AVR vs. Surge Protector- Which is Better?

Norvan Martin
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If you’re looking for an electrical protection device that can help you maintain the standard flow of current to your electrical appliances, consider either an automatic voltage regulator (AVR) or surge protector. These two devices are widely used in commercial and residential areas across the world. To make the best decision, please read on to see how each of these devices works and what sets them apart.

Surge protectors protect your devices, appliances and electrical system against transient overvoltage. On the other hand, automatic voltage regulators (AVR) protect your electrical devices against frequent electricity fluctuations or the sudden rise and fall of voltages.

Read on to learn more.

AVR vs Surge Protectors Comparison Table

CriteriaAVRSurge Protector
FunctionalityAudio and video processing, amplification, and distributionProtects devices from power surges and spikes
Power ManagementManages power distribution and may provide power conditioningFocuses on protecting devices from power fluctuations
Audio/Video ConnectivityVarious audio and video connections, HDMI ports, speaker terminalsProvides power outlets, no audio or video signal connections
Surge Protection RatingMay have built-in surge protection but secondary to audio/video featuresSpecifically designed with high surge protection ratings
Voltage RegulationMay include voltage regulation for stable power deliveryDoes not regulate voltage, focuses on suppressing surges
CostGenerally more expensive due to advanced audio/video featuresTypically more cost-effective, focused on surge protection
Use CasesIdeal for home theater setups and audio enthusiastsEssential for protecting electronic devices from power surges
Device CompatibilityCompatible with various audio/video componentsCompatible with a wide range of electronic devices

How Do AVR and Surge Protectors Work?

AVRs and surge protectors serve the same purpose of protecting your electrical components. However, you should note that they work in varied ways to protect your electrical equipment. Here is how each of them works:

Surge Protectors

As the name suggests, surge protectors are designed to offer a line of defense against surges or transient overvoltage. The sudden rise in voltage often occurs due to electronics switching, lightning strikes, and other types of disturbances within the circuit. It can damage all your electronic devices.

surge protectors

Surge protectors minimize the risk by using a gas discharge tube and a semiconductor known as metal oxide varistors to reduce voltage spikes. So, the device diverts excess current into a grounding line.

To learn more, check out our article on what a surge protector is and how to use one.


AVR captures current fluctuations and maintains the normal flow of output voltage. So, it stops fluctuations in electricity caused by factors such as inadequate power regulations and lightning from damaging your devices.

automatic voltage regulator

They are designed to protect your electrical appliances from transient waves and the frequent fluctuation of current.

What Are the Differences Between AVR and Surge Protector?

Level of Protection

Power surges offer a limited degree of safety, as they are designed to protect your devices against power spikes or surges only. On the other hand, AVRs offer total protection 24/7 from all forms of voltage dips (under-voltage) and voltage spikes (over-voltage). To get this level of protection, you must use your AVR as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: There are electrical protective devices today with a mix of AVR and surge protector features. Certain AVRs even have power-on-play features, so they offer additional protection from voltage surges such as those that occur after power outages.

Price Tag

The cost difference is also essential as it should also determine your choice of electrical protection device. AVRs are more expensive than power surge protectors. So, we can say that the greater the degree of safety your device offers, the higher the cost.

Can I Use My AVR And Surge Protector at the Same Time?

Yes, you can plug your AVR into your surge protector if you want to advance the level of protection that you receive. The two devices will work together to ensure your valuable electrical appliances and their components are almost 100% safe from all forms of surges and dips.

It’s important to note that you can get the same quality service or much better by using a high-quality AVR. In other words, if you’re using a quality automatic voltage regulator, you won’t get additional safety benefits by plugging it into your surge protector.

However, you’ll have additional outlets for your electronics. Perhaps, that is the only benefit you can reap if your AVR comes with a built-in surge protector.

Getting the right AVRs shouldn’t be difficult since most modern ones come with built-in surge protectors.

How To Know If Your AVR Has a Built-In Surge Protector?

You should check whether the device has a surge protector rating. It’s indicated in Joules of energy. The figure shows the maximum voltage that your AVR can handle from a power spike. If you can see all these details, it most likely has a built-in surge protection unit.

If you can’t see the numbers on the device itself, go to the back or side of the box. You can safely conclude you have an ordinary AVR if you can find the surge protector’s rating. If this is the case, consider using it with a surge protector or purchase one with a built-in surge protection system.

You can expect the price of an AVR with a surge protector to be much higher than a standard AVR. However, the cost should be less than the combined price of a surge protector and a traditional AVR. So, using a quality, AVR could save you lots of dollars.

Is it OK to Connect UPS to AVR with a Built-in Surge Protector?

A USP or Uninterruptible Power Supply is designed to give you sufficient time to save your documents and shut down your device correctly in case of a sudden blackout. It’s mainly used with printers, WIFI routers, and computers.

UPS won’t protect your electrical devices from transient waves and the frequent fluctuation of current. Moreover, frequent power fluctuations can reduce its life span from 2 years to a few months. So, it would help if you prevented power surges and dips from affecting how it works.

To do so, you should install AVR with a surge protector in front of it. You can also plug your AVR into your surge protector and then connect them to your AVR.

Which is Better, AVR or Surge Protector?

As we’ve seen, you should consider different factors before determining which of these two devices is better than the other for you.

If the voltage supply in your residence or business location isn’t stable enough, ARV might be much better. Remember that this device can protect you against voltage surges and voltage dips concurrently.

On the other hand, if the voltage supply in your area is stable, but you occasionally experience voltage spikes, a power surge protector is the best. This is particularly true if you are looking for a more affordable electrical protective device.

It would be best to consider what is at risk when shopping around for a suitable safety device. If you have costly equipment that continuous voltage fluctuations can easily damage, you might find it better to invest in a high-quality AVR.

Can I Use AVR on Refrigerator?

Yes, you can use AVR on refrigerators with sensitive electronics. For non-inverter refrigerators, beverage coolers, and freezers, you can get away with them without the need for an AVR.

Therefore, you can invest in power on delay with a built-in power surge protector.

How Do I Choose the Right AVR?

Multiply the product’s total wattage by three (3). The AVR to select will be based on the result.

The total calculated wattage of the appliance/s plugged into the AVR should not exceed 50% of the AVR’s capacity when using a 110V socket.

Summing Up

Surge protectors and AVRs make for great devices for securing your valuable electrical devices from power fluctuations. Before you choose any of them, you should consider the nature of your safety needs and your budget size. If your budget doesn’t t limit your choice, you should go for an AVR with a built-in surge protector since it offers better protection against transient waves and frequent fluctuation of current.



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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin