OT: surge protectors

Discussion in 'Dell' started by yirg.kenya, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. yirg.kenya

    yirg.kenya Guest

    Is there a difference?

    When the central heating comes in I occasionally lose connectivity.
    Since I telecommute a lot, this is annoying. Everything in the house,
    with the exception of the popcorn popper--well maybe one or two others
    -:), are already on surge protectors, typically cheap ones from Home
    Depot/Fryes with a 'decent' joule rating.

    So, I think I need better. I'm skeptical of manufacturer claims and
    what they mean, so I'm hoping for some knowledgeable recs from the
    gurus here. And maybe an explanation of what figures, numbers, etc.,
    are really meaningful and what not. All four systems in the house are
    Dell, of varying vintage, except of course the router, etc.

    TIA.
     
    yirg.kenya, Feb 21, 2008
    #1
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  2. yirg.kenya

    Bill Ghrist Guest

    Surge protectors protect your equipment from damage if there is a spike
    of high voltage on the line. They do nothing to smooth over power dips,
    which is what you seem to be having. Short of eliminating the dips
    (with better heating equipment or beefier house wiring--the problem
    could even be in the power company's local circuit), about the only
    thing you could do about this it to put critical equipment, such as your
    computers, router, and DSL modem, on an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

    Bill
     
    Bill Ghrist, Feb 21, 2008
    #2
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  3. yirg.kenya

    Ron Hardin Guest

    Ron Hardin, Feb 21, 2008
    #3
  4. yirg.kenya

    wm_walsh Guest

    Hi!
    Yes. While it is fair to say that any surge protector is better than
    none at all, there are differences in cost, quality, clamping ratings
    and other factors. The basic circuitry (an MOV in most units) is the
    same, and any surge protector you buy should be listed by whatever
    electrical product safety organization operates in your country. (For
    the US, this would be Underwriters Laboratories.)

    It sounds like what you really need is not so much a surge protector
    (which does one thing only--it (hopefully!) diverts destructive
    amounts of high voltage and current to a ground instead of through
    your sensitive equipment) but a line conditioner or uninterruptible
    power supply (UPS). A line conditioner stabilizes the voltage coming
    in to a connected device. A UPS contains an internal battery that will
    run connected equipment for a while, hopefully long enough to shut it
    down safely.

    If your central heating system pulls enough power that it is denying
    other devices the power they need to work (as shown by your router
    losing connectivity), you should be sure that a more serious
    electrical problem does not exist. It is also possible that your
    router's power supply could simply be poorly designed or faulty.

    In any case, you first need to figure out what you need. A good
    starting point would be to check your home's electrical system and
    make sure that it is working properly. Once you're sure it is, then
    you can think about what kind of power protection device you should
    purchase. I would suggest an APC or Tripp-Lite brand UPS. Both are
    well respected brands with decent quality products. APC markets some
    smaller UPS units for as little as $35 on sale. These would be good
    for your router, but may be a little small for your computer.

    William
     
    wm_walsh, Feb 21, 2008
    #4
  5. yirg.kenya

    WaIIy Guest

    I think a dedicated circuit for his computer would do the trick. Seems
    like his furnace motor and computer are on the same line and the
    computer is a wee bit sensitive to voltage drop.
     
    WaIIy, Feb 22, 2008
    #5
  6. yirg.kenya

    w_tom Guest

    When a canary dies in a coal mine, we blame darkness; buy a light?
    That is what the UPS does. No switching electrical appliance must
    cause voltage variations that large. As others note, one reason for
    voltage variations so large as to interfere with a computer - a
    household wiring defect that is also a human safety issue.

    Do incandescant bulbs dim or brighten when any appliance switches?
    Then we have symptoms of possible and serious human safety problems.
    This assumes a problem exists on AC mains. But we don't even know
    that.

    What will the UPS do? Person that recommended a UPS assumes problem
    was on AC mains. We don't even know that. Meanwhile Dells must work
    at voltages so low that incandescent bulbs are only 40% intensity.
    Voltage must drop that low and Dell must still work fine. Even a
    dedicated circuit must not be necessary. What would that UPS do? At
    best, only cure symptoms.

    OK. Connectivity is lost. On what? Modem? Network connections to
    other computers? WiFi? How? Exactly what happens? Is the problem
    reproducible and only created by what - electric heat? What do
    diagnostics report when the problem is triggered? Dell mean that
    every machine contains diagnostics. No one can provide a useful
    solution without this obvious information.

