Jan 08 2016

As most Sayulitians know and visitors learn quickly, Sayulita has many continuing power changes that come without warning. The power changes come as brown-outs (low power, your bulbs look dim), or as spikes in the power line. Spikes can, and usually come, after a brown-out or when we lose power here in Sayulita completely and then it comes back on and off rapidly. Personally, I unplug everything and wait for Sayulitas “good power” to be on consistently to avoid damage to my appliances. Since most of the infrastructure in Sayulita is above ground, our power lines on the poles are subject the elements. Rain, wind, and of course they attract lightning.

There are several things we can do in Sayulita to minimalize the destruction of our electronics. All of our electronics are at risk. However, as this column is tips for computing in Sayulita, I will focus on computers and peripherals.

Here in Sayulita we have what is known as “dirty” power. From the transformers to the outside powe,r it picks up various frequencies (line noise) and then is carried to our homes. 

Power Strips and Surge Protectors

There are simple power strips I see everywhere in Sayulita that do nothing more than give you six to eight more outlets from your plug. They may have a circuit breaker similar to the ones in your circuit box, but have no real protection. More expensive surge strips are made to divert part of the harmful impulse energy away from the electronic appliance to ground. The caveat is if your house was built, as many in Sayulita are, without grounding in the plugs, it does not work. The second caveat is it will only divert so much of the voltage to ground. Then can let as much as 500 volts through unimpeded to your computer. They wear out fast and unless you buy an expensive one that has a warning light on it informing it has failed, it will pass everything through just the same as an inexpensive power strip.

Plug in Power Conditioners

By definition, it provides the power protect elements needed by the appliance. Modern computers run with switch mode power supplies. It means they are not immune from impulses, power line noise, and neutral to ground voltage. The key here is the computer microprocessor makes logic computations requiring a clean quiet ground. N-G noise can disrupt the processing causing lockups, lost data or unexplainable system failure. A power condition contains a surge diverter, isolation transformer, and a power line noise filter.  I have seen people in Sayulita put in a surge protector only and end up with hardware failure. It is from the N-G noise. In researching this article, I read on many sources that MACs have very sensitive power supplies and are susceptible to the sine waves given off by N-G.

Smart UPS or Battery Back Up UPS

Most of the better ones incorporate all of the features of the power conditioners with the added benefit of not turning your appliance off during a power outage so you can gracefully shut it down. It lengthens the life of a Sayulita appliance. considering all of Sayulita’s brown-outs, power outages and storms. This is the best choice to protect your $2000 dollar plus computer.  It takes the AC power, converts it to DC to charge the battery, then use an inverter to transform it back to AC so all of danger is buffered before the battery.

This article was geared toward computers and peripherals. The same logic applies to televisions, washers, refrigerators, etc, However you must approach these individually and buy the proper product for your appliance. Whole house is a possibility, but expensive.