6 Best AC Surge Protectors For Complete HVAC Safety

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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The right surge protector can protect your HVAC/air conditioner systems, but the wrong model can leave your home vulnerable.

I know many homeowners struggle to choose the best model, so I wanted to make it as simple as possible to find a safe surge protector for air conditioning systems.

In this guide, I'll introduce my top 6 so you can find the best way to protect your AC and home from power surges and give you complete peace of mind.

Quick Glance - My Recommendations

Intermatic AG3000 120/240 VAC Universal HVAC...

Intermatic AG3000

Editor’s Choice

EATON CHSPT2ULTRA Ultimate Surge Protection...

EATON CHSPT2ULTRA

Heavy Duty 240V Surge Protector

Heavy Duty 20-Amp 2400-Watt Appliance Surge...

Clever Family Homes

Budget Surge Protector for AC (15k BTU)

Who Should Use a Surge Protector In Their Home

Surge protectors shield your electronic devices from voltage spikes.

HVAC systems contain sensitive electrical components and sensors, and a single power surge can lead to damage, malfunctions, or complete system failure.

I recommend surge protection for anyone who wants uninterrupted temperature control in their home.

However, surge protection is especially useful for the following instances.

  • Regions with an unstable power grid. If you experience frequent power outages or fluctuations, you need protection against power surges for all electronic devices, computers, and air conditioners.
  • Homeowners dependent on AC. If you live in extreme conditions or rely on climate control for your health, you should use a surge protector to prevent excess voltage from causing an AC outage.
  • Lightning-prone areas. If there are storms and extreme weather in the region, it's more likely that you'll experience power surges, and you need reliable protection against them. I recommend investing in surge protection equipment to protect your AC and give you peace of mind.
  • Expensive of sophisticated HVAC systems. If you have costly AC equipment, protecting it from power surges with a surge protector makes economic sense.

6 Safest Surge Protectors For All Types Of Air Conditioners

Power outages, surges, and fluctuations cost the US $150 billion annually.[1]

While some of these things are out of our control, having a good surge protector can help protect you and your appliances.

I researched, tried, and tested 25 of the best surge protectors on the market and eventually narrowed that comprehensive list down to the top 6.

1. Intermatic AG3000

4.8

Overall Score


Ease Of Installation

5.0

Current Progress
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Build Quality

4.5

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Value for Money

5.0

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Who is the Intermatic AG3000 best for?

The Intermatic AG3000 is best for homeowners with medium-to-large residential AC units that need reliable protection.

Pros
  • High-capacity equipment suitable for heavy-duty electronics
  • Solid warranty
  • Versatile for whole-home or specific use
  • Easy to install
  • Great value for money
  • Tough and long-lasting (UL listed)
CONS
  • Slightly pricey
  • Overkill for basic AC units

The Intermatic AG3000 is perfect for protecting your AC from extreme power surges.

It has a high-joule rating (tested and certified) and 3 surge suppression methods to redirect excess voltage.

It isn't as high-capacity as the Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA. Still, this surge protector is a big step up from your standard residential surge protector.

The surge protector itself is also durable.

It has a weatherproof 4X NEMA enclosure suitable for indoor or outdoor use, and it's particularly effective for mini split, central, or window AC units with outside components.

Intermatic AG3000 outdoor

It also has a green indicator light to show the surge protector is functioning.

Aside from the performance, what I like most about the Intermatic AG3000 is its simplicity and versatility.

It takes minutes to install and can be used at whole-house, branch panel, or specific appliance level (SPD 1, 2, and 3), making it more versatile than the Clever Family Homes or NIPPON surge protection devices.

The warranty is also impressive, but remember that the 3-year warranty on connected equipment only covers what your home insurance doesn't.

The Intermatic AG3000 offers unmatched value for money and is the stand-out AC surge protector for residential use.

If you have large or frequent power surges and want to maximize the lifespan of your AC, this is the model I recommend.

Feature

Details

Current Capacity (SCCR)

20kA

Maximum Short-Circuit Current (MSCC)

100kA

Voltage (MCOV)

L-N & L-G: 150V, L-L: 300V

Modes of Protection

L-G, L-L, L-N

Surge Protection Level

3,000 Joules

Certifications and Standards

UL 1449 4th Edition Certified

Warranty

3-year warranty, with 3-year warranty on connected equipment (up to $7,500).


2. EATON CHSPT2ULTRA

Heavy Duty 240V Surge Protector

4.7

Overall Score


Ease Of Installation

4.5

Current Progress
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Build Quality

5.0

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Value for Money

4.5

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Who is the EATON CHSPT2ULTRA best for?

The Eaton CHSP2ULTRA is best for large air conditioners or whole homes requiring continuous protection from power surges.

Pros
  • High voltage surge protection level
  • Versatile applications - suitable for whole-home use
  • Clear indicator lights
  • EMI/RFI filtering for cleaner power
  • High quality (UL listed) with a solid warranty
CONS
  • More challenging installation - short power cord length
  • Higher cost than other appliances
  • Not suitable for smaller devices or a single wall outlet

I recommend the Eaton surge protector if you have a larger air conditioner or HVAC system running on a 240V circuit.

It’s perfect for protecting expensive appliances that are more sensitive to power fluctuations and can even be used to protect a whole home or small business.

The capacity and MSCC are impressive, but it also has modern technology to protect your appliances.

It has EMI and RFI filtering to provide cleaner power, increasing the average lifespan of your electronic equipment, and has thermal protection to prevent overheating during a surge.

This combination of high-performing attributes makes it better suited to light-commercial use than other models.

What I appreciate most about this heavy-duty surge protector is its reliability.

The UL certification proves it's already undergone rigorous testing, and the performance stayed consistent during my testing.

The indicator lights show the surge protector is working and make it easier to maintain than other models.

EATON CHSPT2ULTRA indicator

Just bear in mind that this surge protector is more challenging to install than the NIPPON or Intermatic AG3000, and the power cord length can make it challenging to fit in tight spaces. I don't recommend it for beginners, but homeowners with some experience should be ok.

However, Eaton is a reputable brand, and this heavy-duty, UL-listed surge protector offers complete protection from surges.

It's a solid choice for homeowners or small business owners protecting expensive air conditioner units (or other electrical equipment) sensitive to power fluctuations.

Feature

Details

Current Capacity (SCCR)

23kA

Maximum Short-Circuit Current (MSCC)

108kA

Voltage (MCOV)

L-N & L-G: 150V, L-L: 300V

Modes of Protection

L-G, L-L, L-N

Surge Protection Level

2,800 Joules

Certifications and Standards

UL 1449 3rd Edition Certified

Warranty

5-year warranty (must be registered)


3. Clever Family Homes

Budget Surge Protector For AC (15000 BTU)

4.5

Overall Score


Ease Of Installation

4.5

Current Progress
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Build Quality

4.0

Current Progress
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Value for Money

5.0

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Who is the Clever Family Homes best for?

The Clever Family Homes surge protector is best for homeowners on a budget who want to protect individual air conditioner units from power surges.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for large home air conditioner systems
  • Easy installation
  • Smart Disconnect feature protects AC outlets
  • Versatile power strip
CONS
  • Single air conditioner/appliance only
  • Air conditioner equipment stops during a surge
  • More limited surge protection

If you only need to protect one air conditioner, the Eaton Tripp Lite or Intermatic AG3000 may be overkill.

Instead, you can get the budget-friendly Clever Family Homes power strip.

It's perfect for small-to-medium air conditioner systems (up to 15,000 BTUs) and will give you peace of mind that your home is safe.

Despite being low-cost, this device will protect heavy-duty appliances.

It's suitable for anything below 20 amps and more than enough for large air conditioner units or residential electronic equipment.

The Clever Homes surge protector doesn’t use the traditional L-G mode to protect your devices.

