Let's Take a Trip Inside Low-Cost Power Bars, Part One

First Round Verdict

The only power bar in this first part that truly distinguishes itself from the rest is the Sunbeam, which deserves do not buy recognition due to its unsafe MOV. If this happens to be a counterfeit unit, at least you know they are out there and need to be extra wary about them.

The Noma is clearly overpriced for what it is compared to its flea-market twin: a 60cm (2') longer cord and a 20D instead of 14D MOV are not really worth paying an extra $7 unless you absolutely need the length and have no other options.

If childproofing your power bar is high on your priority list, and you're alright with replacing high-traffic bars regularly due to worn-out shutters, the BlueDiamond's PowerPro might be worth considering. But otherwise, the EL-543 wins this round as a device that gives you extra outlets to plug stuff into without being an obvious safety hazard.

 In the next installment of this series, we shall take at products from more popular computer and power accessories brands.

Daniel Sauvageau is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He’s known for his feature tear-downs of components and peripherals.
  • qlum
    This article makes me wonder how well my own no brand power bars fare but I don't have the expertise to know what to look for when opening them and they probably look failry different from the US ones as well, at least they do on the outside. We use the german plugs here and also 230v is probably making a difference as well.
  • srap
    @qlum: I believe Tom's has a german branch, maybe we should ask them to do the same with europlugs.
  • Shin-san
    There has been several things I bought from Sunbeam, and I'll never buy from that company again (Sunbeam, Oster, Jarden, and Holmes). Their stuff simply doesn't last.
  • hp79
    This article format really sucks. I click on "see more" just to see few more words.

    The article however is informative. Thanks for the write up.
  • blackmagnum
    Excellent read, Daniel. I'm ready for the next installment.
  • CaedenV
    Ya, the team that run's Tom's website really REALY sucks, the commenting section in IE sometimes doesn't show up, sometimes it shows up but you cannot do quotes, and sometimes you hit submit and it just gets lost in space. Clicking on a picture on any other website on the internet will take you to a larger or better quality picture, but on tom's the linked picture is often smaller/worse than the picture in the article. These kinds of picture+text articles are by far the worst though, offering minimal readability combined with smallish pictures. And we will not even get into how broken the Tom's charts are... it is just sad. And using Tom's without some sort of ad-blocking is an absolute nightmare! Tom's is the reason I use ad-blocking extensions in all of my browsers because it became such a hassle so early on.

    But the content on Toms is often golden, and the data is both accurate and well explained. Not to mention that the community is amazing. It is more than worth putting up with a broken web page when the content is so good.
  • dovah-chan
    Not all power strips are made equal
  • Niccodemure
    Thank again. I am really looking forward to the name brands and hope they include Monster, PSaudio, Panamax, thurman, APC,
  • Flying-Q
    In the UK most power bars are unprotected, but there is a limit to the number of outlets you can expand from a single wall socket and most houses have been uprated to full RCCDs in the consumer unit supplying a ring main. Sadly, many people do not know of the 'max-4-expansions-per-socket' rule and 6-socket bars without protection are available to buy at hardware stores and supermarkets. That said, every UK plug must have a built-in wire fuse with 13A rating, or 5A or 1A depending upon the equipment.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    14656840 said:
    Thank again. I am really looking forward to the name brands and hope they include Monster, PSaudio, Panamax, thurman, APC,
    This roundup was for sub-$15 power bars - all nine of them.

    The goal was to show how much (or little) of a difference there is between inexpensive power bars with surge suppression ratings of some sort.