Tripp-Lite isobar Surge Protector Tear-Down

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Daniel Sauvageau

Daniel Sauvageau is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He’s known for his feature tear-downs of components and peripherals.

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  • blackmagnum
    "How many people actually use their power bars' outlet covers?" I do. They protect the power bar from pest such as ants, pets and toddlers.
  • Kewlx25
    My only wish is they had a 10 port version. I have a lot of low wattage electrical devices to plug in and the warranty says plugging this into another surge-protector or plugging another surge-protector into it voids the warranty.

    I've tried to find a non-surge-protecting power strip, but no luck.
  • ralanahm
    Thank you for the review. I am glad to see these turned out better than lower price ones and it wasn't all marketing hype.
  • cbrunnem
    whats up with this guys/sites hard on for power strips.... can you not think of better things to review?
  • ralanahm
    Thank you for the review. I am glad to see these turned out better than lower price ones and it wasn't all marketing hype.
  • nukemaster
    436635 said:
    whats up with this guys/sites hard on for power strips.... can you not think of better things to review?


    The community reaction to the early power bar tear down was positive.

    If you do not want to see these, just do not read them.

    This author is very good at breaking these things down so users can see and understand what is happening inside the power bars they sell at the store.

    Tom's Hardware has other reviews and reviewers.
  • froozeball
    Thank you both for the review and the chance (ie the actual product) to review!
    Always insightful, well presented and very useful. Frankly it's about time somebody really tore down, explained, and held these products accountable to the public. You explain issues to the point, good or bad, and it's a great piece of technology journalism that you present.
    Felicitations et merci!
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    297672 said:
    I've tried to find a non-surge-protecting power strip, but no luck.

    All the sub-$15 power strips I have looked at are simple MOV affairs: power cord -> switch/breaker -> MOV(s) with thermal fuse -> outlets. For most electrical applications, they are indistinguishable from a plain strip unless something goes wrong since a 20D201K MOV conducts less than 1mA until voltage passes 200V. Under normal circumstances, 120V line voltage peaks at 170V so the MOV does practically nothing. You may also want to consider the fact that most of your electronics with a line-operated switchmode PSU likely has an EMI filter and MOVs of their own, which means they have much more complex impedance than a basic surge-protecting strip.

    The warning against daisy-chaining surge protectors is more about the possibility of loose connections between strips degrading protection on downstream strips, over-loading strips and other issues which may affect surge protection performance or safety.

    436635 said:
    whats up with this guys/sites hard on for power strips.... can you not think of better things to review?

    I have a few different things in the works but I need to put together a few test jigs first to make my life easier. If you do not like power-related accessory tear-downs, you are free to not read them.

    That said, I am starting to run out of tear-down candidates in that department, so I plan to do something else every other month to stretch those out, like the LCD tear-down/repair that came out last month.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1953483 said:
    Thank you both for the review and the chance (ie the actual product) to review! Always insightful, well presented and very useful. Frankly it's about time somebody really tore down, explained, and held these products accountable to the public. You explain issues to the point, good or bad, and it's a great piece of technology journalism that you present. Felicitations et merci!

    It is comments like those that make the ridiculous number of hours it takes to put these things together worth it. The tear-downs may look very simple but between planning, workbench and editing time, I likely spend more than an hour on average on each slide that makes it in.
  • gtinut
    heat shielding material? you must kidding. It is standard to place no conductive layer on metal where components are located.
  • swong
    I've been using the isotel 8Ultra which is in my opinion identical to this write up of the Isobar and am extremely happy with the product. Only shortfall are the actual power on/off switches which fail at alarming rates rendering the unit inoperable. Warranty replacement will then resolve the issues. Over 10 years I must have returned over a dozen of the Isotel 8Ultras and while later units with revised "black" colored on/off switches (white colored switches will fail...no if's and's or but's on this) the black switches are not perfect either. Requests to have on/off switches spared individually have fallen on deaf ears at Tripp Lite
    BTW, the isotel ultra come with a unlimited lifetime warranty. Just go to their website and fill in the online web page providing them with the erial number on the bottom of the defective unit and they will send you a brand new unit...how easy is that?
  • op8
    Love these. Keep up the great work.
  • PaulBags
    Sounds like a misadvertised & half arsed device.
  • kyuuketsuki
    Awesome, thanks for the teardown. Well worth the $26.35 it cost to get it over to you.

