Frequently Asked Questions
Where do Power Surges Come From?
However, surges can also come from normal utility switching operations, or unintentional grounding of electrical conductors (such as when an overhead power line falls to the ground). Surges may even come from within a building or facility from such things as fax machines, copiers, air conditioners, elevators, motors/pumps, or arc welders, to name a few. In each case, the normal electric circuit is suddenly exposed to a large dose of energy that can adversely affect the equipment being supplied power.
Damage from electrical transients, or surges, is one of the leading causes of electrical equipment failure. An electrical transient is a short duration, high-energy impulse that is imparted on the normal electrical power system whenever there is a sudden change in the electrical circuit. They can originate from a variety of sources, both internal and external to a facility.
What is Over-Voltage?
Electronic and electrical devices are designed to operate at a certain maximum supply voltage, and considerable damage can be caused by voltage that is higher than that for which the devices are rated.
For example, an electric light bulb has a wire in it that at the given rated voltage will carry a current just large enough for the wire to get very hot (giving off light and heat), but not hot enough for it to melt. The amount of current in a circuit depends on the voltage supplied: if the voltage is too high, then the wire may melt and the light bulb would have “burned out real time”. Similarly other electrical devices may stop working, or may even burst into flames if an overvoltage is delivered to the circuit.
What is a Brownout/Under-Voltage?
Different types of electrical apparatus will react in different ways to a sag. Some devices will be severely affected, while others may not be affected at all.
The heat output of any resistance device, such as an electric space heater, is equal to the true power consumption, which is an increasing function of the applied voltage. If the resistance stays constant, power consumption is proportional to the square of the applied voltage. Therefore, a significant reduction of heat output will occur with a relatively small reduction in voltage. An incandescent lamp will dim due to lower heat creation in the filament, as well as lower conversion of heat to light. Generally speaking, no damage will occur but functionality will be impaired.
What is Power Quality?
For environments like a restaurant or office setting, computers run their best on clean computer grade power. Microprocessor-based equipment is susceptible to product degradation and potential malfunction when not running on clean power. Implementing a computer-based power protection device increases up-time by eliminating dirty power which is always present when microprocessor-based equipment is installed at sites with other equipment such as freezers, refrigerators, microwaves, laser printers, air conditioners, heaters, and elevators that run simultaneously. These products all cycle on and off throwing transient spikes throughout the facility. Ensuring clean computer-grade power will enable business owners to extend the life of their IT equipment and eliminate the number of “No problem found service calls” which inevitably decreases the total cost of ownership invested in IT and office automation equipment.”
Do I Need Power Protection even though I have a dedicated line?
Why do I need Power Protection? I have a maintenance contract.
Maintenance contract providers must make a profit on the contract. If they must make an excessive number of calls at your site due to poor power quality, they will have to increase the maintenance contract price to recover their dollar losses.
How do I know if I have Dirty Power?
- Blue Screens of Death
- Unexpected Downtime
- Confusing Error Codes
- Excessive “no-trouble-found” Service Calls
- Poor Print Quality or Phantom Paper Jams
- Premature Circuit Board Replacement (Not attributed to lightning or power surges)
- And the many other ways poor power conditions affecting micro-processors
Voltage spikes and surges are causes of system failures and responsible for thousands of service calls annually on all types of electronic systems. Oftentimes the problem is blamed on the equipment of software, when in fact it is caused by poor power conditions.
In any manifestation, the effects are the same: they cause sensitive digital equipment to fail or to operate poorly.
What is Grounding?
Without a proper grounding system, there is no way to protect against surges.
We have good grounding, do we still need surge protection?
What is a Joule Rating?
In comparing two products, the lower rated device would be better if this was as a result of a lower clamping voltage, while the large energy device would be preferable if this was as a result of a larger surge current being used. There is no clear standard for SPD energy measurement, and manufacturers have been known to use long tail pulses to provide larger results misleading the end users.
Because Joule ratings can easily be manipulated many of the industry standards (UL) and guidelines (IEEE) do not recommend the comparison of joules. Instead they put the focus on actual performance of the SPDs with test such as the Nominal Discharge Current testing, which tests the SPDs durability along with the VPR testing that reflects the let-through voltage. With this type of information a better comparison from one SPD to another can be made.
Our equipment is connected to a UPS, do we still need surge protection?
We've never had any problems with surges, why do we need surge protection?
We are based in an area with very little lightning, why do we need surge protection?
Why do I need to protect data/control lines?
All my data lines run inside the building, why do I need to protect them?
What is a UPS?
Why is a UPS necessary?
What is a typical application for a UPS?
- Telephone and telecommunications equipment
- Digital signage player and display
- Digital video recording systems
- Digital mixing consoles
- Access control and security systems
- Emergency evacuation public address systems
How do I select the right UPS for my applications?
The right UPS for your application is determined by several factors. To select the right UPS you will need to know:
- The power requirement of your equipment load. How much electric current does your equipment need? This is usually measured in amps (current), watts (power) or volt-amps (another measure of power).
- How long does the UPS need to support operation of the equipment in case of a black-out? This will be UPSs required “run time”.
- How critical is the application? Of course, any application is important if you are considering a UPS. However, since the most reliable on-line UPS models are more expensive than the simpler stand-by models it is best to match the features of the UPS with the value of the application.
The UPS models are described based on their power rating in terms of their volt-amp (VA) rating. Match this with the power requirement of your application. The run-time of the UPS is stated for full capacity current draw and one-half capacity. The most critical applications (security or network communications) should probably be supported by an on-line model. The less critical applications (cash registers or work stations) are usually matched with a stand-by device.