You probably have heard about the standard product warranty that covers all of your newly bought gadgets. It exists in some form or another for almost every new product sold on the market. Warranties are there to give consumers rights, allowing them to get a replacement or their money back in case that RTX graphics card decides to malfunction and melt the power cable – and I’m not pointing fingers here.
When it comes to uninterruptible power supplies and surge protectors, most manufacturers offer the standard product warranty because the law dictates so, but a good portion of them also adds an additional “connected equipment warranty” into the equation.
In theory, the connected equipment warranty – or CEW – is there to guarantee that if the product covered by the said warranty causes damage or destroys items attached to it, the product’s manufacturer will cover the total damages, up to the value listed in the warranty, which can range from a couple of thousands of dollars up to more than $100K.
The monetary value limit is part of every CEW. Some manufacturers have the same value limit for all their products; others offer different amounts for different product categories. Some even have specific value limits for every model covered with CEW.
Now, as a tech enthusiast and prosumer, I personally never had to activate a connected equipment warranty from a manufacturer. But, after my recent research of the best UPS for gaming, I couldn’t fail to notice that element.
My initial research showed that, in most cases, CEW-related claims get rejected by manufacturers. And even if consumers end up being in the right, the road to a successful claim isn’t a straightforward one. So, I wanted to go down the rabbit hole and see if that additional warranty is here to give us consumers a false sense of security, or is it actually a worthwhile feature worth the extra penny.
Let’s find out.
The Theory Behind the Connected Equipment Warranty
Let’s try to imagine a hypothetical scenario where your CEW claim ends on a positive note.
You’re building a gaming room with a budget of around $5000, there’s a plethora of gadgets in it. From the latest consoles hooked to an OLED TV up to a proper gaming rig coupled with an ultrawide OLED monitor, all of them connected to one of the surge protectors that I recommended in our best surge protector for a gaming PC list.
There’s a storm in your city, lightning hits and causes a massive power surge that reaches your home. That enormous power overload is too much for your surge protector to handle, it transfers the energy to all of the gadgets connected to it, and all of them together are now a big fried mess.
Theoretically, you can then claim the damages from the manufacturer through their CEW program, and get that initial investment of $5000 back.
The procedure would go something like this
- You would need to appoint a technician – hired & paid by yourself, not the UPS/surge protector manufacturer – who would come to your house, check the equipment and make sure that the point of failure has come from a cable directly connected to the surge protector. This step is a standard requirement for all types of warranties, not just CEW.
- The technician’s analysis ends up proving that a power surge has fried your equipment, with points of origin found in cables directly connected to the failed surge protector, which is still under warranty.
- You have a proof of purchase for the surge protector and every piece of equipment that malfunctioned, neatly packed in one single envelope.
- You fill out all the CEW forms and send the malfunctioned surge protector to the manufacturer along with the technicians report,
- you receive a positive answer from the manufacturer
- you end up being reimbursed for every piece of equipment you lost via bank transfer.
Our hypothetical scenario had a positive conclusion, but the reality is often disappointing.
The Challenges Behind the Claim
Although the CEW warranty is there for consumers, the manufacturers also want to protect themselves from misuse, as well as lawsuits, and that’s where the problems start.
For instance, every CEW I’ve found online is filled with small print, most of which limits the manufacturer’s liability in case their product damages different items connected to it.
If the terms and conditions didn’t include situations where the CEW isn’t applicable, I’m sure that users would sue manufacturers to the moon.
Additionally, each manufacturer has a different approach to CEW. As you already saw, some of them, such as APC, don’t even consider it a warranty, while others, such as Anker, consider it a form of warranty during the product’s lifetime, which comes with its own set of limitations we’ll talk more about below.
There are also differences in what’s considered the lifetime of a product, conditions under which the CEW is valid, clauses that make the CEW void, and so on.
How Do You Know if You’re Covered by a CEW Warranty?
For starters, note that some companies use different names for this tpye of warranty, while others don’t even consider CEW a warranty. For instance, while brands such as Belkin and Anker use the term connected equipment warranty, CyberPower calls it connected equipment guarantee or CEG.
APC, a Schneider Electric brand, uses the term equipment protection policy or EPP and states that EPP isn’t a warranty, and Eaton, another famous brand, uses the term load protection guarantee or LPG.
If you cannot find a CEW statement online for a product you own, search for similar terms. Also, before an online search, check the documentation that came with the product. In this text, we’re exclusively using the term connected equipment warranty or CEW for clarity sake.
