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The Best Portable Power Strips and Surge Protectors With USB Charging

For frequent travellers, a portable power strip is essential. Wall outlets are often scarce on flights and buses as well as in hotels and airports. We tested the top models and researched dozens of options. The best power strip for North American travel was found under two brands. You can choose from the AccellHome or Away Surge Protector, or the Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Surge Protector. Both are functionally identical so you can choose the cheaper one when you’re ready. They both retail for around $20 and have three outlets as well as two USB-A charging ports. The spacing is adequate for bulkier plugs.

Contents hide

Our pick

Away or Accell Home Surge Protector

Best power strip to travel

The compact strip provides three AC outlets as well as two USB power ports, without taking up too much space or weighing you down.

$20 on Amazon

Tripp Lite Protect It 3-Outlet Surge Protector

The same thing, but a different brand

This strip is functionally identical to the Accell Away or Accell Home, but it comes in a different color and brand.

$16 at Amazon

Since 2015, these models have been our top picks. We have been using these models every year since 2015.

Great also

Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Travel-Size Surge Protector

More surge protection with a cord

The only portable option that we tested had reliable surge protection is this slightly longer strip. Although the 18-inch cord is slightly bulkier than other models, it offers more flexibility and protection than models that plug directly into an outlet.

$22 at Dell

The Protect it 3-Outlet Travel Size Surge Protector will protect you from surges while on the move. This portable model is the only one that can handle both full-size surge protectors. Other portable models let more surge voltage through than this portable model. The unit’s third AC outlet is located on the back. The right-angle plug fits in tight places, such as behind hotel furniture.

Great also

Allocacoc PowerCube ReWirable USB

For traveling abroad

The PowerCube charger offers convenient options for international travel with four international plugs as well as a protection rating between 100 and 250 volts.

$35 on Amazon

The other picks we offer are not suitable for international use. We recommend Allocacoc’s PowerCube USB if you are going to travel outside North America. This model has two USB-A ports, and four AC outlets as opposed to the three we recommend. It also has two key features that make it perfect for international travel. It is rated at 100 to 250 volts so it doesn’t require an additional voltage converter. Additionally, it comes with four interchangeable plugs that can be used to adapt to a variety of international wall outlets.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Away or Accell Home Surge Protector

Best power strip to travel

The compact strip provides three AC outlets as well as two USB power ports, without taking up too much space or weighing you down.

Buying Options

$20 on Amazon

Tripp Lite Protect It 3-Outlet Surge Protector

The same thing, but a different brand

This strip is functionally identical to the Accell Away or Accell Home, but it comes in a different color and brand.

Buying Options

$16 at Amazon

Great also

Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Travel-Size Surge Protector

More surge protection with a cord

The only portable option that we tested had reliable surge protection is this slightly longer strip. Although the 18-inch cord is slightly bulkier than other models, it offers more flexibility and protection than models that plug directly into an outlet.

Buying Options

$22 at Dell

Great also

Allocacoc PowerCube ReWirable USB

For traveling abroad

The PowerCube charger offers convenient options for international travel with four international plugs as well as a protection rating between 100 and 250 volts.

Buying Options

$35 on Amazon

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Why you should put your faith in us

Sarah Witman is a science writer who has worked in the field for seven years. She covers everything from satellite remote sensing to particle physics. She has covered USB power banks for smartphones and tablets, portable chargers to charge USB- or AC-powered laptops and portable power stations for households.

Lee Johnson, a consulting engineer with more than 10 years experience in designing and testing electrical components, performed our surge tests in 2017 and 2020.

This is who this is

It’s great to have a portable power strip while on the road. In places such as airports or hotels where there are few outlets, having access to extra outlets can prove invaluable. It can make a difference whether you are able to charge your devices on the plane or struggling to get the last 10 percent charged over a long flight.

