Record Heat Brings Power Problems: UPSs and Surge Protectors Offer Relief

Countries throughout the northern hemisphere are experiencing record-breaking heat this summer, creating discomfort among residents that is exacerbated by a related fact: the heat is taxing electric grids to their breaking point, knocking out power and, with it, air conditioning.

heat wave

Of course, air conditioning isn’t the only victim of the power outages. They also take out other home and small business electronics, from TVs and entertainment systems to refrigerators, computers and networking systems. The frequency of outages this summer highlights the need for power protection systems such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) that can keep devices running in the face of outages and surge protectors that protect them from damage.

Record-setting temperatures across the globe

The scope of the problem is hard to overstate, with heat records being shattered across the globe.

In late July, Japan recorded its highest temperature ever: 41.1°C (106°F) in a city about 40 miles northwest of Tokyo. That’s nearly 10 degrees higher than Tokyo’s postwar average August temperature of 31.5°C (88.7° F).

In London, the last Friday in July was dubbed “Furnace Friday” by some newspapers as Europe experienced its longest heat wave since 1976. Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands reached record temperatures of 34.8° and 36.1° C, respectively (94.6° and 97° F).

In early July, downtown Los Angeles reached a new record temperature of 108° F – a full 12° higher than the previous record of 96° F.

High temps over-tax power grids 

It’s a similar story in Texas, where record-setting temperatures of over 100° F are wreaking havoc with the power grid.

In late July the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported more than 70 power outages in the Dallas-Fort Worth area related to the heat, knocking out power to hundreds of residents and businesses.

The reason heat waves tax the power grid is simple: excess demand. According to Reuters, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) forecast demand would reach 74,647 megawatts on Monday, July 23, topping the record of 73,259 MW set a few days earlier.

Here’s the stat from the Reuters story that puts the problem in perspective: “One megawatt can usually power about 1,000 U.S. homes. But on a hot day in Texas, ERCOT said one megawatt could only power about 100 homes.”

UPSs and surge protectors offer power protection

That kind of heavy demand puts a strain on various components of the power grid, from transformers to transmission lines, leading to failures in the system. Those failures are not just annoying, they can lead to loss of valuable electronic systems and data.

For small businesses, when the power fails it will take down computers and servers, which can lead to data being corrupted or lost. Network connections will likewise go down, leading to lost productivity and perhaps revenue, such as for retail stores that rely on network connections to process transactions.

A UPS offers protection against such losses. Depending on the exact model, a UPS can keep computers and network equipment running for as long as a couple of hours – which is longer than most outages last. And it’s plenty long enough to allow for the graceful shut down of computers and servers, protecting data against loss or corruption.

In a home, protecting network devices with a UPS will likewise enable them to keep functioning for a time in the event of a power outage. The same goes for entertainment systems, TVs, and other smart home devices.

Power disruptions can also result in power surges that can damage home and business electronic devices. A surge is a short burst of power that is higher in voltage than the devices can handle.  They can happen anytime but are more likely when the power comes back on after an outage.

A surge protector can protect computers and network equipment, as well as expensive or sensitive home electronic devices against such surges.

Access Power Protection Resources

To learn more about how to achieve Certainty in a Connected World by protecting your home and business against the power anomalies that accompany heat waves, visit our power protection solution pages for homes and businesses. And by all means, try to stay cool out there.

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