Small Businesstechnoogy

Electric power conditioners for small rural businesses

About a decade ago I began using power conditioner devices at my rural home and business location. These devices are also called “voltage regulators” or “surge protector s”or “battery backups”. I am aware that there are functional and physical differences in these categories of devices but for purposes of this discussion I am lumping them together. Typically the devices combine all three types of protections: voltage spikes, voltage drops and cutoff of power.

I consider these essential equipment. Prior to their use, I had a history of frequent electronic device failures from TVs to computers and printers. The most frustrating and difficult type of failure was a corruption of function where the device still operated but not properly. For example, hard disk drive sector errors were common where some data would be lost but the problem was not obvious to the user until discovered later. Since installing these power conditioner devices at all locations I’ve had no equipment failures. I vaguely understand that our old weak electric supply lines are subject to surges and brownouts. Going back two decades we frequently went without power after storms but electric service has significantly improved since then. The surges and brownouts are an ‘invisible problem’ that is only suspected when an electronic device burns out prematurely.

My only complaint is that useful life of these devices is short; typically 2 to 3 years. This one (APC brand in photo) burned out yesterday with flames and sparks after about two years’ use. I’ve used a range of models, brands and price points. I’ve spent between $40 and $120 for each power conditioner and use them at 4 locations. The result seems the same. Lately I wind up replacing at least one of them every year.

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