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Overcoming Power Challenges

HomeEarthRodAustralia1 Unreliable power from city lines and generators represents a real challenge to running a reliable network.  Not only are there problems caused by outages, there are surges that if you don't have grounded surge protector can fry equipment.  But power problems can be overcome and things can run smoothly – if the right steps are taken.  It will all cost you less than running the generator for a week and it'll save your equipment from being fried.

1. Surge protect and ground the power system

Voltage regulators don't provide any real protection against a surge that can burn equipment.  They can only stabilize a certain range of voltages to a target voltage.   The only real guarantee of preventing damage is to connect a surge protector or UPS with a surge protector to earth.  If it's not connected to earth it may still offer some protection, but if you read the warranty carefully, it'll clearly state no guarantee without an earth connection.

Get a copper grounding rod from an electrical market and connect it with a thick cable to the third pin on the socket.  Many devices have a use for ground; printers, and desktop computers.  Desktop computers connect the case to ground to prevent it from getting a static charge.  Wherever possible keep all three pins connect in your electrical wiring.

2. Cut your power requirements

Getting a big fancy new rack server?  Is that really what's needed for an office of 50 people?  Think twice about the energy consumption.  The higher the energy consumption the less time things will run for.  The only measurement that matters is Watts.  That's the total energy used.  Watts = Voltage x Amps.  Let's look at a charged laptop running vs. a desktop computer:

Laptop: 15W x 10Hr = 150WHrs
Wifi Router: 10W x 10Hr = 100WHrs
Desktop (with flat screen monitor): 70W x 10Hr = 700Whrs
Net Speed Manager Server: 15W x 10Hr = 150Whrs

That means on the same battery the laptop will last 4 times longer than the desktop.

3. Use batteries not generators

To get a rough calculation – let's say we have 60Amp hour battery.  Batteries are nominally 12V – so we have 12V x 60Amps = 700 Watt Hours.  We're likely going to lose 50% in efficiency losses – in adapters, wiring, etc.  So on this battery we could run a laptop for:

15W x (1.5) = 22.5W consumption.
700 / 22.5 = 31Hours.

Get a 100AHr battery and inverter system for just around $300 from any reputable solar company.  Now you can easily run your switches, laptops and routers when the power goes out.  Batteries will come on automatically, and need less maintenance.  Get a sealed deep cycle battery from a reputable solar company which is maintenance free.

-Mike Dawson

[Image taken from Wikipedia]

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