Top view picture of the Belkin Isolator Surge Suppressor F5C980-TEL, showing outlets, status lamps, cord keeper, and how the outlets are organized into LEVELS of protection.

Belkin Isolator Surge Protector F5C980-TEL Review

The Belkin Isolator surge protector, model F5C980-TEL is a diamond of surge suppressing power strips.  Why?  Because it not only guards against voltage spikes and electrical noise arriving via the power line.  But it also cuts inter-device noise transfer, between devices  plugged into it.

Belkin Isolator Surge Protector F5C980-TEL Intro

First of all, the Belkin Isolator surge protector stops most surges from one device from reaching the others.  Also, a fast acting circuit breaker monitors for overloads. Then it cuts power to the whole strip should it see any.

Three LED status lamps show, at a glance, any problems with either the power strip itself or the power line.

Top view picture of the Belkin Isolator surge protector F5C980-TEL, showing outlets, status lamps, and cord keeper.
Belkin Isolator surge protector F5C980-TEL. Top view, showing outlets, status lamps, and cord keeper.

We’ve owned fifteen copies of the F5C980-TEL Belkin Isolator surge protector since 2002. So we have seen them “kicking in” during many nearby storms. Yet we never lost any device plugged into it. Close by lightning strikes, motor starts and stops, never harmed our protected stuff.  So we know that The Isolator works.

E.g. It quickly snapped off the power at the instant of a strike. Thus it likely saved us many a computer and hard drive.  Then, when the surge passed, pressing the reset button restored power right away.

Finally, the heavy metal case and thick and long cable shout quality and durability.

Benefits, Pros, Features, and Advantages of the Belkin Isolator Surge Protector

Power Filter Tech

Cuts noise from the power line from reaching connected stuff via this power strip.  E.g. Vacuum cleaners and drills will likely no longer interfere with your Isolator protected TV.

Eight Widely Spaced Outlets

Enough power ports for a computer, screen, printer, router, and disk drive.  Plus, this strip does not crowd plugs.  In fact, even those large “wall wart” supplies fit side-by-side on this power strip.

Status Lamps

There’s the following lamps.

  • Yellow protection-ON.
  • Green line-OK.
  • Red line-fault LED.

Normally, the green and yellow lamps glow when this Isolator is ON.

Neon Lighted Power Switch on the Belkin Isolator Surge Protector

There’s also a neon pilot lamp in the power switch. This lasted us for years of 24 X 7 use, and did not burn out.

Outlet Covers

Also, the unit comes with two or three plug guards. These insert into the unused outlets; keeping dust and dirt out of the inside.

Long, Strong Power Cable

The cord is 12 feet long and heavy duty, yet flexible. Its insulation resists dirt, grease, and oil.

Cord Keeper

Three “ribs” on the sides of the F5C980-TEL allow wrapping of much of the cable around the Isolator body.  The cord is round and of just the right size to fit into these ribs. So when you press it into these channels, it locks into place. Then it stays there until you unwind it again.

Right Angle Plug

The power cord exits the wall plug, parallel to the wall.  It does not jut out at right angles to the wall.  This helps prevent accidental unplugging because someone knocked the plug out of the wall.

Nor does the cord hang straight down, but points off at an angle to the right.  This keeps the cord from hanging down in front of the outlet below.  So it does not block the outlet under its plug.

Rugged Metal Case

The thick black metallic case provides electrical shielding for the components inside. This cuts the chances of this power strip picking up EMI or RFI.

Fast Trip Circuit Breaker

Part of the power switch, this current limiting device “trips out” during over-current or power surge conditions.  Reset it by flipping the power switch off, waiting some seconds, and the flipping back on.  Large surges though, may heat the unit slightly. So you might have to wait for it to cool for a few minutes before the reset will hold.

The Belkin Isolator Surge Protector can Protect One Phone Line

At the far end of this device, we have one input RJ-11 phone line port. There are also two phone line outputs, also RJ-11.   Now spikes and lightning can enter exterior phone wires too. So the Isolator provides similar protection for your landline phone equipment as well.

