Protect your electronics from power fluctuations

The line between electricity and electronics has become blurred over the past decade, as many of us are increasingly relying on modern electronic devices for virtually every facet of our lives.

While most of us have become somewhat dependent on electronic devices, they’re still just appliances that need electricity to function.

Without power, a company’s fleet of electronic devices becomes stoic pieces of plastic, and many highly productive corporations would see their back operations come to a screeching halt.

The average home will have about five to ten of these devices operating at a time, but many commercial buildings will have dozens or even hundreds of them. Downtime caused by power fluctuations is more than just a nuisance—it can cost big money in lost productivity and revenue.

A power fluctuation occurs when the flow of electricity to and from a device is interrupted. The two main causes of these power fluctuations are power surges and intermittent power losses.

Power surges

Power surges are relatively common, and affect both residential and commercial buildings. The potential damage is often much higher for a commercial property, though, since there are often many more devices on their electrical systems.

Power surges can originate from internal or external sources. Smaller surges tend to be caused internally, and there can often be dozens of undetected small surges each day. Appliances with motors that start up and shut off can divert electricity to and from other appliances.

These small surges can still damage sensitive electronics and circuitry on machinery and appliances over time.

To prevent this, we recommend surge protection for the property. Having two levels of surge protection is ideal—that means protection at the breaker box or electrical panel, where power is distributed, as well as where each device connects to the electrical system.

Having two levels of surge protection is a good choice in commercial venues with a lot of sensitive equipment, machines, or electronics.

You can purchase surge protection for individual devices online or in retail locations, but you’ll need a licensed professional to install surge protection at the breaker box.

Intermittent power losses

Another common cause of power fluctuations is intermittent power losses. These can occur for a number of reasons. Often they’re due to something related to the utility provider. Other times it could indicate some issues with the electrical system, but we find this to be the case much less frequently.

We’ve been notified by some clients in Oklahoma City and Edmond of losing power for a few seconds several times per week. These sudden losses of power aren’t good for the electronics, appliances, and machines in many homes and most businesses.

If you’re experiencing intermittent power losses in your home or business, here are two things you can do: install an uninterrupted power supply (UPS), or use a generator.

An uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is essentially a large battery backup to provide near-instantaneous protection if a loss of power occurs. We commonly see these in data centers and office buildings with lots of computer equipment. Depending on the size of your need, you could use one or more UPS devices. Small UPS devices can be found for under $100, and larger commercial ones can be several thousands each. We have some in our office and they’ve certainly been worth the investment.

Generators are a good option if a power loss would be crippling to your home or business. These power backup systems can be custom-designed and installed to power all of a property or just some of the desired crucial components. While these solutions can be very expensive, the investment could be relatively small compared to the potential costs associated with downtime.

If you have further questions about how to address power surges or losses in your home or business, give us a call.

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