surge/lightning protection


macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jan 21, 2002
Tampa Bay Area, FL, USA
So I returned home from my trip last week to find that my surge protector has completely died (no huge surprise, as it was like 9 years old). I'm going to mooch one off my dad if he has one laying around, but in the meantime, what are the rules concerning computers and lightning? Right now I have my iMac plugged into the wall and I've been shutting it down during storms (which have been constant the past two days... ugh, Florida). Is that enough protection, or do I need to actually unplug the computer from the wall?


macrumors 68020
May 9, 2001
I was in Orlando for a year 1/2 and let me tell you... I preffer unplug the computer. I have see electricity coming out the outlet, like in the old horror movies.

I use a APC UPS, that is the best one, but if I'm gonna be outside my house for a week end, I umplug the UPS and that is it. Not so much because of the storm (here in Venezuela we do not have such problem), I do it because one day a power suply I had exploted without any reason, I was in the living room when I hearded the explotion and ran to see. If I wasn't there my entire bedroom set up on fire, toigather with my computer and sound equipment.

I do not like to take chances with my equipment, much less in the US where most of the power and phone cables are vulnerable to storms.


macrumors 65816
Jun 18, 2001
WestCost, USA

get a UPS. They are much cheeper now days and they are a real life saver. I got one at fry's for $30. it will give me about 30-45 min of uptime and it will protect from pwower fux. A buddy of mine had is GateWay plugged in to a old power strip that claimed to have surge protection and his computer got fryed durring a power surge. He had to replace a small stero too. His PC was under warrenty and Gatway fixed it for him. But you might not be so lucky. iMacs are expensive toys to loose



macrumors 601
Oct 4, 2001
Natick, MA
For surge strips, definately go with APC. For UPS hardware go with either UPS or MGE. I have one of their Ellipse line of UPS products that offers power conditioning as well as surge protection AND battery backup. I got the 800 volt model (a freebie/eval. unit to me over a year or two ago) :D and it has allowed me to go online no matter what the weather conditions.

As for plugging a computer directly into a wall socket... in simple terms... DON'T DO IT!!! Especially in Florida (aka Hell). We were living in Satellite Beach when a bolt of lightening went over our house and struck the sailboat mast across the canal from us. That thing glew for several minutes, as well as blew holes out of the hull below the water line (where the support cables connected from the mast to the hull). Just passing over our house, sent some of it into our electrical system. It fried a tv, vcr, portable phone, answering machine, and went into the computer via the model (protect the modem line as well as the power line). Needless to say, after that we got some better power strips for just about everything electronic in the house.

Make sure you get surge protectors with fuses inside the units. That way, they will blow and cut power before too much gets to your computers.

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
When I worked in Florida, one of the idiot painters in a nearby building decided to use a water pipe as a step.

Needless to say the water pouring into an electric motor caused a surge that ate through every surge protector and UPS in the building.

In short unplug it from the wall during storms, UPSs and surge protectors work quite well up to their tolerances - but accidental surges and lightning have a nasty habit of exceeding them.

A conditioning UPS might also be worth looking into since brown outs and noisy power can also make life miserable.

King Cobra

macrumors 603
Mar 2, 2002
Sounds like UPS has some great protection. However I keep my computer plugged into the outlet every day there isn't a thunderstorm. However, during the summer, Montvale gets f!!!!d with thunderstorms almost every week. So whenever I have to leave the house for a long period of time I usually unplug the entire unit, just to be safe.

Then, again, I plan to go away for the I might want to unplug the computer again! :rolleyes: