Surges and Spikes
Surges and spikes are very short bursts (a few milliseconds at most) of very high energy voltages.
They cause wear or acute damage to electronic equipment and can be very damaging over extended periods.
Surges in excess of 6kVA are not unknown. They are caused by electrical storms or disturbances created by inductive motors such as those found in equipment like refrigeration units, lifts or escalators. Fluorescent lighting can also be responsible for shorter duration spikes.
If a surge voltage rises above the tolerance level of the power supply unit, the PSU will activate its built-in cut out in order to protect itself, causing an IT system crash. Surges can lead to gradual degradation of electronic components, such as printed circuit boards, processor damage, memory loss and data corruption.
Sags are one of the more common forms of poor power quality. Sag is experienced when the mains power voltage drops below the normal supply level, typically for several cycles.
This can cause data processing hardware to fail, lock up or reboot. Power supply units can also be stressed as they attempt to deliver the required power and can experience a higher running temperature which can then lead to other problems at a later date.
A common cause of sags is when electrical devices which have a high demand are on the same local circuit. These can include industrial machinery and air conditioning units.
Brownouts are caused by an extended reduction in mains power below the normal power supply voltage. This situation can sometimes persist for a period of days. The effect on sensitive electronic equipment is very much the same as for sags, and power supply units will be affected far more due to the extended nature of the fault.
The name originates from the lowering of artificial lighting levels in areas where demand for electricity sometimes exceeds supply.
Electrical noise is a high-frequency disturbance which can disrupt electrical circuits and potentially damage them. Some possible causes of electrical noise are radio transmitters, flickering lighting, faulty cabling and switchgear.
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The IT Professionals Guide to Standby Power – contents
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