    What do you check? Provided above is an example of what -
    specifically - to do to first understand the problem. Solving a
    voltage problem with a UPS also means incandescant bulbs are dimming
    or brightening. Are they? Currently we don't even know what the data
    connection was. No one can recommend a useful solution without first
    understanding the problem.

    Surge protector would have done what it claims. What specifically
    are its spec numbers - what it claims to do?
     
    w_tom, Feb 22, 2008
    #6
  7. yirg.kenya

    Journey Guest

    I decided not to bother with UPS. Windows machines, not as much as
    before, but occasionally get blue screens of death or have other
    situations in which they abruptly shut down. I've never had a problem
    with data loss. For me, UPS seems unnecessary. I know others will
    disagree.

    As far as surge protectors go, I like APC because they have one with
    11 outlets, six of which can hold the big "brick" parts. I also like
    a Belkin model with 12 outlets -- the 8 on the side pivot, and I found
    it's a design that works well. It's prohibitively expensive though.

    Some people have disagreed with w_tom, and it's cool to see him always
    post when this topic comes up. I think he says the best protection is
    your entire house circuitry. Something like that :)

    So, my suggestion -- get the surge protector that has the outlet
    design that you like.

    I do have a question though that I hope some can answer:

    - If I plug one surge protector into another, can that cause
    problems, or is it OK. I have so many external hard drives and Palm
    cradles and iPod hookup, that I need more outlets and I have to do
    that.
     
    Journey, Feb 22, 2008
    #7
  8. yirg.kenya

    w_tom Guest

    Better is to spend only $3 for power strips with an essential 15 A
    circuit breaker. Power strips without protector components inside
    reduce a fire risk.

    Telco does not put protectors adjacent to electronics since
    separation between the protector and electronics also enhances
    protection. A protector does not provide protection. Protector must
    connect to protection. That protection is earth ground. 'Protector'
    and 'protection' define different items.

    For effective protection, telco prefers a protector to be up to 50
    meters distant from electronics - to make protection even better.
    Greater distance to electronics and shorter distance to earth (the
    protection) means more surge will dissipate in earth and less surge
    will approach electronics. But if a protector is adjacent to
    electronics, then a protector may earth a surge, destructively through
    that electronics.

    More outlets are better obtained by $3 power strips with the
    important safety feature: 15 A circuit breaker.
     
    w_tom, Feb 22, 2008
    #8
  9. yirg.kenya

    bud-- Guest

    ..
    It is best to not plug plug-in suppressors into each other. The clamp
    voltage for the devices will not be the same and you loose control of
    how the system operates. I agree that a power strip should be the 2nd
    device. (UL (US) does not intend for power strips to be plugged into
    each other.)

    Note that with plug-in suppressors all interconnected equipment needs to
    be connected to the same plug-in suppressor, or interconnecting wires
    need to go through the suppressor. External connections, like phone,
    also need to go through the suppressor.
    ..
    ..
    Excellent information on surges and surge protection is in an IEEE guide at:
    http://omegaps.com/Lightning Guide_FINALpublishedversion_May051.pdf

    The IEEE guide explains that plug-in suppressors work by CLAMPING the
    voltage on all wires (signal and power) to the common ground at the
    suppressor. Plug-in suppressors do not work primarily by earthing or
    ‘grounding’. The guide explains earthing occurs elsewhere. (Read the
    guide starting pdf page 40).


    I agree with others that the OP’s problem will probably not be solved
    with a surge suppressor.
     
    bud--, Feb 22, 2008
    #9
  10. yirg.kenya

    w_tom Guest

    Yes, it works by clamping that energy ... to earth ground. Surge
    energy must be dissipated somewhere. If a protector has no earth
    connection, then surge energy will be clamped (connected, shunted,
    diverted) someplace else. Page 42 Figure 8 demonstrates TV damage
    because the protector is too far from earth ground AND located
    adjacent to the TV. Surge is clamped (diverted), 8000 volts
    destructively, through the TV. Page 42 Figure 8 is the point of Bud's
    citation.

