About Xtra Socket
Xtra Socket promises to turn any household outlet into a surge-protected power station. They claim this wall adaptor adds another 3-prong plug and 2 USB ports to power computers, phones, and more as well as protect them from electrical damage.
Xtra Socket is brought to you by Tristar Products. an infomercial company with a C rating from the BBB due to over 1000 complaints in the last 3 years. It’s pitched by the guy who hoodwinked the public into buying their Clear TV antenna (read about that here).
How Xtra Socket Works
Xtra Socket looks like a square white socket adaptor with a third plug. It has a green LED on top, which they say indicates it is working. To use, plug into the wall socket and then add the devices via plug or USB. They claim this will give you the protection you need from the occasional power spike or surge that has the potential to wipe out data and destroy devices. However, they leave you in the dark about the most important information.
About Power Surges and How you get them
A surge or spike are brief increases in voltage that can happen due to lightning, although that is less likely than you think. More commonly, they are caused by a refrigerator or large appliance in the home, faulty wiring, or sometimes through an error at the utility company; they are milliseconds in duration but can cause havoc on modern equipment.
About Surge Protectors in General
Surge protectors are essential for every computer, as well as sensitive products like TVs that could also get damaged. A surge protector is designed to divert this extra electricity to a grounding wire; they also sometimes have a fuse as well. Most commonly, surge protectors use a metal oxide varistor (MOV) or gas tube to accomplish this feat (according to the website, Xtra Fuse uses MOV). A basic surge protector can be very cheap, but heavy-duty ones can sell upwards of a hundred dollars.
What You Need to Know When Buying a Surge Protector
There are several things you need to keep in mind when shopping for one of these devices. First, keep in mind the cheaper you pay, the less protection you will probably get. The next thing is to look for is an Underwriters Laboratory rating on the product that verifies it as a transient voltage surge suppressor. Then, look at its clamping voltage, which is the jolt level that trips the device: a lower number is better and anything over 400 V is considered too high. You also need to know its energy absorption, listed in joules. For this number, the higher is better, with excellent protection over 600 joules. Finally, look to make sure the response time is less than 1 nanosecond. Another factor that can affect price are protection/input for telephone lines and cables, which can also cause severe electrical damage.
What We Know About Xtra Socket’s Protection Levels
Nothing! Now that you’ve read the above information about surge protection, look back at Xtra Socket. It basically tells you none of the info you need (clamping voltage, UL rating, joules, response time). Therefore, there is no way to know if your devices will be protected.
Xtra Socket Pricing, Shipping, and Returns
Xtra Socket sells for $14.95 plus $6.99 S&H for a total of $21.94. (You can add a “bonus” Xtra Socket for another $6.99 S&H.) They give you 60 days to try Xtra Socket and offer you your money back. But unlike more reputable power surge protectors, they do not offer to reimburse you for equipment damaged during its use. They will also keep the shipping fees.
Xtra Socket stores all your personal information including name, address, phone number, and email. The fine print allows them to not only phone, email, or mail you solicitations, but “from time to time” sell it to “reputable” third parties as well.
Bottom Line: Is Xtra Socket a Scam?