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  1. #1
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    Surge Protection

    We've just moved into a new place but unfortunately, the electrics/wiring seem a bit dodgy and the fuses keep tripping out.

    This was happening before we'd plugged the big things in so I'm confident we didn't overload anything.

    We'll obviously get it looked at but in the meantime, is my PC in any danger? A friend of mine always belts on about getting a surge protector but I've barely ever seen mention of one on PC sites.

    Any advice?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    Surge protectors are crap. They're also cheap, so you can get one and it might protect you. But probably won't. (This dude is a great read on the subject: http://www.dansdata.com/sbs9.htm)

    To combat the fuses breaking every time I'd just plonk a cheap UPS in front of my PC and deal with it until it could be fixed. If they rarely trip you might not even need that. Your power supply is probably a switchmode (modern ones are) and can handle pretty much anything from 90 to 240 volts without issue.

  3. #3
    Network Hub Jambe's Avatar
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    Most modern-ish PSUs themselves have surge protection of some variety, but getting a surge protector wouldn't hurt anything. That's assuming it's well-built and is actually a surge suppressor (i.e. it uses MOVs or something) as opposed to just being a plain power strip. You'll want one that lists/rates capacity in joules – the actual number doesn't matter much for general home devices, though; it's just a way to check that it's really a suppressor and not just an outlet multiplier masquerading as one. All the powered devices you plug into the PC should be surge protected as well.

    Ideally you'd get a UPS with some surge protection in it and then you'd get graceful battery-backed shutdown in black/brownouts as well as filtering of small voltage fluctuations, but they're much spendier (and being lead-acid they're heavy as hell).

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    PSUs will protect themselves, but I hear it can cause them to wear out faster if you don't have an external surge protector. I got a 5 socket one from APC, cost me 10-15. They're supposed to be a reliable brand. A UPS is much more expensive, but it might be worth it if you're having constant problems with power.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the feedback and suggestions (link too).

    I'll grab a UPS today.

    The advice is much appreciated!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerMellie View Post
    This was happening before we'd plugged the big things in so I'm confident we didn't overload anything.
    The fuse is the last and emergency protection device BEFORE a fire starts. If the fuse is tripping, then you are clearly overloading something.

    So how does that current trip a fuse? Does that excessive current also go through appliances or a surge protector? Of course not. Those other devices are completely irrelevant. Only relevant is where excessive current is coming into the house and going out of the house on a path that trips that fuse. That serious human safety issue must be solved before the day ends.

    Surge protectors have no place in a discussion of short circuits and blowing fuses. For so many obvious reason. A short circuit is an excessive current. That is completely different from a surge - high voltage.

    These two completely different topics involving two completely different threats. Fuses are for human safety - that must be addressed immediately. Surge protectors are only for transistor safety. Fuses are the last and emergency protection device after all other protection layers have failed. Fuses must never trip if wiring is safe.

  7. #7
    Network Hub Jambe's Avatar
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    Do some people refer to breakers as fuses, or are fuse boxes still in common use where y'all live? I'm no electrician, but I believe around here circuit breakers have been standard for decades.

    Regardless, westom is right; if fuses are burning or breakers are tripping, then you're overloading circuits or there's a short at fixtures/switches/outlets or (god forbid) in the in-wall wiring.
    Last edited by Jambe; 16-06-2013 at 06:59 PM.

  8. #8
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    Aw heck.

    Thanks for the extra comments there. My terminology was a bit poor as yes, it's a breaker box rather than a fuse that's going.

    I'm pretty sure that we didn't overload anything because the thing tripped when we only had about 4 things plugged in (floor lamp, alarm clock & phone charger, fridge). This was in one side of the apartment and not all in the same socket. The other side of the apartment is OK.

    Currently that whole side of the apartment is gone in terms of electrics (that's why I was thinking a fuse had gone). When we try to flip the breaker back, it just blows again. Sorry for crap terminology here.

    We had a guy come round and tell us that the wiring isn't the best and we've got another guy coming for a quote today. We rent the place so it won't be costing us anything.

    Thanks again for the feedback. We'll see what the guy says today.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerMellie View Post
    I'm pretty sure that we didn't overload anything because the thing tripped when we only had about 4 things plugged in (floor lamp, alarm clock & phone charger, fridge).
    The term fuses and circuit breaker can be major. Do you know if the breaker is a conventional type or a ground fault type? Even the number of wires to each appliance (two wire or three) is relevant. Don't make assumptions or short facts. Even relevant is an amp number on that CB.

  10. #10
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    Out of everything you've listed I'd say it's most likely the compressor motor in the fridge tripping it when it comes on, or, as Jambe said, you have a short in the outlets or (once again, God forbid) the walls.

