(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
Lightning strikes on the phone line? That's an Urban
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
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:
check your communications and data systems for proper grounding.
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
the latest surge technology available to prevent costly surges and
spikes from getting through your telephone lines, and before it can
damage your equipment.
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.
Size - Voltage Drainage = Back Up Minutes)
of Power Events
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
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.
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.
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
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
to the top)