A power strip, in general, is just an accessory that adds additional outlets. A surge protector adds protection against power surges. The majority of portable surge protectors are not long-term protection and can only be used as a nameplate. Any models with surge protection comparable to what you would expect from a full size surge protector have been highlighted.

A multiport USB wall charging station is a good choice if you don’t worry about surges and the damage they can do to USB-powered devices. You can also use a high capacity power bank to bypass wall outlets.

How did we pick?

The white Accell Home or Away Surge Protector, the black Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Surge Protection, and the PowerCube ReWirable USB all have roughly equal sizes. The Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Travel Size Surge Protector (bottom), has a cord, and is slightly larger. Photo: Rozette Rago

We couldn’t find any useful reviews on travel power strips from professionals so we created our own criteria.

  • Size & weight: When packing for travel, size and weight are the most important considerations. If your power strip is too heavy or bulky to fit in your carry-on luggage or checked baggage, it won’t work well in an electrical outlet behind a desk in a hotel room. To keep our selections small and portable, we restricted our choices to power strips that had no more than three AC outlets or two USB ports. Our international pick was the exception.
  • Outlet placement We tried to find models that place AC outlets in a way that allows you to plug in as many devices as possible, regardless of their size or shape. We also rejected models that were too close together.
  • Plug design If the AC outlet plug of the power strip retracts or folds inside the body, it makes it easy to store in smaller spaces and helps protect the plug from damaging itself or the surrounding items. It is important to ensure that the power strip plugs into the outlet do not block any other outlets in the same receptacle. We prefer models with grounded (three prong) plugs over those with ungrounded (two prong) plugs.

The top picks from Accell and Tripp Lite share the same design, with a folding plug that makes it easier to store in crowded luggage. Photo: Rozette Rago

  • Surge protection A good power strip can also act as a surge protector. In practice, however, most portable models are not capable of providing any meaningful protection. You can get an idea of the model’s ability to withstand cumulative surges. However, it will not tell you how much power your gear could be exposed to. The voltage generated by a surge is what really matters for the survival of your gear. Other testing has shown that electronics can withstand a 400-volt surge. This is the voltage most home surge protectors allow to pass when hit by a 5,000-volt surge. However, most portable models can withstand more than 1,000 volts of the exact same surge. These models can be used as surge protectors. However, if this is your primary concern, then you will need to purchase a larger option.
  • USB charging Finally, due to the many accessories and devices that charge via USB we narrowed our search to power strip models that have high-current USB-charging outlets. The most recent iPads need 2.4 amps to charge at full speed. However, few power strips can supply that amount of current. So we chose models that provide 2.1 amps. The majority of units that we tested divided this current across two ports rather than giving a maximum of 2.1 amps per port. If you plug in two iPads for example, each one will charge at half the speed because they each get only 1 amp of charging current.

These criteria helped us reduce our candidate list from many to just a handful. Then, we went through the warranty policies and reviewed customer reviews on Amazon. This topic was first covered in 2013. Since then, we have only tested a handful of models.

What we tested

We tried different types of chargers to plug into the power strips for all models. These included chargers that fit devices such as smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, and laptops. To determine which power strips would accommodate the most devices, we tried various combinations. We also considered the design and placement of the plug and if the power strip could be used without blocking an adjacent wall outlet on a two-outlet wallplate.

Next, we examined the USB charging ports to determine their charging capabilities. This was done by connecting an PortaPow USB Power Monitor to an iPad Air 2. The monitor’s amperage was then measured. To measure the output of both devices, we connected another iPad.

Lee Johnson, our consulting electrician, tested each model using a surge generator of 5,000 volts, which can produce voltage surges up to 40 times greater than the US standard AC power. He began by recording voltage at the outlet, where your other devices would plug in, with surges ranging from 160 volts to 5,000. He then did five surges of 5,000 volts, and averaged the outlet measurements in order to calculate the protected output voltage.

