Voltage in other countries

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#1 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

I have been in a village in the republic of georgia since July and while here I had a few problems such as windows having to do start up recovery twice but never thought anything of it. When I went home for vacation last month a few days later I got a message saying there was a disk reading error on my hard drive and a few days after that that computer could not get passed start up recovery mode as the hard drive was too damaged. Another teacher who was also in georiga with me said that because the villages have un regluated power that is what caused my hard drive to die and he also mentioned his lap top had its battery distroyed and his motherboard fired as well as many other teachers also had their lap tops ruined. I know for a fact me and him both were not using voltage converters as we were told lap tops do not need them because they have converters built in. So my question is even with using a voltage converter is it still dangerous to use a lap top over here for a long period of time? I used the converter for my phone, tablet, ds, and psp and those have no problems but those were only plugged in to be charged while my lap top was plugged in constatly and always being used by me. I am currently using my old lap top here for now but when I go back to the US to vist again in June I plan on buying a whole new gaming lap top and do not want the samething to happen to it. Also on a side note I am using a voltage converter fo my ps vita and when I plug it in when I get the message saying battery low it usually gets a full charge (i am assuming full because the whole battery looks green to me) rather quickly, as in a little bit over an hour.

#2 Posted by XaosII (16610 posts) -

Yes, if electricity is unreliable in a country you are visiting, all sorts of strange issues can occur. Im not entirely sold on the hard drive failure as a cause of poor regulated electricity though.

If you are very concerned about the power you may want to consider getting a small Uninterruptable Power Supply. Its basically a surge protector, with a converter, and a battery.

See if your BIOS on your computer/laptop has an option to enable "Spread Spectrum" as it should help a little with jittery electricity.

#3 Posted by metacritical (2535 posts) -
a cheap power supply has killed off a few of my hard drives before.
#4 Posted by GTR12 (9666 posts) -

Its just the voltage they use, its different to qhat your laptops battery is capable of, Ive never had a problem with electricity regulation.

#5 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

I don't think I had a cheap power supply since it was a Sony VAIO and I paid over $1,000 but I could be wrong lol. What is the difference though between the voltage converter I am using now and the surge protector you mentioned?

#6 Posted by spittis (1875 posts) -

The powersupplies in computers and switching powersupplies in general have extensive methods of filtering the incoming voltage, I don't think that has anything to do with your broken hardware.

#7 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

Then could the hard drive have died from simply too much use? I got a Toshiba lap top back in January 2004 and in either December 2005 or January 2006 the hard drive died which I think was from leaving it on all night and for days at a time. I never left my gaming lap top on all night but I didn't really use it anymore then I did in the US. I know lap top drives get hotter easier because of the compact space so could maybe playing games so much on it over a long period of time caused it to die or did I just maybe have a hard drive that was proned to go bad early from the start?

Another thing I just realized is that non of their eletronics here seem to have had problems and its not like their electronics are specifically made for Georgia since a lot of them come from Russia.

#8 Posted by spittis (1875 posts) -

or did I just maybe have a hard drive that was proned to go bad early from the start?

toddx77
Probably this. I think hard drives are the most common part to break in a computer.
#9 Posted by GTR12 (9666 posts) -

Thats the 4th Toshiba laptop I've heard from 04-06 thats had the HDD die, I think something is wrong with the manufacturing.

#10 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

Thats the 4th Toshiba laptop I've heard from 04-06 thats had the HDD die, I think something is wrong with the manufacturing.

Actually it is the 5th lol. I got my first toshiba for Christmas 2003 but when turned it on the second time it failed to start as the screen remained black and when we took it back to fry's they opened it up and said the hard drive was bad lol.

As for my bringing a new lap top here in the fall should I worry about anything or take any percausions, the only one I can think of is bring my cooling tray.

