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power line conditioner

Discussion in 'General Electronics' started by Spacey Spade, Feb 7, 2004.

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  1. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    What can a line conditioner protect my computer from that a good power
    supply cannot? Can I expect a much longer life from my computer
    components using a line conditioner?
  2. Bill Vajk

    Bill Vajk Guest

    As a general rule, your computer will become obsolete
    before the components fail.
  3. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    It won't be obsolete to me! I'd still like to use it for a decade or
    two, and would like to know if a line conditioner will help it survive
    that long (running at expected temperatures).
  4. Bill Vajk

    Bill Vajk Guest

    Look back 2 deades at the machine you would have bought
    then and tell me you'd still be using one of those
    today. Give me a break. You couldn't be using the
    internet with one of those things they way you do.

    Look forward to advances and growth similar to those
    we've experienced in the recent past.
    Best guess is that while line conditioning would save you
    from some of the failure modes ordinary commercial equipment
    you bought won't last two decades. Of 7 machines on a LAN
    I use sometimes two motherboards failed between 4 and 5
    years of age. Both intermittently failed to recognize a
    peripheral (one the keyboard, the other the mouse.) An
    identical machine used in a residential setting had the
    USB port and the integrated sound card fail just after
    3 years. (These were all barebones systems purchased from at their store which is nearby.)

    Obviously everyone's mileage varies. I have ~10 computers
    here, and I typically lose 1 to 1.5 motherboards each year
    despite power conditioning.

    Motherboards are inexpensively made these days. CPU's run
    quite hot with lots of cooling. If nothing else, fan failures
    slip up on people when least expected. Computers have become
    just another disposable.

    It was about 2 decades ago that I bought an 80286 motherboard
    with a 10 MHz processor overclocked to 12, and no ram or
    anything else with it, for the basement bargain price of $285.

    For about the same price in devalued dollars I can buy a 2.6GHz
    CPU, motherboard, and 512 megs of ram across the counter at
    MicroCenter, and that sucker has a lot of stuff built into it.

    Today I have no use for the 80 meg MFM harddrive that cost me
    in excess of $700 a decade + back. By today's standards
    is is small and slow (82 microseconds track to track seek time
    but it did interleave 1:1, hot stuff back ten.)

    1984 cars aren't real popular here either.
  5. The Captain

    The Captain Guest

    The line condition that destroys or damages more PCs or any other
    electronic equipment than any other is high overvoltage on either the
    mains power supply line or the copmmunications pair.

    For networked PCs in a protected office environment, these aren't much
    of a problem, but for a home PC, they can be a killer. I speak from
    experience. A nearby lightening strike can couple into connected
    lines and cause thousands of volts to appear momentarily on either
    your PSU input lines or modem connection.

    A good PSU will accommodate minor swings in supply voltage and will
    operate as long as the rest of your equipment. However, unless you
    have built in overvoltage protection in both comms and power ports,
    you should install high voltage protection on both these if you live
    anywhere where lightening is likely, which I guess is everywhere apart
    from Antarctica.

    Just about everybody sells these and they're cheap.

    For longevity, the one thing you need to look out for is dust in the
    heatsink of your processor. If you open up your systems box about
    every three months and make sure that the vanes of the heatsink aren't
    getting clogged, and unclog them if there is any kind of dust buildup
    there, your processor will last a hell of a lot longer. The dust will
    restrict the airflow over the vanes and the procesor temperature will
    rise quite remarkably, ensuring a short and eratic life.

  6. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    using a line conditioner?
    Most failures are catastrophic--not incremental,
    so long life would come from a lack of a dramatic event.
    Vacuumming out dust and preventing heat buildup is a good practice.

    Overvoltage and spikes are the real enemy.
    Your ally here is the metal oxide varistor.
    These are packaged as surge protectors.
    The one thing that must be recognized is that,
    as these absorb abuse, they degrade and must be replaced.
    There is no indication of the current state of the devices within.
    The best hedge is to initially buy the one with the largest rating
    (in Joules) that you can find.

    ....and I'm with you on using hardware as long as it still runs
    --even if you end up using it only as a Linux print/file/whatever server
    and getting a little networking experience out of it.
  7. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    Okay, okay! Maybe two decades is a bit much, but I would still make
    use of a P133 machine today. With motherboards more cheaply made, and
    maybe more sensitive to bad power than those in the past, I wanted to
    take some precaution. Thanks for your thoughts as they are
    enlightening. Spacey
  8. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    I'll follow your advice and just use a surge protector. I was
    thinking of getting a decent UPS (line interactive), like a Fenton
    PowerPal, but perhaps that is overkill and would be better with a
    surge protector. PowerPal specs say: "Complete surge suppression and
    noise filtration". But then I thought "doesn't a good PSU do noise

    Surge protector requirements:
    UL standard 1449:
    "In addition, the UL label should list a clamping Voltage of 500 volts
    (.5 kV) or less for plug-in TVSS, or commensurate with your service
    voltage on hard-wired TVSS. The lowest clamping voltage recognized by
    UL is 330 volts (.33 kV)."

    As for the uninterruptible power, I save often, and rarely have power
    go off anyway. Luxury item I can do without. Spacey
  9. Spacey Spade

    Spacey Spade Guest

    "Most failures are catastrophic--not incremental"

    Thanks... I have not found that info anywhere. Priceless. Some
    statistical data would be nice, but I'm willing to take your word for

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