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Power Disturbance Basics: Steps to Make It Easier

Step 1: Back it up, back it up, back it up | Step 2: Check your home's electrical "health" | Step 3: Know the signs of power disturbance problems

FPL's top tips for power disturbance protection

Almost any appliance or electronic device can be affected by the slightest interruption or disturbance to the electricity entering your home. If it is connected to any path electricity travels - your home's wiring, a telephone line, cable, or antenna - it faces a risk of damage.

And while sophisticated equipment such as computers and security systems are most sensitive, these power disturbances can cause anything from your television to your washing machine to break down.


Step 1: Back it up, back it up, back it up

  • Purchase equipment with built in back-up protection, such as a battery that lets the equipment remember clock and alarm settings after a power disturbance.
  • For a 5- to 15-minute "safety net," purchase uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices. These switch your computer, or other equipment, to battery back-up during a power loss, giving you time to save data.
  • Regularly back up computer data onto disks or tape.
  • Protect your equipment from power surges with inside or outside surge protection - or for the best protection, use both.
    • Inside surge protectors plug into wall outlets, and then equipment is plugged into the surge protector itself.
    • Outside surge protectors are installed on the circuit panel or electric meter. These prevent damage from lightning but not from wiring or motorized equipment that may cause problems within the home. You'll still need individual protection for computers and sensitive electronics.

Surges can travel through your cable, telephone, satellite and data lines so it's wise to provide surge protection for all of these points of entry.

For more information, visit Selecting the Right Power Protection.

Step 2: Check your home's electrical "health"

  • Repair or replace damaged and loose wires, outlets and plugs.
  • Never plug computers and sensitive electronics into outlets also being used for motor-driven equipment, including
    • photocopiers
    • air conditioners
    • refrigerators
    • freezers
    • dishwashers
    • ventilators and
    • furnaces.
  • Check your fuse or breaker box to make sure sensitive equipment, such as computers, don't share a circuit with energy-hungry equipment, such as
    • refrigerators
    • washers
    • dryers and
    • microwaves.
  • Relocate cord-connected equipment to other circuits, or have an electrician make needed changes.
  • For your safety, plant trees away from power lines, and keep branches trimmed. For your safety, FPL recommends using a qualified contractor. Branches touching lines may cause brief power interruptions. FPL no longer responds to individual customer requests for tree trimming around power lines. FPL efforts are directed toward mass clearing of trees from lines. Download FPL's Guide to Trees and Power Lines guide (Note: These files require Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't already have it, download it now.):
  • Equip your air conditioner with a time-delay relay, if it doesn't already have one. This prevents the unit from restarting for about three to five minutes, minimizing the possibility of damage to your air conditioner's compressor.
  • Follow the manufacturers' instructions for setting up all appliances and equipment.

Step 3: Know the signs of power disturbance problems

  • Digital clocks and displays flicker.
  • Lights flicker.
  • VCRs lose programming.
  • TV or computer screen images shrink.

Home electronics and appliances at risk from power disturbances:

  • air conditioner compressors
  • computers
  • garage door openers
  • home entertainment systems
  • microwave ovens
  • security systems
  • stereos
  • telephone answering machines
  • telephones
  • televisions
  • VCRs
  • well pumps.