I need to buy a couple power strips and am wondering whether some brands are better than others. Is there some way to judge quality in these things?
Letting this slip down.
Hi. Actually, there are two things to look for in a good power strip. One is a mark (usually on the box) that the strip meets the specifications of UL 1449 (you'll see the Underwriter's Laboratory circle). UL 1449 is a standard for power strip construction which increases their safety.
The other is a comparative figure -- clamping voltage. The lower, the better. The clamping voltage level is the maximum voltage the strip will let through before it sacrifices itself and removes power from whatever is connected to it.
You probably already know to look for an appropriate total watt rating. Good strips are not usually found at the 99-cent store, but they really don't cost much more and they provide a good margin of safety over two runs of copper in a plastic case.