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Electricity supply in Spain damages PC’s & printers

Currencies Direct November 8th 2009 - 4 minute read

It is a unfortunate fact that Spain does not have a clean supply of electricity: power drops off and also spikes. The effect of dirty power on PC’s, printers and faxes can be devastating. The problem is that these power supply issues occur every day…in many other EU countries, the power supply is monitored to stop this happening…not in Spain.

What does a temporary power cut do to a PC?

It is not just a sudden cut-off in power that can cause damage, it’s a sudden drop off…the PC might not even switch-off…but damage is done.

You probably wouldn’t even know you’d had a mini power cut, it’s only sometime after when a certain file doesn’t work properly.

Files can be wiped out in a fraction of a second. Hard drives can even be damaged…sometimes the PC will switch back on but becomes subject to mysterious crashes which can be very frustrating!

What about power surges?

Power surges or spikes are also really bad for PC’s, printers and faxes. Basically, a power surge can damage the very sophisticated electronic circuitry. Sometimes the machine will continue to work but is impaired. For example the circuits in printer that control colour mix and reproduction are especially vulnerable to power spikes.

Electrical storms….lightning strikes via your telephone lines

Lightning strikes are more common than you might think and are responsible for destroying PC’s, modems, printers, faxes, TV’s, phones, satellite boxes and many other electronic gadgets.

By far the most common route is lightning via telephone cables. The lightning travels down the telephone cable and reaches phones and PC’s via the ADSL connection. Many people know that unplugging equipment from mains power stops a lightning strike via the power cable but they forget the telephone line.

Sometimes the damage is obvious: more often it is the damage to the internal sensitive circuits that is the problem.

Whats the answer?

There’s two solutions depending on what you think is a risk and your budget.

1. Power Breaker

A power breaker needs to have sockets for the phone jack & USB cables. You can see them on the end on this Belkin model.

A power breaker looks like an extension strip (which it is) and is effectively a big fuse that stops too much power going through. To be effective, any power breaker you buy needs to let you run your power plugs and your telephone cable through it. Many of the power strips you can buy do not let you run the phone line through it.

Also you need to look at the capacity of the power breaker to resist a power surge. A cheap power breaker with a low fuse and no plugs for telephone cables is not going to protect you.

Disadvantages: With a power breaker you are protecting against a power surge but not a power drop-off. Remember a power drop-off can be as damaging, corrupting hard-drives, programmes and files. To protect against this you need a poer breaker that incorpotates a battery…that’s called a UPS.

2. UPS …Uninteruptible Power Supply

UPS’s come in all sizes and basically are big rechargeable batteries with power breaker functionality to protect PC’s, printers etc and the ability to keep appliance functioning during a cut.

Large offices running critical data will have very big UPS systems but what we’re talking about are UPS’s options for single PC’s and equipment.

The purpose of the UPS is to protect the PC from power fluctuation and in the event of a power cut to allow a safe closedown. The UPS’s we sell would typically keep a PC and monitor functioning for 15-20 minutes to allow critical tasks to be completed.

For example, many offices have their server on a UPS, their internet modem on UPS and their phones on a UPS. In the event of a power cut they are able to continue performing critical tasks for a short period…and they’re protected from surges too.

Probably the best make on the market is the UPS product range made by American company Belkin.

The Belkin UPS’s allow you to see what’s going on. Switch over to battery power is automatic: a warning sound tells you there’s a power cut and when mains comes back on.

If the mains power does not come back on quickly, the UPS issues a warning and then a proper shut-down process is initiated thereby avoiding any damage.

Information courtesy of Lasertech

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Currencies Direct

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