Google is making a lot of noise about the importance of its “voltage stabilizers” to protect smartphones and tablets from surges.
But that’s a bit of a misnomer, according to the company’s vice president of products, Andrew T. Nardone.
“Voltage stabilizer is not the same as protection,” Nardones said.
“The difference is that stabilizers are made to help protect devices, not protect devices from a surge.”
If a device is suddenly turned on, a stabilizer might be the first thing to help it recover from a charge or voltage spike, said Nardons company, Google PowerApps.
That means the device should still be able to charge and power on when the surge event occurs.
But the company has a warning on the packaging for its stabilizers: They should only be used in the presence of surge protection.
That’s not necessarily true for all devices, said Toni Osterloh, a spokeswoman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, an industry group that represents the stabilizer industry.
She added that stabilizer makers and device manufacturers often don’t know how to use them properly.
Toni Oesterloh says the industry is trying to educate consumers about the difference between a surge and a surge-protected device.
The devices that can be used to stabilize phones and tablets are not all the same, said Larry Siegel, president and CEO of the National Association of Consumer Electronics Manufacturers.
Some are made for charging and other applications while others are designed to protect devices during a power surge.
“The surge is different, the surge-protect is different,” said Siegel.
“That’s a pretty big distinction.
I would say that a surge protector is better for a certain situation.”
Siegel said he didn’t know whether the surge protection is the most important aspect of a stabiliser, but it was certainly important to manufacturers of the devices.
Siegel also noted that the manufacturers of stabilizers have to ensure the devices are designed properly, because many companies make them for phones and other devices that aren’t designed to charge while they’re still connected to the wall.
“They can be dangerous for the user if they are not designed to work in that environment,” he said.
Some of the newer devices that come with a surge protection feature don’t even need it, according in Siegel’s experience.
He also said there’s no clear standard for the level of protection that devices need.
He said the only way to know for sure if a stabilizers is working properly is to test it.
“You have to do the testing and find out if it is the right level,” he told CNNMoney.
“Then you can say that it is.”