Instead, it uses 'smart disconnect’ functionality - switching off for 3 minutes when it detects a surge and only turning on again when the voltage has dropped.

This operation is good at preventing damage to the air conditioner even though the surge protector can't withstand prolonged power surges.

However, it does mean that your air conditioner will shut down even during a minor power spike.

You can track what the outlet device is doing using the indicator lights on the outside to see when your air conditioning equipment reactivates.

The Clever Homes surge protector doesn't have the capacity of the AG3000 and won't protect a whole house from power surges.

However, it offers robust protection to individual power outlets or extension cords and excellent value for money.

If you want an effective last line of defense for a single air conditioner, this is the model I recommend.

Feature

Details

Current Capacity (SCCR)

20A

Maximum Short-Circuit Current (MSCC)

20A

Voltage (MCOV)

150V

Modes of Protection

Over-voltage disconnection

Surge Protection Level

N/A due to operation

Certifications and Standards

ETL Approved

Warranty

One-year warranty (must be registered)


4. Siemens FS140

4.5

Overall Score


Ease Of Installation

4.5

Current Progress
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Build Quality

4.5

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Value for Money

4.5

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Who is the Siemens FS140 best for?

The Siemens FS140 is best for homeowners with larger/central AC systems living in regions prone to electrical disturbances.

Pros
  • High-capacity to protect your whole home
  • Clear indicator lights and alarm
  • Commercial-grade build quality
  • Compact size that won’t take up much space
  • Compatible with almost every electrical panel
CONS
  • May require professional installation
  • Higher upfront cost

The Siemens FS140 surge protector offers comprehensive protection for your home electrical system and is ideal for those who want one device for complete peace of mind.

It's one of the most complete I have ever tested, with everything you need to stop any electrical fault impacting your home life.

Its impressive surge capacity is far higher than that of other Siemens models or the heavy-duty Eaton Tripp Lite models.

It also has a commercial-grade 4X NEMA outer casing that can take heavy use and is protected by an impressive warranty.

Best of all, it’s compatible with almost any electrical system, making it perfect for any home.

It even has a set of indicator lights and alarms to notify you of voltage spikes, which you need because the high-performing surge protector means you may not notice otherwise (I found the alarm system particularly useful because I knew when to check the system).

Siemens FS140 indicator lights

The Siemens FS140 is more advanced and durable than the Clever Family Homes or NIPPON surge protectors but is more expensive.

It also requires professional installation (unless you have significant electrical experience).

However, the high quality of this device speaks for itself, and it offers long-term value for money compared to cheaper surge protectors.

The Siemens FS140 is less versatile than the Intermatic AG3000 but offers impressive whole-house surge protection.

If you want an uninterruptible power supply, this is the model I recommend.

Feature

Details

Current Capacity (SCCR)

20kA

Maximum Short-Circuit Current (MSCC)

140kA

Voltage (MCOV)

600V

Modes of Protection

L-G, L-L, L-N

Surge Protection Level

4,000 Joules

Certifications and Standards

UL 1449 4th Edition Certified

Warranty

10-year warranty


5. NIPPON Surge Protector

4.3

Overall Score


Ease Of Installation

4.0

Current Progress
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Build Quality

4.5

Current Progress
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Value for Money

4.5

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Who is the NIPPON Surge Protector best for?

The NIPPON surge protector is best for homeowners in regions with lightning and storms who want simple surge protection.

Pros
  • Very simple to install - no experience necessary
  • Compact size that won’t take up much space
  • Quick response time
  • Clear status indicators on the front
  • Affordable
CONS
  • Single appliance focused
  • Not as durable as other models

If you want plug-and-play surge protection, the NIPPON is the one for you.

It's simple to fit and powerful enough to protect 25,000 BTU HVAC systems- making it well-suited for mini split or portable ACs.

Like the Clever Family Homes surge protector, the NIPPON uses over-voltage disconnection.

It will turn the AC system off when the voltage spikes and wait 4 minutes before attempting to cycle on.

