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Power and Grounding Problems and Solutions

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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

Electrical power is rarely supplied as a smooth wave of steady energy. You can see this when lights flicker or when the TV goes haywire while running a blender. Electrical connections are polluted with surges and spikes (collectively called noise). You can think of these surges and spikes as shotgun blasts of energy to delicate electrical components. Here's how computer equipment may handle transient energy:

  • Data corruption    Electrical disturbances may corrupt memory or data transmissions. A program in memory may fail or cause errors that are thought to be program bugs.

  • Equipment failure    High-energy transients can permanently damage equipment. Small microprocessor circuitry is especially susceptible. Surge suppressors should be used at primary power supply feeds or at individual stations.

  • Slow death    Equipment that is repeatedly subjected to low-energy surges will fail over time. The delicate circuits in a chip break down, and the equipment eventually fails for no apparent reason.

Improper grounding is also often a source of problems. In fact, surge suppressors are often a cause of grounding problems because many devices route surges to ground. The surges then find their way back into the electrical system, where they cause problems elsewhere.

This topic continues in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications" with a discussion of the following:

  • Electrical environment problems
  • Noise
  • Sag
  • Swell
  • Num
  • Grounding problems
  • Ground loops
  • Power conditioners
  • Uninterruptible power supplies
  • Surge suppressors

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.