How to protect your electrical equipment, some Tips!

Well, I have written about Old TVs and radios, HiFi in the 50s-60s, servicing with a personal view of how things have changed. For better or for worse. In Britain, in the ´50-60s, you would have probably had only a few several electrical goodies. A wireless, iron, emersion heater, perhaps a record player, fridge and if you earned a little bit more than Mr. Average, you may have had a radiogram, TV set and tape recorder! All these things were quite basic, generally well built and all working nicely without sight of a microprocessor controlling the whole shooting match. What a contrast compared with today? The electrical supply in the 50s, depending on where you lived was not particularly friendly. It would go up and down depending on the number of fires plugged in and had all kinds of electrical “noise” and rubbish superimposed on it as a result of trams and so on. Bit like the supply here I hear you say?
A significant number of repairs undertaken during my six years being here have been the result of either bad mains supply or lightning damage. Almost everything we now have has a microchip built in. These little things work on a tiny amount of power and as a result, can be put to death by a minor mains disturbance. Not wanting to shoot myself in the foot, as I like fixing broken things for people, here are a few tips to help you having to pay to have something repaired.
Now, the amount of energy contained in the lightning that hits the Eiffel Tower each year, could light the whole of Birmingham. I know that’s in France (Eiffel Tower, not Birmingham) so of course it doesn’t matter, but it proves a point. However, it could wreak havoc if it hits near your little house. If lightning hits the phone and or power lines connected to your house, your electrical gear will get a nasty awakening. If it hits the ground near you house, the Earth “ground potential” will rise sharply, potentially causing problems as well. So, if you are subject to a storm (we are coming up to that season now), for its duration here are some suggestions:
1    Unplug electrically sensitive items from the mains supply. i.e. TVs, DVDs, VCRs, TDT and Sky Boxes and of course your PC or Laptop.
2    Be worthwhile removing the aerial connection from your TDT box and unscrew the satellite dish feeds to your Sky Box. If a dish or aerial gets hit, the lightning discharge can easily travel through the connecting cables, damaging your TV.
3    If you have a telephone, broadband router and or microwave phone and internet, it’s worth unplugging your routers and cordless phones from the wall sockets. A local strike could easily damage your router and anything connected to it, normally your PC.
4    Even equipment such as washing machines and fridge freezers have micro processors controlling their operation. I would suggest that these could be unplugged also.
Mains power.
Interruptions in the mains power supply can be anything from annoying to destructive. In the best case, a short power drop means that you have to get up and go through the “setting up your Sky box routine” and reset your PC.  In the worst case, if the electric comes back on accompanied by a nasty surge or “spike” of current, the internal power supplies of Sky Boxes, TVs, PCs and so can be damaged. One way of reducing this risk (apart from having the now mandatory, Interruptor De Sobre Potencia device fitted to your incoming supply), is the use of an Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS. This is a little box that sits quietly between the mains supply and your equipment. It has a battery built in which is always being charged. When it detects the electric has gone, it cuts in and seamlessly provides your equipment with a synthesized mains supply. Now, not only do you have a chance to save the documents on your PC, no need to reset your Sky Box, but these boxes also prove a degree of protection against these nasty mains “spikes”. Most of the UPS boxes also provide a protection circuit for you telephone / broadband line, filtering out surges etc. safe guarding your router. There’s a thought, not having to spend 5 days talking to Telefonica! The amount of time the UPS runs for in the absence of mains and the number of items it can supply will determine its price. As a rough guide, to supply a Sky Box, DVD, PC for about 15 minutes will cost 40-80€. These are great things to have if you are on a Builders supply and being fed via a generator. Say no more. If you want free advice on anything relating to the above or what to buy and where to buy these units, please feel free to contact me.

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