Heat Wave Brownouts Destroy Computers

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Thousands of residences and businesses will be left with broken computers after heat wave brownouts.

While many Americans scurry to buy an air conditioner to cool themselves from the oppressive heat, a UPS for your computer should also be on your shopping list, or you may be one of the unfortunate ones forced to buy a new computer after the heat wave. Air conditioners may keep us and our computers cool, but they can also destroy computers!

“Today’s extreme heat is going to wreck havoc on personal computers,” said Harold M. Belbin, cofounder and principal security engineer of http://www.VisitingGeeks.com, an on-site computer repair, networking, security and wireless company serving homeowners and small businesses north of Boston. “It’s not enough to keep your computer equipment cool; you must have a UPS to protect it from common heat wave brownouts we’re sure to experience this week.”

A UPS, Uninterruptible Power Supply, is an electrical device with a sealed lead acid battery inside that provides additional power during brownouts or complete power failures. A UPS protects computer devices against power surges above 115 volts or when power falls below 115 volts, as is the case with brownouts.

Brownouts Destroy Computers

When any large appliance like an air conditioner starts up it creates a power event, i.e., an electrical power surge or a low voltage brownout, in your home or office. “Have you ever seen the lights dim when the air conditioner, refrigerator or vacuum cleaner turns on,” said Belbin. “These are examples of an electrical brownout, when the electricity voltage level drops below the required level for safe operation of electrical devices. When thousands of residences in an area turn on their air conditioners, large scale brownouts can occur. It can happen anytime but it’s more common during heat waves.”

According to Belbin, a typical computer with a flat screen (15 to 21 inch LCD monitor) will be well protected with a 500VA UPS. Places to purchase a UPS at a reasonable price include Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Staples. You can expect to pay around $40 for a 350VA UPS and upwards of $400 for a 1500VA UPS.

“If a brownout is severe enough, without a UPS, your computer may never power up again,” said Belbin.

About Visiting Geeks

Visiting Geeks, LLC is headquartered in Merrimac, Mass. Visiting Geeks is a private, family-owned, on-site computer repair, networking, security and wireless company serving homeowners and small businesses north of Boston. Visiting Geeks provides computer trouble-shooting and expert advice about computer security, spyware and computer-related identity theft. The company is co-owned by Harold M. Belbin and Sharron Senter. To learn more visit http://www.VisitingGeeks.com or call 978-346-4087.

*~*~* UPS FACT SHEET *~*~*

By Harold M. Belbin of Visiting Geeks

Brownout Computer Impact

Typical outlet voltage should be 115 volts. However, during a brownout it can go well below 100 volts. Oftentimes this is a momentary dip, but it’s extremely bad for computers. Savvy commercial companies have been conditioning their electricity for computers and networks since computers where first invented. These companies often use a UPS system, a.k.a. Uninterruptible Power Supply. A UPS is an electrical device with a sealed lead acid battery inside that provides additional power during brownouts or complete power failures.

A UPS does several things for the devices it protects:

  • It protects against power surges and high voltage conditions above 115 volts.
  • It protects from brownout conditions that fall well below 115 volts, whereby the battery supplies additional power to maintain 115 volts to the protected equipment.

When a computer is left unprotected to extreme voltage variations, several symptoms may occur with your computer including:

  • The most obvious is the computer will not start up at all. No lights, no boot…nothing.
  • Other symptoms include: hard drive errors or complete failure, erratic operation upon start up and failure to be able to start completely, hanging somewhere in the boot up process.

How much UPS do you need?

Uninterruptible power supplies come in various sizes based upon how long they’ll provide power for a given need. A typical computer with a flat screen (15 to 21 inch LCD monitor) will be well protected with a 500VA UPS. A larger monitor and extra peripherals such as powered speakers, cable modem, wireless router or external DVD, CD or hard drives, require increasing the UPS to 650VA or larger. A computer with raid arrays, multiple hard drives or tube type monitors will require a larger UPS in the range of 650 to 1200VA. To protect just the computer, excluding any peripherals, a 350VA is acceptable. Servers usually require 700 to 1500VA or more. Multiple computers and other equipment such as printers, routers or network switches hooked up to a single UPS should then add all of the required power for all connected equipment. Manufactures offer selection guides on most product packaging to help you choose the right UPS.

You can expect to pay around $40 for a 350VA UPS and upwards of $400 for a 1500VA UPS. Prices vary depending on if UPS software is provided that controls the computer and reports on the current reserve power of the UPS before executing a controlled shutdown of the PC system, and level of device insurance included, if any, of the devices protected by the UPS should it fail due to a power event.

UPS Manufacturers

APC is one of the industry leaders. Belkin, Tripp-Lite and other manufacturers also make fine choices.

Fact Sheet Prepared By -- Harold M. Belbin, cofounder and principal security engineer of Visiting Geeks, LLC. Visiting Geeks is headquartered in Merrimac, Mass. - an on-site computer repair, networking, security and wireless company serving homeowners and small businesses north of Boston.

For more information contact -- Sharron Senter, Visiting Geeks, 978-346-4087, http://www.VisitingGeeks.com.

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