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Putting the kitchen sink into a product rarely turns out well. That’s why it’s a surprise and delight to conclude the Charg 3in1 surge protector pulls off the trick. This power strip is “3in1” plus some. Rather than a single strip at the end of an AC power cord, the Charge 3in1 is, in total, a 17-foot-long (5.2 meter) assemblage. Two power-strip elements are designed to be attached to the underside of a desk and one to rest firmly on top of it.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best surge protectors, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Starting at the large plug end, to which we’ll return, the inventory is as follows starting from its AC plug:
10 feet (3 meters) of power cord
The first of two 3-outlet strips (the maker calls a “triplex”)
18 inches (46cm) of cord
The second 3-outlet triplex strip
4 feet (1.2m) of cord
A desktop unit with one USB-C jack, one USB-A jack, and an AC outlet
The surge protector also comes with Velcro strips, installation screws, cord-management clips, and a refreshable micro-suction pad under the USB/AC end “table top power unit.” The USB-C and USB-A jacks offer a combined 20 watts maximum.
While all that together might sound unique, we’re not done yet. The unit’s plug head incorporates a green Protected LED, a circuit-breaker reset button, and a replaceable surge protection module. Rather than build the metal-oxide varistors (MOVs) that clamp voltage and suppress surges into an integral part of the power strip, Charg created a module that can be swapped in seconds. Replacement cartridges are inexpensive.
That’s a smart feature on an $85 power cord intended for semi-permanent installation on your desk. It’s a reason why it costs that much, yet also a good reason to invest: the replacement cartridges extend the life of the unit by many years even in an area with frequent surges. Because no one can predict the lifespan of a product (or company), I’d recommend that if you purchase the 3in1, you also buy a $14.99 two-pack of replacement cartridges to futureproof your choice.
Charg doesn’t list the clamping voltage, even though it publishes the figures for maximum wattage (1,800W) and maximum surge suppression (1,000 joules). Those numbers are useful for load, but the more commonly used numbers are volts across the three “legs” of a modern three-wire electric section: line, neutral, and ground (L-N, L-G, and N-G). That number indicates the maximum voltage that can pass across a given leg in the event of a power surge; anything above that is clamped, which puts wear on the MOVs.
After querying, the company told me clamping voltage is 550V across L-N, the most vulnerable leg. That level of voltage protection is reasonable for a standard surge protector, and it should provide the necessary equipment protection in most cases.
I suggest only buying the 3in1 if you’re using a desk, as it’s otherwise ungainly overkill. But with a desk for which you want to have protected power in multiple locations, including USB charging, it’s a nice fit. Most people will need clamps, powerful tape, or a second person to unfurl and hold the 3in1 into position while determining the best location of its pieces, drilling for screw holes, or attaching the less-permanent Velcro option. Charg includes all the screws and Velcro strips required for either option, plus routing clips to hold the cord elements in place.
The only tricky-to-use elements are the AC triplex strips: The outlets here are too tightly spaced to allow most power adapter blocks to fit adjacent with each other or standard plug heads. Fortunately, the industry seems to be moving away from “wall warts” and in favor of the familiar two-prong and three-prong plugs (NEMA 1-15 and 5-15).
Charg includes a two-year, limited $3,000 warranty offer for the fair market value or original value of damaged equipment, whichever is less. The warranty requires registration within 30 days of purchase to activate. Claims must be filed within 30 days. Only the original purchaser qualifies for the warranty.
The company includes a small, well-designed manual with illustrations and step-by-step instructions for installing the surge protector on a desk.
The bottom line
For a desk warrior, the Charg 3in1 Surge Protector offers flexibility, protection, and resilience. Because of its replaceable clamping elements, you can install this power strip rigidly to a desk without fear of needing to swap it out in a year or three. The price might deter some buyers relative to the few outlets—just seven—but the cord length, USB/AC desktop unit, and swappable cartridges are a winning combination.