#11 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -
A flaky electrical supply system can damage your hardware. The power spike is not an old engineer's wives' tale. It is real. No protection device will be 100% effective except to run your computer off your own top-quality generator or off batteries you physically remove and install as needed and recharge elsewhere. I would be afraid to plug my toaster in in Georgia.
#12 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

You may be on to something as our power was always going out in the summer close to every day about once or twice a day. I find it strange though that none of my host familes other eletronics though have been destroyed. Would it help in any way to always use the lap top on battery and only plug it in to charge it?

#13 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -

You may be on to something as our power was always going out in the summer close to every day about once or twice a day. I find it strange though that none of my host familes other eletronics though have been destroyed. Would it help in any way to always use the lap top on battery and only plug it in to charge it?

toddx77
You should do that wherever you are, because constantly topping your battery off shortens its life. The less time you're plugged in, the less chance you will be there when the spike comes down, of course, but it's Georgian Roulette, right? It would be better to charge your battery with a spare sacrificial laptop or with an external battery charger that charges it away from the good laptop. If you never plug your laptop into Georgian power, it's problem solved.
#14 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

So if I was to use an external battery charger it would basically take the battery out, plug it in to the charger, and plug that into the wall?

#15 Posted by Modbetto (775 posts) -
Get a UPS........cheap and reliable. 80 bucks should do the trick.
#16 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

SO basically a UPS acts as a protector when there is too much electricity and a helper when there is too little?

#17 Posted by XaosII (16610 posts) -

SO basically a UPS acts as a protector when there is too much electricity and a helper when there is too little?

toddx77

Kind of. Its basically a big battery and surge protector that converts AC to DC, charges a battery, then back to AC to feed a source (like a computer). The UPS should be in charge of getting the spotty electricity, storing it in a battery, and then spitting out smooth AC for your laptop to feed on.

It should help, but ive never been in your similar situation with unreliable power. I can only imagine this would help.

Most UPS are designed to run a computer for several minutes (even up to an hour) in the event of a power out. You likely just need a very low amount for the battery to act as a "stabilizer" rather than actual backup power source.

#18 Posted by Modbetto (775 posts) -
I've had trouble in a music studio......got four UPSs and it solved the problem......for 80 bucks you can get one that goes on for a couple of hours.
#19 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -

So if I was to use an external battery charger it would basically take the battery out, plug it in to the charger, and plug that into the wall?

toddx77
Right. It would help to have two batteries, obviously. People seem to like the UPS, but I'm leery of anything that stays connected to the power as regards protection from overvoltage. No surge protector is fast enough, to my way of thinking. The voltage rises, the surge protector senses it, and it pulls it down. What is happening to your equipment while the surge protector is sensing and reacting? All this happens in nanoseconds. I am sure UPSs help and are adequate for most situations, but my way is 100% sure unless you are hit by lightning while surfing.
#20 Posted by Modbetto (775 posts) -

[QUOTE="toddx77"]

So if I was to use an external battery charger it would basically take the battery out, plug it in to the charger, and plug that into the wall?

Blistrax

Right. It would help to have two batteries, obviously. People seem to like the UPS, but I'm leery of anything that stays connected to the power as regards protection from overvoltage. No surge protector is fast enough, to my way of thinking. The voltage rises, the surge protector senses it, and it pulls it down. What is happening to your equipment while the surge protector is sensing and reacting? All this happens in nanoseconds. I am sure UPSs help and are adequate for most situations, but my way is 100% sure unless you are hit by lightning while surfing.

With a UPS you are powered by the UPS and all electricity is filtered by the UPS.....there is no way of getting hit by a surge...that is why it is used to protect very expensive equipment. what might happen instead is that the UPS breaks down after being hit by a possible surge....in that case you could get a UPS with integrated power surge protector and the price goes up in the 120 bucks area.

#21 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -

[QUOTE="Blistrax"][QUOTE="toddx77"]

So if I was to use an external battery charger it would basically take the battery out, plug it in to the charger, and plug that into the wall?