    Modem damage was described in the previous post. Surge went from
    cloud, to wires highest on pole, into house AC wires, destructively
    through computer and modem, to earth ground via phone wire. If a
    'whole house' protector is properly earthed, then surge is from cloud,
    to wires on pole, through 'whole house' protector, and harmlessly
    dissipated in earth. However if we put a protector at the computer,
    then surge from cloud, enters AC wires, and arrives at a plug-in surge
    protector. Protector shunts (diverts, clamps) that surge to all other
    wires. Now surge is on many more wires to seek earth ground,
    destructively, via modem and computer. Adjacent protector gave the
    surge more destructive paths through electronics.

    Latter case is exactly the point of Page 42 Figure 8. A protector
    without that 'less than 10 foot' earthing connection will give a surge
    more paths to find earth, 8000 volts destructively, via the adjacent
    TV. That surge energy must be dissipated somewhere.

    Telcos do same to have maybe 100 surges during every thunderstorm
    and no damage. Telcos also do not locate protectors adjacent to
    electronics. An effective protector is located where wires enter the
    building AND as close to earth ground as possible. 'Less than 10
    foot' connection means protection is even better when 2 feet. Page 42
    Figure 8 demonstrates clamping destructively through an appliance
    because protector is too close to an appliance and does not have that
    dedicated 'less than 10 foot' wire to earth.

    Protectors are not protection. Protectors are connecting devices to
    protection. Protection is earth ground. A protector with that 'less
    than 10 foot' earthing connection means surge energy gets dissipated
    harmlessly in earth; not inside appliances. That surge energy must be
    dissipated somewhere. Will a plug-in protector dissipate what even
    three miles of sky could not? No. But that is what plug-in promoters
    claim. A protector is only as effective as its earth ground. The
    effective protector has a separate wire to clamp (divert, shunt) surge
    energy into earth ground.

    No way around this principle demonstrated by Franklin in 1752.
    Protection is only as effective as the earth ground.
     
    w_tom, Feb 23, 2008
    #10
  11. yirg.kenya

    Tony Harding Guest

    Bum link?
     
    Tony Harding, Feb 23, 2008
    #11
  12. yirg.kenya

    Ben Myers Guest

    You need a UPS. Or two. Or three. Or four. A UPS provides current from its
    battery to keep the line voltage acceptably high for sensitive computers. Surge
    protectors do not do squat to deal with a DROP in line voltage, which is what
    happens when the heat comes on. Surge protectors protect against a SURGE in
    line voltage. (They do not protect us against the surge in Iraq.)

    You, or the owner of your house or apartment, also needs to spend the money to
    hire an electrician to upgrade the electrical service to provide more total
    amps, and perhaps more amps on individual circuits. This may not be as
    expensive as it sounds when balanced against the cash outlay for a bunch of
    UPS's. This might also be a dangerous situation if the electrical wiring and
    fuse box are not up to code.

    I once sold a computer to a nearby family and got a call a few hours later
    telling me that the computer was rebooting itself every 45 minutes. I went
    over there and stood patiently by, waiting for a reboot. When the computer
    rebooted, I heard a loud noise from downstairs when the refrigerator compressor
    kicked on. Yes, the computer was sharing the circuit with the fridge. They
    solved the problem, but not by getting rid of the fridge. Some people just
    don't have the right priorities... Ben
     
    Ben Myers, Feb 23, 2008
    #12
  13. yirg.kenya

    Journey Guest

    I might have a blind spot here. I thought that the value of a UPS was
    to keep the computer running in case of a power outage of some kind so
    that all disk writes are fully complete. Please explain if there are
    other values of a UPS. Your post seems to say that the UPS is also a
    voltage-controller. If so, I should get one after all. If it's only
    a data issue I won't bother.

    Also, what components should be plugged into a UPS -- mainly the CPU?

    Finally, is it true that laptops don't need a UPS?
     
    Journey, Feb 23, 2008
    #13
  14. yirg.kenya

    Ben Myers Guest

    A substantial drop in line voltage is the same as a power outage to desktop
    computer. With most switching power supplies, when the voltage gets down into
    the 90's, the motherboard gets starved for current and shuts down. People who
    have to deal with substandard building wiring (my son in his apartment, for
    example) and those who live in areas prone to brownouts need UPSes to provide
    continutity of the proper operating voltage.

    What should be plugged into a UPS? What is critical? Critical for an
    occasional power outage is means that you want to save your files and power
    down. So the computer and monitor are pretty much all that needs to be plugged
    in. Critical for frequent brownouts and situations like that of the OP (really
    the same as a brownout) require more items to be plugged into the UPS. You
    want to keep working on the internet during a brownout, so the computer, router
    and broadband modem would be plugged into the UPS.

