surge protectors for computers = worthless?

Seems surge protectors and UPS units are more or less worthless when it comes to a direct lightning strike nearby. Is that, in fact, the case? I don't care about suddenly losing power (e.g. I save my work every few minutes) so a UPS doesn't interest me.
The cheapest and most certain solution, I guess, is unplugging my computer every time I'm not using it. A bit of a pain, but it seems the only guarantee anyone has been able to give me.
To make it easier, I'm wondering if there's any sort of cheap circuit breaker I could buy that would allow me to flip a switch on my computer desk rather than reaching way down in the back to the outlet and yanking the cord.
Failing that, what about plugging one power strip into another, and unplugging one from the other when I'm not using the computer? Is there anything funky about drawing current via an intermediary power strip? Sure, I could have a power strip with a long enough length to mount to my computer desk, but then I'd also have to individually unplug the monitor, CPU, printer, and other devices I have connected.
What's a good solution here?
Thanks.
- Dana
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (dnrg) wrote:

Ya talking about your computer getting hit directly? It'd smoke it ;)
I don't care about suddenly losing power (e.g. I save my work

You never know when a power loss will occur- it only takes a secound.

Seriously though, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you buy a combo surge and UPS. It is cheap compared to replacing a 'puter. You can find very good models in the $60-80 range. I have one by 'APC' and it has saved my ass many a times....
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--Phil Marshall--
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Tripp Lite out of Chgo carries good stuff. and warranty lightning protection,...... yes they paid me, for a strike....... but the pro elec guys here will give you info on grounds.... I am learning too , m.m.r
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I have had better luck with APC. A Tripp Lite I had started tripping out for no apparently reason just before end of its 1 year warranty. Its warranty replacement did the same after a year, although, it works OK with the light load of my laptop (instead of risking overcharge of laptop battery). The Tripp Lite that UPS (United Parcel Service) supplied for their computer has died.
Of the 5 APC's between home and work, only 1 (old when we got it from our factory) needed a new battery, and are all working fine for years. My headless Linux servers in the basement are running on a 1100 VA unit and my DSL/network/wireless hardware is running on a Back-UPS Office. We had 2 power surges followed by power failure last summer and no data loss, no harm done.
Someone else at work thought that a nearby lightning strike had blown their TV equipment, but it turned out that just their surge protector gave its life to save the other equipment (red indicator was blackened).
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (dnrg) wrote in message

Like Mark says Tripp lite are very good units, you might also want to try APC. I have both on different systems, and they have been well worth the price.
I looked on the APC site for a non ups unit like the one I have and it seems they no longer sell it.
Have a small APC Back-Ups 400 (I think it is now the Smart Pro series) unit over 8 years and still working fine. We get a lot of brown outs and only way I notice it is when the lights dim. They also have a Equipment Protection Policy .
Well worth the price in the long run.
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Faraday cage- the various cables will pick up enough of an induced current. Lotsa people isolate the power feed, but forget the phone or cable lines. Recycled computers are cheap enough that I don't lose sleep over it any more- I just make sure to have other backups of any critical data. If I ever get a modern system worth over a grand, I'll probably spring for a baby UPS.
aem sends...
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check out TripLite mmr
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Thanks, but no modem or phone line here to protect. :-) I use a cell phone and get internet access gratis at my University.
- Dana
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Thanks for the opinions, but are there any licensed electricians "in the house?" Seems the more sophisticated peope are with electricity, the more they're suggesting I unplug my gear as the best solution.
From what I can tell, for my specific purposes (YMMV) a UPS is a waste of money. It's essentially paying for equipment insurance, like someone said, and you know how collecting on extended warranties and insurance policies goes; most companies will try to wiggle their way out of paying.
In the mean time, my equipment would be destroyed and cost me plenty in downtime; more of a hassle than anything else.
- Dana
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (dnrg) wrote in

If you're using your computer for business, you really should be using a UPS. It's not as much for the protection of the hardware as it is for the protection of whatever you're working on when the power goes out.
I had all sorts of file corruption until I put in a UPS. Now I hear it beep about 4 times a week when the power gets low.
NJBrad
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A good ups will also monitor your power and you can see and save the 'power history" I was somewhat surprised that in the summer when they anticipate high demand the voltage in the morning was 126 volts!
An UPS will get you thru small spikes, and drops. A close lightening strike can fry everything plugged or unplugged as well as start a fire! If you have data you cannot lose you need to back it up and store it someplace else.
I don't know if a GFI circuit would help or not since they are suppose to open much faster than a regular breaker?
Wayne