Modbetto

Right. It would help to have two batteries, obviously. People seem to like the UPS, but I'm leery of anything that stays connected to the power as regards protection from overvoltage. No surge protector is fast enough, to my way of thinking. The voltage rises, the surge protector senses it, and it pulls it down. What is happening to your equipment while the surge protector is sensing and reacting? All this happens in nanoseconds. I am sure UPSs help and are adequate for most situations, but my way is 100% sure unless you are hit by lightning while surfing.

With a UPS you are powered by the UPS and all electricity is filtered by the UPS.....there is no way of getting hit by a surge...that is why it is used to protect very expensive equipment. what might happen instead is that the UPS breaks down after being hit by a possible surge....in that case you could get a UPS with integrated power surge protector and the price goes up in the 120 bucks area.

Filtered? I guess as long as it's filtered, we're OK.
#22 Posted by Modbetto (775 posts) -
[QUOTE="Modbetto"]

[QUOTE="Blistrax"] Right. It would help to have two batteries, obviously. People seem to like the UPS, but I'm leery of anything that stays connected to the power as regards protection from overvoltage. No surge protector is fast enough, to my way of thinking. The voltage rises, the surge protector senses it, and it pulls it down. What is happening to your equipment while the surge protector is sensing and reacting? All this happens in nanoseconds. I am sure UPSs help and are adequate for most situations, but my way is 100% sure unless you are hit by lightning while surfing.Blistrax

With a UPS you are powered by the UPS and all electricity is filtered by the UPS.....there is no way of getting hit by a surge...that is why it is used to protect very expensive equipment. what might happen instead is that the UPS breaks down after being hit by a possible surge....in that case you could get a UPS with integrated power surge protector and the price goes up in the 120 bucks area.

Filtered? I guess as long as it's filtered, we're OK.

Yes....as lomg as you are not directly using electricity from the power socket on the wall, and getting it from the batteries inside the UPS, it is "FILTERED."
#23 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -
[QUOTE="Blistrax"][QUOTE="Modbetto"] With a UPS you are powered by the UPS and all electricity is filtered by the UPS.....there is no way of getting hit by a surge...that is why it is used to protect very expensive equipment. what might happen instead is that the UPS breaks down after being hit by a possible surge....in that case you could get a UPS with integrated power surge protector and the price goes up in the 120 bucks area.Modbetto
Filtered? I guess as long as it's filtered, we're OK.

Yes....as lomg as you are not directly using electricity from the power socket on the wall, and getting it from the batteries inside the UPS, it is "FILTERED."

Define "filtered". In technical parlance, that means that the ripple in the DC is smoothed out by a large capacitor. You seem to be inventing a new meaning, and I'm curious what that is exactly. I ask because unless it means that there is no electrical or inductive connection between the Georgian natural-gas generators and the laptop, there is the potential for problems.
#24 Posted by Modbetto (775 posts) -

[QUOTE="Modbetto"][QUOTE="Blistrax"] Filtered? I guess as long as it's filtered, we're OK.Blistrax
Yes....as lomg as you are not directly using electricity from the power socket on the wall, and getting it from the batteries inside the UPS, it is "FILTERED."

Define "filtered". In technical parlance, that means that the ripple in the DC is smoothed out by a large capacitor. You seem to be inventing a new meaning, and I'm curious what that is exactly. I ask because unless it means that there is no electrical or inductive connection between the Georgian natural-gas generators and the laptop, there is the potential for problems.

Whatever other alternate power input goes into the UPS it FILTERS it to the normal output...if a power surge suddenly occurs that power will be FILTERED sending a normal DC output. Please read part "2 A" 3 times.

fil·ter (fltr)

n. 1. a. A porous material through which a liquid or gas is passed in order to separate the fluid from suspended particulate matter.

b. A device containing such a material, especially one used to extract impurities from air or water.

