A sag, also known as a brownout, is a short-term decrease in voltage level caused by the start-up power demands of many electrical devices. A blackout is the total loss of utility power as a result of large demands on the power grid, lightning storms, car accidents, backhoes, earthquakes and other catastrophes.

APC’s Central and North East Africa director, Jonathan Duncan, says A spike – or impulse – is an instant, dramatic increase in voltage caused by a nearby lightning strike, which enters electronic equipment through AC, network, serial or phone lines and can damage or completely destroy components. A surge is a short-term increase in voltage, resulting from the presence of high-powered electrical motors in the area.

The common occurrences of such power outages demands that home and business users of sensitive electronic equipment, such as PCs and even microwaves and satellite dishes, take a number of precautions. These should include:

  1. Purchasing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Traditionally, a UPS can smooth out small power surges and noisy power sources, provide power to equipment during sags and provide power for some time after a blackout has occurred.
  2. Selecting the right kind of UPS – standby, line interactive or on-line – for your specific needs. The right selection must be made based on price, performance and the user’s own needs. Standby or off line technology provide basic protection from spikes and blackouts, while line interactive technology is used for intermediate protection from basic problems as well as brownouts or voltage variations. On-line technology provides the ultimate solution for protection from all problems.
  3. A good surge suppressor is necessary to both protect equipment and extend a system’s life by reducing harmful excess voltage, allowing only clean, safe power through to your equipment. Notebook users can also protect their hardware and data by using a surge protector designed specifically to protect mobile users from lightning and other damaging surges entering through AC and phone lines.
  4. The use of shutdown software should also be considered as it meets the demands of sensitive, high performance equipment by enabling a graceful shutdown of servers and PCs during extended power cuts. Shutdown software proactively manages the UPS protecting the network and provides administrators with comprehensive power management tools.

The problem with power is that it is unpredictable. People are so used to flicking on a switch and having the light come on, but it pays to remember that the electricity that comes through the wall socket is not guaranteed. Defending an investment in modems, printers and copiers, monitors and PCs with a power protection solution simply ensures peace of mind.