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Surge protection question

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12 replies to this topic

#1 Nawtheasta


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Posted 06 January 2018 - 01:20 PM

I have a battery back up / surge protector.

  My question is:

Do surge protectors "guillotine" the power to the computer when a surge or spike occurs?? No weather related events were occurring at this time.


Last week on Saturday, 12/30/17 at 9:53 AM an indecent occurred that caused my MAC to restart. Today 1/6/18 at 9:54 AM  the same thing occurred. Almost exactly one week apart.

Report showed  "panic (cpu  2 caller  xxxxstring of letters and numbers  "hfs lock : locking against myself,  then more letters and numbers

I believe that my wife's windows 7 machine also restarted at the same time. I am next door to an elderly housing complex. They advise on Tuesday that their severs unexpectedly shutdown over the week end.

All responses are appreciated

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#2 DavisMcCarn


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Posted 06 January 2018 - 03:15 PM

The primary device used by most surge protectors is called an MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) which effectively turns into a short circuit for voltages above its design value and the most common one used is set for 400 volts so anything over 400 volts gets shunted to the other lead on the part.  As such, they do nothing about a low voltage condition and most PC's will flat out turn off or reboot if the voltage drops below 95 volts (here in the U.S. where the line is supposed to be 110-120 volts)

If you think a surge protector has suffered a serious hit, it needs to be replaced!  The MOV's are about the size of a US nickel and I have found them rattling around loose inside after a thunderstorm; but, the power strip still worked fine!

You say you have a battery backup unit which should have cut in and supplied the AC necessary during a brownout (drop in voltage); but, if it is more than three years old, it probably needs to be replaced.  If you want to test it, with the PC as idle as possible and NOTHING open you care about, unplug the UPS from the wall and see what happens.  If the PC turns off, your UPS is shot.

Computer dinosaur, servicing PC's since 1976

#3 Nawtheasta

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 04:17 PM

Hi Davis

 Thanks very much for your reply.

A little more detailed info.

The Battery backup  (UPS)  has a built in surge protector

1sr occurrence was a couple months ago. Same thing happened , wife's computer also restarted, severs shutdown next door.

At that time the Battery backup / surge protector was about 5 years old. Replaced it with a new one I had here that was 2-3 years old but had not been out of the box.

Last Saturday was 2nd occurrence.Same thing happened , wife's computer also restarted, severs shutdown next door and their Quick Books crashed.

Last Sunday I went out a bought a new Battery backup  (UPS) with built in surge protector. ( APC Back Up 900)

This morning exactly 1 week plus one minute the same thing occurred. I cannot check with the elderly housing office next door until they open on Monday to see if their severs are down.

Clocks in the house that are sensitive to power loss are OK.

I am keeping the last UPS I replaced plugged in as a source to change cell phones in the event of a storm related outage. I tried the test you suggested with a floor lamp. Unplugging the UPS

caused no failure, lamp stayed on.

Just to cover all points. Power goes from the wall outlet to a surge protector / outlet strip, Battery backup (UPS) / surge protector is plugged into this. Computer is plugged into the Battery backup (UPS) / surge protector.

Thanks on advance for further input.

#4 OldPhil



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Posted 06 January 2018 - 05:02 PM

My boss have a similar issue at his home several tears back, the electric company found a corroded neutral leg.  It was making marginal contact under normal loads, but they said it more than likely failed during spikes.  The suspect connection was where the wires came to the building, where they use a U clamp to secure them together.

If you don't stand for the flag then you will fall for anything!

#5 DavisMcCarn


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Posted 07 January 2018 - 08:48 AM

APC's, I hate to say, are not very good UPS's; but, to be fair, a sudden voltage drop is one of the hardest things for them to detect and recover from.  If it only lasts a few milliseconds, clocks won't reset, the UPS may not even have a chance to react; but, a PC will be far more sensitive.

That APC 900, too, is rated at 480 watts so no printers or gaming PC's should be plugged into it or it will be overloaded.

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#6 Nawtheasta

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 08:42 PM

Hi Davis

 Thanks for the input. Maybe it was a momentary voltage drop.Not sure at this point.

From your previous post it seems you describe surge protection as a sacrificial event on the part of the surge protector.

When complete power interruptions have occurred, in the past the computers stayed running so I could do a normal shutdown.

I may call National Grid to see if they can advise as to any incident.

Thank you again for your response.

#7 Kilroy


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Posted 08 January 2018 - 01:05 PM

The UPS should be connected directly to the wall, not through a power strip.  Additionally some outlets on a UPS are surge suppression only and others are surge suppression with battery back up.  Normally these are marked on the unit, but you can also check your manual.

#8 OldPhil



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Posted 08 January 2018 - 01:36 PM

Funny APC being knocked, on several sites they are rated as the best followed by Cyber Power.  I have been running them since they became the rage, only once was there a question.  The factory sent a new battery along with a return slip, said they had some bad bats.

If you don't stand for the flag then you will fall for anything!

#9 mjd420nova


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Posted 08 January 2018 - 02:10 PM

Those units that are new, but have not been used for up to a year, are suspect.  The dry cell/gel cell batteries used are meant to be kept energized.  When left idle, isolated form any supply, the batteries will fail when asked to do their job.  Grounding is important and units should be directly connected and not through a power strip or other device.  An ungrounded unit will drop out when a low voltage is detected as they need that ground to operate properly.

