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The nine power problems


Not all power outages result in darkened rooms; sometimes the flickering of lights is enough to trigger an equipment outage. But a second is all it takes for some computers to lose the power necessary to keep running. During this outage, the computer may shut down and restart. When this happens, the computer's RAM resets and all of the information on the chip, including the files that were open at the time of the shutdown, are erased. In addition, the initial surge of power may build a charge that can damage the delicate components within the computer chips, disabling the computer.

The cost to repair the equipment, in lost money and productivity, can be high. For this reason, instead of saving all open files and shut down your nonessential systems during thunderstorms and other potential outages, install a UPS that can protect your system from all 9 major power problems.

1- Power failure is a familiar occurrence in today's energy-dependent world. Consistent power relies on a system of minutely timed events, the disruption of which can result in an outage. Even well maintained systems can be affected by external problems. Well-prepared people can take precautions to protect themselves from the worst effects of an outage.

2- Power Sags are short term (one or more cycles) low voltage (80 to 85 % below normal) triggered by the startup of large loads when power service is too small for the demand. Sags can cause system crashes, data errors, equipment shutoff, flickering lights.

3- Power Surges (also refered to as Spikes or Transients) are short term, ie microseconds high voltage (above 110 % of nominal) caused by a lightning strike and can send line voltages to levels in excess of 6000 volts. Can also be triggered by a rapid reduction in power loads, heavy equipment being turned off, or by utility switching. A spike almost always results in data loss or hardware damage. Most sensitive electronic equipments to transients are computers, answering machines, microwaves, and other microprocessor-based equipments.

4- Undervoltage (Brownout) is a reduced mains voltage for extended periods of a few minutes to a few days without a complete loss of power. Undervoltage can be caused by intentional utility voltage reduction to conserve power during peak demand periods, or other heavy loads that exceed supply capacity. Computer systems can experience data corruption, data loss and premature hardware failure. May cause erratic behavior in some equipment.

5- Overvoltage is a increased line voltage (110% above rated RMS for one or more cycles) for extended periods of a few minutes to a few days. Over voltage can be triggered by a rapid reduction in power loads, heavy equipment being turned off, or by utility switching. Under this condition, computer systems may experience memory loss, data errors, flickering lights.

6- Line Noise is a high frequency waveform caused by either Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) or Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) generated by broadcasting transmitters, MW radiation, welding devices, SCR driven printers, Lightning etc. May cause data loss, hardware damage or reduce life expectancy of electronic components.

7- Frequency Variation is a change in frequency stability (more than 3Hz) resulting from generator or small co-generation sites being loaded and unloaded or unstable frequency power sources. Frequency variation can cause erratic operation, data loss, system crashes and equipment damage. For sensitive electronic equipment, the result can hard drive crash, keyboard lockup and program failure.

8- Switching transient is an instantaneous undervoltage (Notch). Normal duration for a transient is shorter than a spike and generally falls in the range of nanoseconds. In other words, switching transients take place when there is a rapid voltage peak of up to 20,000 volts with a duration time of 10 Microseconds to 100 microseconds.Transients are commonly caused by arcing faults and static discharge and may cause erratic behavior in some equipment, memory loss, data error, data loss and component stress.

9- Harmonic distortion is a distortion of the Normal Waveform generally transmitted by nonlinear loads such as switch mode power supplies, variable speed motors and drives, copiers and fax machines are examples of non-linear loads. Can cause communication errors, overheating and hardware damage.

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