    Looks like these are good devices compared to other power strips in the same price range, even if the isolation doesn't hold up. I wonder if the Tripp-lite or any of the other companies in question get clued into articles like these. Maybe you should contact them your finding regarding the isolation and how they could fix it? I mean they'll probably ignore you. But on the other hand, maybe they'll be impressed and offer you a cushy job. =P
  • MxMatrix
    I can't believe how a company is promising 'Isolation' while so obviously cheapened production by reducing components on the pcb. I'd say, it's a no buy and build my own isolation pcb.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    96459 said:
    Awesome, thanks for the teardown. Well worth the $26.35 it cost to get it over to you.

    Thanks again for sending it in!

    Yes, aside from the effective lack of isolation between banks 2-3-4 (only 3.5dB/bank constant attenuation from the voltage divider instead of ~40dB/decade from the 2nd order LC filter seen between banks 1 and 2), the design is otherwise the best one yet for a product under $100. I doubt I am going to get an award for pointing out that their series inductors are not doing much good beyond banks 1 and 2.

    662242 said:
    I can't believe how a company is promising 'Isolation' while so obviously cheapened production by reducing components on the pcb.

    Between the artwork version and actual PCB, the new PCB has an extra MOV and an extra fuse but one less cap and a larger PCB. If I had to hazard a guess, I would not be surprised if the extra cap on the artwork version happened to be connected after the second or third inductor and got "optimized out" due to not contributing as much to noise filtering as it was intended to.
  • Xivilain
    Great job on this tear-down. I'd like to see more. Possibly a Monster Power HTS 1600 review. Supposedly it provides clean, filtered, power, to home theater systems and entertainment centers. However, they're hell-o expensive, and I'm nervous about opening mine up.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1637958 said:
    Great job on this tear-down. I'd like to see more. Possibly a Monster Power HTS 1600 review. Supposedly it provides clean, filtered, power, to home theater systems and entertainment centers. However, they're hell-o expensive, and I'm nervous about opening mine up.

    Someone offered to send a Panamax M1450 about two months ago. I put that on hold while I checked the import/export process with kyuu's isobar and got no response from my would-be Panamax donor or Panamax themselves since.

    On the other hand, I did get confirmation this afternoon from Nick from Caster on EPS' behalf that a sample has been shipped my way, along with some complimentary documentation. So you can expect to see that come out in two or three months. I just had the possibly crazy idea of asking for an IREQ tour and possibly take a few power strips for a "live-fire" test, perhaps go "Jamie wants big boom" on a few dollar-store strips.
  • Dan414
    Quote:
    I just had the possibly crazy idea of asking for an IREQ tour and possibly take a few power strips for a "live-fire" test, perhaps go "Jamie wants big boom" on a few dollar-store strips.


    Yes. This!
  • DrDJReal
    These articles are fantastic. I'd love to see more high-end surge protectors tested, and even Uninterruptible power supplies. Though I may be biased, I have a Cyberpower 1500 PFC LCD backed by a Tripp-lite HT10DBS.
  • alainmasse
    I find these powerbar tear-down articles strangely fascinating. Who knew there was so much going on in there?
    Thank you for all the time and effort you put into such detailed work!
  • ramon zarat
    I LOVE those articles! I'm no electric engineer, so it help a lot to wrap my head around the basic principles! :)
  • TomSA8752
    I too love these tear down reviews of devices most people don't even think about. I have depended on surge protectors for 30 years and luckily they have worked even if they gave their life while protecting what was plugged into them.
    So, here is my question. Why do they say not to use one if the distance is less than 10 meters from the service panel?
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1955655 said:
    Why do they say not to use one if the distance is less than 10 meters from the service panel?

    There are two main reasons:
    1- it is part of the UL1449 definition and test specification for type-3 (movable/plug-in) surge protection devices
    2- and the reason for it is that it puts distance (wiring inductance and resistance) between what happens in the electrical panel and outlets so without the wiring, surge protectors may not meet their spec

    In a worst-case surge that reaches 3kA on the branch circuit, the wiring ends up dissipating about as much energy as the surge protectors do, effectively doubling their effectiveness or halving the effort required to achieve a given degree of protection.