Why you can't rely on mains power - PRR Computers, LLC

by Matt Kelland
9 years ago

I’m going to make a prediction. Heck, I’ll call it a guarantee. This is Florida. At some point, your power’s going to go out. We have some of the most violent electrical storms in the world, and they happen regularly. Even if they don’t take the power out completely, they’ll cause the voltage to spike or drop. And that’s going to cause problems. No ifs, buts, or maybes about it.

When the power goes out, drops, or spikes, one or more of the following things will happen:

  1. You’ll lose whatever you were working on. Anything you haven’t saved will be gone. If you’re not in the habit of saving regularly, that could be hours of work.
  2. You’ll be disconnected from the Internet if the modem goes off.
  3. Your electronic equipment could be severely damaged: circuit boards, disks, connectors, power supplies, or chips could stop working and will need to be replaced. In the worst case scenarios, you could lose all your data, or the entire unit may be trashed.

And it’s not just computers and modems you need to worry about – at home, your TV, DVR, games consoles, and other electronics are all at risk. Anything plugged into the wall – phone chargers, mp3 players, or musical equipment could all get fried by a storm.

The answer is simple. A small investment in protective equipment could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

There are two types of protection available:

  1. Surge protectors will prevent damage from fluctuations in the voltage. If it spikes or drops, your equipment will still be safe. However, if the power goes out completely, it’ll still shut down instantly, so you still have a small risk.
  2. Battery-backed power supplies usually incorporate a surge protector, but also give you a small amount of reserve power so that when the power goes out, you have a few minutes to save your work and shut the equipment down cleanly. Depending on the model, you’ll get anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour, and the more advanced ones will interface to your computer and perform an automatic shutdown if you’re not around.

Better models generally include several sockets, some of which are battery-backed, and some of which aren’t. Not everything needs to be battery-backed – for example, on a typical desktop setup, the computer, monitor, modem and desk light have battery power, while the printer, speakers and phone charger don’t – it doesn’t matter if they go off.

With electrical protectors costing under $100, and as little as $20 for smaller units, it’s an investment well worth making.

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