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Surge Protection Problems /w 850W Power Supply

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April 9, 2010 6:32:10 PM

I currently have an 850W (82.5% efficient) plugged into an UPS (650VA / 120V).

Sometimes the computer restarts when something in another room is suddenly turned on (not connected to UPS), like when I turn on a printer in another room. I replaced the UPS with a surge suppressor (1045 J) and the restarting problem disappeared. I suspect the problem is the UPS is using a simulated sine wave output and the 850W PSU is PFC, and when something in another room is turned on it creates a surge which the UPS corrects but is unable to output properly to the PSU.

Will this surge suppressor be enough to protect my computer or will I need to get another surge suppressor or UPS,? How do I know what specifications I need for my 850W PSU? If I have to get another UPS how do I know if it's using true sine wave output?
a b ) Power supply
April 9, 2010 7:22:07 PM

Henry1990 said:
I currently have an 850W (82.5% efficient) plugged into an UPS (650VA / 120V).

Sometimes the computer restarts when something in another room is suddenly turned on (not connected to UPS), like when I turn on a printer in another room. I replaced the UPS with a surge suppressor (1045 J) and the restarting problem disappeared. I suspect the problem is the UPS is using a simulated sine wave output and the 850W PSU is PFC, and when something in another room is turned on it creates a surge which the UPS corrects but is unable to output properly to the PSU.

Will this surge suppressor be enough to protect my computer or will I need to get another surge suppressor or UPS,? How do I know what specifications I need for my 850W PSU? If I have to get another UPS how do I know if it's using true sine wave output?


Printers (specially laser printers) are known for having incredible power draws when turning on. This can cause a small influx of power surge on the electrical grid. Your UPS could just be shutting it self down/restarting for safety. I was having this issue at my business. We resolved it by minimizing power strip usage, then removing everything but core components like PC's/monitors to the UPS.
April 9, 2010 8:24:51 PM

I tested the UPS with only the PSU connected to the UPS and it still happens. The printers power draw is the most likely cause of the power spike, however the UPS should switch to battery and the computer should continue running. I use to have a 420W PSU plugged into my UPS and it never had any problems when a printer was turned on, so my only conclusion is that there's something going wrong between the UPS and 850W PSU, which I suspect is caused by the incompatibility of PFC power supplies and simulated sine wave UPS's.

So my question is what specification of surge protector do I need to protect an 850W PFC power supply and how do you tell if the surge protector is using a true sine wave? I also have a 40W monitor and 17W speaker.

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a b ) Power supply
April 9, 2010 9:23:12 PM

$329 retail, and after a discount is still $238? Wow, that's really overpriced for a 850watt PSU. That's not an 850watt PSU either...it only has 55amps on 12v rails, making it a 650watt PSU at best.

Good quality 850watts (such as Antecs, Corsairs, etc) usually cost around $160-$200ish and comes with 70amps on 12v rails.

Anywho, printers can cause problems. I unplugged/replugged my printer power cable once and it fried my Dell computer's motherboard.
April 9, 2010 9:49:39 PM

Yea I didn't know much about PSU's when I got it. The X3 ultra 850W is seriously overpriced, but I got it for $100 on sale, I figured it was really good since it was originally so expensive. Fortunately for me the build quality is good, it's completely modular (even the 24pin connector lawl!) and 55A on the 12V rail is just enough to run 5850's in crossfire. Upon further research, it seems the X3 ultra 850W actually has 64A on the 12V rail. (Source 1, Source 2)

My foolish purchases aside, a $300 UPS is too expensive for me, would an APC Smart-UPS SC420VA 120V be alright to support 850W PFC, 40W monitor and 17W speakers? Correct me if I'm wrong, but all APC Smart UPS's are pure sine wave output right?

Do you really need a UPS for a pc, or will a surge protector work too? I am thinking of just using one of these which I already own: APC or Belkin.

April 10, 2010 2:20:31 AM

You are making wild speculations. First, nothing says surge. Nothing. Apparetly a majority have been so lied to so often as to define a brownout, sag, or low voltage (less than 100 volts) as a surge (thousands of volts).

Now, does the UPS switch to battery backup mode? You must know that to define the problem. And why does the source of power switch?

An incandescent bulb is a powerful tool. For example, all electronics work normally when bulbs dims to less than 50% intensity. A UPS should switch to battery because the bulb dims.

