A line of storms blew through the Black Box campus in Lawrence, Pennsylvania yesterday. The power flickered, the UPSs beeped, and we were reminded again that it’s that time of year. It’s time for summer power problems.
Summer with its electrical storms, downed trees, and cranked-up AC, always seems to bring out the worst in our power grid. We tend to suffer from fading power—the lights dim and the background hum of civilization drops a notch, then recovers a few moments later when the power gets back up to speed.
Less often, we get a power surge like the big one we had at my home recently. The surge killed a couple of small appliances, but our nice new flat-screen TV was okay because a surge strip bravely gave up its life to save it. Part of the surge strip actually melted and the house smelled like ozone and burnt plastic for a couple of days afterwards. This is exactly what a good surge protector is supposed to do—sacrifice itself to preserve the expensive stuff when the big jolt comes through. Wish I’d thought to put a surge protector on the microwave.
Electronics fried in a haze of ozone is the most dramatic manifestation of power problems, but most damage caused by glitchy power is a lot more subtle—equipment that dies before its time, lost data, or a computer that acts weird.
The start of storm season is our time to remind you to check your surge protection and backup power. Make sure that every piece of electronic equipment has surge protection on its power line and its data line. Have uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to support all computers, peripherals, and phones and remember to test batteries regularly.
Then you can sit back and watch the storm blow through, cozy in the knowledge that your electronics are safe.