Below you can find the list of popular brands and their naming schemes:
- Amazon (Amazon Basics) – Connected devices warranty
- Anker – Connected equipment warranty
- APC (Schneider Electric) – Equipment protection policy
- Belkin – Connected equipment warranty
- CyberPower – Connected equipment guarantee
- Eaton & Tripp Lite – Load protection guarantee
- GE (Jasco) – Connected equipment warranty
- Liebert (Vertiv) – Equipment protection plan
If you own a UPS or a surge protector, the manufacturer most likely has some form of CEW in place for these two product categories.
Some companies also cover other types of devices. For instance, Belkin has a connected equipment warranty for its charging accessories. However, if you don’t own a UPS or a surge protector, chances are the device doesn’t come with CEW.
For the device to qualify for CEW, in most cases, it should also be under its standard warranty, which varies from device to device and brand to brand.
To find out whether your device is under warranty or not:
- Search the manufacturer’s website
- Check the documentation that came with the device
- Check the proof of purchase – always keep proof of purchase for every device you’ve ever bought for reasons like this one
- Look for your device model online and see what you can find out
Even if the device isn’t under warranty, there’s a chance it’s covered by CEW. For instance, some brands, like Anker, state that their surge protectors are under CEW during their lifetime, which can last up to five years from the original purchase.
On the flip side, if you own a MOV surge protector, a technology used in most consumer-grade surge protectors, this period is likely shorter. MOVs or metal oxide varistors have a limited lifetime since they behave as sponges soaking up the excess voltage during each and every surge event. If the MOV in your surge protector expired before the surge took place, that surge protector isn’t covered by CEW.
Various Users and Their Experience With CEW
Now that you have seen just how convoluted a connected equipment warranty language can be and the reality of the CEW claim procedure, you can understand why many users either give up trying to fulfill their claim or ultimately get rejected.
During my research, I’ve mostly found (a bunch of) reports about unsuccessful claims, but there were a handful of positive experiences as well. Below are some examples.
- This Hardforum thread includes multiple positive experiences with Belkin, TrippLite, and APC products. However, it also features negative experiences.
- One AnandTech forum thread – more than two decades old, mind you – also includes positive experiences with Belkin and CyberPower products. However, users reported they had to wait some time before being reimbursed, had to send receipts for each piece of equipment affected, and even had to talk with a supervisor after their initial claim was rejected.
- Over at Reddit, this thread mentions a positive CEW claim from a company called Sycom. The catch? Sycom went out of business a long time ago.
- Another Reddit thread includes a happy ending regarding the CEW claim submitted to Woods Industries. The OP has gotten a check covering most of their equipment’s cost, but the road there was hard and long winded.
- My last Reddit example has a post claiming good experience with APC and CyberPower. The thing here is that the person who posted this is a business customer with lots of legal resources available if needed.
So, the general conclusion I can draw from looking at dozens of user reports I’ve found online is that, in most cases, CEW claims are flat-out denied.
Some situations end on a positive note, but even then, the process is long-winded, arduous, and includes lots of back-and-forth communication between the user and the company they’re trying to claim the warranty from.
And even if the claimant has a case and provides all the necessary information, they can wait months for the settlement, which usually only partially covers the equipment cost.
How Do Manufacturers Interpret the Warranty?
In the below example I took Anker, Belkin and CyberPower. All of them have their CEW’s available to the public, so you can review them before you even purchase one of their devices.
- Anker’s CEW can be found here: Anker Connected Equipment Warranty.
- Belkin has it here: Belkin US Connected Equipment Warranty.
- And CyberPower is linked here CyberPower Connected Equipment Guarantee.
Let’s review Anker first.
Anker’s CEW Analysis
Anker claims to cover their power strips with surge protector capabilities over the lifetime of a product. This is defined as:
- The period until the surge event occurs that causes damage to the surge protector and connected equipment
- The date until the MOV inside the protectors expires
- Five years from the moment of the original purpose
Whichever of the three comes sooner.
Regarding the damaged equipment, Anker has several options at its disposal, and the decision of which one to use is up to the company. It can decide to reimburse you for the fair market value of the equipment or repair your equipment at a facility of its choice.
Anker states that their CEW only covers damages from voltage spikes and surges if they enter the connected equipment adequately connected to their surge protector, which is properly and directly connected – not via extension cords or such – to an AC power line that works as supposed and includes protective ground.
Anker doesn’t cover damage from “voltage spikes and surges or damage from continuous over-voltage such as situations when the power company crosses lines, open neutrals, or direct lighting strikes.” In other words, if your power supplier messes up something or lighting directly strikes your house, you’re out of luck.
To qualify for Anker’s connected equipment coverage, the damaged equipment must be UL listed. This is legal but unethical since, as seen in our ETL vs. UL piece, safety certificates provided by any OSHA-recognized laboratory hold the same weight.
