THE MAGIC PILL
If there’s a magic pill to prevent power viruses, it’s understanding that prevention must be practiced as a “system.” What that means is that certain prevention techniques must be used together.
Voltage spikes are addressed with a surge diverter and electrical noise with a noise filter. Each of these by themselves, however, is capable only of weakening or slowing down a virus not eliminating it.
Isolation transformers eliminate common mode voltage problems. When surge diverters and noise filters are added to the isolation transformer, the resulting “system” kills all three viruses.
Uninterruptible power supplies eliminate blackouts, but in spite of many manufacturer claims, most aren’t capable of preventing other viruses. Once again, the UPS must be used with the other parts of the system to achieve total virus immunity.
The backdoor disturbance can be addressed several ways. Fiber optic connections are one means of electrically closing the back door, but if ordinary copper wiring is used for communication lines, it may be necessary to employ special surge diversion techniques for these connections.
Luckily the voltage regulation virus is no longer a serious hazard. Once upon a time, this virus was responsible for many system failures. However, most of today’s systems use switch mode power supplies. This technology was designed as a way of reducing both power supply size and cost while simultaneously increasing electrical efficiency.
To achieve these goals, switch mode supplies are designed to consume electrical power differently than their predecessors. These operational differences have created a beneficial by-product where voltage regulation is concerned.
As a result, most systems enjoy substantial immunity to the voltage regulation virus. Additional preventative measures (voltage regulators, etc.) are unnecessary.
Power viruses are an appropriate description of the power quality problems that can plague electronic systems. Like other viruses, they are invisible – often announcing their presence only after some initial damage has already been done. Their effects can be a minor annoyance like a lockup or system error or they can be catastrophic like a blown up integrated circuit or power supply failure.
Our dependence on sophisticated technology has created an increased awareness regarding the need to safeguard system integrity. Software viruses have led to the introduction of “antivirus” programs and system data is routinely backed up to prevent loss.
Part of this “safe computing” lifestyle should be the prevention of power viruses, too. This is possible only when prevention is systematic.
Voltage spikes, electrical noise, and common mode voltage is eliminated by a package that contains an isolation transformer, surge diverter, and noise filter. UPS and data line protection can be added to the system as applications demand.
Dennis Ver Mulm works with POWERVAR, based in Lake Forest, Illinois.