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Summer is here or at least trying to be present.  That means storms, construction and occasional unlucky squirrels causing problems with electricity.  No big deal right? It can be a big deal.  Power outages and even lights flickering can cause major damage to electronics.  People know this and have adopted surge protection to buffer the impact.  Is this enough protection?  It can be.  But there are situations where the cost of a little more protection can work out cheaper in the long run and reduce a lot of stress potential.  Well, get to it already, Elizabeth.  What are you talking about?

I am talking about a battery backup system or uninterruptible power supply (UPS).  First a little about electricity and what happens to electronics.  As you know, electricity is a force of nature and therefore does what it wants, when it wants, and with unpredictable results.  This includes static electricity. A big problem here in the winter.

 

How does Static Electricity effect electronics?

“While it may seem harmless, when you accidentally “shock” your electronics, you send uncontrolled electrical current through your electronics. And if that current reaches the sensitive circuitry inside the gadget, it will cause serious heat damage and eventually “fry” the electronic.

To give you a better idea of just how harmful a tiny ZAP of static discharge can be: the human body is capable of carrying up to 25,000 volts of electrical current from static buildup. But it only takes 4,000 volts to damage the sensitive circuitry of electronics

You see, static is basically a mini lightning bolt. And when lightning hits an object, the electrical current quickly tries to find earth and ground itself. Usually, the current will use the metal frame of your electronic device as a pathway to the ground (which is the least harmful scenario). 

But that tiny lightning bolt doesn’t create just one pathway—it spreads and travels along many paths as it frantically searches for earth. And often, that hot electrical current will find its way into the sensitive circuitry and cause heat damage (https://mspplumbingheatingair.com/blog/how-static-electricity-hurts-electronics-and-how-to-stop-it).”

Heat damage is cumulative over time and can’t be reversed.  This happens with regular use or static discharge. It is one way electronics “wear out”.  Review the link above for preventing static discharge at home.

Now all that can happen with just the electricity from our own bodies.  What about a full electrical surge, outage, voltage spike, or brown out? Obviously the bigger the electrical issue the more likely a catastrophic event can happen. Like static electricity, electrical components can be damaged and can be expensive to repair or replace.  But the most stressful result is the potential for DATA LOSS.  I consider data loss the most troubling result because while the technology can be replaced, the picture collections, family tree records, music, a Master’s Thesis, etc. cannot be so easily, if not impossible, to replace.  For businesses this can affect accounting, customer records, legal documents, etc. that can disrupt or destroy a business.

Damage to electronics often involves damage to the main electronics boards, processors, and power supplies.  Yes, electronics are built in such a way to help safeguard against these assaults.  However as I said, electricity is a force of nature that does what it wants, when it wants, and with unpredictable results. Surge protectors are the first step in protection and most of time they are enough.  Just make sure they are replaced with another HIGH QUALITY surge protector after an outage. Like how helmets should be replaced after an accident. The second step is an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).  I recommend these because of the importance of DATA LOSS. (https://pennyelectric.com/blog/the-effects-of-power-outages-on-computers-electronics/)

Preventing Data Loss

As always, PLEASE HAVE A SEPARATE BACKUP OF YOUR DATA!  This can be an external hard drive or cloud storage. Finally the Uninterrupted Power Supply option (UPS). “An uninterruptible power supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup, provides backup power when your regular power source fails or voltage drops to an unacceptable level. A UPS allows for the safe, orderly shutdown of a computer and connected equipment. The size and design of a UPS determine how long it will supply power (https://www.cyberpowersystems.com/blog/how-does-a-ups-work/).”  A UPS has batteries and the necessary components to keep a constant, regulated supply of electricity to your device regardless of what happens to the regular power source.  While we know a full lightning strike can destroy easily, we forget about the fluctuations and brown outs that can be even more devastating. This is because of the rapid on/off or up/down of the power source.  This doesn’t give our electronics or surge protectors enough time to react to the issue and so damage occurs. A lightning strike or full failure is a one and done situation that surge protectors are built for. A UPS handles all these situations and will take the brunt of the problems and not pass it on to your electronics.  If you are in a business environment or a have irreplaceable data, a UPS is what you need.

There are many different makers of UPS devices but I have been a fan of the ones made by CyberPower.  They are affordable and they make several models depending on your needs.  You can also have it connected to your computer so it can communicate with it and shut it down safely if you are not present. These models are for one computer setup each. In a business, each computer setup would need its own.  At home you would also want one for each computer setup or home theatre setup.  Below are a couple of examples of CyberPower products that I have recommended to customers and have been used successfully.

Some of our recommended Battery Backups

CP425SLG

Standby UPS Series

  • Capacity: 425 VA / 255 W
  • Topology: Standby
  • Waveform: Simulated Sine Wave
  • Output: 120 VAC ± 5%
  • Plug type & cord: NEMA 5-15P, 5 ft. cord
  • Outlet types: 8 × NEMA 5-15R
  • Communication ports: USB
  • Management software: PowerPanel® Personal
  • Warranty: 3 year
  • Connected Equipment Guarantee: $75,000

MSRP  $49.95

CP900AVR

AVR UPS Series

  • Capacity: 900 VA / 560 W
  • Topology: Line Interactive
  • Waveform: Simulated Sine Wave
  • Output: 120 VAC ± 5%
  • Plug type & cord: NEMA 5-15P, 6 ft. cord
  • Outlets: 10 (5 surge, 5 surge + battery backup)
  • Data line protection: Ethernet, Coaxial
  • Management software: PowerPanel® Personal
  • ENERGY STAR® qualified: Yes
  • Warranty: 3 year
  • Connected Equipment Guarantee: $300,000

MSRP  $119.95

CyberPower UPS devices come in many different configurations to fit your needs.  They are available directly from https://www.cyberpowersystems.com/?region=US  or Amazon.

In conclusion, BACKUP YOUR DATA and invest in surge protectors and a good UPS system.

Elizabeth RS Knapkewicz
AAS, BS, MA
CompTIA A+ Certified
Apple iOS Certified
Apple Mac Certified Technician

 

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Help@ValleyTechPros.com