Also power the bulb from the UPS. When the UPS switches to battery mode or when the computer crashes, what happens to bulb intensity.

These are subjective measurements that can help define which direction to look.

Myths hype high wattage supplies. Most computers consume less than 200 watts. 500 watts is more than sufficient for most every computer. But in an industry where most computer assemblers do not even know how electicity works, then power supply manufacturers hype big watts with quality. There is almost no relationship between wattage and supply quality. A 500 watt supply can be superior and more stable than a 1000 watt supply. To be missing essential functions and sell at a higher profit, they simply sell a 1000 watt supply at a lower price. Yes, you read that right. Higher profit in a 1000 watt supply.

So, to discover what is wrong, first know what is causing those problems to be apparent. The incandescent bulb is the first and simplest test to, for example, know when the UPS switches from AC mains to battery power. Necessary facts before you can even make an assumption. Nothing says spikes or surges ever existed anywhere.

a b ) Power supply
April 10, 2010 4:41:47 AM

westom said:
You are making wild speculations. First, nothing says surge. Nothing. Apparetly a majority have been so lied to so often as to define a brownout, sag, or low voltage (less than 100 volts) as a surge (thousands of volts).

Now, does the UPS switch to battery backup mode? You must know that to define the problem. And why does the source of power switch?

An incandescent bulb is a powerful tool. For example, all electronics work normally when bulbs dims to less than 50% intensity. A UPS should switch to battery because the bulb dims.

Also power the bulb from the UPS. When the UPS switches to battery mode or when the computer crashes, what happens to bulb intensity.

These are subjective measurements that can help define which direction to look.

Myths hype high wattage supplies. Most computers consume less than 200 watts. 500 watts is more than sufficient for most every computer. But in an industry where most computer assemblers do not even know how electicity works, then power supply manufacturers hype big watts with quality. There is almost no relationship between wattage and supply quality. A 500 watt supply can be superior and more stable than a 1000 watt supply. To be missing essential functions and sell at a higher profit, they simply sell a 1000 watt supply at a lower price. Yes, you read that right. Higher profit in a 1000 watt supply.

So, to discover what is wrong, first know what is causing those problems to be apparent. The incandescent bulb is the first and simplest test to, for example, know when the UPS switches from AC mains to battery power. Necessary facts before you can even make an assumption. Nothing says spikes or surges ever existed anywhere.



Just FYI a power surge does not have to be a direct lightning strike (amazingly rare). The most common type of surge (apart from appliances that have short periods of high power draw) is that of a lightning buried cable surge. Where lightning induces a surge on a buried cable. These surges have a 80/80 volt surge peak. Not thousands of volts like a direct lightning strike. Just 80 volts, which a protected powers trip is capable of handling. A power surge will likely shut down your UPS not just switch to battery mode, that is what I have noticed with my UPS. Whenever the power grid fails, it switches to battery mode..


@OP try to disconnect any electronics from your power grid apart from your computer, and if the issue is still present, it is likely the UPS/PSU are incompatible. The issue could be the above addressed modified sine wave issue, however I doubt this.
April 10, 2010 6:00:20 AM

I have tested the UPS and PSU already. I've had a non-active PFC 420W power supply, CRT monitor, desktop speakers connected to the UPS battery and a laser printer to the UPS surge protection only outlet for about 3 years and everytime there was a black-out the UPS battery would kick in and keep the computer on for about 30 minutes.

I recently got the 850W power supply which I connected alone to the UPS battery and it works flawlessly, but when I turn on the laser printer on which is in another room it causes a power spike which is quite apparent as the lights in my room flicker for a second, the UPS makes a beeping noise indicating battery activation at which point the computer shutdowns.

And to check there was nothing wrong with the UPS or PSU themselves I connected the 850W to a surge protector without battery and turned on the printer in the other room and the computer stayed on. And I checked the UPS with the 420W and unplugged the UPS from the wall outlet and the battery kicked in and kept the computer on.


So now I'm quite certain that it's the incompatibility between the 850W PFC active power supply and simulated sine wave UPS.

So now my question becomes.

1) Do I really need a UPS to keep my computer safe, is the occasional sudden shutdown to computers really that bad? If it's not then I'll just use a surge protector since true sine wave UPS's are too expensive for me.

2) What specifications for a surge protector should I get for an 850W power supply?

3) And is an RJ45 surge protector really necessary, I have a modem to router to computer setup, so would I have the surge protector between the modem/router or router/computer?

