Solving Surges

It doesn’t take much of a power surge to upset the delicate electronics in most of our devices. At worst, a power surge can fry their insides, and that alone should motivate you to have everything connected to an outlet through a surge protector. While even they are not immune to surges, you can reset them in many instances.

In very non-technical terms, the surge shows up in much the same way a tripped electrical circuit shows up: something doesn’t work because it’s not getting any juice. Generally speaking, you can go to the electrical panel in your home or small office building and find a circuit switch that’s positioned halfway between “off” and “on”. You can reset the circuit switch by pushing it fully to “off” and then back to “on”. Tripping the circuit is a built-in protection.

Similarly, the surge protector takes the hit for any devices plugged into it. Again, in non-technical terms, the resistors in your surge protector sop up the extra energy, and you need to release it. You can follow these steps to verify a surge protector issue and restore the flow of power to your devices.

  • Plug something – a small lamp usually works best – into the wall outlet to make sure power is flowing to it. If there’s no power, check the circuit breaker, if you can, and reset it if it tripped.
  • Plug that same thing, which you know is working, into the surge protector. If it doesn’t work…
  • Unplug the surge protector from the wall outlet and unplug everything connected to it.
  • Wait 30 seconds. This will allow the resistors to drain.
  • Plug everything back in.

This process usually solves the problem. If it doesn’t, there could be a problem with the surge protector or the device. You’ll need to go back to the source – the most basic connection – to resolve the situation. One of our clients had a number of devices, including the transformer that brings the internet into his home and his router, plugged into a surge protector, which in turn, was plugged into a battery-backup power supply – with a built-in surge protector. After going through the procedure, he determined the problem was with one of the plugs in the battery backup unit. He was able to restore everything to operation, though he may need to replace his battery backup.

Battery backup units with surge protectors can range from $50 to $150 – give or take a few bucks – depending on the number of outlets they have and whether they have USB and coaxial cable ports. Surge protectors can be had for $35 and up, and nearly all have multiple plugs. You can also find single-outlet surge protectors which are ideal for plugging in at Starbucks or your hotel room – whenever you’ll have either option.

Contact us by phone – 973-433-6676 – or email to discuss the best protective systems for your needs.

Back-ups Beat Outage Woes

We typically associate outages with power outages, but communications lines – whether coaxial, copper or fiber optic – can go out, too. Do you have a back-up plan ready to go?

Power outages are relatively easy to overcome – or keep problems on a small scale. You can locate battery back-up systems strategically around your office to cover computers, servers, routers and other networking equipment and peripherals. These systems are not designed to provide long-term power to keep on working. Instead, they should give you and your workers enough time to finish a task, save your data files and then shut down systems in an orderly fashion. This will help everyone resume work more quickly when power is restored. You should augment your battery back-up systems with surge protectors to prevent sensitive electronics from getting fried when power comes back.

If your back-up plan includes storing apps and data files to the cloud, you can respond more effectively when power goes down. Within your office or home, make sure your work is regularly saved to an offsite storage server. That will make it easier to save work manually and help people get restarted from another location.

Depending on whatever else is happening, you may have the option to send your workers home, where they can reconnect – assuming they have power – and continue working through an Internet connection. Another option, depending on your location and size of workforce, would be to go to a coffee shop or some other place that has Wi-Fi – and power – available. The cost of coffee and lunch or a snack may be a good investment if it helps everyone tie up some loose ends or respond to customers’ immediate needs. And if the outage is short, everyone can get back to the office quickly.

If your business is in an office building, check with your landlord or property manager to see who supplies telecom connection services. You may be able to split your connections among multiple providers, and they may have contingency plans that keep at least part of your office running if communications go down. While we all love our feature-rich VOIP telephones, it’s important to note that the old copper telephone lines still function in a power outage or when coaxial and fiber-optic lines go down. You can generally use cellular connections for phones and devices when all else fails.

Once you know all of your available connection and networking options, we can work with you to design and deploy a system that will help you weather a storm or work through an outage. Call us (973-433-6676) or email us for a consultation. We can help make sure you ask your landlord or property manager the right questions and then install a system that best meets your needs.