Lee also tested the resilience of an LCD monitor in the face a surge as a control. He first sent a 400-volt surge through his monitor. This is about the same power as a home surge protection. The monitor turned on without any problems and displayed images. He then surged the monitor with 5,000 volts of our generator. The monitor died with a loud pop. These tests provide peace of mind and show that most devices can withstand common power surges, as well as rare events of thousands of volts.

Our choice: Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Surge Protector/Accel Home or Away Surge Protector

Photo: Rozette Rago

Our pick

Away or Accell Home Surge Protector

Best power strip to travel

The compact strip provides three AC outlets as well as two USB power ports, without taking up too much space or weighing you down.

$20 on Amazon

Tripp Lite Protect It 3-Outlet Surge Protector

The same thing, but a different brand

This strip is functionally identical to the Accell Away or Accell Home, but it comes in a different color and brand.

$16 at Amazon

Accell’s Home or Away mobile powered strip (model number D080B-010K in white, D080B-011K in black) outperformed its competitors in every category, including size, design and USB-charging capabilities. It is small and easy to use, the USB ports can charge connected devices at a faster rate than any other competitor, and it is also very affordable. The Tripp-Lite Protect It 3-Outlet Surge Protector has the same design and the same capabilities. You can choose the one that is less expensive the day you place your order.

Because they are placed on different faces, the Accell/Tripp Light design is the only one that makes all three AC outlets accessible. It can hold a wide range of plug sizes and chargers. We tried all shapes and sizes of plugs and chargers and it worked flawlessly. We have not yet found the right combination of plugs, so we aren’t sure if it is possible. We were able to connect three other larger power strips to the Accell/Tripp Light. While other power strips wouldn’t be able to handle two large plugs right next to each others, this was no problem with this model. It’s much easier to fit larger plugs into the front outlet than it is into the side outlets.

Tripp Lite Protect It 3-Outlet Surge Protector features outlets on both the left and right sides so that each outlet can hold a large power brick. Photo: Rozette Rago

The Home or Away, Tripp Lite 3-Outlet and Tripp Lite 2-Outlet measure 4 1/2 inches in length, 2 1/2 inches in width, and 1 1/2 inches deep. They can be easily stuffed into smaller bags or carried-on-luggage pockets. The plug prongs also fold down neatly when they are not in use. The 5-ounce weight of the bag will be barely noticeable.

Despite their small size, Tripp Lite 3-Outlet and Accell Home or Away are strong. Even with three large adapters and plugs plugged in, each unit stayed in place and didn’t move around. Some models had this problem, such as the Belkin. It didn’t sit flush against the wall, and there was always a gap between it and the power strip body, regardless of what was being plugged into.

However, even the most well-designed model is useless if it doesn’t work well. Thankfully, the Tripp Lite 3-Outlet and Home or Away outperformed all the rest in our testing. All three devices performed exactly as described in our USB speed testing: A single iPad Air 2 was connected to one of the USB ports and we measured 2.1 amps of current draw. However, plugging an iPad Air 1 into the second USB port saw only a half of that amount. As expected, the first-generation iPad Air brought down the power draw to 1.2 amps. The charging speed of each device will be half that of a single charger or one our favourite multiport USB chargers. Although this isn’t the best performance, it is acceptable for this product. We couldn’t find any with separate 2.1-amp and 2.4-amp USB ports.

Flaws, but not dealbreakers

We don’t recommend that you use the Tripp Lite 3-Outlet or Accell Home or away internationally as they are only rated for 110-volt outlets. Even though it can be plugged into an adapter for international use, it is not safe as most countries have 220-volt electric grids. We recommend below for international power strips.

It is also disappointing that USB charging speeds are slower than those of modern devices. While you can charge one high-draw device at full speed, charging two at very slow speeds will result. You can plug in a high speed charger to one of the three AC outlets. But, part of the appeal USB charging ports on your power strips is the ability to leave those chargers at work.