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (dnrg) wrote in message

Well, yes, if you want 99.999999% protection, by all means unplug everything that is connected to your pc in any way. Nothing electrical will give you 100% protection, unless you get in the $100,000.00 and up price range and I have even seen one of these fail and take out a bunch of very high end computer/network equipment.
And don't forget about getting a big hit while working on the pc and your hard drive gets corrupted. No matter how often you save your work, it won't help in this case. (happened to me, why I started using the APC and TL units) Never had a problem since.
Or, set back and hope nothing happens. Works for some people.
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snipped-for-privacy@entouch.net (George) wrote in message > Well, yes, if you want

I shut the machine down at the first sound of thunder, though I suppose I could be caught off guard.
- Dana
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I bought one of these power control boxes that sits on the desk and lets me switch on different components as I want to. It also has surge protection. I don't count on the surge protection for much of anything, when storms threaten or are even in the forecast, I unplug this box from the wall. To get around the problem of having to crawl under the desk, I cut the line cord before it drops behind the desk (make sure that you have the cord unplugged from the wall before cutting). Go to the hardware store of your choice and buy a plug and a mating connector that will attach to the line cord. Install the male on the end of the cut cord that comes from the box and the mate to the other end of the cut cord. Be sure that the wiring is done so that the wires that had been cut still go to the respective places. That is, hot to hot, neutral to neutral and ground to ground. What you end up with is the control box now has a very short cord and an extension cord that fits perfectly. Of course, you could just buy an extension cord, but then you have wire all over the place.
Now the mating connectors for the line cord are right up on the desk and in easy reach. Even my wife can reach out and do a disconnect or reconnect with out difficulty. since everything is plugged into this control box, it is simple to remove everything from the powerline at once.
I am on cable and I put a slip on adapter on the cable line to the modem so that disconnecting that is simple and does not require turning the cable connector multiple times to release it. If you are on dial up, just a word to be careful with the little tab on the phone line connector. They are not made to withstand a lot of stress and can be broken off easily.
Charlie
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Thinking back to that FEMA course I took which covered lightning and EMP protection, you are more or less right -- if you have a cheap surge suppressor strip and lightning strikes the transformer on the pole outside the house you can expect some damage. Hell, you can expect appliances to explode and light bulbs to fly across the room if it is a direct hit.
If you want to gain some real protection, consider the invesment in a whole-house surge suppressor which must be installed by a professional (several hundred $$, at least). And consider having it installed outside the house, right after the utility's electric meter rather than inside the breaker panel as is usually done. The key is to absorb as much energy as possible and to do it as FAR AWAY from any sensitive equipment as possible. With a whole-house system properly installed a good grade surge suppressor on your computer (don't forget the phone lines, etc) will stand a lot better chance of giving some protection.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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I have a device called a Meter Treater which I purchased from my power company for $100. It plugs into the meter socket and it has 2 l e d's that glow showing that it is operating. I also use a Belkin SurgeMaster on my PC. I forget how many joules of protection it offers. In addition to this I have my Ham Radio equipment, big screen TV and other devices also protected on surge devices. My 2 cents worth.

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Best thing for lighting strikes are what the telephone lines and medical devices have used for years: spark-gaps. I had an unintended spark gap, created by the surge protector physical wiring, that saved my equipment. Most surge protectors will not protect equipment from the high voltage spikes caused by lighting, transformer failure or power-pole damage from vehicular collisions. The MOV's fail shorted which then can become a fire hazard until the breaker or fuse kicks out.
UPS is an excellent idea for most everyday power line anomalies. However, APC style "OFF-LINE" backup will not be much help for most power line problems. You need a good "ON-LINE" UPS and the cost of one is too high for the typical home owner.
So, get some spark gaps or roll your own. When using the line powered Computer, set the application for automatic back-ups in case of power loss because the APC OFF-LINE mode does not work in every line failure case.
- Bill

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