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Line conditioner?

Posted on 2004-09-11
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I am in Florida dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Frances and the possibility of Ivan.  I bought a generator for emergency power and later found in the manual (in small print on page whatever) that I need a power line conditioner to use solid state items (in my case, computer CPUs, external drives, monitors, TV, VCR, DVD player, etc.) with generator power, because of power fluctuations (+/- 10% according to the manual).

Can anyone clarify for me what I need to buy to plug in my computer and other electronics safely?  Can a UPS or surge protector provide the same protection?

Question by:suobs
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 12036296
Basically a line conditioner will adjust the current coming through the line to a safe and constant state.  So if you have a small brownout...the line conditioner will provide the extra power and if you have a surge it will knock it down to the normal current.  A surge protector will protect you from the +10% but not the -10% which could and will most likely cause the PC to reboot/turn off temporarily as if it had lost power.  A UPS might work depending on what kind you have.  Some have line conditioners built in while some don't.  Some will simply allow current to flow as if directly conncected and only react if they sense a loss of power and then they switch to battery power.  Some run totally from the battery and use the power source to charge the battery..this kind will work as you always get steady power regardless of the line...


Author Comment

ID: 12036352
You say the -10% can cause the PC to reboot - the manual says that damage can be caused?  What about TV, VCR, other solid state gear?
LVL 16

Accepted Solution

OliWarner earned 125 total points
ID: 12036833
All UPS's should work... Its how they work.... they detect the smallest changes in the power throughput and level them out, either with the battery or by burning up excess power.

Of course the more money you're spending on a UPS generally means a higher grade of parts, so better detection and more thourough readings... although with UPS technology today even a relatively cheap one should see you through...

Just make sure you get a high enough rating for the amount of computers you've got behind it... Overloading will ruin it fast.
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 12037081
suobs:  >>> I am in Florida <<<   Cool.  I'm in Tampa, where are you at?  You ready for Ivan?  : D

Author Comment

ID: 12037571
We're in West Palm.  Kinda scary.  Ready for Ivan, but I want movies during and after!  Hope you fare well on the west coast.

Author Comment

ID: 12037589
I had searched the pages of several makers of UPSs (APC, Tripplite), but found nothing about power reductions until I looked up the UPS I am using (CyberPower 525SL) - we have two of these!  It says,

The The CyberPower 525SL not only guards against surges, spikes, sags, brownouts and other power abnormalities, but also protects your computer system and valuable data during a power outage. PowerPanel™ Software is included with each model. In the event of a power outage, PowerPanel™ Software automatically saves and closes open files and then shuts down the computer system in an intelligent and orderly manner.

Thanks for your help - I probably wouldn't have checked further without OliWarner's advice, so (s)he gets the points . . .

Author Comment

ID: 12037597
Another factor in asking this question was:  if I had to spend $200 and a UPS could give the same protection, wouldn't it make more sense to buy a pretty nice UPS with the money, since it is something I actually use on a daily basis anyway.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 12037817
APC have good guarantees on them too... ours will pay out up to $1000000 if the unit fails and our computers get zapped... well worth it...

I'm a he by the way =0) and i'm glad to have helped...
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 12041062
>>> are well on the west coast <<<  It's looking better. Seems like it's looking for a dry spot to hit.   : )

I have an Ivan game going on if you want to play:

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