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More FAQ's UPS/Power Conditioning Questions

The following list of questions give detailed explanations to Uninterruptible Power Supplies and Power Conditioners.


  1. What is power conditioning and why do I need it?
  2. What types of equipment are affected by power line "noise"?
  3. Why are these "transients" or "noise" on the power line causing problems now?
  4. I don't have any power problems. Why do I need a power conditioner?
  5. Why don't manufacturers build this protection into their systems?
  6. What benefits will I see if I use a power conditioner?
  7. Do I need an electrician to install a power conditioner?
  8. How long will my power conditioner last?
  9. What about UPS Systems? I thought they provided power conditioning.
  10. What is UPS monitoring?
  11. If you have a question not answered here...

1. What is power conditioning and why do I need it?

The electricity that powers your computer or electronic equipment, (microwave ovens, VCRs, Television sets, etc..), carries with it some harmful properties called "transients" or "noise". Quite simply, these phenomena are excessive spurts or spikes of electrical energy that travel along the power line and enter your system. These transients are caused by major disturbances like lightning but are most often the natural by-products of the generation and use of electric power. This "noise", if allowed to pass through to the electronics of your system, will eat away at the microprocessors and cause them to malfunction and ultimately to fail.

Effective power conditioning will prevent this erosion of your equipment and by filtering out these harmful properties will substantially enhance its reliability.

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2. What types of equipment are affected by power line "noise"?

Any equipment based on semiconductor technology can by affected. This includes all computers, telecommunications PBXs and key systems, automated manufacturing and design systems, computerized medical equipment, and point of sale terminals. Also included are many household electrical appliances. In short, if it has a "microchip" it's open to damage caused by transients.

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3. Why are these "transients" or "noise" on the power line causing problems now?

Advances in digital logic technology have produced smaller and more sophisticated devices. This new generation of micro-circuitry is extremely dense and substantially more susceptible to transient damage.

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4. I don't have any power problems. Why do I need a power conditioner?

Electrical noise is truly an invisible problem since the damage it does may cause your equipment to fail immediately. This unseen damage frequently causes what are called "soft" failures, those unexplainable errors in printing, garbled data on your terminal or even minor calculation errors. Ultimately, the cumulative effect of these problems will show up as "hard" failures. And that means your system stops working and you need to get it repaired. Many times blame is placed on the electrical device. "It was old", or "It was a cheap device", or "I must have somehow used it incorrectly", are many excuses that people use to explain equipment failures. When often, it's the result of the cumulative effects of power transients.

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5. Why don't manufacturers build this protection into their systems?

In order to control costs to stay competitive in the marketplace, often manufacturers purchase certain components from outside sources. Power supplies fall into this category. To make this piece of the computerized system more resistant to electrical noise would entail a major redesign that would increase its cost significantly. To date, there has not been enough pressure from the marketplace to cause power supply designers to make these changes to their products. Also, because of the wide range of protection required for all possible electrical environments, equipment vendors have left the responsibility of "clean" power to the user. There is reason to believe that increased awareness of problems related to power will cause a change in the thinking of the industry. However, in the interim, there is a way that you can assure yourself of proper protection, and that is by taking charge of the electrical interface and putting effective power conditioning products between your computer or computer-based system and the electrical outlet.

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6. What benefits will I see if I use a power conditioner?

Once you have installed it, you will see a dramatic decline in failures of all types. Your equipment will seem to run more smoothly, you will experience fewer random errors, fewer instances of lost or garbled data, and fewer outright equipment failures.

   If you are installing your first system, you will experience fewer headaches because your system will operate the way you expected it to. You will have fewer "war stories" to tell about how the computer went down just when you had to make the deadline for that important record. In essence, you will be a more satisfied user and you will be able to get more out of your system.

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7. Do I need an electrician to install a power conditioner?

Usually, no. PQI units less than 5 kVA do not require any special wiring. These units need only to be plugged into the existing outlets used for the equipment you are conditioning. Also, because of the particular design of the units, they eliminate the need for special isolated grounds or dedicated lines. PQI offers installation of all units, including hardwire units.

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8. How long will my power conditioner last?

Because of the design our our products, we have every reason to believe that they will last considerably longer than your equipment.

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9. What about UPS Systems? I thought they provided power conditioning.

Some do, but most don't. The Standby type connect raw power to the computer in normal operation. Some On-Line UPSs provide an isolation transformer. Check with your PQI Power Specialist to see if the UPS or SPS you have provides protection.

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10. What is UPS monitoring?

The process of communicating UPS Status to the Server/Computer. Usually configurable to command an unattended shutdown of the computer load(s).

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11. If you have a question not answered here, just E-Mail your question.