The best travel-size surge protector is the ~$16 Accell Home or Away surge protector. Its compact size, outlet placement and powerful, full-sized-tablet-ready built-in USB charger make it the most convenient and well-designed mini surge protector.
Why a Mini Surge Protector?
Whether you’re jostling for one of the few available outlets at an airport or in a tiny hotel room, wall sockets are often at a premium when traveling. Having a mini surge protector on you can mean the difference between enjoying fully charged devices or trying to stretch the last 10% of your battery over an hours-long flight.
What Makes a Good Mini Surge Protector
Most importantly, a mini surge protector needs to be, well, mini. It should be easy to pack in a small bag or carry-on. Ideally, the plug should retract or fold in when not in use. This not only makes it easier to fit into smaller pockets but also makes the plug less likely to catch on or scratch other items in your bag.
You should be able to plug in all of your devices without blocking adjoining outlets, regardless of plug shape or size.
Outlets should be spaced out, not placed right next to each other. You should be able to plug in all of your devices without blocking adjoining outlets, regardless of plug shape or size. High-output (at least 2.1 A) USB ports are essential for charging smartphones and tablets quickly. Exactly how many outlets you need will vary from person to person, but two or three AC outlets and two USB ports should be enough to satisfy the needs of most while keeping the surges to a travel-friendly size.
Finally, it should provide peace of mind that gadgets plugged into it are adequately protected. A power surge may last less than a second, but that is more than enough time to destroy your devices. The best way to tell how much protection you’re getting from a surge suppressor is to look at the Joules rating.
“The higher the surge protection rating, the more energy it can absorb, so the better it is,” explained Richard Baguley, who designs tests for us and Reviewed.com. “Joules is an energy measure, so the number indicates how much energy the device can shunt away from your electrics before it blows, leaving your electrics unprotected.”
So how many joules do you really need? To some extent, this will depend on how many and what types of devices you are trying to protect. The mini surge protectors we looked at had joules ratings ranging from 612 to 1,050. Full-sized power strip surge protectors, on the other hand, can have joules ratings up to 3,000 or higher. All that said, anything above 600 is enough for most people’s needs. And, considering the surge protectors we tested will have a maximum of five connected devices at once, all of our models offer more than adequate surge protection for the laptops, tablets and handsets most people will use them for.
Given that we rely on surge suppressors to protect our most valuable devices, a surge protector should guarantee surge protection by offering a warranty covering connected devices should the surge protector fail or malfunction. These warranties vary, but the brands we looked at had warranties covering connected devices ranging from $75,000-$100,000.