4) Does the RJ45 surge protector decrease the connection speed significantly? (I'm a gamer and download a lot of movies)
April 10, 2010 6:27:54 AM

The first thing you need to do , is to find out if bothe devices are plugged into the same circuit.
To do this, turn the computer off, but plug a radio into the outlet. Then turn breakers off, one at a time, till the radio turns off. I'd use a circuit chaser, but that's only because I have one (or three).
If with one breaker off, bothe the printer and the computer wont start, they are on the same circuit.
If they are on the same circuit, you should think about sticking with just the surge suppressor. The big advantage to ups, is that it protects your computer from power failure shutdowns. If you dont have a lot of blackouts, you might decide you dont need a ups. Just keep your HDD well backed up, as that is the part that fails most often.
If on the other hand, they are on seperate circuits, you have a more serious problem. Your house wiring is very suspect. You probably have a loose neutral or poor bonding and grounding.
If that is the case, you sould call a qualified electrician.
FYI power line surges are seldom caused by lightning. The most common cause is a rapid change in grid usage. That's why , in Industrial areas, people see more spikes, and why they are common around large plant startups. Rapidly bringing a large alternator on line, can also cause a surge, though most electrical utilities are carefull about that.
April 10, 2010 6:39:57 AM

A surge suppressor is like a lighting arrestor, a grounded plate close to a live power plate. If the voltage on the live power plate goes too high, it arcs to the grounded plate, and cuts the power. ( Very simplified)
A surge suppressor should not affect an rj45 cct at all. Do you need one though?
How frequently does your home get hit by lightning? The only way you would see a spike on your nic connection is with a direct lightning strike.
a b ) Power supply
April 10, 2010 9:04:05 AM

endyen said:
A surge suppressor is like a lighting arrestor, a grounded plate close to a live power plate. If the voltage on the live power plate goes too high, it arcs to the grounded plate, and cuts the power. ( Very simplified)
A surge suppressor should not affect an rj45 cct at all. Do you need one though?
How frequently does your home get hit by lightning? The only way you would see a spike on your nic connection is with a direct lightning strike.


With a direct lightning strike not even a surge protector will protect him. I dont think there is a UPS/Surge protector that can protect him from a direct lightning strike. As far as I know the most common type of lightning-caused power surge is that of the lightning inducing a power surge on a buried cable. That a surge protector can protect against.

Anyways most power strips have surge protectors. Shouldnt cost but $20~ or less (120v rated~ is what your looking for). UPS should be used when dealing with critical equipment that must remain on to prevent data loss. It's true a hard power cycle can damage your hard drive but I doubt that's an issue now a days. Anyone care to add to the subject?
April 10, 2010 12:21:33 PM

Henry1990 said:
when I turn on the laser printer on which is in another room it causes a power spike which is quite apparent as the lights in my room flicker for a second,


I am sure this is not normal. Does it happen when you switch on any other appliances which take a large current, e.g. a toaster or fan heater? Maybe you should have the house wiring checked by a qualified electrician (they will also have a portable appliance tester with which they can check the safety of the laser printer).
a b ) Power supply
April 10, 2010 4:59:55 PM

Andy2008 said:
I am sure this is not normal. Does it happen when you switch on any other appliances which take a large current, e.g. a toaster or fan heater? Maybe you should have the house wiring checked by a qualified electrician (they will also have a portable appliance tester with which they can check the safety of the laser printer).


It is normal, I operate 2-3 laser printers at my business and this issue occurred for a brief while until we minimized the use of power strips, then proceeded to adding additional electrical outlets (additional outlets to not use power strips as much). Issue resolved. We also plugged in the main work computer only to the ups.

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April 11, 2010 12:20:19 AM
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Henry1990 said:
1) Do I really need a UPS to keep my computer safe, is the occasional sudden shutdown to computers really that bad? If it's not then I'll just use a surge protector since true sine wave UPS's are too expensive for me.

2) What specifications for a surge protector should I get for an 850W power supply?

3) And is an RJ45 surge protector really necessary, I have a modem to router to computer setup, so would I have the surge protector between the modem/router or router/computer?

4) Does the RJ45 surge protector decrease the connection speed significantly? (I'm a gamer and download a lot of movies)

1) That UPS has only one function – to provide temporary power during voltage drops or blackouts. A majority will preach other functions. And those others functions do exist – at near-zero levels. A near-zero function is a 100% function in sales brochures. In the real world, we also call that a myth. Only function that a UPS actually does is temporary power.

