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Care & Maintenance Ideas for Friendlier Electronic Equipment - Part I



How to keep your Hi-Tech equipment Operating at peak efficiency without Interference or Disruptions?

General Introduction to the Problem

Does it ever seem your entire office or plant is a slave to Electronics?

The Web is Great - but has phone line surge damage to the modem caused expensive downtime?

Does the Maintenance Department spend all its time rushing to the latest "crashed" machine?

Do computer outages cause ship schedule slippage?

Are Production drawings late because the CAD-NET is down?

Do numerical controlled machines behave erratically?

These are just a few illustrations showing why the average Industrial Engineering or Office manager often look upon the latest electronic wizardry as an enemy rather than a friendly, productive hand..

This tutorial will discuss problems and problem sources contributing to the constant barrage of equipment health breakdowns. After problem identification, corrective steps will be presented to help reduce, eliminate and prevent costly and troublesome electronic equipment downtime. Thirty years experience battling damage and disruption afflicting high tech equipment will be condensed into this tutorial, to help you understand problem sources and solutions to restore system health.

Categories to be discussed will include AC power, data / network problems, modem / fax / phone, work area environmental factors and system configuration issues.

Various electrical damage, disruption and interference sources will be highlighted, with preventative and corrective steps suggested for dealing with the problem areas.

Because many natural and man made sources affect industrial and office electronics health, each disruptive or damaging source will be treated separately. Environmental and system configuration factors affecting performance will be discussed, with suggestions that will contribute to the smoothest possible system performance.

AC Power and Lightning

Commercial AC Power is the one interference source most often cited as responsible for electronic equipment disruption and damage. In spite of this apparent awareness, even simple, reasonably priced preventative medicine is seldom taken to assure clean, trouble free equipment operation until problems occur.

Sure. That silver-tongued salesperson threw in a FREE $10 surge suppressor when you bought the system. But, was that really a favor? More often than not, these cheapies provide little protection. A good extension cord costs more !! You may have been deluded into a false sense of security !

A hi-quality plug & socket(s) or wire in AC Filter/Suppressor can virtually eliminate equipment damage and operation disruptions. True - that will cost a little more than $10, but your data, equipment, programs and invested time is no doubt worth much more than $10. Later we'll demonstrate how to choose the right product for your application.

High performance Filter/Suppressors are available in 125, 125/250, 250 Volt and various 3 Phase configurations. Virtually all industrial, commercial and home situations can be accommodated with high performance protection, either in plug/socket or wire-in configuration.

Lightning and other natural phenomena are the second major sources of electronic equipment damage and disruption. Contrary to common belief, Lightning doesn't need to strike the power line in your neighborhood to bring grief into your life.

Heck ...
Lightning doesn't even need to strike the ground to cause trouble ! !

An electrical discharge (lightning bolt) establishes a large, moving magnetic field that often induces damaging - disruptive transients, surges and interference in power, modem/phone, video and network lines or cables. Lightning discharge between clouds, or a hit miles from your location can cause problems.

These 2 culprits (AC power and Nature) often work hand in hand to impose misery on electronic equipment and using personnel.

Not only is damage and disruption done directly through power line carried transients, surges, spikes and interference, but usually modem-phone, data, network and video cabling run next to AC power lines. Man made and nature induced electrical disturbances affecting power lines, couples directly into phone, data, video or network equipment. An unhealthy brew, often resulting in serious damage or interference.


To better grasp obstacles facing successful electronic equipment installations, basic definitions are provided. These terms are regularly used by Power Conditioning engineers and are often seen in the literature.

Spikes or transients are short duration (up to 10 microseconds), high voltage bursts which may reach 6,000 volts and cause electronic equipment disruption or damage.

Surges are of longer duration (up to 1 or 2 seconds), lower voltage (up to 2,500 volts). Surges usually carry considerably more damaging energy than spikes.

Sags are long term power line low voltage conditions.

Over-voltages are long term power line high voltage conditions.

Interference is defined as lower level disturbances which cause errors or disruption in normal equipment operation.

Unfortunately, distinctions between these terms is often blurred in the hurly burly of marketplace discussions. We feel a basic familiarity with commonly used definitions will help understand the interference and surge damage potential.

Like diseases and germs, these culprits are not visible to the naked eye. One only becomes aware of their existence when the demon strikes. We'll give some tips for successful inoculation against infection.

To Part 2 >>>

About the Author:

F. J. Stifter is the president of Electronic Specialists Inc., a company that was founded in 1971 to develop and market protectors and interference control products for High Tech equipment. Electronic Specialists develop an extensive array of high tech equipment enhancement products, with primary focus on high performance systems requiring high level interference filtering and total spike surge suppression.

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