Although the manufacturers may call it a surge protector (we don’t believe so) and your gear won’t be damaged by the protection. Each outlet let almost 1,000 volts pass through it to the attached devices after we had sent a 5,000-volt surge though the Tripp Lite 3-Outlet and Accell Home or Away. This is far higher than the 350-400 volts home surge protectors allow through and much more than most electronics can handle. We didn’t pay much attention to the difference in surge protection between the Accell strips and Tripp Lite strips. The former has a 612-joule rating while the latter has 540 joules. The Accell may be able to withstand a bit more surge damage than Tripp Lite but this is negligible when compared to home surge protectors which offer 2,000-3,000 joules of protection. The Tripp Lite 3-Outlet Travel Size Surge Protector is our recommendation. You might also consider our home surge protector options.

Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Travel Size Surge Protector is also great

Great also

Tripp Lite Protect it 3-Outlet Travel-Size Surge Protector

More surge protection with a cord

The only portable option that we tested had reliable surge protection is this slightly longer strip. Although the 18-inch cord is slightly bulkier than other models, it offers more flexibility and protection than models that plug directly into an outlet.

$22 at Dell

The Tripp Lite Protection It 3-Outlet Travel Size Surge Protector is a great choice if you need surge protection while on the move. It offers surge protection twice as effective as Tripp Lite Protect It 3 Outlet and Accell Home or Away. The device is slightly heavier, which can be a problem for those who pack light.

The Tripp Lite Travel Size can hold at least one large power block with its two outlets on the front and one on the back. Models like the CyberPower Systems CSP300WU and the Belkin Mini Surge Protector have all three outlets in one row. This is because a single power block can block adjacent outlets.

The Tripp Lite travel size plugs into the wall using an 18-inch cord, rather than sitting directly at the outlet. This means it won’t block the second outlet as well as other units. This strip has a right-angle plug that plugs into the wall. This is great for outlets behind furniture.

The Tripp Lite Travel Size provides better protection against each surge and can withstand more surges before it wears out.

Apart from its flexibility and outlet spacing, Tripp Lite Travel Size is a solid surge protector. It let 447 volts per outlet when we repeatedly hit it with 5,000-volt surges. This is close to the best home surge protector which allowed between 368 and 444 Vs in the same test. We also tested three other portable surge protectors that allowed close to 1,000 volts from the generator to the outlets where you would connect your devices. This is far from surge protection, and could endanger electronics.

The Tripp Lite Travel Size provides better protection against each surge and should withstand more surges before it wears out. The circuitry protecting the tripp lite Travel-Size is rated to withstand a cumulative 1,050joules. This is about twice the rating of one of our top picks. The Travel-Size’s surge protection should last longer, even though the joule ratings may not be linear.

Tripp Lite Travel-Size’s 18-inch power cord wraps around the sides of the device and can be plugged into the rear outlet for charging when it is stored. Photo: Rozette Rago

The Travel-Size has two USB ports, which can charge devices up to 2.1 Amps. It is similar to our other picks. Like every other portable power strip, the total is split between the two ports. Apple and other manufacturers include 1-amp chargers in their phones. This means that charging with the Travel Size will be quicker, even when charging multiple phones simultaneously. However, most modern smartphones and tablets can fast charge at over 2 amps so it’s worth investing in a dedicated USB charging if you have multiple devices.

Great also: Allocacoc PowerCube USB ReWirable USB

Great also

Allocacoc PowerCube ReWirable USB

For traveling abroad

The PowerCube charger offers convenient options for international travel with four international plugs as well as a protection rating between 100 and 250 volts.

$35 on Amazon

All of the power strips that we tested were convenient to use for travel, but none of them are recommended for use in countries outside North America. This is because they are not rated for use with 220-volt outlets, which are common in Europe and Asia. Many of these power strips’ manuals state explicitly that they are not warranted if you use them outside of the USA.

Allocacoc’s PowerCube USB is one option that can work overseas. It was also the only model that we could find that met our other criteria. The PowerCube can be safely plugged into any place in the world, as it works with 100 to 250 V.