Why are power interruptions problematic? It results in lost data. Power loss only causes hardware damage in myths. Nobody define the component harmed by power off because that damage is only promoted by myths. Power loss only puts unsaved data at risk.

However power loss may be preceded by a surge. A plug-in UPS does not claim surge protection (which is found in larger building wide systems). Don’t take anybody’s word for it. Read manufacturer spec numbers for transient protection. See its joules number? Near zero. But enough above zero so that the naïve will claim it provides 100% surge protection.

Pure sine wave does nothing for any electronics. All electronics must be so robust that even 270 volts spikes from the cheapest (and ‘dirtiest’) UPS is considered ideal power. That sine wave myth is popular among those who do not know what every electronics supply must make completely irrelevant. Whereas a cheap UPS can be harmful to a small electric motor or power strip protector, that same UPS electricity is ideal for all properly designed electronics.

2) A surge protector is only as effective as its earth ground. Any protector adjacent to the computer does not claim protection. And can even earth surges destructively through that computer. Transient protection is always about the protector that actually does protection – one ‘whole house’ protector. If you computer needs protection, then so does the stove, furnace, bathroom GFCIs, and smoke detectors. The only protector that actually does protection comes from companies that are far more responsible. Every effective protector has what is always necessary – that short and dedicated connection to earth. A surge protector is only as effective as its connection to single point ground.

Install a surge protector so that direct lightning strikes cause no damage even to the protector. A solution that costs tens or 100 times less money. And does not have the massive profit margins that generate myths. For example, your telco’s switching computer is connected to overhead wires all over town. Suffer 100 surges with every thunderstorm. And must never have damage. How often is your town without phone service for four days after a thunderstorm? Never.

Telcos use no plug-in protectors. Telcos avoid damage so often associated with a plug-in protector or UPS. Effective protectors harmlessly earth all destructive type of surges – even lightning – and remain functional. Protection is always about where energy dissipates. Either energy dissipates harmlessly in earth. Or that surge is inside the building hunting for earth destructively via appliances. Any facility that can never suffer damage puts the protector within feet of earth ground. In telco facilities, the protector is up to 50 meters distant from electronics. That separation increases protection.

You need the same solution that costs tens or 100 times less.

Destructive surges are hundreds of thousands of jouiles. How many joules does that UPS absorb? Hundreds? IOW it is near-zero surge protection. Just large enough to get the naïve to hype 100% protection in a sales brochure.

3) RJ-45 protectors do what? If it stops or blocks a surge, then you have no Ethernet. Why would your computer and modem be damaged? First a surge builds a current path from cloud, through your electronics, then out some other wire to earth. Nothing stops that current. Absolutely nothing. Either you earth that current before it enters the building. Or that current hunts for earth via electronics. The effective protector connects within feet to earth. Ineffective protector hope you never learn that essential requirement.

RJ-45 already has significant protection. Typically rated to withstand at least 2000 volts. What can overwhelm the protection? Any current that is seeking earth ground. In destructive types of surges, voltage increases as necessary to overwhelm that 2000+ volt protection IF you do not earth that current where wires enter the building.

Did you know all phone lines and TV cables already have superior (the best) surge protection? Even required by laws, codes, and regulations. However, that protector is only as effective as earth ground that you are responsible for providing. If you (or your agent – the electrician) did not properly install that earthing, then superior protectors are compromised.

4) You have assumed Ethernet gets slower. It doesn’t. Either each Ethernet packet is delivered intact. Or Ethernet keeps sending the same packet until it gives up. Ethernet does not work like WiFi. Wifi will lower speeds as necessary until data can be transferred. Ethernet (RJ-45 connector) does not do that.
April 11, 2010 12:27:31 AM

Henry1990 said:
... but when I turn on the laser printer on which is in another room it causes a power spike which is quite apparent as the lights in my room flicker for a second, the UPS makes a beeping noise indicating battery activation at which point the computer shutdowns.

As posted previously, that is not a spike. That is a voltage drop. Symptoms sometimes associated with a human safety threat. A wiring defect. Something that should not happen even if wires were installed in the 1930s. Apparently you did not read that warning. A problem that others solved with new circuits. Not a symptom to be cured by a UPS. And definitively not a spike.
April 21, 2010 12:43:35 AM

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