Other conditions include:
- You being the original purchaser of the surge protector
- All connections must be safe, and the wiring also must the properly installed and grounded
- The protector must be directly connected to the AC outlet, and the equipment must be directly connected to the surge protector.
- The power outlet must be “installed in compliance with all applicable electrical and safety regulations, including but not limited to the National Electrical Code (“NEC”) and/or Canadian Electrical (CE) Code and any local codes.”
- “The connected equipment must be an AC-connected device.”
Now, this likely means that, in the case of a desktop PC, every component that uses DC instead of AC – pretty much every PC component aside from the chassis and the PSU – is not qualified for connected equipment coverage. If you own a laptop, on the other hand, you should be fine because you can’t buy a bunch of components and build one, unlike what we have with desktop PCs.
- The warranty is void if you own a whole-house surge protector or if any other surge protector from a different brand is installed on the same circuit.
- The CEW only covers indoor equipment used in dry areas. The CEW doesn’t cover “a generator, heater, sump pump, water-related device, life support device, medical device, car, motorcycle, or golf-cart battery charger.”
- Your surge protector must be installed and used according to installation instructions and user manuals issued by Anker.
- Your surge protector must show signs of damage, and you must submit the claim within 15 days of the surge and equipment damage date.
- The CEW doesn’t cover surges on unprotected wires, data or software that was deleted or corrupted during the surge, any modifications of the surge protector or connected equipment, or damage caused by lack of grounding.
Other instances not covered by the CEW include:
- voltage drops such as brownouts
- damages caused by “acts of God, war, vandalism, theft, normal use wear-and-tear, depletion, obsolescence, abnormal care or uses, abuse, or negligence,”
- “accidents, fires or natural disasters such as flood, erosion, earthquake, wind, or direct lightning.”
Further, it’s up to Anker to determine whether you have used the connected equipment under normal operating conditions. Also, if any piece of equipment was under active warranty, including an extended warranty, it’s not covered by the CEW.
Finally, Anker is not liable for any damages not listed in the CEW statement, as well as interact or consequential damage resulting from the deterioration of the connected equipment.
The company also isn’t liable for losses in revenue & profits, claims by third-party insurance companies or other individuals, as well as for loss of software.
Belkin & CyberPower Connected Equipment Warranty Statement
Instead of listing all of the terms and conditions in Belkin and CyberPower connected equipment warranties, we’re only mentioning the most significant differences compared to the Anker CEW.
- Belkin CEW states that the damage to devices through coaxial cables, phone lines, and network (ethernet) cables is only valid if those devices were directly connected to a Belkin surge protector that includes that kind of protection. Probably because Belkin makes surge protectors with coaxial and phone line inputs.
- CyberPower, on the other hand, states that their CEW doesn’t cover any damage to coax cables and phone lines.
- CyberPower has a 10-day limit for the user to submit the claim, while Belkin has a 15-day period.
- CyberPower CEW lasts only during the warranty period of the product in question, not during its lifetime.
- Belkin states that the company reserves the right to review the damaged surge protector and equipment, as well as the site where the damage occurred.
- The company also notifies its users that the damaged equipment “must remain available for inspection until the claim is finalized.”
- Neither Belkin nor CyberPower state that the connected equipment has to be UL listed, which is a positive.
- I have not found any claims in Belkin, and CyberPower CEWs regarding lack of coverage of DC electrical equipment. In other words, if their products damage your gaming PC, the company might reimburse you for components other than the power supply.
How to Prepare for a Successful CEW Claim
Now, before I start, I want to note that the information below does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Instead, all information, content, and materials available in this article are for general informational purposes only.
Now this is out of the way, I wanted to share some tips on how to prepare for a CEW claim beforehand, and how to manage the claim itself.
- Familiarize yourself with the CEW. Ensure you fulfill all conditions, such as the equipment being directly connected, the product being under warranty, you not having any homeowners or renter’s insurance, etc.
- Have a dedicated folder with all the papers. You will need the physical or digital receipts of all the equipment connected to the damaged CEW-covered device, including the one for the CEW-covered device itself.
- Have a technician check your home. As mentioned before, you’ll not be able to claim the CEW if the AC wiring in your home is not following industry standards, so having a technician check your place before you even fill it out with gadgets is a good practice. Ideally have proof of the work done in some form, digital or physical report ideally.
And if shit hits the fan and you need to activate the CEW, you will need to go through the following hassle:
- You don’t have much time. Try to move quickly, most claims can be submitted within a 15-day period, which is why I mentioned that you should familiarize yourself with the CEW.
