- What is a surge protector?
- Why use it?
- How surge protection works
- Blow a fuse, not your equipment
- Insidious spikes and sags?
- Line noise
- Why do we get power spikes and surges?
- Not a UPS
Why do we get power spikes and surges?
The lower voltage surges that afflict modern household and business electrical wiring can come from many sources - internally and externally. External causes can include the startup or shutdown of nearby heavy equipment, fallen power lines, electrical storms, or even the normal "switching" of a nearby electrical substation. Internally, heavy equipment such as refrigerators and air-conditioners draw large amounts of current when switching on and off their motors/compressors. This creates surges through local electrical wiring -- a problem magnified when the wiring is also faulty.
What is a line conditioner?
Line/power conditioners use a fairly simple system that relies on a built-in electromagnet to smooth out the small increases and decreases in current. This "conditioned" current is more stable, and therefore easier on your delicate equipment.
Conditioners can also filter electromagnetic interference (EMI) from a power source and "smooth out" the rhythmic cycle of alternating current - this is called harmonic filtering. Harmonic voltage distortion can show up in various ways, such as increased heating of electrical components and cables, electronic miss-timings, capacitor overloads and fluorescent lights flickering.
Not a UPS
Note however, that a line conditioner will not provide battery backup power like an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A quality UPS should include both surge protection and power conditioning but with the added benefit of a battery backup and intelligent power management software for your PC to shutdown automatically and "safely".