Four Levels of Surge Protection

The unit features eight 120-volt AC outlets, organized into four banks of two each.  Then, each bank contains hefty choke coils, capacitors, and spike catchers.  These parts isolate each outlet bank from the others in terms of EMI noise and hash. Thus any EMI made by a device plugged into one bank, does not reach those in the other banks.

Each two-outlet bank has its own filters and surge protects. Then they daisy-chain it to the next bank.  Thus, the higher the level, the more the surge and noise protection.

The power passes through three prior banks in the chain before reaching bank 4.  So plug your most costly, sensitive items into the Level 4 outlets. These are the  the ones farthest from the power switch.

High Surge Capacity

This Belkin Isolator surge protector can absorb 2960 Joules.

Unlimited Attached Equipment Warranty

Bottom view image of the Belkin Isolator F5C980-TEL surge protector. Showing labels and cable keeper.
Belkin Isolator F5C980-TEL surge protector, bottom view. Showing labels and cable keeper.

Problems, Cons, Disadvantages, and Drawbacks of the Belkin Isolator Surge Protector

No TV Cable Protection

This Isolator only offers surge suppression for the power and telephone lines.  So it has no coaxial cable ports.  If you need these, check out the Belkin PureAV Isolator.

This Belkin Isolator Surge Protector can Hum and Buzz

The type and extent of power load can make a humming, buzzing sound from the Belkin Isolator surge protector.  Dimming lamps or high current loads of any kind, seem to make the buzz louder.

But we’ve only heard this in a couple of our copies.  And even when we do, the hum is not too loud.  That hum seems to come from the hefty choke coils inside.

Heavy

The Belkin Isolator surge protector, along with its power cable weighs nearly four pounds; a cost of the solid, sturdy construction.  So hauling more than a few of them around, particularly in mobile applications, can quickly become unwieldy.

The Belkin Isolator Surge Protector is Pricey

The Belkin Isolator surge protector costs more per outlet than most other power strip surge suppressors.  We paid anywhere from $50 to $90 apiece for ours.  However, the tank-like construction and the thousands of joules of instantaneous spike removal makes the higher price worth while.

No Easy Way to Fully Test Surge Protection

With most metal oxide varistors (MOVs), it’s hard to know for sure that these are still good.  Plus, the Isolator uses a bunch of these.  So, you can’t really test it without using up some of its joules.

True, a “Protection” LED pilot lamp glows.  This means that protection of the attached devices is in effect.  But these lamps are not always right. Why?  Because they often glow, even with spent MOVs.

Given the price of the Isolator, we hate just chucking it because it MIGHT NOT work.  So, a way to better test it would save much money. E.g. A button that sends surge spikes. The protector would trip out in response to these spikes, if still working as it should.

Picture of the power cable and plug for the Belkin Isolator F5C980-TEL. The cable at the wall outlet flows down and to the right. It does not stick straight out.
Belkin Isolator F5C980-TEL Power Cord and Plug. Tthe cable at the wall outlet flows down and to the right. It does not stick straight out.

Our Rating

We haven’t found this surge protector brand new lately, although we would buy more of the same.

Indeed, eight outlets are plenty for most computer setups or single user offices.  This Isolator can power home theater systems with DVRs, DVD players, VCRs, AV receivers, and TV.

The Belkin Isolator surge protector is useful any place you need lots of surge protected outlets.  So we use ours as follows.

  • Office spaces.
  • Mobile disc jockey setups.
  • Home theaters.
  • Work zones with small power tools.
  • Bed headboard power.
  • Most anywhere you use a power strip.

Often you have no idea what quality of power you’ll find at a site. So take the Belkin Isolator surge protector with you. Why? Because it shows you if the mains outlet has wrong wiring.  Plus, it safeguards against the surges so often seen at many venues.

Finally, the Isolator is a highly useful insurance policy for your delicate electronics.  So we’d rate it at 98 out of 100.

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References for the Belkin Isolator Surge Protector

Revision History

  • 2019-07-22: Added more tags.
  • 2019-06-13: Added key phrase targeting for ‘Belkin Isolator Surge Protector’, deleted ad code, and added more tags and links.
  • 2017-01-31: Added the Related Posts section.
  • 2015-10-22: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-08-13: Added content.
  • 2015-08-02: Originally published.