Is Turning Off Surge Protector Same As Unplugging?

Surge protectors are one of the most important devices in your home. They can help protect your electronic devices from voltage spikes that travel through your home’s power lines; however, over the years, rumors have been spread that suggest turning off a surge protector is the same as unplugging something from the wall.

So, does that mean the surge protector is no longer protecting your devices after you perform this action?

Turning off surge protector is not the same as unplugging. The main difference between these two actions is that turning off means you are going to turn on the electrical appliance or gadget again and unplugging means you are getting ready to store the electronic device for a long time; say after the holidays. In a nutshell, if you do not plan to use your standby gadgets for long then turn them off.

Is There A Difference Between Turning Off Surge Protector And Unplugging?

Yes, it does make a big difference on how much energy is being saved. By turning off the surge protector (make sure the switch shows an up and down position) you are simply shutting off the power supply to that outlet. When an appliance is plugged into a socket, regardless if it’s turned on or not, it’s still drawing power from the wall.

Approximately 10% of energy savings can be achieved by switching your appliances off and unplugging them, but this is often overlooked. Bottom line, unplugging makes more of a difference in energy savings than switching off a surge protector.

Is It Better To Turn Off Or Unplug?

Surge protectors are designed to protect your electronic devices against electrical surges and spikes.  If you are using a surge protector, you probably wonder whether leaving it on or turning it off is more effective. 

Actually, it depends on the kind of surge protector you have. 

With some surge protectors, turning them off will maximize their effectiveness.  Surge protectors that contain built-in circuit breakers can work only when they are turned on.  However, some surge protectors are equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). 

The GFCI automatically shuts off the power supply when it detects that there is an imbalance in the amount of power flowing onto the grid.

What Is The Importance Of Turning Off Surge Protector?

When it is not in use, your surge protector should be shut off. Just flip the switch to the OFF position. This will disconnect power from all outlets and ensure that no energy is being wasted. In addition, turning off your surge protector at the end of a day ensures that no energy is being wasted while you sleep.

Disadvantages Of Turning Surge Protector Off?

If you turn off a surge protector, any appliance or electronic device connected to it will lose its over-current and over-voltage protection. This means that if a power surge occurs, all of the devices plugged into the surge protector will be susceptible to damage from that power surge. Even more importantly, turning the surge protectors off may leave your house vulnerable to electrical fires.

Does It Harm Electronics To Turn Off Power Strip?

It doesn’t harm your electronics to turn off a power strip — at least not any more than it harms the electronics in, say, an old-fashioned light switch. Essentially, a power strip or surge protector is just a glorified extension cord. When you flip on a light switch, the electrons coming out of the electrical outlet race through the wires and into your lamp or whatever else is plugged into the wall. The power switch only directs those electrons where you want them to go.

Whether you decide to unplug your power strip, shut down some of the components in your computer, or just push the standby button, it is generally not harmful to your electronics.

Does A Surge Protector ‘Work’ When Turned Off?

The answer is yes! A ‘surge protectors’ primary purpose is preventing surges from entering your appliances and damaging them. When a surge protection device is plugged in, the major purpose it serves is to remain completely disconnected from the outlet and to absorb potentially devastating energy surges.

This means that the power strip inside of it remains off, but ready to absorb power surges from the outlet. Some appliances provide a small amount of power when turned off by acting as a pass-through for electricity such as a battery charger, or an alarm clock.

Even though your appliances may be off, you are protected by your surge protector because the surge protector is designed to do so.

Is Turning Off A Power Bar Or Surge Protector During A Lightning Storm As Good As Unplugging It?

Unfortunately, it is not safe to simply turn off a high-power surge protector when thunderstorms are in the air. Even if power to the outlet was turned off with a switch or breaker, the power company could still inject power into the outlet through a ground fault interrupter (GFI). That means that even if your devices were unplugged, they could still be struck by lightning through their ungrounded cords and the GFI protection might not work as designed.

During some electrical storms, the power can return to a device even after it has been disconnected from its power source. To play it safe, unplug all electronics during a storm.

When lightning strikes, always assume that nearby electronic devices are susceptible to damage. Unplug all items from power outlets or wall sockets, phones and modems from phone jacks, and routers from wall sockets if you are not at home during a storm.


A surge protector has a specific purpose and is not designed for long term power supply interruption. It is designed to prevent voltage spikes from damaging devices connected to it. While turning off a surge protector will reduce the risk of damage from power surges, turning it off is not the same as unplugging it from the wall. By unplugging, you eliminate the risk of serious damage from power surges entirely.