Electronics Protection - September/October 2012 - (Page 16)

Feature The Power-Grid and Protecting Electronic Devices Q&A with Ben Grimes, CTO of Innovolt Carrie Crabill, Trevelino/Keller Nick Depperschmidt, Remote Magazine 1. What is the Real Problem with the Power Grid? The antiquated power grid we depend has experienced minimal updates since its inception and struggles to provide a sufficient power supply for electronic devices. In addition, distributing clean power to end-users is a growing concern as building infrastructure takes on heavier loads. All grid anomalies, including natural fluctuations occurring within the four walls of a building and grid activity, cause damaging disturbances such as voltage sags, blackouts and over voltages, and negatively impact electronics. The recent rolling brownouts we saw across the country over the summer were a result of insufficient power and while brownouts are a way of controlling power, it is also a contributor to premature electronic equipment malfunction or failure, especially if equipment is not properly protected. Even a one-second outage can damage equipment and disrupt operations to the point that the device becomes impaired as systems are reset and brought back online. Minor voltage fluctuations or other disruptions of the electrical signal can wreak havoc on equipment and research indicates that the disturbances emitted from the power grid may have grave consequences as it relates to the reliability and overall lifespan of our electronics. dryers, lights may dim for a split second. That is a voltage sag. It is an indication that voltage was not at the expected level because another piece of equipment came on line. In terms of office buildings, larger pieces of equipment that have larger power requirements such as air conditioners and large copy machines draw a lot of power. These devices also have immediate ramp-up power needs and until the power it requires can be sourced from the designated supply or grid, they will take power away from other devices that share the same set of connections within the building. 4. What Other Disturbances Are Taking Place on the Grid? There are a variety of potentially damaging disturbances occurring on the power grid. While power grid variations and vulnerabilities have traditionally been viewed as easy to resolve by protecting against lightning strikes and power outages, the truth is quite different. More severe in nature and far more technical, power disturbances include traditional surges, such as naturally occurring events like lightening, true blackouts, when power is completely cut off, brownouts, when power is removed for a limited amount of time, and voltage sags and over voltages when voltage dips or peaks from the traditional supply. 2. What is the Silent Killer for Electronics? To understand what is silently killing our electronics, we must better understand power. Power is voltage times current, and when voltage comes back online after being removed for whatever reason, current has an increase in the flow of electricity, known as an inrush. This unexpected energy jolt has a detrimental effect on electronic equipment and can lead to failure over time. After an electronic device experiences large inrushes or multiple inrush events, overtime the technology is apt to shortages, rendering them broken or providing false readings. 5. How do Silent Killers and These Other Power Disturbances Impact Electronic Equipment? 3. What Disturbances Take Place Internally Within Buildings? It’s a fact, silent killers and other disturbances will degrade electronic equipment over time. While inrushes may not render devices unusable immediately, they impact quality and reliability and over time will eventually render the electronics unusable. Inrushes force electrons down small wires at a microscopic level and can eventually break the wires due to vibrations from the inrush, ruining the equipment. Everything has a baseline and due to voltage inconsistencies, that baseline may be incorrect and produce false readings. If the baseline is no longer established because of complications occurring on the power source, readings may be inaccurate. Some may think that the grid and weather related issues are the only disturbances impacting electronic equipment; however 80 percent of disturbances are actually caused internally either by other equipment or wiring issues. One example of this is known as a sag. While sags are not an indication that voltage did not reach your device, it does represent a lack of voltage. Residential homes are a perfect example. When we power on our microwaves or 16 6. What are the Protection Choices Available? When it comes to protecting electronics equipment, surge protection is the most commonly known option, yet it only protects against natural occurrences such as lightning (which only account for 0.5 percent of disturbances). For the other anomalies that occur, few affordable options are available to protect equipment. Expensive methods, such as uninterruptible power supply September/October 2012 www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com http://www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronics Protection - September/October 2012

Electronics Protection - September/October 2012
Table of Contents
HP Intelligent Series Racks Offer Monitoring Capabilities for Data Centers
The Unknown Problem with Airtight Enclosures
Key Drivers When Turning to Captive Panel Screws
Emerging Trends in Field Equipment Enclosures
JV Industrial Solves Power Outage Issues with Battery-Free Flywheel
The Green Data Center Opportunity
The Power-Grid and Protecting Electronic Devices
Maximizing Availability, Capacity and Efficiency with Rising Data Center Temperatures
Canyonwest Cases Releases new Enclosures for Flat-Screen TV Transportation
Ohmite Manufacturing Releases Radial-Fin Heat Sink Extrusions
Rogers Introduces Condux Plus Conductive Foams
FIP Gasketing Resin Offers Advantages over Gasketing Materials
Minmax Power Releases MSGWI06 Series of DC/DC Power Modules
New E-Line Locking Systems Reduce Security Costs and Enhance Locking Solutions
Industry News
Calendar of Events

Electronics Protection - September/October 2012