#10 OldPhil



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Posted 08 January 2018 - 02:30 PM

I have one that is about 6 years old that the factory supplied a new battery for and one I can not remember how old it is but had its battery change awhile back.

If you don't stand for the flag then you will fall for anything!

#11 DavisMcCarn


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Posted 08 January 2018 - 03:00 PM

Over 30 years ago, I had a client who had over $400,000 of damage to their electronic equipment when a farmer near the town accidentally chopped the power main.  They, then, contacted a lab to test numerous UPS units and the result was that a company named Best Power manufactured what was really head and shoulders above the competition.  APC then burst into the market and quickly won the marketing wars through major advertising campaigns and being the cheapest on retailer's shelves.  But; being the cheapest, especially in old school electronics, invariably means that corners were cut to lower the cost and UPS' are definitely old school electronics.

Let's start with the output.  Really good UPS' produce a true sine wave output which mimics what comes from your wall outlet.  It is much cheaper to produce a stepped or pseudo sine wave but there is a price; the output is not the same as a wall outlet which is what your equipment was designed for.  If the UPS manufacturer gets really cheap and makes a square wave output, the result will literally fry any devices that use a linear transformer or have ac coils such as a motor or fan.

Here are pictures:



One of the other ways that APC lowered the cost was to use cheap batteries and, if a client has one, I will write the month and year it was bought on the unit knowing it needs to be replaced in about three years since the battery costs as much as replacement.


Another factor in UPS' is what's known as always on meaning that the UPS always supplies the power to the backup outlets.  The alternative is for the UPS to switch on when the AC goes out; but, as I already said, extremely brief cutouts are difficult to detect and the UPS takes a specific amount of time to "cut in".  In the D.C. area where I came from, we had an estimated 40-60 brownouts or surges per hour, 24/7/365, because all of the area's ac was piped in from someplace else.  We used to stock "line conditioner" transformers in my shop which were boat anchor heavy; but, completely isolated the equipment from the wall outlet and those guys would swallow up the short bursts or drops which kept the equipment from going nuts.


Eaton bought Best Power in the 1990's; but, still offer many of their products though you won't find them in any retail store that I know of.  Eaton, as a note, makes units as large as tractor trailers that backup hospitals and airports 

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#12 Nawtheasta

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 07:37 AM


  I called the electric company. They could offer no reports of incidents but offered to send a truck to check the wires. The lineman suggested that corrosion where the line attaches at the street could cause problems.

Sounded like what OldPhil mentioned in the 4th post. Lineman showed me the connection fittings he replaced. They were corroded. We are about 1 1/2 miles from the ocean so salt air can be a problem.

Still do not know why my neighbor is having a problem. We will see if this corrects things.

Thank you to all that responded.

#13 Nawtheasta

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Posted 29 January 2018 - 12:35 PM

Hello All

 Well it happened again this morning. Was looking at a word doc.Everything went black and it restarted. Haven't heard back from the neighbors yet to determine if their severs crashed.

 I did copy the crash report this time.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance for any input.


Anonymous UUID:                    9674C5F5-5BD2-671B-E37A-C453EC5578BB


Mon Jan 29 08:22:33 2018

panic(cpu 1 caller 0xffffff802e8f7815): "hfs_lock: locking against myself!"@/SourceCache/xnu/xnu-2050.48.19/bsd/hfs/hfs_cnode.c:1761

Backtrace (CPU 1), Frame : Return Address

0xffffff813c7e3920 : 0xffffff802e61d6d6

0xffffff813c7e3990 : 0xffffff802e8f7815

0xffffff813c7e39c0 : 0xffffff802e8f6f01

0xffffff813c7e3a10 : 0xffffff802e90fa66

0xffffff813c7e3bd0 : 0xffffff802e8fe4ef

0xffffff813c7e3df0 : 0xffffff802e90dfc3

0xffffff813c7e3ea0 : 0xffffff802e70188f

0xffffff813c7e3ed0 : 0xffffff802e6faf87

0xffffff813c7e3f30 : 0xffffff802e701809

0xffffff813c7e3f50 : 0xffffff802e9e986a

0xffffff813c7e3fb0 : 0xffffff802e6cf8a3


BSD process name corresponding to current thread: launchd


Mac OS version:



Kernel version:

Darwin Kernel Version 12.6.0: Wed Mar 18 16:23:48 PDT 2015; root:xnu-2050.48.19~1/RELEASE_X86_64

Kernel UUID: 3E1B7058-5CFD-38F3-8B25-4CCD9B29F764

Kernel slide:     0x000000002e400000

Kernel text base: 0xffffff802e600000

System model name: iMac13,1 (Mac-00BE6ED71E35EB86)


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Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, PCIe, 512 MB

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Memory Module: BANK 1/DIMM0, 4 GB, DDR3, 1600 MHz, 0x02FE, 0x45424A3431554638424455352D474E2D4620

AirPort: spairport_wireless_card_type_airport_extreme (0x14E4, 0xF4), Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 (

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Network Service: Ethernet, Ethernet, en0

Network Service: Wi-Fi, AirPort, en1

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USB Device: BRCM20702 Hub, 0x0a5c  (Broadcom Corp.), 0x4500, 0x1d181000 / 4

USB Device: Bluetooth USB Host Controller, apple_vendor_id, 0x828b, 0x1d181300 / 7

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