Safety tips for the Storm Season
This article is a reminder to members that we are coming into September, the beginning of our local storm season. You can potentially prevent costly computer repairs by following the suggestions in this article.
Power surges and voltage spikes can come through the telephone line, and mains power during storm activity! That’s why phone companies have warnings in their literature not to use wired phones during storms
So, during the storm season it is suggest that,
1. If you are going out during the day,
2. If you hear a storm coming,
3. When you go to bed at night,
You should turn your computer equipment off normally, then unplug the mains power and disconnect the telephone lead from your modem. If you have a TV aerial connected to your computer, you should also disconnect it.
If you struggle to plug in or unplug a power lead, with the power switch turned on, you can create your own mini electrical storm inside the power switch. So to protect your computer from this potential source of damage, make sure the power socket is turned off before unplugging, or re-plugging your computer into the mains socket. That is why the club provides switchable power sockets at its venues.
There are specialized spike suppressors you can buy for filtering the mains power, and telephone line during normal computer use. These devices can potentially protect your computer from possible damage caused by household electrical interference, created by switch noise, electric motors and faulty electrical equipment, etc.
Don’t rely on spike suppressors or telephone line filters during storm activity, they won’t do much if you get a large lightning hit nearby. There are specialized lightning surge suppressor devices which can be installed in your power meter box, to protect the whole house. Even if you installed a power box house wide lightning surge suppressor, it is suggested that you still have a surge suppressor attached to the wall socket or power board, that connects directly to your computer equipment. Mains socket plug-in surge suppressors can be purchased for $10 to $150 or more. You can purchase these devices from your local computer, electrical or hardware store. Obviously the higher the price, the greater the type of protection you will get!
Another potential problem is electrical brown outs. A brown out is a momentary drop in mains power line voltage. It causes power starvation to the electrical device. In other words, your computer doesn’t get enough power. This can also potentially damage it. Brown-outs are generally transitory, but can last from a few seconds to minutes.
You can buy specialized power supplies called an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to protect against brownouts. These devices monitor for line voltage fluctuations, and when the power goes off, or has a serious fluctuation, the UPS built in battery backup power supply kicks in, and supplies power to your computer. This sort of device is more expensive, and is generally used by larger businesses, corporations, and government departments, to protect their important computers, and computer systems from damage.
It is worth purchasing an UPS device if you get a lot of power fluctuations in your area, or to provide extra protection to critical computer systems. They can potentially prevent costly repairs, or data loss.
© Peter Daley 2009
Disclaimer: This is an amateur volunteer run service. Human error can provide incorrect information, and equipment malfunction can produce false readings. Do not rely on, or take action upon information presented on this web site or at SCCC activities, without further research. Views expressed in the pages, images, or tutorials on the SCCC Inc., web site or presented at venues, maybe the personal opinions of the relevant writers or presenters, and are not necessarily representative of those of SCCC Inc.