Protecting valuable electronic equipment from load shedding

Uninterruptible power supply

With this in mind, many businesses are turning to uninterruptible power supply (UPS) solutions, which are used to protect critical equipment, as well as data, from power issues, such as spikes, brownouts, fluctuations, and power outages.

There are three basic functions that UPSes are tasked with performing. Firstly, they help to avoid damage to the equipment caused by power surges, failures, and voltage spikes. Many UPS devices also have the ability to regulate input power on a continuous basis.

Next, UPSes help companies avoid data loss or damage. With no UPS in place, any data stored on devices that might have to deal with an unexpected loss of power can be corrupted or lost forever. If power management software is used in conjunction with a UPS, a controlled shutdown of the system is enabled, and data can be saved.

Finally, a UPS guarantees the availability of networks and other business applications while swerving any downtime. When used in conjunction with alternative sources of power, such as solar or generators, UPSes ensure that there is enough power for a smooth switchover to that source, so that no disruption to the business happens.

Surge protection, voltage stabilisation

Another consequence of load shedding and unreliable power supply is power surges. These happen when the normal voltage increases for three nanoseconds (billionths of a second) or more, or when load shedding sees Eskom turning the switches on and off, several times a day.

Often, these surges are unpredictable, and when computers, servers, and other devices are plugged into the mains, they run the risk of these fluctuations in power causing damage to the components within these devices.

All electronic devices and equipment can benefit from surge protection and voltage stabilisers. From desktop computers, servers, and networking infrastructure, to printers, television sets, and mobile devices, all devices are vulnerable to the inevitable damage that results when frequent power surges and failures occur.

For companies who are not looking for that switchover power, there is a slew of surge protectors and voltage stabilisers available that offer protection against fluctuations, dips, and spikes in mains’ power supply. However, unlike UPSes, these tools are unable to give power in the event of a power failure.

For smaller entities, the investment is not prohibitive, and for a modest outlay, companies can protect their valuable equipment, as well as the data stored on that equipment, during times of load shedding. This not only ensures that no data is lost, but it is also insurance against the loss of productivity that results from having to have work redone.

Which surge protector is best for you?

When considering the wide range of surge protectors on the market, each with a variety of different features and promises, it is easy to see why companies can become confused, and have trouble choosing a solution that is suited for their specific equipment, environment, and requirements.

It is never a good idea to rush out and buy the first one on the shelf, or the cheapest one on the market. Not all surge protection solutions offer the same benefits, and many vendors are not terribly upfront when it comes to how much protection is offered in the event of a power failure.

It is easy to see why choosing the right surge protection or voltage stabiliser, breakers involves taking a wide range of parameters into account. These are related to types of devices, clamping voltage and let-through rating, how the circuit breakers are arranged, the risk assessment, and more.

Having a good partner on board, one who understands your specific needs, and has a thorough knowledge of the solutions available to meet those needs, can help any business from making costly mistakes.
Load shedding has become a harsh reality for South African businesses and individuals alike since 2008, and unfortunately, it appears it is here to stay. Eskom has announced an indefinite state of between stages two and three load shedding until further notice, although it is not uncommon to have to deal with stage six load shedding on a regular basis

This constant switching on and off of the national power supply is having a negative impact on businesses and consumers alike. Loss of production and productivity is a major concern, as the vast majority of businesses need power for machinery and technology to do their work.

Hand in hand with this is a loss of profit. With any loss of production, there is a loss of revenue, and in some instances, a major loss. Now, on top of all of this, businesses are having to worry about the damage to sensitive IT equipment that is the inevitable consequence of power failures.

One thing is clear, and that is that it has become a matter of urgency for South African organisations in every sector to mitigate the damages caused by load shedding by being prepared before the power goes off. 
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