Computer Electrical Safety

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Whenever you start dealing with electrical outlets, you want to take a few precautions, and computers are no exception. Their internal power supplies use hundreds of watts and are set to use more than 100 volts. You can injure yourself badly if you handle a computer improperly.

Dealing with Hardware

  • If you need to handle components inside your computer, make sure it's unplugged, not just turned off. You can bump the power button while your hand is inside, or you could touch a bare wire and be in for a nasty shock, or worse.

The Power Supply

  • Never open a power supply unit (PSU) unless you are certified to work with one. Their capacitors retain electrical power even when the PSU is disconnected, and this energy can remain potent for weeks, even months. If your PSU is broken, take it to a technician or replace it altogether.

Voltages

  • A switch on the back of the power supply has two voltage settings. In North America and Japan, choose the lower setting, which is either 110 or 115 volts. The other setting allows twice as much voltage. Using the wrong setting can cause a dangerous surge.

Electrical Grounding

  • That third lower prong on the end of the power cable is the "ground pin." In many cases, this balances out unexpected voltage surges, which are instead partially diverted into the earth, in many cases, with a wire that leads directly from the socket into the soil below a home or business. Without grounding, a device is particularly susceptible to power surges.

Protecting Your Computer

  • Keep your computer safe from electrical problems. A surge protector power strip is highly recommended. However, many of these are designed to handle only one surge and must be replaced afterward. You can also get a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for long-term surge protection.

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