This method prevents any damage to your appliance, but it will shut off for at least a few minutes.

While the operation might not be as advanced as the Intermatic AG3000 or Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA, the NIPPON surge protector excels in its versatility.

It plugs into any outlet in seconds (it took me less than a minute) with no electrical experience needed.

It’s also compact size and portable, so you can use it where and when needed.

The NIPPON may not have the capacity or build quality of the Siemens FS140 or Intermatic AG3000 surge protectors, but it is ideal for homeowners on a budget who want hassle-free surge protection for a single AC device.

I don't recommend it for continuous use, but it's a real asset for homeowners who suffer from periodic lightning storms or outages.

Feature

Details

Current Capacity (SCCR)

20A

Maximum Short-Circuit Current (MSCC)

140A

Voltage (MCOV)

220V

Modes of Protection

Over-voltage disconnection

Surge Protection Level

90 Joules

Certifications and Standards

UL 1449 2nd Edition Certified

Warranty

1-year warranty


6. Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK

Whole House Device With Comprehensive Warranty

4.2

Overall Score


Ease Of Installation

4.0

Current Progress
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Build Quality

4.5

Current Progress
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Value for Money

4.0

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Who is the Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK best for?

The Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240 - IMSK is best for homeowners with expensive HVAC equipment they want to protect.

Pros
  • Comprehensive warranty covering connected devices
  • Smart-surge protection
  • Advanced indicator light system
  • Versatile application - whole home or device-specific
  • 6 independent modules for continuous protection
  • UL listed
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Professional installation recommended

The Intermatic Smart Guard surge is the ultimate protection in areas with regular power fluctuations.

The device and connected appliances are covered for 10 years, guaranteeing that voltage spikes won't disrupt your home.

High-end central AC units can cost over $10,000 (I've worked on some worth double that!), so this level of protection gives homeowners extra peace of mind.

The warranty cover is impressive, but the advanced operation means you may never need it.

Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK installed

This surge protector uses 6 different protection methods to suppress and redirect excess voltage away from your device, and thermal protection technology prevents any damage to the system.

The Intermatic Smart Guard may have a lower capacity than the Eaton CHSP2ULTRA, but it's arguably more effective.

What impressed me most about this surge protector was the smart features.

It has remote monitoring, control, and scheduling of connected devices, allowing you to optimize performance.

It also has 6 independent surge protection modules, each offering another layer of protection. These are individually replaceable, allowing for continuous protection.

The Intermatic Smart Guard is not a budget model, and homeowners protecting one appliance can save money by choosing the NIPPON or Clever Home Friendly surge protectors instead.

However, the technology, high-surge capacity, and advanced features make the Intermatic Smart Guard excellent value for money.

If you want complete peace of mind that all your home electronics are protected and covered, this is the model I recommend.

Feature

Details

Current Capacity (SCCR)

10kA

Maximum Short-Circuit Current (MSCC)

50kA

Voltage (MCOV)

300V

Modes of Protection

L1-N, L2-N, L1-G, L2-G, N-G, L1-L2

Surge Protection Level

2200 Joules

Certifications and Standards

UL 1449 4th Edition Certified

Warranty

10-years - including 10 years on connected equipment up to $50,000


Surge Protectors for Air Conditioner Compared

Preview

Name

Rating

SCCR

MSCC

Price

Intermatic AG3000 120/240 VAC Universal HVAC...

Intermatic

AG3000

4.8

20kA

100kA

EATON CHSPT2ULTRA Ultimate Surge Protection...

EATON CHSPT2ULTRA

4.7

23kA

108kA

Heavy Duty 20-Amp 2400-Watt Appliance Surge...

Clever Family Homes

4.5

20A

20A

Siemens FS140 Whole House Surge Protection...

Siemens

FS140

4.5

20kA

140kA

NIPPON Surge Protector 220V 3600W for Air...

NIPPON

4.3

20A

140A

Intermatic IG2240-IMSK Advanced Surge...

Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK

4.2

10kA

50kA


How to Choose a Safe Air Conditioner Surge Protector

The Type of Surge Protector Matters!

Several types of surge protection devices exist, some as small as a USB stick to protect laptops and large models that can protect a whole warehouse.

You must choose the right type of surge protector for the setting, or it won't protect your AC.

The table below shows the main types of surge protector options so you can see which type you need:

Type of Surge Protection

How it operates

Benefits

Drawbacks

Best for?

Recommended model

Whole-House

Installed at the main electrical panel to protect your whole home from excess electricity

  • Complete surge protection for your whole home
  • No individual surge protectors required
  • Higher upfront cost
  • May require professional installation

Central AC and large homes that experience frequent power surges

Plug-In (power strips)

Power strip connects to existing electrical outlets and protects all appliances connected to it.

  • Convenient and portable
  • Allows multiple appliances to be plugged in
  • Affordable and easily replaced
    Fast response time
  • May not provide high-level protection

Portable AC units or lower-wattage HVAC systems

Outlet

Similar to a power strip, but replaces a single standard outlet

  • Affordable
  • Convenient and easy to install
  • Fast response time
  • Limited number of outlets
  • Not as high-level protection

Smaller ACs on a dedicated outlet, like a Mini Split

Appliance Specific

Designed for specific appliances, like ACs, and connect into the unit directly

  • Tailored protection to protect appliances
  • Improves the lifespan of the AC
  • Only protects one device
  • May require professional installation

Homes with a single AC unit

Service Entrance 

Similar to whole-house and installed into an electrical panel - but designed for industrial use

  • Heavy-duty protection
  • Protects against internal and external power surges
  • Expensive
  • Professional installation is usually required

Industrial-grade AC equipment being used alongside a lot of other electronics

TL;DR: Depending upon the type of appliance you have, where you wish to connect the surge protector , and whether you need to protect a single appliance or whole house, the type of model you need will defer.

ACLAB Note:

Except for the plug-in and outlet surge protectors, the rest require the help of a professional for installation.

Understand The Capacity of Surge Protection Provided

The surge protector capacity is the current and voltage it can handle.

The surge protector you choose needs enough capacity to support your AC, or it can disrupt the circuit and damage the appliance.

There are two aspects to consider:

  1. 1
    Voltage
    You need a surge protector that can handle the voltage of your system, usually either 120V or 240V, so check your electrical circuit/AC specs and choose an appropriate model.[2]
  2. 2
    Amps (current)
    Your surge protector must be higher than the total current draw on the circuit, including all devices. A basic power strip protector will have an amp rating of 600-1000, but industrial units can have over 200,000 amps.

Ideally, your surge protector should be oversized to handle the standard current and any power surges.

I usually recommend an amp rating 8-10x more than the standard current level for complete peace of mind, and a high-capacity surge protector, like the Intermatic AG3000, offers the best protection.

TL;DR: The voltage of the surge protection should at least match the service voltage of the area. As for the amps for the surge protector, this should be rated at much higher than the rated amps of the appliance it connects to.

Check The Joule Rating

The Joule rating is how much energy the surge protector can absorb.[3] 

The higher the joule rating, the larger and more prolonged power surges it can protect against.

For basic electronics, a surge protector with 600-1000 joules will suffice, but for complete protection, I recommend an AC surge protector with over 2000 joules for protecting home outlets - like the Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240 - IMSK surge protector.

TL;DR: The larger the device and the more energy it consumes, the higher should be the joule rating for the surge protector.

Learn About Surge Current, Short Circuit Current, and Operating Voltage Rating

Alongside capacity, you should also consider the following to make sure the surge protector device will operate as intended:

  • The Max Surge Current Capacity (MSCC):
    The MSCC is the surge protector's ability to handle high-current power surges, which can get extremely high. The surge protector can only protect your AC from unexpected power surges if the MSCC is high enough.