    A laptop with a good functioning battery generally does not need a UPS.

    .... Ben Myers
     
    Ben Myers, Feb 23, 2008
    #14
  15. yirg.kenya

    bud-- Guest

    bud--, Feb 23, 2008
    #15
  16. yirg.kenya

    bud-- Guest

    ..
    For anyone with minimal reading and thinking ability, the IEEE guide
    illustration shows plug–in suppressors working by clamping the voltage
    on all wires (power and signal) to the common ground at the plug-in
    suppressor.

    Note in the answer to Tony the link is bad. For the IEEE guide use:
    http://www.mikeholt.com/files/PDF/LightningGuide_FINALpublishedversion_May051.pdf
    ..
    ..
    In this illustration, the IEEE guide says "So the vast majority of the
    incoming lightning surge current flows through" the cable entry block
    `ground' wire. The guide further says that is "as the NEC/CEC writers
    intended." If w_ could only read....
    ..
    ..
    The illustration in the IEEE guide has a surge coming in on a cable
    service. There are 2 TVs, one is on a plug-in suppressor. The plug-in
    suppressor protects TV1, connected to it.

    Without the plug-in suppressor the surge voltage at TV2 is 10,000V. With
    the suppressor at TV1 the voltage at TV2 is 8,000V. It is simply a *lie*
    that the plug-in suppressor at TV1 in any way contributes to the damage
    at TV2.
    ..
    ..
    The point of the illustration for the IEEE, and anyone who can think, is
    "to protect TV2, a second multiport protector located at TV2 is required."

    w_ says suppressors must only be at the service panel. In this example a
    service panel protector would provide absolutely *NO* protection. The
    problem is the wire connecting the cable entry block to the power
    service ‘ground’ is too long. The IEEE guide says in that case "the only
    effective way of protecting the equipment is to use a multiport protector."

    Because plug-in suppressors violate w_'s belief in earthing he has to
    twist what the IEEE guide says about them.
    ..
    ..
    w_ has a religious belief (immune from challenge) that surge protection
    must use earthing. Thus in his view plug-in suppressors (which are not
    well earthed) can not possibly work. The IEEE guide says plug-in
    suppressors work primarily by clamping, not earthing. The IEEE guide
    says plug-in suppressors are effective.

    Another very good but less technical guide from the NIST at:
    http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/practiceguides/surgesfnl.pdf
    also says plug-in suppressors are effective. Read the sources.

    Then check w_’s links that say plug-in suppressors are NOT effective.
    Oops - there aren’t any.
     
    bud--, Feb 23, 2008
    #16
  17. yirg.kenya

    w_tom Guest

    Typical UPS is 'computer grade'. Output of a 120 volt computer
    grade UPS when in battery backup mode: two 200 volt square waves with
    a spike of up to 270 volts between those square waves. Electricity so
    'dirty' as to even damage some small electric motors. Since computers
    are so robust, then dirty 'computer grade' electricity is not harmful.

    Do not power 'at risk' appliances such as a laser printer via UPS.
    The 'modified sine wave' described above can be harmful to some
    motors. Do not plug a power strip protector into that UPS output.
    Computer grade power may degrade that protector or UPS output harmed
    by the protector.
     
    w_tom, Feb 24, 2008
    #17
  18. yirg.kenya

    Ben Myers Guest

    Good point about laser printers. Manufacturers warn against plugging a laser
    printer into the usual UPS. When a laser printer's laser warms up prior to
    printing, it draws a serious amount of current causing a momentary drop in line
    voltage to other devices. The maximum rated wattage of a laser printer is
    pretty high, too, often exceeding the capacity of a typical UPS.

    Until I reworked the electricity in my home office and got a laser printer with
    lower power consumption, every time I would print something, the UPS would beep
    as the laser warmed up. At the time, the UPS and the laser printer shared the
    same circuit, but the printer was not plugged into the UPS... Ben Myers
     
    Ben Myers, Feb 24, 2008
    #18
  19. yirg.kenya

    Tony Harding Guest

    Tony Harding, Feb 24, 2008
    #19
  20. yirg.kenya

    Tony Harding Guest

    Don't forget your monitor and do forget printers. As Ben said, anything
    you'll want the use of during a power failure should be plugged into a
    UPS, inc. your switch if you have one, etc.
     
    Tony Harding, Feb 24, 2008
    #20
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