Common Power Problems
Here are some of the most common power supply problems and their likely effect on sensitive equipment:
A power surge takes place when the voltage is 110% or more above normal. The most common cause is heavy electrical equipment being turned off. Under these conditions, computer systems and other high tech equipment can experience flickering lights, equipment shutoff, errors or memory loss.
High-voltage spikes occur when there is a sudden voltage peak of up to 6,000 volts. These spikes are usually the result of nearby lightning strikes, but there can be other causes as well. The effects on vulnerable electronic systems can include loss of data and burned circuit boards.
Transients are potentially the most damaging type of power quality disturbance that you may encounter. Transients fall into 2 categories.
A frequency variation involves a change in frequency from the normally stable utility frequency of 50 or 60 Hz, depending on your geographic location. This may be caused by erratic operation of emergency generators or unstable frequency power sources. For sensitive equipment, the results can be data loss, program failure, equipment lock-up or complete shut down.
A sag is the reduction of AC Voltage at a given frequency for the duration of 0.5 cycles to 1 minute’s time. Sages are usually caused by system faults, and often the result of switching on loads with high demand startup currents.
Electrical Line Noise
Electrical line noise is defined as Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and causes unwanted effects in the circuits of computer systems. Sources of the problems include motors, relays, motor control devices, broadcast transmissions, microwave radiation, and distant electrical storms. RFI, EMI and other frequency problems can cause equipment to lock-up, and data error or loss.
A brownout is a steady lower voltage state. An example of a brownout is what happens during peak electrical demand in the summer, when utilities can’t always meet the requirements and must lower the voltage to limit maximum power. When this happens, systems can experience glitches, data loss and equipment failure.
A power failure or blackout is a zero-voltage condition that lasts for more than two cycles. It may be caused by tripping a circuit breaker, power distribution failure or utility power failure. A blackout can cause data loss or corruption and equipment damage.
Possible Solutions: Generators