    MSCC is shown in Kiloamperes (kA) or amperes (A) and should be in the specs. The best surge protectors range from 10 kA to 100 kA. I recommend a surge protector with 40 to 50 kA for an average residential AC. 

    However, if you live in an area with a volatile power supply, you will be better off with a high MSCC surge protector like the Eaton CHSP2ULTRA surge protector.
  • Short Circuit Current Rating (SCCR):
    The SCCR is the maximum short-circuit current your AC can handle without causing an electrical hazard. 

    It’s measured in amps (or root mean square amps) and should be sized higher than any expected current levels caused by a short circuit.

    I recommend a minimum SCCR of 20,000 amps, but it may need to be higher for whole-home surge protection devices.
  • Max Continuous Voltage (MCOV):
    The MCOV is the most voltage your surge protection device can handle without breaking down.[4] It’s expressed as volts and should be higher than the supply voltage, or it may degrade the surge protector.

    Most surge protectors have an MCOV of 120-240 volts, plenty for residential ACs, but for industrial-grade HVAC surge protection, 

    I recommend high-voltage surge protection devices with an MCOV of over 350 volts (like the Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240 - IMSK).

TL;DR: The operating MSCC, SCCR and MCOV rating of the surge protector indicating the level of surges it will be able to protect against.

Know The Modes of Protection (L-G, L-N, L-L)

The methods of surge protection are known as 'modes,' and there are 3 main types [5]:

  • Line to Ground (L-G):
    A surge protector with L-G will redirect the power surges into the ground. L-G is best for protecting against external power surges and works well for whole-house surge protection.
  • Line to Neutral (L-N):
    An L-N surge protector diverts power surges to neutral lines, preventing power surges from being redirected into other electronics. It's typically used in power strip surge protectors but only offers full protection if paired with L-G.
  • Line-to-Line (L-L):
    Line-to-line surge protection is commonly used in high-current industrial systems with a 3-phase setup. Power is redirected across multiple power lines to suppress the surge and protect the equipment.
Surge protection should take a multi-layered approach, and the best AC surge protector models combine two modes.

I recommend a surge protector that uses multiple methods, like the Intermatic AG3000 or Eaton CHSP2ULTRA.

It's also worth noting that some surge protectors, like the Clever Family Homes model, don't use any grounding/suppression method and will just shut down during power surges.

This will protect your air conditioner/other appliances, but the appliances will stop running when the voltage spikes.

TL;DR: Surge protectors are categorized depending based on the method of their protection which include L-G, L-N, L-L or a combination of these. Residential units are often L-G, L-N or both. Some surge protectors simply disconnect the supply to the appliance and shut it down instead of diverting the current.

Check Brand Quality and Number of MOV

When it comes to appliances, brand quality matters - and it’s doubly important with surge protectors that help to prevent electrical damage in your home.

Choosing a reliable brand, like Intermatic or Siemens, may cost you a little more, but you’ll have a product you can trust.

Metal-oxide varistors (MOVs) are the key to surge protection.[6]

They suppress excess current during power surges, but the number of MOVs used in a surge protector varies depending on the design.

Typically, higher-quality brands use multiple MOVs for increased surge protection and preventing damage - but this isn't always the case.

When choosing a surge protection device, you should consider the overall brand quality alongside the number of MOVs.

All the surge protection brands listed above are reliable, but the best protection comes from surge protectors with multiple MOVs, like the Intermatric Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK, the Intermatic AG3000, or the Siemens FS140.

TL;DR: Choosing a quality surge protector from a reliable brand is of paramount importance since you cannot afford any mishaps. Look for models with multiple MOVs.

What is the NEMA Enclosure Type

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is a standards body that develops the specifications and guidelines for electrical equipment.[7]

Knowing the electric housing is certified gives you confidence that the surge protector is safe, and I always use NEMA-rated products.

Generally, the higher the NEMA rating, the better protected the surge protection unit is from the elements, but it will also cost more.