- Call the technician once again. The poor fella now needs to go over the wiring once again, to make sure that the damage is not caused by your faulty AC wiring. After that they need to check the damaged CEW-covered device, be it a UPS or a Surge Protector, together with all the damaged equipment connected to it. Make sure to ask him for a quote beforehand, and keep all the reports and paperwork after.
- Create a copy of all the documents. Depending on the law in your country, you will either need to send them the original receipts or copies of it, whatever you do, it’s smart to have another copy of all the paperwork, just in case something goes missing.
- Submit the CEW Claim with the manufacturer. They will most likely ask you to fill out a form with all of the details, attach all the documents to the form, together with the report from the technician, and then either send it through an e-mail or via post. If you’re shipping something, make sure to send it with tracking and keep the receipts there as well.
- Be attentive. Always check your emails and post, send replies as soon as possible and try to comply with any additional requests the manufacturer asks for.
If you’re still struggling with the replies and have the feeling that you’re not getting any results from the customer support team, you can “employ the internet” for help.
Basically every reputable manufacturer has a social media page, subreddit or some type of communication channel for their community. Use that to your advantage if needed, and just open up a question about your claim and try to ask how the process looks and what you can expect. Ideally involve the rest of the community with an open question.
A simple Facebook or Twitter post that merges two questions should be enough; “Hey , I submitted my CEW weeks ago, but no one is replying. Does anyone here have experience with the process and how long does it take?”
That way you’ll involve both the customer support and their community, and if you’re visible enough, you’ll soon get the attention of upper management and your claim will get resolved in a timely manner.
You need to tread carefully here though. If you’re wrong and your case can’t be claimed, you’ll not only be wasting your own time, but also the time of all of the people connected to the claim.
Let’s Take Belkin’s CEW Claim as an Example
Now, let’s go over the damage claim procedure of one of the manufacturers that have CEW. I’ve picked Belkin because, during my research, I’ve noticed that the company was the most frequent actor in posts related to CEW damage claims.
First, contact the company within 15 days of the incident by sending them a letter, making a call, or using their online claim form. Next, you have to prepare the following information:
- The part number of the Belkin Surge Protector.
- The equipment that was connected to the Belkin Surge Protector at the time of the Occurrence.
- The equipment that was damaged during the Occurrence and the extent of the damage.
- The date of the Occurrence.
- Where you purchased the Belkin Surge Protector.
- When you purchased the Belkin Surge Protector.
- Copy of the original receipt.
The next step is Belkin support representative contacting you and instructing you regarding the following steps:
- Get a box ready. Per the request of the Belkin support representative, you will need to send them all the equipment, receipts and technician reports involved in the claim. Once Belkin receives your parcel, they will test the protector and equipment for ~two weeks. Note that the warranty is void if the company doesn’t receive your package within 12 weeks. So make sure to pick an option that includes tracking.
- They will test the equipment themselves. Once the testing is complete, their support will contact you. There you will have two possible answers; either their device is to blame for the damages caused to your equipment, or it isn’t.
- The initial results. If the tests show their device is to blame, you may have to send Belkin “a diagnostics report and quote.” You can use a repair technician for this, and you have about two weeks to send the needed information. If the technician “deems the unit not economical to repair”, Belkin will require a written statement explaining the issue with repairing and a quote for a replacement based on the features of the damaged equipment.
- The settlement phase. Once Belkin receives the technician’s report, their team will write a settlement and send it to you, which you must sign upon receiving it. Then send that statement back to Belkin.
- Finalization. The final step includes the settlement finalization, which may take “anywhere between 8 to 10 weeks to finalize.”
CEW claims can end up successful, but only if you have a rock-solid case, lots of proof that the product in question failed to protect your equipment, and no active insurance policy that can cover the damages. You also need lots of patience since these things can take at least a few months, or even longer, to complete.
On top of that, the CEW statements I reviewed are regularly filled with legal loopholes and fine print that gravely limit the consumer’s chances for their claim to be accepted. So, while they do offer some form of legal bandaid for consumers, they also limit the companies’ responsibility towards those same consumers and protect them from legal consequences.
The conclusion here is that the connected equipment warranty is neither a swindle nor a feature you should base your purchasing decision on. It’s a bonus that may, but most likely won’t, allow you to get part of your money back if something goes south.
So, if you’re in the market for a new UPS or a surge protector, my advice is to not base your purchase decision on their CEW. A much smarter option would be to get a regular homeowner/renter insurance policy that can properly cover all your gear, especially if you’re an enthusiast with hundreds of power-hungry gadgets at home.