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Surge Protection

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  (Lightning over Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado. July 2002)

 

Fact or Fiction?

 

There is little doubt that lightning and power surges can cause damage. Yet, many have questioned the delivery of these surges, we receive a lot of questions and statements like: 

Can a charge from a lightning strike really travel through a phone line? 

Can power sags or power surges really damage my equipment?

It's never happen here before.

I've got a power strip to take care of those problems.

Lightning strikes on the phone line? That's an Urban Legend!

 

The truth is, power events and lightning strikes are unpredictable, and they can cause damage to phone and data equipment. Charges from lightning strikes traveling through phone circuits have even been known to cause personal injury and in extreme cases, loss of life.

 

Another fact is, there are many documented case of damage and injury occurring from lightning spikes, even if the the strike was miles away and not in your area.

 

Power strips will protect against power surges. However, most power strips with surge protection will not protect your equipment from harmful effects of sags, spikes, noise or power blackouts

 

Ultimately, without proper power and line protection, you gamble your communications investment and more with each approaching storm.  

 

Rocky Mountain Telephone can help. Here's how:

 

We check your communications and data systems for proper grounding.

 

We test the power circuit to be used with your communication or data equipment and provide you with a report of the findings. (See our power testing page.)

 

We use the latest surge technology available to prevent costly surges and spikes from getting through your telephone lines, and before it can damage your equipment.

 

We also balance the system with a filtering UPS which keeps a steady stream of power to your system while filtering out other harmful power events. In the event of a power blackout, the equipment attached to the UPS will continue to operate for a variable amount of time.

 

(Battery Size - Voltage Drainage = Back Up Minutes)   

 

Table of Power Events

 

 Sags 

Also known as brownouts, sags are short term decreases in voltage levels. This is the most common power problem, accounting for 87% of all power disturbances according to a study by Bell Labs.

CAUSE - Sags are usually caused by the start-up power demands of many electrical devices (including motors, compressors, elevators, shop tools, etc.) Electric companies use sags to cope with extraordinary power demands. In a procedure known as rolling brownouts, the utility will systematically lower voltage levels in certain areas for hours or days at a time. Hot Summer days, when air conditioning requirements are at their peak, will often prompt rolling brownouts.
EFFECT - A sag can starve a computer of the power it needs to function, and cause frozen keyboards and unexpected system crashes which both result in lost or corrupted data. Sags also reduce the efficiency and life span of electrical equipment, particularly motors.

 

 

Blackout

Total loss of utility power.

 

CAUSE - Blackouts are caused by excessive demand on the power grid, lightning storms, ice on power lines, car accidents, backhoes, earthquakes and other catastrophes.

 

EFFECT - Current work in RAM or cache is lost. The hard drive File Allocation Table (FAT) may also be lost, which results in total loss of data stored on drive.

 

 

Spike

 Also referred to as an impulse, a spike is an instantaneous, dramatic increase in voltage. Akin to the force of a tidal wave, a spike can enter electronic equipment through AC, network, serial or phone lines and damage or completely destroy components.

 

CAUSE - Spikes are typically caused by a nearby lightning strike. Spikes can also occur when utility power comes back on line after having been knocked out in a storm or as the result of a car accident.

 

EFFECT - Catastrophic damage to hardware occurs. Data will be lost.

 

 

Surge

 A short term increase in voltage, typically lasting at least 1/120 of a second.

 

CAUSE - Surges result from presence of high-powered electrical motors, such as air conditioners, and household appliances in the vicinity. When this equipment is switched off, the extra voltage is dissipated through the power line.

 

EFFECT - Computers and similar sensitive electronic devices are designed to receive power within a certain voltage range. Anything outside of expected peak and RMS (considered the average voltage) levels will stress delicate components and cause premature failure.

 

 

Noise

More technically referred to as Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), electrical noise disrupts the smooth sine wave one expects from utility power.

 

CAUSE - Electrical noise is caused by many factors and phenomena, including lightning, load switching, generators, radio transmitters and industrial equipment. It may be intermittent or chronic.

 

EFFECT - Noise introduces glitches and errors into executable programs and data files.

 

                    

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