The following ratings are commonly used for AC surge protectors:

  • NEMA 1 - this is typically sufficient for indoor installations and smaller AC units.
  • NEMA 3R - this is suitable for outdoor AC units and can stand up to rain.
  • NEMA 4 - slightly more durable than NEMA 3R, with more protection against liquid damage.
  • NEMA 12 - this is best for surge protection devices on industrial sites with higher levels of dust and debris.
  • NEMA 4X - the highest level of protection against all the elements.

NEMA 1-4 is suitable for most residential AC surge protection devices, but I recommend NEMA 12 or NEMA 4X grade outer casing for heavy-duty AC surge protection devices.

TL;DR: Higher the NEMA rating, the better is the enclosure of the surge protector and the safer it is from the outside elements. NEMA 1-4 is sufficient for residential units. The rest are intended for commercial or industrial use.

Has the Quality Been Tested?

Surge protection helps to prevent electrical fires and damage in your home, and I highly recommend only buying certified products. There are 2 certifications to look out for

  1. 1
    UL 1449 Certified
    The UL certification proves that the key characteristics, like clamping voltage, surge current rating, and operation after surges, have been tested.[8] The UL 1449 4th edition is the current and best standard that top models, like the Intermatic AG3000, have.
  2. 2
    IEEE C62.41 / IEEE C62.45
    These are the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standards and show that surge voltages have been tested.[9] These are often used for other appliances/other devices but not as frequently with surge protection equipment.

ACLAB Note:

Different countries may you use different national or internal standards for certifying surge protectors.

All of the top surge protection devices listed above are tested and certified.

I recommend checking the manufacturer’s specifications and packaging to see the testing certification before you buy.

TL;DR: It is highly recommend that you choose a surge protector model that has been tested and certified by either UL or IEEE.

What is Your Budget?

Surge protectors can cost anywhere from $20-$500, but the average is around $50.

You should establish your budget before you start searching, but also understand the price range of the surge protector you’re looking for:

  • Budget, power strip surge protectors will cost $10-$40
  • Mid-range surge protection will cost $40-$90
  • Heavy-duty surge protection will cost $100-$250+

The surge protectors listed above offer good value for money, but I recommend the Clever Family Home surge protector for homeowners on a tight budget.

What Kind of Warranty Does It Provide?

A warranty helps to protect your investment, and you should always choose a surge protector with a solid warranty.

The average surge protector has a 3-5-year warranty, but the best HVAC surge protector brands offer 10+ years.

Some models, like the Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK, even offer a warranty for connected equipment because they are confident in their surge protection.

I recommend a minimum one-year warranty on any surge protector you buy, but bear in mind that it will only cover defects, not the natural wear and tear that impacts all surge protection devices.

TL;DR: Surge protectors provide an average of 3-5 years of warranty. Some extremely reliable models even provide warranty for the connected equipment.


How We Review & Rank Our Product List

At Air Conditioner Lab, our team follows a similar process when evaluating all products reviews before formulating our final lists for readers.

We begin by gathering data sources directly from brands, e-commerce platforms, online retailers and press releases.

These are then added to a master file we use to compare features specifications from all hvac products. You can access this HVAC Sheet Here.

Next, we narrow down all the products on the market by evaluating user reviews, ratings and feedback from a wide variety of online and in-person sources.

Our team then discusses and co-ordinates our first hand experiences using these products, as well as gather independent opinions and feedback through Youtube and customer reviews.

How Surge Protection Works In AC Units

Surge protection in AC units involves using a surge protector to regulate the electrical voltage reaching the appliances, allowing it to function even when there’s a power surge.

Power surges are sudden increases in voltage caused by grid fluctuations, lightning, larger appliances cycling, or other electric anomalies.[10]

Some areas are more prone to outages and surges, but I’ve found that poor and outdated wiring in old homes makes power surges much more common.

