than on a travel gizmo. Advice?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Michelle, DO NOT buy a Surge Suppressor designed for use on North American electrical systems! It will self-destruct as soon as you connect it in Europe, possibly with a spectacular display of sparks and smoke. If you're really concerned about voltage spikes, Magellans offers a European Surge Suppressor for $52.50. I've never bothered with one for trips to Europe, as the electrical systems are for the most part, as stable as in North America. If you were travelling in "third world" countries, the situation would be different. Happy travels!

Posted by Michelle
Huntington Beach
33 posts

Thanks Ken... if you happen to see this post. That is the device I am referring to - the European Surge Protector from Magellen's for $52.50. I just wasn't sure if it was necessary. I don't use a surge protector here in the US, but I have not traveled in Europe for almost a decade, and at that time I did not take a laptop with me.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2386 posts

If you don't use a surge protector here, there certainly is no reason to use one there. Surges are most likely to happen when there are electrical storms or brown-outs due to excessive power demands (like during heat waves). Avoid pluging things in then and you have even less to worry about.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

Don't know where you are going, so having a surge protector may be overkill. Have lived in Germany for almost 26 years and have never had the electricity go out or even had it flicker. Other countries may have problems with this, but since most of Europe is using direct current rather than alternating, this means surges probably aren't common.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

It'd be odd to get a suge during a brown-out which is caused by dropping voltage.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Michelle, "I have not traveled in Europe for almost a decade, and at that time I did not take a laptop with me" In the last decade, I suspect the European electrical system has become more stable and reliable, so I wouldn't be too worried. Spikes can occur on any system due to switching, lightning, equipment failure or other reasons, but the same is also true here. If I was living in Europe I'd use Surge Protectors (as I do here). However when travelling, my gadgets are only connected to the power system for short periods of time, so I'm not too concerned. I travel with a wide variety of electronic equipment, including a Netbook, Cameras, Cellphone and GPS, and I've never had any problems using them without Surge Protection. @Jo, "Other countries may have problems with this, but since most of Europe is using direct current rather than alternating, this means surges probably aren't common." I assume you're referring to High Voltage DC Transmission systems? Having worked for the power company for over 40 years, I've found that surges can occur with those also. They're typically used for transmission of large blocks of power from one location to another. The power eventually has to be converted back to AC and synchronized with the existing transmission and distribution systems for delivery to customers. The comment from Ed regarding "brownouts is correct. A brownout usually refers to a low voltage condition, which is often caused by too much load in relation to the amount of generation available. If the voltage falls below the lower level that equipment is designed for, damage can occur. One benefit of incandescent lights, is that they act as a warning of low voltage conditions to some extent. I use a UPS with surge suppression on critical equipment at home. That covers all the bases.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1156 posts

I have one of these that I ordered from China on e-Bay a couple of years ago (from a different merchant): http://www.ebay.com/itm/Universal-Plug-Travel-Adaptor-Surge-Protector-AC-Power-/180787759731?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a17ca4a73 Mine is exactly the same model. I don't count on it being particularly effective as a surge protector, but I find it very useful to use for my 3-prong netbook. I agree with Ken. We have also invested in a heavy-duty, UPS / surge protector for our home network.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2386 posts

"It'd be odd to get a suge during a brown-out which is caused by dropping voltage." Anytime the current level goes up or down, it poses a risk to your sensitive electronics. And while a brownout means current goes down, it must come back up and there is a risk of surges when it does.

Posted by Jean
Darmstadt
4 posts

I am moving to Darmstadt in a few days, all of the appliances I am bringing are dual voltage and input 100-240v US. I am looking for a surge protector, would a 220V us surge protector work with an adapter? or would I be better off getting a german surge protector with us outlets on it? please help!