I recently got hit by a bad brownout which damaged a few hundred dollars worth of electronics.
Is there a whole-house product which will protect against surges and brownouts? As I understand brownouts, there is no protection other than a battery to boost the underpowered incoming current or to cut off the juice to avoid underpowering electronics causing damage. I don't know how a whole-house brownout protection woudl work, but I would imagine that it has the same smarts as a UPS, but since its impractical to have a battery for an entire household would simply cause a blackout to the house until the line stabilized.
There are some UPS units that are capable of supplying an entire office computer center for a period of time. Of course these things are huge...the one I've seen was the size of a small car....at work (one weekend when they were being replaced).
Instead of putting your whole house on a UPS, why not just hook up the sensitive electronic stuff to one, that way if there is a brownout, it gives you time to properly shut everything down...the lightbulbs can deal with reduced voltage.
Refrigerator motors can take serious strain from low voltage and being semi-continuous are very exposed to them. When I lived in South Africa, an in-line device was marketed that cut the power when the voltage dropped to a pre-determined level. Exactly the opposite of UPS but it saved refrigerators.
BTW do TV’s and HiFi’s tolerate the pseudo-sinewave generated by a UPS?
That's more what I'm looking for. Something with the smarts of a UPS which can detect a drop in voltage and instead of letting the house suffer a brownout just cut the power for 1 minute or until the line stabilizes (anyone want to make $1,000,000 and invent this?).
I might actually pick up a couple of UPS if that's my only option. I knew there were whole-house surge protectors, but I was hoping there was a more comprehensive solution to protect against dips as well.
I have a lot of X10 in my house, so I was really worried when none of it worked after the brownout. But last night I isolated a flouescent ballast which was damaged by the brownout. It was causing so much line noise it was keeping the X10 from working. Once removed everything was a-okay. I initially thought all my X10 modules plugged in all over the house were fried which is why a whole-house solution sounded appealing. And the product is a good idea, marketed under $500 a lot of people with too many electronics to possibly have a UPS for them all would be interested. And with technology becoming more and more prevalent we're all headed that way.
Newkie: I like your idea! May I improve it further?
Design it with both under- and overvoltage protection. If the actual voltage differs more than 5 or 10% from the nominal the device cuts the power. Add neutral fault detection to remove the danger of a "floating" neutral. As soon as the voltage returns to normal, the device automatically resets. If the fault then reappears it trips and has to be reset manually, as something is probably wrong with the service to the house.
The only remaining risk is a short duration overvoltage, but a good surge-protector should take care of that.
I'm sure the guy that invented it for the South African markets has got it covered by his/her patents and would stand to make the $$$$!
I'll do an on-line search and see if I can find it. The RSA device will be set-up for 230V phase to ground but the principles involved should be able to be applied to 115V. As I said, they're great for fridge motors as they are used to being turned on and off. It would be less convienient for other equipment like electronics where a UPS, which incorporates over and under voltage protection, would be better.
jdevlin, thanks for the info on the TV/VCR's. It is a route that I want to take.