    Given you'll probably have had the electrician round by the time you read this it's all academic, but if it happens again you'll want to see what's causing it by unplugging everything and seeing if it still trips - if it does the problem's your outlets or your wiring. If it doesn't trip with anything plugged in, plug stuff in one by one and wait for a bit after plugging in each one to isolate the problem appliance.|

    I really hope it's not your wiring though - even in a small apartment, even if you're only needing one ring replaced, it's going to be a pain in the arse involving opening the walls up. Unless your wiring's in proper ducts, which given how old it sounds is unlikely.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by westom View Post
    The term fuses and circuit breaker can be major. Do you know if the breaker is a conventional type or a ground fault type? Even the number of wires to each appliance (two wire or three) is relevant. Don't make assumptions or short facts. Even relevant is an amp number on that CB.
    I'm afraid I don't know about the first part:(

    Major Philistine here.

    In terms of the number of wires to plugs, that's the same as the number of pins that go into the wall right? Most plugs have 2 pins but the heftier items often come with a 3rd, loose wire that barely gets used as there's rarely a home for it (except in the case of the washing machine).

    Not sure on the amp number either (at work currently).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bent Wooden Spoon View Post
    if it happens again you'll want to see what's causing it by unplugging everything and seeing if it still trips
    Cheers for the suggestions; I'll give that a bash if there's another problem. The thing that I think has been the trigger (if not the main cause) is the floor lamp; when we turned it on: pfffft. We used the same lamp without incident in our previous place so unless it got damaged in the move, it should be OK.

    My wife is telling me that the guy who came round today has fixed it. So we shall see.

    Thanks again to all for the input - much appreciated.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerMellie View Post
    Not sure on the amp number either (at work currently)
    Go to a breaker that trips. Write down every number and expression on it and post.

    One thing learned so as to not become a victim. When unknown, then record everything so that others who know this stuff can assist. Without hard facts, the fewer who really know this stuff could not be helpful. Always important is each number. Especially ones that make no sense. Otherwise a Philistine remains a potential victim of problems that others never suffer.

    Even list a number of prongs on each appliance - a potentially important fact.

    In this case, some useless recommendations (ie UPS, surge protector) were obviously been bogus. Should have been obviously bogus to any layman. An example of curing a symptom of what could have otherwise been a serious human safety issue. A tripping circuit breaker should have had all your attention because it was potentially that serious.

    BTW, nothing is solved unless a reason why is also known. Another lesson learned from mistakes and anomalies. To learn, maybe report what he found or fixed. So that future anomalies can be understood as trivial OR potentially deadly. And to understand why those UPS or surge protector recommendations were so obviously bogus.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    They're still relevant to his computer. Probably less important than making sure he doesn't get electrocuted, but what do you expect from a PC gaming forum. Games have desensitised us, we have no regard for human life.

  14. #14
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    According to the guy who came today, the problem was with the light fitting in the bedroom. It was wired incorrectly and was the source of the problems. He says we're OK now.

    As we discovered earlier in the thread, I'm in no position to judge if that's plausible. Any thoughts?

  15. #15
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    Depends how your place is wired. I'd have assumed the wiring standards in Japan are better than the garbage I have to deal with here, but the fact you only seem to have a grounded outlet for your washing machine would indicate not.

    In the UK stuff is set up on ring circuits. There's typically a ring for the outlets in each room, and separate rings for the lights in each room (or section of the house) - each breaker handles a ring. Everywhere I've lived in Asia they bung everything onto as few rings as they can get away with - sockets and lights all on one ring, A/Cs on another. If your apartment's set up this way, in other words you flip that breaker down and the light fitting goes off with the sockets, it's probably the cause. If you flip the breaker and the light stays on he's talking guff, it's a different circuit.

    On a related note, I'd seriously advise getting all your sockets connected to ground wires (the third one) if you can. If you already have the washing machine connected to one you should at least have grounding wires in the building. It's fairly easy to make a DIY one for a few items, I had to rely on running wires to a water pipe in the last two places I've lived in, but responsible me says you should get a sparky to at least see what's possible first.

    I have no grounding in my new place at all - all the pipes are PVC and I have no grounded metal here to wire stuff up to. It's horrible - small electric shocks from PC cases and any metal audio equipment, hideous low-frequency buzz over USB mics, the warm satisfaction of knowing my equipment is slowly frying itself, and the very real possibility of death every time I touch half the stuff in this room. Seriously, get it sorted if you have the chance.

  16. #16
    Lesser Hivemind Node L_No's Avatar
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    A couple of years back, there was a power surge in the complex of student rooms I was living in at the time. My pc was plugged into a surge protector, but my PSU fried anyway (I managed to get it fixed for me, it was still during the warranty period). Make sure you buy a good surge protector if you do.

  17. #17
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    I also meant to mention in my post above, if you don't have grounded outlets your surge protector will do bugger all due to the excess power having nowhere to go. You'll be better off buying a semi-decent UPS in any case though.

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