Advice from Kim Komando

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Registered: 03-19-2003
Advice from Kim Komando
Tue, 11-06-2007 - 11:36am

This was taken from Kim's newletter. If you don't get her Tip of the Day newletter it is a good can sign up at her site.

Watch out for power surges

QMy neighbors had a power surge that burned up most of their electronics. Fortunately, I wasn’t affected by the surge. But how can I protect my computer and electronics from surges? I currently use a 3350 joules surge protector.

AUnfortunately, protecting electronics from large power surges isn’t easy. That’s particularly true when you’re talking about lightning. In fact, a surge protector won’t protect your computer from lightning strikes.

I use an uninterruptible power supply, rather than a surge protector. An online (AKA continuous or true) UPS should protect your gear from lightning strikes.

With these units, the computer draws power from the battery. It is not connected directly to an electrical outlet. If lightning strikes, your battery probably will be fried. But the computer should be protected.

The UPS' main job is to keep you running if the power fails. The battery will run the computer for about 10 minutes. Because it is already running the computer, there is no hesitation.

Batteries can fail. Even so, the unit still functions as a super-surge suppressor. But if the power fails, the computer goes dark.

Expect to pay a minimum of $150 for an online UPS.

You’ll also see offline (or standby) UPS's. If the power fails, there is a momentary outage as the UPS switches to battery power. You could lose data.

Line interactive UPS's are more sophisticated then offline units. They still have to switch to the battery. But the switch is faster. You also may get better lightning protection.

Your surge suppressor sounds pretty capable. It will protect you against household power spikes. These can be caused when an appliance starts, for instance.

A buyer should look for a couple things in a surge suppressor. First, consider energy dissipation. This is the amount of power the suppressor is able to absorb.

Energy dissipation is measured in joules. Higher numbers are better. In the past I have recommended a minimum 800 joules. So, at 3350 joules, you’re sitting pretty.

Also look at the suppressed voltage rating. It refers to the voltage that a suppressor lets through. Lower numbers are better. I recommend one rated for 330v.

Power can enter through your cable and phone lines, too. So make sure your surge suppressor has these connections.

A surge suppressor is much less expensive than a good UPS. One such as yours can be had online for about $35. But it will not protect you from lightning. I have a sad story online, if you are still a disbeliever.

If lightning is common in your area, I recommend an online UPS.

 Kim :)





Have a nice day !.