Surges and Surge Protection

How much backup power do I need?

Within reason, there is never too much battery available. More batteries cost more, take up more room and weigh more. But the more battery power, the longer the UPS can operate without an external source of power. One solution is to have 2 to 4 hours of backup battery available and have a generator that can be used to recharge the batteries and run your systems after the batteries have been depleted. For larger installations, it is sometimes more economical to use automatic-starting generators rather than using more batteries.

How long will equipment on a UPS keep running after the power goes out?

For most computer workstations, one might have a UPS that was rated to keep the machine alive through a 15-minute power loss. If you need a machine to survive hours without power, you should probably look at a more robust power backup solution. Even if a UPS has a very small load, it must still operate a DC (battery) to AC converter, which uses power.

What is the function of a UPS?

A UPS performs the following functions:

  • Absorb relatively small power surges
  • Smooth out noisy power sources
  • Continuously provides power to equipment during line sags
  • Automatically shuts down equipment during long power outages
  • Monitoring and logging of the status of the power supply
  • Display the voltage/current draw of the equipment
  • Restart equipment after a long power outage
  • Display the voltage currently on the power line
  • Provide alarms on certain error conditions
  • Provide short-circuit protection
What is a UPS?

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a device that sits between a power supply (e.g., wall outlet) and a device (e.g., computer) to prevent undesired features of the power source (outages, sags, surges, bad harmonics, etc.) from adversely affecting the performance of the device. A UPS provides a conditioned and reliable source of power to your electronic equipment when the main power source fails. The better units protect against surges and spikes in the power source, and they provide a continuing source of battery power.

How do I reset my Surge Protector?

Panel mount surge protectors cannot be “reset.” Once they have reached the end of their useful lifecycle the indicator light will extinguish and the product will need to be replaced.

Can I daisy chain surge protectors?

No. Surge protectors must be plugged directly into a grounded outlet to work properly. (Underwriters Laboratories prohibits daisy chaining) Never plug a surge protector into a plug strip or plug adapter.

Is the UL label an indication of a quality product?

Surge suppressors should perform to a specific standard (UL 1449). It is important that the surge suppressor is “listed” as performing to this standard. Avoid suppressors with labels worded like:

  • Tested to UL 1449
  • UL Classified
  • Tested to IEEE C62.41
  • Meets UL 1449
  • UL Recognized
  • Temporary Power Tap

Many manufacturers misrepresent their products. Some claim a UL listing for their products if they use a single UL listed component such as the power cord. Other products have never been tested as anything more than a temporary power tap, UL’s term for an extension cord. Many claim that they meet standards or that it has passed UL standards, when in fact, they have never been tested by UL.

What is the purpose of the phone jacks on surge suppressors?

Some of the surge suppressors incorporate protection circuitry for the telephone line. There are 2 sockets on these products. By plugging a phone line through the sockets, you can minimize the effects of a surge coming into your equipment through the phone line. Facsimile machines, cordless phones and answering machines are especially sensitive, and computers with internal modems can be completely destroyed by spikes on the phone line.

How do I hook up my plug-in surge protector?

Plug the surge protector into a powered wall outlet. Be sure the switch on the surge protector is set “on” by pushing down on the reset side. If the surge protector has LEDs, be sure they are lighted according to the enclosed instruction manual. If not check your wall outlet. Connect equipment into the outlets on the power strip or surge protector. Be sure to plug in your phone/fax or TV/coax if surge protector has this option.