Tripp Lite’s Isobar surge protectors are designed for general home and office use, but I find that they offer some nice benefits for the workshop environment as well.
They have metal enclosures.
Long power cords.
High energy surge protection.
Several power strip options.
I recently ordered three of these surge protectors, and thus far I’m fairly happy with them. I am now using a 4-outlet unit, an 8-outlet unit, and a 6-outlet plastic desktop/benchtop/under monitor unit. The benchtop unit has two USB charging ports on the front, as well as individual power button controls for 4 of the outlets.
Power surges do happen, which is why I generally prefer using surge protectors instead of simpler and cheaper power strips. Plus, I like that most have circuit breakers built-in. In case of an overcurrent event, it’s better for the surge protector’s breaker to trip than the one in the junction box.
I used to be a fan of Belkin surge protectors – and still am – but with my recent purchase I felt Tripp Lite offered many more options that are suitable for tool and workshop use.
Some of the Isobar products include an 8-outlet protector with 25-foot cord, another 8-outlet model with remote on/off switch, direct plug-in outlets, and several other 2-, 4-, 6-, and 8-outlet models.
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Is there another brand of surge protectors or power strips that you recommend? Please let us know!
Alan S. Blue
A couple of days ago, you were talking about a ‘mobile emergency stop’.
Plenty of space to hack a nice accessible stop switch onto -this- power strip. (Going by an older disassembled one I have.) Still only a ‘switch’, not a safety emergency toggle, but it would seem a handy workshop tool.
Note the following from APC’s literature:
“Fail Safe Mode
Most other surge suppressors continue to let power through even after their circuits have been damaged, leaving your equipment exposed to future surges. APC’s SurgeArrest fail safe, which means that once the circuit of an APC SurgeArrest has been compromised the unit disconnects equipment from the power supply ensuring that no damaging surges reach your equipment.”
I’m not sure if Tripp-Lite units do this.
The metal oxide varistors (the active element in most surge protectors) have a finite life; after absorbing repeated surges, they (or the whole unit) should be replaced. It would be a good thing to look at the status indicators from time to time.
But its me!
Tripp-Lite is my go to brand for surge units. I don’t know about the issue Dave L mentions, but I do know I have a 15+ year old Tripp-Lite surge unit still working, albeit attached to the kid’s PC (an old Pentium dual core that I don’t particularly worry about frying up). I do have a couple of the tank like home theater suppressors going strong, but much newer. I don’t know if we are just on a good stable feed (we hardly ever lose power during storms), but the indicator lights all look OK.
At work, I did witness a big APC UPS (220V) catch fire one day. Darn near knocked my boss to the floor in yanking the cord from the wall before it became very interesting. After that I decided to never install a UPS at home, and to pass on the APC brand.
Tripp-Lite’s metal cased models are just so nice and hefty, too.
Yikes! I have 2 or 3 APC UPS supplies, and they’ve been pretty good to me over the years. One battery went and I will probably replace the two other units in the next few months. Maybe next time around I’ll try Cyberpower ot Tripp Lite, but I wouldn’t write off APC either.
Isobar’s are good but sacrificial and should be retired after their rated service life.
If you want an isolator that can handle multiple lightning events, check out Brick Wall. I bought one for each workstation in a high-end lab, and never had to replace a single one, nor a single workstation power supply, even after some interesting “events.” We were located on the same business park as two large machine shops, their large electric motor startups and slowdowns resulted in brownouts and backfeeds that were, to say the least, interesting.
I have heard of Brick Wall suppressors, they sound interesting. Even though UPS units have replaceable batteries, doing so is no great economy: Buy a new one, you get all new components AND a new warranty. With the larger industrial-grade units, this might not be true.
I am considering whole-house surge protection-I need to check into the cost and difficulty of installation.
Thanks for the article, I’d like to add that isolation should be rated in Joules, and the more you pay, the more Joules the strip should handle. In addition some come with attached equipment insurance.
There are a few people who haunt forums and declare all surge protectors to be fraud and use the direct lightning strike as the argument ender for all who protest. All other electrical events are dismissed.
At work we experienced a 3-Phase 440V line crossing a 208V (110V back-to-back) line. The result was every running PC plugged into the wall or a cheap power strip got a burned-out power supply; every one plugged into a brand-name surge protector survived (the surge protectors didn’t). When I related this experience, I was called a liar and part of the fraud against consumers.
I’ve been using this series of surge protectors for years, and not a single failure. Not only do they provide surge protection, but certain models also have some rather robust EMI/RFI filtering inside as well. This filtering is bidirectional, if a plugged-in device sends noise down the cord, it will be attenuated by the filtering chokes and caps and won’t poison the power beyond the surge protector. Likewise, if power entering the protector has noise, it’s filtered before it gets to the plugged-in devices. For the longest time these were the few available such products that had sockets oriented such to better accommodate wall warts. If these are still being made as they have been in the past, they will provide years if not decades of fine service.
I have three or four in the shop myself. And one is protecting the TV/entertainment center.
A surge protector may not protect against a nearby lightning strike, but at least they give your equipment a fighting chance. They can also reduce slow degradation from repeated smaller hits on your equipment.
When I worked fixing avionics, my boss brought in a TV that had been spiked out at his house. We figured we could fix it being technicians, so we went at it with a VOM and discovered the whole main board was shot. We tossed it in the dumpster and he resolved to buy some surge protectors. 🙂
Pro tip: If your neighborhood power goes out, disconnect as much stuff as you can-you get a real good hit when the power comes back online.
I’ve had several of these in the house for years, quietly protecting my television, computer, telephones, etc. I had heard they were the best out there, and I was impressed by their build quality and appearance. The best thing I could say about them is…that I never have to think about them. If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s that it rarely pays to cheap out on items like this. Buy these, knowing that they’ll protect your equipment 24/7.
Wow they still make these? We have some old isobar’s at work but I much prefer the APC branded power strips….then again I work in Technology so I’m powering different things usually.
Their warranty service is outstanding. I had a unit that developed a hum, and after an exchange of e-mail messages with Tripp-Lite, I had a new unit in hand in a couple of days (and it had two more outlets than the older one).