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Thread: Power Suppression Strips

  1. #1
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    Default Power Suppression Strips

    I'm looking for a decent power suppression strip for around $40 or less.

    Right now, I'm looking at Tripp-Lite's ISOBAR 4-Ultra

    http://www.tripplite.com/products/pr...m?productID=99

    http://www.provantage.com/tripp-lite...a~7TRPL13W.htm

    I don't need more than 4-outlets as I'll have just 1 PC, and 1 Monitor plugged into it. The rest of my peripherals (cable modem, speakers, lamp) are plugged into another cheap surge supressor (Tripp-Lite "Protect-It" series 3600j rating) I got for $25.

    Is there anything to these are am I just falling for their marketing hype?

    The other one I like is APC PF11VNT3.
    http://www.provantage.com/apc-pf11vnt3~7AMPS01Y.htm

    I don't need all the outlets, but damn.. .does it look sexy. I really like the outlet layout and cable management.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Default You're buying a box full of MOVs

    They's really just a bunch of metal oxide varistors (MOVs) connected between the various lines. If you're used to setting up systems which have to count the number of lightning strikes so you can schedule maintenanace after a few hundred direct hits, it seems pretty silly.

    For actual lightning, the main point is that you cannot stop lightning. It just ripped through half a mile of air. How much better is your insulation?

    Now, as I said, you cannot stop lightning, but you can divert it. That is the secret to protecting your equipment: single-point grounding. You want every wire without exception that connects your equipment to the outside world to pass by a surge suppressor (spark gap, MOV, etc) to a single decent ground. In a transmitter shack, it's a steel plate on one wall, cabled to a big grounding rod, and you actually drill holes through it to pass the wires through. A spark gap lets any lightning surge on the wire take a short-cut straight to the steel plate and thence to ground. The cardinal rule is that no wires are allowed into the building that do not go through that plate.

    Like the person with their hand on the van de Graaf generator, you can charge a whole system up to 5,000,000 volts and nothing much will happen. But connect one side to 5 million volts and the other side to ground, and you'll have a smoking crater. The important thing is that your system is a cul-de-sac that current cannot go through. If there's an exit on the far side, a real lightning strike will go right past the surge suppressor, through your computer, and out the far side. (Your DSL or cable internet connection, for example.)

    I just need to beat on people's heads that a surge suppressor does not "stop" or "block" or otherwise impede the path of a surge in the slightest. You can do it a little bit with series inductance (a coil of wire), but lighting has been known to rip loose the clamps and forcibly uncoil such wire. Instructions for wiring lightning rods tell you not to make wire bends sharper than 90 degrees for exactly that reason.

    A "surge suppressor" (actually a somewhat misleding name) is an overpressure relief valve, an emergency exit, a bypass, an overflow, a shunt. It provides an easier path for the surge to get to ground. Now, if your ground wire is long and convoluted (like via a power cord to an outlet to the house wiring to the breaker box), then you need to make sure there is no less convoluted path to ground through some other wire hooked up to your computer.

    Anyway, having said all that, there is a reason to prefer a fancy power bar that can handle coax and network as well as just power.

    The part that gets tough is when you want to connect your stereo system or TV to your computer. You need to either:
    • Protect the computer and the stereo system from each other, putting surge suppression between them, or
    • Draw a big box around the whole thing and ensure that the entire thing shares a single power entry and grounding arrangement.

    The fact that two pieces of equipment are on surge suppressors doesn't help you if you wire them together. A high-energy transient isn't going to go through one surge suppressor, mess around inside your computer, and then go back out the same surge suppressor. But it can very easily go in one, through both pieces of equpment, and back out the other. And no two surge suppressors are going to help because they can't provide a safe bypass from entry to exit.

    I'm not sure if that rant was coherent, or entirely on-topic, but maybe it'll help someone.

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    Default

    I seeee....

    So should I get the Tripp-Lite or the APC?

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    Default

    The APC because it can protect all the other cables going into your computer. The Tripp-lite is useless for a networked computer unless you add another surge suppressor for the network cables.

    Don't forget to decide, for each piece of equipment hooked up to your computer (printer, scanner, cable modem, network hub, stereo system) whether it's going to be "inside" the surge protector or "outside". If inside, it must be plugged into the surge protector and all wires to the "outside" must be protected. If outside, all wires between it and the computer must be protected.

    Generally, making everything on your desk be "inside" is easiest.

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