Special Report: Power Protection & Conditioning

Sept. 1, 1996
Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, surge suppressors, grounding and bonding: They are all part of what you need to know about a technology--power protection and conditioning--crucial to the success of your business.

Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Executive Editor

[email protected]

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, surge suppressors, grounding and bonding: They are all part of what you need to know about a technology--power protection and conditioning--crucial to the success of your business.

Power protection and conditioning might seem like a subject that`s a bit far afield to most low-voltage cabling system designers, installers and maintainers. However, the sensitivity of telecommunications and data communications network equipment to power problems ranging from lightning strikes to discharges of static electricity, from power-line harmonics to common-mode noise to ground potential differences, makes this area vitally important to anyone involved in this kind of work.

In some cases, cabling contractors, systems integrators and engineering firms design this type of equipment into their customers` networks and then install it. Other companies may not actually handle such devices, but may be required to recommend them or be able to discuss them intelligently with their clients.

But whether you`re talking about data-line surge suppressors or specifying low-capacity UPSs suitable for personal-computer networks, it`s safe to say that power-protection and conditioning issues are likely to come up in the course of your work. Because of the importance of this area, in fact, the Telecommunications Industry Association (Arlington, VA) has recently issued a grounding and bonding standard, TIA/EIA-607, and Bicsi (Tampa, FL), a nonprofit telecommunications organization, routinely offers training in this area at its meetings.

This vigorous industry activity is reflected in the sales of power-protection and conditioning devices. For example, World Information Technologies (Northport, NY), a market-research firm, recently reported that it is projecting 26% annual growth in the $1.4-billion communications power systems market until the year 2000. This market includes power plants, batteries, UPSs, generators, AC/DC inverters and DC/DC converters.

In another market study, Venture Development Corp. (VDC, Natick, MA) reports that the domestic market for UPSs is worth $1.13 billion, while demand for surge suppressors is growing at 20% to 25% per year.

This Special Report is meant to serve as a primer on power protection and conditioning for the telecommunications and data communications cabling system designer, installer and maintainer. It begins with an overview of protection and conditioning issues, followed by a discussion of the pros and cons of different power-protection strategies. Introductions to the two mainstays of power protection--the UPS and surge suppressor--come next, followed by information about ground-potential problems and harmonics.

We think this report will give you a good grounding in a subject that, although it may not be at the core of your business, is still vitally important to your success.

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