2.

a. Any of various electric, electronic, acoustic, or optical devices used to reject signals, vibrations, or radiations of certain frequencies while allowing others to pass.

b. A colored glass or other transparent material used to select the wavelengths of light allowed to reach a photosensitive material.

3. Computer Science A program or routine that blocks access to data that meet a particular criterion: a Web filter that screens out vulgar sites.

v. fil·tered, fil·ter·ing, fil·ters v.tr.

1. To pass (a liquid or gas) through a filter.

2. To remove by passing through a filter: filter out impurities.

3. Computer Science To use a filter to block access to (a website or Web content).

v.intr. 1. To pass through or as if through a filter: Light filtered through the blinds.

2. To come or go gradually and in small groups: The audience filtered back into the hall.

#25 Posted by Byshop (11659 posts) -

At a minimum you should be using at least a surge protector. That's recommended best practice even in you are in the US because surges can occur for any number of reasons that aren't always directly related to the quality of the power grid (such as lightning). Everyone's suggestion of a UPS is a good one, although in the case of laptops that slightly less critical since laptops basically have a UPS built in (i.e. their battery). However, laptops are designed to continue running in the event of a loss of power rather than dealing with cleaning up "dirty" power the way a UPS can.

-Byshop

#26 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -
I'm just saying that to say that the electricity is filtered says nothing about how any rejection of transient overvoltage is accomplished, and that as long as there is a connection from the wall to the gear, whatever is in between, there is a potential for problems. There is lag in any system, surge protection included, and electrical phenomena happen over very, very short times, so by the time a PSU has "filtered", whatever that means, it can be too late. But even a power strip with a surge protector is better than nothing, to be sure.
#27 Posted by XaosII (16610 posts) -

Yeah, but you are starting to get into tinfoil-hat wearing territory.

Why sign up with a power company? The only REAL way to be 100% certain is to have your own mega-generator to power your house so you cna have 100% reliability. Why have a water company too? the only REAL way to be 100% certain is to have your own reservoir.

At some reasonable point you trade off reliability for convenience.

a surge protector is a minimum. A UPS would be recommended. A portable power generator is probably overkill, but a possible solution.

#28 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -

Yeah, but you are starting to get into tinfoil-hat wearing territory.

Why sign up with a power company? The only REAL way to be 100% certain is to have your own mega-generator to power your house so you cna have 100% reliability. Why have a water company too? the only REAL way to be 100% certain is to have your own reservoir.

At some reasonable point you trade off reliability for convenience.

a surge protector is a minimum. A UPS would be recommended. A portable power generator is probably overkill, but a possible solution.

XaosII
I find the foil is more effective when worn about the ankles. If it was me in Georgia, I'd charge my laptop batteries with a stand-alone charger and never plug the laptop in.
#29 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

[QUOTE="XaosII"]

Yeah, but you are starting to get into tinfoil-hat wearing territory.

Why sign up with a power company? The only REAL way to be 100% certain is to have your own mega-generator to power your house so you cna have 100% reliability. Why have a water company too? the only REAL way to be 100% certain is to have your own reservoir.

At some reasonable point you trade off reliability for convenience.

a surge protector is a minimum. A UPS would be recommended. A portable power generator is probably overkill, but a possible solution.

Blistrax

I find the foil is more effective when worn about the ankles. If it was me in Georgia, I'd charge my laptop batteries with a stand-alone charger and never plug the laptop in.

That was I was thinking, I am thinking about bringing 2 batteries to charge in a stand alone charger using a UPS and voltage converter and just switching out to the fully charged on when needed. I am assuming it is ok to plug the charger in the wall right?

#30 Posted by Blistrax (1071 posts) -
You have to plug something in at some point.
#31 Posted by toddx77 (3299 posts) -

You have to plug something in at some point.Blistrax

But wouldn't plugging only the batteries in to be charged be better since if the voltage was bad it would only affect the battery and not the computer? Could an overcharged battery do anything bad to a computer while powering it?