Surge protectors activate when they detect these voltage increases and do one of two things:

  • Redirecting
    Most surge protectors (including the Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK and Intermatic AG3000) use metal oxide varistors. These conduct excess electricity away from your electrical equipment and into the ground.
  • Suppressing
    Some surge protectors (like the  Eaton CHSP2ULTRA) use gas discharge tubes or silicon avalanche diodes for surge suppression, stopping the excess voltage from reaching your electrical equipment and preventing damage.
Most good-quality surge protectors use a combination of suppressing and redirecting mechanisms.

I recommend choosing a model with both if you want maximum protection for your electronic devices.

TL;DR: Surge protectors either redirect the current away from the appliance or suppress it using insulating material. The more robust ones can offer both.

Do you have to replace or reset surge protectors?

Surge protectors should protect your electrical equipment continuously and don’t need to be reset. However, they can wear out over time if exposed to multiple power surges.

Most surge protectors have indicator lights that change color when they need to be replaced.

I recommend monitoring this to check whether your electrical equipment is protected.

TL;DR: Most of the times you do not have to replace or reset the surge protector. However, if it has been damaged due to an extreme surge, then a replacement will be required.

Are surge protectors different for different air conditioning systems?

Your surge protector should account for specific voltage requirements, power capacity, and individual features of your HVAC system.

The table below shows some considerations for the most common HVAC systems, but remember to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the surge protector and appliance before you buy.

Type of HVAC System

Considerations

Recommended Model

Central Air Conditioner

Higher power demands and needs surge protectors designed for larger electrical loads.

A heavy-duty surge protector like the Eaton CHSP2ULTRA.

Portable AC Units

Lower power requirements and only need a surge protector for smaller electrical loads

A smaller and more affordable surge protector like the NIPPON surge protector.

Mini Split Systems

Requires a surge protector to protect the indoor and outdoor units and can work with the specific electronics used

A more advanced surge protector like the Intermatic Smart Guard IG2240-IMSK

Heat Pumps

Needs a surge protector to protect both the heating and cooling processes

A more adaptable surge protector like the Intermatic AG3000.

TL;DR: The higher the BTU capacity of the HVAC unit, the more powerful and robust a surge protector you will need.


FAQs

Can A Power Surge Damage Your Air Conditioner?

Yes, power surges can damage the controls, circuit boards, and compressors of your AC if it’s not protected.

How Do I Know If My AC Has A Surge Protector?

You can check the AC specifications or manual to see if it has integrated surge protection safety features. If using a surge protector, check the indicator light to see if it’s working.

Can You Use A Power Strip Surge Protector for AC?

Yes, you can use a power strip for your AC, but you must ensure it has a high enough joule rating and voltage threshold to protect the AC equipment or other appliances. Wired surge protectors have higher joule ratings and offer more protection.

So, Which Surge Protector Is the Best Choice?

The Intermatic AG3000 is the best HVAC surge protector for most homes. It’s high-capacity, versatile, and durable, offering complete protection from power surges.

It balances performance and price well and should increase the lifespan of your AC unit.

However, the best HVAC surge protector for your home will depend on your AC or HVAC equipment.

I've included a range of HVAC surge protection options listed above. Hopefully, one will give you electrical peace of mind.

My #1 Recommendation
Intermatic AG3000

  • High-capacity equipment suitable for heavy-duty electronics
  • Solid warranty
  • Versatile for whole-home or specific use
  • Easy to install
  • Great value for money
  • Tough and long-lasting (UL listed)

References: 

  1. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/10/30/fact-sheetbiden-harris-administration-announces-historic-investment-to-bolster-nations-electric-grid-infrastructure-cut-energy-costs-for-families-and-create-good-paying-jobs/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country
  3. https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/home/surge-protector7.htm
  4. https://hubbellpowersystems.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/1197640-what-does-mcov-or-cov-uc-rating-of-a-surge-arres
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/surge-protection
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/materials-science/varistors
  7. https://www.nemaenclosures.com/enclosure-ratings/nema-rated-enclosures.html
  8. https://www.nemasurge.org/ul-1449-transient-voltage-surge-suppressors/
  9. https://www.ieee.org/
  10. https://www.ready.gov/power-outages 
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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