The PowerCube ReWirable USB measures 2 1/2 inches in diameter and weighs less than 7 ounces. Each of the four outlets have one each, and there are two USB ports on its opposite side. The design allows for almost any size plug to access each outlet without any obstructions. Like our other picks, the USB ports also share the available 2.1amps.

They are difficult to store, but the PowerCube has international plugs that can easily be swapped in for trips abroad. Photo: Rozette Rago

Four interchangeable AC plugs are included in the PowerCube unit. They can be used to power North American, European, UK and North American (including US, Canada and Mexico) outlets. They are simple to change and can be removed as necessary. The second outlet on the wall plate will also be available for most plugs. The extra plugs can be easy to lose so we recommend using a designated bag organizer.

The PowerCube unit can be safely plugged into any place in the world, as it works with 100-250 volts.

Although it is not advertised as providing surge protection, the PowerCube was able to knock 5,000-volt surges to the same 900-to 1,000-volt range that the Accell Home or away and Tripp Lite 3-Outlet. This means that surge protection is very minimal and we wouldn’t rely upon it.

Notes for long-term testing

Our top picks for portable power strips are still the best. Three Wirecutter editors took the Accell home or away and Tripp Lite protect it 3-Outlet to dozens of places over the past four-years. The foldable plug on the power strips became stuck in the out position after extensive use. However, they have all been fine otherwise.

The competition

360 Electrical’s Mini Surge Protector features an innovative design. It has two AC outlets, one on each side. Each outlet rotates 360 degrees to make it more space-efficient for larger plugs. With a little bit of maneuvering, we were able to plug in two large transformer-sized adapters. It measures just 5 inches in length and 2 inches in width. This is only slightly smaller than the Tripp Lite and Accell power strips. The plug also folds up nicely. It only has two outlets, not three. The USB ports charge devices slightly slower than those on our top picks. The two LED indicators can double as nightlights in dark rooms, making them less suitable for hotel guests.

Belkin’s Travel RockStar Surge Protector looks great on paper. This combination of a surge protector and a portable USB battery charger combines both the best of both. It is twice as heavy as the Accell power strip and takes up more space, but it only has one outlet and a single 2-amp USB port. The Travel RockStar’s 3,000 mAh battery is what sets it apart. It’s also the only one of its kind. The Accell or Tripp Lite battery and a great portable Ub battery can be purchased separately. Although the 2-in-1 Belkin will cost more, you’ll find it easier to carry around a Power Bank than the larger Travel RockStar. Although we hope Belkin will improve on this idea, it isn’t great.

Belkin’s Mini Surge Protector is the most widely-used model among all the ones we reviewed. Its popularity was enough to allow it to stay in our research phase. We would have otherwise dismissed the model due to its tight outlet placement, which makes it difficult to use large power bricks. The design was a problem when it was brought in for testing. It is almost twice the weight of Tripp Lite 5-ounce units and significantly longer than other competitors. Although the swiveling plug can rotate out of the way for a wall plate’s second outlet (but not the button to swivel) and the plug themselves, they tend to become stuck. We tested the household surge protector guides and found it to be one of the worst, allowing through more than 800 V of our 5,000-volt surges.

The CyberPower Professional Series HTML300WU includes three AC outlets, two USB A ports and a foldable, grounded plug. It is difficult to use all three outlets at once with larger plugs, as they are too close together.

The Mogics Power Bagel has more outlets for travel abroad than our current pick. It also has a retractable cord and a unique design that allows you pack the international adapters within the unit. It’s also more expensive than the current pick and didn’t offer any surge protection during our testing.

The Poweradd Power Strip (PS-932UR) features a retractable cord, more outlets than but it is more expensive, lacks an indicator light for surge protection, and offers very little protection. It was able to withstand approximately 1800 volts in our testing. This is enough power for most devices.

The RND Power Solutions Wall Power Station has too many outlets and is too heavy.

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