1.21 Gigawatts. Great Scott!


by Steve Deal on March 28, 2012

In ‘Back to the Future’, Dr. Emmett Brown needs a lot of energy to charge up his time machine – and he gets it from a lightning bolt in a storm.     While really helpful for time machines, electrical surges are really not helpful for computers (and most other electronics like your expensive TV set).

To protect your computer against power spikes or lightning strikes you need a Surge Protector or a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).

A Surge Protector is a wall between you and the local thunderstorms.   A UPS is a Surge Protector that also contains a battery.   This prevents your PC from rebooting when you have a short power ‘blip’.  A UPS can also automatically shut down your computer safely when the power goes out or the  battery runs low.

A battery backup that is labeled as a “UPS” means it provides much better protection including voltage regulation.  Every UPS has a “VA” (Volt Amps) number rating, which indicates how much power the UPS is designed to protect.  The higher the number, the more watts it can support. 500VA UPS can usually protect 250 watts.  This should be plenty for most computers.

The cheap no-name power strips with ‘reset’ buttons that most people use are worthless as protection against lightning.

I like the APC & TrippLite brands. They guarantee their equipment with insurance, and they replace damaged equipment free.    My sister gets lightning strikes regularly – her PC has never been damaged, and when it does fry the APC – they send her a new one.

Get a good Surge Protector or UPS !

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