Let’s face it. Computer equipment, servers, and network appliances including routers, switches & firewalls are expensive. Replacing them would cost money, not to mention valuable time & energy of your staff or outside contractors that could be used elsewhere. In this blog post, I’m going to briefly talk about surge protectors and properly grounded electrical outlets.
Not all computer equipment and servers are equal. Similarly, not all surge protectors are equal. Lastly, not all electrical outlets are made equal.
As a nonprofit organization, you are likely trying to do what other nonprofits like to do: Cut costs. But do yourself a favor: Do not cut costs when it comes to protecting your computing equipment from electrical surges.
Your Building & Electrical Outlets
Have you ever wondered what the third prong (the ground) actually does? Electricity flows in currents. It flows through your outlet on one side, and flows out through the other. The third prong is hooked up to a wire that, ultimately, ends up in the ground (hence the term a “grounded” outlet).
When there is a surge, you hopefully have a surge protector that is able to redirect the extra current into the “ground” wire, and protect your equipment.
Some older buildings and homes have non-grounded (two-prong) outlets. Even if you buy an expensive surge protector and an adapter to allow your 3-pronged devices to plug into a two-prong outlet, your equipment is not protected – because the surge protector has nowhere to redirect the extra current (surge)!
As you can see, I would never recommend using an adapter to plug in a three-pronged cord into a two-prong outlet unless you had no need to protect against possible surges (unlikely).
Different surge protectors have different “ratings” and can protect your equipment at higher surges than others. Some surge protectors even have batteries built-in so that your electrical compenents can still work temporarily in the event of a power outage. Here at Barred Owl Web, I use an APC ES 350, although the 550 is not much more expensve.
You should do your own research, but I would highly encourage you to find a surge protector with good reviews, a low “response time” (how fast the surge protector notices there is a surge and “kicks in” to protect your equipment), and a high “energy rating” (how much surge it can handle before it fails).