Lightening over Wiltshire,

  wolfie3000 00:04 11 Jun 2009

Earlier today we had some lightening and although it wasn't a big storm it managed to knock out our power for 5 seconds.

I didn't even know it was possible to do that, my pc went off then came back on.
Me fearing the worst did a full check of my pc and luckily nothing was wrong.

So any news of thunder storms where you are and what protection do you have for your beloved pc?

  I am Spartacus 00:11 11 Jun 2009

UPS with surge protection which apparently saved the PC and Router when a strike took out our DECT Phones, all 3 of them. The PC's without UPS and the phones are now unplugged at first sign of a storm although I keep meaning to buy another couple of UPS just in case.

  mrwoowoo 00:34 11 Jun 2009

Surge protection here as well.Not only for lightening strikes but also the natural power spikes from the national grid that occur and can damage your pc.

  OTT_Buzzard 02:44 11 Jun 2009

Got surge protection on 2 out of 3 computers (the laptop doesn't get any protection!).

Heard some thunder from north Wilts earlier this evening but didn't come close

  octal 07:20 11 Jun 2009

A UPS won't protect against a spike entering the ground wire, you can get a spike come up the earth wire as well as down it. You can get filters that protect all three poles of the mains, but they are not common. I've got three items of equipment at work that have been damaged because of spikes coming up the ground wire. All the equipment was feed through a 1:1 transformer and the equipment had line filters plus surge protection, but no filtering on the ground connection, it cost £3500 of damage, so don't get complacent over fitting a UPS if it's using a common ground connection.

One way around it is to fit a 1:1 transformer which will filter out any short duration spikes and to use isolated ground connections.

  I am Spartacus 08:41 11 Jun 2009

octal, can you link to a typical 1:1 transformer please? I'm assuming that an earth connection to an outside copper gas pipe isn't enough?

  I am Spartacus 08:46 11 Jun 2009

I noted from a review a couple of years ago that some UPS don't actually provide adequate surge protection, a popular Belkin model was a notable failure. I got an APC model that successfully passed the surge test click here

  newman35 11:29 11 Jun 2009

Never even realised it had been dark, there.

  octal 12:06 11 Jun 2009

These are the circuits for the 1:1 isolation transformers;

click here

Circuit 3 is the favourite circuit, as you see the mains ground is isolated from the equipment ground which has its own ground arrangements. It mentions in the article about noise isolation, which is important as that is exactly what spikes are on the mains ground system. The mains supply ground system is very noisy, you only have to put an oscilloscope on it to see the amount of noise.

The transformer removes any spikes that appear on the poles of the supply because the core of the transformer will saturate and remove the spike, that's all those voltage conditioning boxes do, they just have a 1:1 transformer in them. What a 1:1 transformer will not do is to stop mains surges, this is where you need to put the surge protection devices across the poles of the secondary normally after the circuit breakers so that if there is a surge it will trip the circuit breaker or blow the fuse.

Farnell Electronic Components offer a range of transformers click here

You would have to make arrangements for your own earth, this is not a safety earth, it's purely to remove any noise that appears on the equipment ground. The ground protection is applied by tying the Neutral and ground together, do you still get the protection if there are any faults that appear on the metalwork. This system is similar to the PME mains distribution network the supply companies use in household systems, all you are doing is replicating it locally, so it is a tried and tested system.

Don't forget that you need the usual safety fuses or breakers in the secondary that feed the sockets. Just a word about the sockets on the secondary, it's best to use sockets that are unique to the equipment that is going to be plugged into it, it's just an added precaution to make sure that the network the transformer is feeding is not overloaded by plugging an electric fire in by mistake!

These are the voltage conditioners, click here but my guess is that these are going to be expensive going by past experience, maybe someone would like to get a quote from them?

  Bapou 12:15 11 Jun 2009

Surge protection for me. However, being a paranoid kind of person, if the forecast is for thunderstorms I pull the plug.

  octal 12:39 11 Jun 2009

That's OK, but quite often they can't forecast thunder storms. The speed of sound is 340.29 m/s, so by the time you've heard it the damage is done, even if you see it at 300000 m/s your reactions are not quick enough to unplug it, also the storm doesn't have to be local to you to damage equipment, it can be several miles away so you probably won't see or hear it.

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