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Old 03-08-2013
Digerati Digerati is offline
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Originally Posted by Beto Garcia View Post
Any thoughts regarding surge protection?
Better than no protection, but not by much, and they don't provide protection from all anomalies.

A surge and spike protector is little more than a fancy and expensive extension cord as they do absolutely nothing for abnormal low voltage events like dips (opposite of spikes) and sags (opposite of surges), or long duration sags (brownouts) - any of which can cause your electronics to suddenly stop, resulting in possible corruption.

For abnormal high voltage events, they merely chop off ("clamp") the tops off the sine waves, leaving a not-so pretty voltage for your power supplies to compensate for.

A "good" UPS with AVR will help shape (regulate) the sine wave into something more easily used by the devices plugged into it. In low voltage events, it will use the batteries to boost the voltage up to normal levels, and in extreme high voltage events, it will use the batteries to dump the excess voltage (which batteries can absorb with ease), and/or dump the excess to ground (Earth).

Note I keep saying "good" UPS with AVR. Like power supplies, there are cheap, good, and best. The best are very expensive at $400 or more, and no needed for most users. The ATX Form Factor standard requires all PSUs to "hold" voltages for 19ms (milliseconds) during abnormal power events. A "good" UPS can react easily within that time frame.

One more word about surge and spike protectors. They work primarily by using MOV devices which are excellent at absorbing excess current. BUT, they do that by converting the excess to heat. As noted in my sig, heat is the bane of all electronics, even MOV devices. So over time, the constant banging wears down the MOVs so they become less effective, or even useless.

And if you have a severe event, in that case, S&S protectors are like motorcycle helmets. If it saved your life when banging into the concrete curb, it did its job and it is time to throw it away and get a new one because surely it is now much weaker and less capable.

Power during a total power outage is just the icing on the cake. The automatic voltage regulation (AVR) for both high and low voltage anomalies is the key thing.

Whole-house surge arrestors protect your equipment from surges coming off the "grid" - such as lightning hitting the transformer on the pole down the street. That is where most destructive surges will come from - most, but not all. Whole-house arrestors do not protect you from surges and spikes that are generated by other high-wattage devices inside your home or office. Any major appliance in your home can produce destructive anomalies. Refrigerators, water coolers, microwave ovens, toasters all send surges, spikes, dips and sags EVERY TIME they cycle on and off.

Advanced, more expensive high-wattage appliances may attempt to suppress dumping such anomalies on the circuit - if working properly. But low-tech cheap appliances will not. A cheap, $15, 1500W hair dryer made in some obscure factory in the backwoods of China, using parts from a similar factory upriver, comes to mind.

So my advice is to use a "good" UPS with AVR and don't waste your money on a surge and spike protector. If you need more protected outlets than provided by the UPS, plug a standard extension cord into the UPS.


In ANY case the best protection from power anomalies, whether using a UPS or a surge and spike protector, comes when the UPS or protector is plugged into a properly wired and grounded wall outlet. So EVERY home should have a AC Outlet Tester. I recommend one with a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupt) indicator as it can be used to test bathroom and kitchen outlets too. These testers can be found for your type and voltage outlet, foreign or domestic, at most home improvement stores, or even the electrical department at Walmart.
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