Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Power Spikes and Surge Protectors

by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks
Why do power surges happen?
A power surge is a sudden increase in the electric voltage on a power line. This boost in electrical energy increases the current flowing to your AC wall outlet and can damage electronics, particularly more sophisticated ones: The most common causes of power surges are:
• Faulty wiring
• Utility equipment problems (power grid switching)
• Downed power lines
• Failed electrical transformers
• Equipment with variable power demands, such as a refrigerator
• Lightening

Power surges enter a building through several paths. Lightning can enter through cable TV/satellite dish cables and even through telephone lines. Adequate power protection is vital to ensure that expensive data and electronic equipment is not permanently damaged.

Lightning strikes cause intense surges that are carried through power lines into homes and businesses. Lightning strikes (direct or indirect) can boost electrical pressure by millions of volts and cause power interruptions and extensive equipment and data damage.
More commonly, surges are caused by high power electrical devices in a system of a building that require larger amounts of energy to turn off and on (referred to as switching). Switching is much less intense than lightning, but can still damage electronic components because they occur on a consistently,
What can happen to a device when a surge occurs and it is not plugged into a surge protector?
Voltage spikes can be harmful to appliances and electrical devices. Increased voltage beyond an appliance’s normal operating voltage range can cause a damaging electrical current within the appliance. Heat from this surge can damage electronic circuit boards and other electrical components. Smaller, more regular power surges can slowly damage electronic equipment, over time, and shorten the life of appliances and electronics.
Are all surge protectors the same?
No.

What are the traits to look for in a surge protector?
• Energy Absorption – Look for a surge protector provides energy dissipation that can absorb a minimum of 400 joules. The joule rating tells you how much energy the surge protector can absorb before it stops working. A higher rating indicates greater surge protection.
• Response time – A response time or rating of 10 nanoseconds or less. The response time is the duration it takes for the suppressor to react to a surge.
• Outlets – Select a surge protector that provides complete protection and has inputs for the types of devices you need to protect. Examples include: telephone, cable, electronics, switches, computers, as well as lights and kitchen appliances.
• Coverage for Connected Equipment – Insurance that protects your connected equipment investment up to a designated dollar amount
• Warranty – The surge protector should be backed up by a lifetime warranty, ensuring reliable performance and quality craftsmanship during the lifetime of the product.
• Failure Indicator Light – A failure indicator light that tells you when the suppressor is not working properly.
• Ground Indicator Light – A ground indicator light shows that the ground line is intact and is able to offer protection.
• Circuit Breaker – A circuit breaker that stops the flow of electricity when there is overloading too. Overloading problems are distinct from surges or spikes.
• EMI and RFI Filters – Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) are caused due the effect of electromagnetic energy and radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation. For EMI/RFI ranges, the wider the frequency range (kHz to MHz), the greater the noise reduction in decibels (dB) across that frequency range.
• Compliance – A UL (Underwriters Laboratory) compliance stamp. Look for a suppressor that meets the UL 1449 specifications. There are three levels of protection: 330, 400 and 500. This number refers to the maximum voltage that the suppressor will allow to pass through the line. The lower the number, the better the protection.
Should you set up an office with 20 computers differently than an office with only 3 computers, or should you just make sure all computers are connected to a surge protector?
It all depends on the office situation and the other equipment uses. At a minimum, all computers should have surge protection. Data loss due to damage from surge is expensive and can create sever disruptions to businesses and home users.
You can contact the author at press@janusnetworks.com

To find out how Janus Networks can provide tech solutions for your small business visit us at: http://www.janusnetworks.com/
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