Our laptops are a huge part of our lives. We use them for work, entertainment, and communicating with friends and family. We also end up storing a lot of files on our laptops – like family photos and work documents – that we won’t want to lose. A lightning strike nearby is enough to trip all the breakers on your panel.

Laptops have become pretty sophisticated when it comes to protecting themselves, especially when it comes to power surges. Surge protectors contain what is called a metal oxide varistor.

Whenever current comes through the line that exceeds what it’s supposed to be, that extra current is diverted into the metal oxide varistor, essentially sacrificing itself to save whatever equipment is connected to the surge protector.

So is your laptop protected from power surges as soon as you plug it in?

Are Laptops Protected From Power Surges?

Laptops typically have built-in surge protectors which provide them with some degree of protection from power surges. However, it’s very small compared to buying your own surge protector, which will do much more to protect your laptop from a powerful surge. 

Power surges are rare but if a large one happens due to faulty wiring, a lightning strike, or something else, your laptop will stand a much better chance of avoiding serious damage if it is connected to an external surge protector.

Most laptop manufacturers highly recommend the use of a surge protector whenever you plug your laptop in to charge. At the end of the day, you have everything to lose by not adding a surge protector and everything to gain. 

Some people mistakenly think the large power brick that comes with most laptop power cables is a surge protector. It’s not. It may provide a small level of protection but a very strong surge or lightning strike will fry it, along with your laptop. The main purpose of the power brick is to supply power to the laptop.

Laptops aren’t the cheapest devices in the world and if enough juice comes through the line to overcome the built-in surge protector, you will now have an expensive paperweight sitting in your lap instead of a nice laptop. 

It’s especially important for you to add a surge protector if your laptop is your main source of income or even a passive source of income. You can lose a lot more than just your laptop for not being extra cautious. 

The best thing you can do is make sure your laptop has plenty of juice and unplug it during a lightning storm. Of course, not all power surges are caused by freak storms but most of them are.

How Much is Needed to Protect a Laptop From A Power Surge?

Surge protectors with a joule rating above 1,000 will provide the most efficient protection for your laptop. The built-in surge protector is probably rated for 400 joules. That’s probably okay under most circumstances but it’s not going to cut it if lightning strikes nearby. 

A thousand joules should be more than enough to protect your laptop from any eventuality involving sudden power surges.

Related Article: Are Laptops Faster Than Phones? (Explained)

What to Look for in a Good Surge Protector

Not all surge protectors are created equally. Some people easily confuse a surge protector with a panel that simply provides several more outlets. There are a few things you should look for to determine whether or not a surge protector is worth your hard-earned cash. 

  • ANSI/UL 1449
  • Solid warranty
  • Clamping Voltage
  • Absorption Rating

The ANSI rating is a testing protocol, which means that the surge protector in question has been thoroughly tested to meet industry qualifications. The absorption rating is what we discussed above, in terms of how many joules the surge protector can overcome while protecting your equipment. 

When it comes to clamping voltage, you want the lowest you can find. Clamping voltage is the amount of voltage required to activate the surge protector. The lower the better because you don’t want any excess voltage coming through. 

Last but not least, you want a solid warranty on it. This helps protect your device more than your surge protector. If the surge protector is being used and your device is destroyed anyway, the company will have to cover the damages.

Bottom Line

Strong surges can easily damage a laptop’s battery, power supply, and internal components, such as the GPU, CPU, memory, motherboard, and more.

While laptops do contain built-in surge protectors, it’s often not enough, especially if it comes to something like a lightning strike or a toaster being knocked into a sink full of water.

It’s best to get an additional surge protector because two are always better than one. A laptop is a substantial investment, especially if it’s your livelihood. Protect it at all costs.
A surge protector like the Panamax Power360 Wall Tap/Charging Station is a good choice as it uses resettable circuit breakers and can auto-sense under and over-voltage.