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Power Protection

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There are three very good companies that manufacture power protection products. They are, we consider, pioneers in the field. They all have a common theme that is bad power or power that has been influenced electrically speaking, can damage unprotected electronic systems and components. They also publish the fact that about seventy (70) percent of all telecommunications related problems are due to power disturbances and that no one is immune.

What You Need to Consider

  • What does it cost you per minute to not have telephones and or computers operational ?
  • What are the real costs of lost productivity?
  • What are the losses associated with customer dis-satisfaction?
  • What is the impact on your business?
  • What are the long term costs (losses) associated with equipment?
  • What are the on-going maintenance costs and why?

You may want to read The Problem with Power.

Common Myths and Misconceptions

We don't have lightning problems here.

Although thought to be an uncommon occurrence, lightning actually hits the earth about 100 times per second. This results in more than 8 million strikes per day. The United States alone experiences over 20 million lightning strikes per year. Scientists have estimated that at any given moment there are nearly 2,000 thunderstorms occurring over the earth's surface. That means about 100,000 thunderstorms annually for the U.S.

Cloud-to-ground lightning occurs when negative charges at a cloud's base are attracted to positive ones on the earth. A surge is created which carries current to the ground. This bolt typically contains about 1 billion volts and between 10 to 20 thousand amperes of current. Next, a "return stroke" reveals the bright flash you see.

The average lightning stroke is about 6 miles long. The flash appears wider than it actually is due to the glowing air surrounding it. Lightning's return stroke can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To put this blast in perspective, the surface of the sun has been recorded at only about 11,000 degrees.

Lightning may occur even with a clear sky overhead. A thunderstorm need only be within 10 miles for cloud-to-ground lightning to originate from high altitude anvil clouds. The thunder that follows the lightning bolt can be heard up to 10 miles away, depending on the terrain, humidity, and additional noise.

Thunder is essentially the air around the lightning exploding due to high temperature. Lightning "cooks" the surrounding air to between 15,000 and 50,000 degrees. The sound is relative: the closer the strike, the louder the thunder's "bang." Rumbling thunder is the "clap" arriving at a different time due to distance and the length of the lightning.

One can measure the distance between a lightning strike and one's position with the "flash to bang" method. When you see the "flash" of the lightning, count the number of seconds until the "bang" of the thunder. Divide the number of seconds counted by 5. The result is the number of miles the lightning is away from that position. A lightning strike five miles away will take 25 seconds to reach you. Often, by the time you hear the thunder clearly enough to use the "flash to bang method," the storm is already well within striking distance.

While the chances of being struck by lightning in the U.S. are only 1 in 600,000, the odds improve as you travel through Florida, the "lightning capital of the U.S.A." (hence the name of the Tampa Bay Lightning). Tropical Africa is the most lightning-prone spot on the earth with over 180 days of thunderstorms per year. It is reported that over 100 Americans per year die as a direct result of lightning strikes. Annual property loss in the United States due to lightning has been estimated into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Much of this damage is to sensitive electronics that suffered surge damage as the result of a nearby lightning strike.

Compiled with information from The Weather Channel, Automated Weather Service, Inc., and Global Atmospherics, Inc.

I have surge strips on every computer.

If the surge or power strip doesn't have a "Connected equipment" guarantee then it's basically worthless. Most office power strips have a glow light with a resistor that works maybe, once. There are some power/surge strips/protectors that are on a recall safety list of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most power strips are just that, power strips, and offer no protection and only additional power receptacles.

So what! I have insurance.

You will not recover losses from down-time, unhappy customers, lost information, and the time it takes to recover from the power problem. No amount of insurance recovers this disruption. Heat problems caused by lightning or over-voltage conditions result in fire, loss of property, and danger or harm to people. We encourage you to minimize your potential of "loss" by thinking differently.

We've never had a problem before.

So, basically, you're saying that the probability of you having a power problem is zero, you've never had any equipment problems or failures, and your maintenance cost is free.

Why should we waste money on battery backup systems?

Actually, you are prolonging the life of your system. When power dips, drops, fails, or exceeds the input operating voltage range, then, the system power supply is stressed. That stress will lead to failure(s). Secondly, the battery system is keeping your communications on-line during most power disturbances which are statistically very brief. Third, the battery system offers another layer of protection to your system.