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Surge Protection

 

No matter where you are in the world, electricity surges and spikes can be a real threat to sensitive equipment.

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There are two main kinds of devices on the market designed to protect against electrical overloads. One is an RCD or “Circuit Breaker”, which protects users from electrical shocks from equipment, such as lawnmowers or other power tools. The other is a surge protection device, designed to protect sensitive equipment from electrical spikes or surges.

Power surges are very brief (around 1/20th of a second) increases in the voltage that can be incredibly destructive. Spikes are even shorter, lasting only one or two nanoseconds – but can be equally as destructive. Most IT equipment has some built-in safety functions, but these are not always successful in preventing damage to equipment. Power surges and spikes can occur at any time, but they can be especially prevalent at times of peak usage when electricity grids are pushed close to their maximum capacity, and before or after a power outage.

If you have a lot of IT equipment – you’ll want to protect it against these potentially destructive surges and spikes, since it can completely destroy equipment in its path if it is severe enough.

The idea behind a surge protector (sometimes also called “surge suppressors”) is that if/when a destructive surge or spike is sent down the power lines, the protector acts as a buffer and grounds the surge or spike instead of letting it hit your valuable equipment. Surge protectors let through a specific voltage, and are designed to keep your equipment running with the correct voltages despite being hit by surges and spikes. In particularly severe cases, such as a lightning strike, this can lead to the surge protector being destroyed – this is just a confirmation that your equipment was protected and the surge protector did its job.

You may be wondering “what spikes and surges can do to my equipment? How can they be so destructive?” Allow us to explain that one! Computers and other IT equipment are actually very sensitive to voltage changes. Too much or too little voltage can cause them to fail, and using too much for too long can cause components to melt or pop. Heat is a common enemy of all IT equipment (as we discussed last week in our blog on overheating) and surges can cause very rapid overheating of components, which leads to device failure and potentially thousands of pounds of broken equipment. Even if the equipment doesn’t fail because of one surge, repeated exposure to surges and spikes can leave lasting damage that will eventually cause it to fail.

We think of surge protection as a kind of insurance for IT equipment. It’s far cheaper to replace a few surge protectors than it is to replace a whole office full of roasted IT equipment! They’re fairly cheap to buy and we certainly wouldn’t operate our equipment without them. If you’re looking to buy some for your equipment, make sure you look for safety and production standards on them, and beware of buying too cheaply, they may not provide enough protection for your equipment.

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If you’d like some advice or recommendations on protecting your IT equipment from surges and spikes, or you’d like to ask us about anything IT-related, we’re here to help!

Give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or send us an email at info@geek-guru.co.uk

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Posted on by Emily
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