Question: What’s something your business operations can’t do without? Answer: Power.
Of all the important electrical devices that you depend on each and every day for your business’ survival, there’s nothing more important than your PSU – the power supply PC and similar systems need to get that correct, stable and safe power it needs for the components to function reliably. It may not be as ‘sexy’ as something like a whiz-bang new graphics card, but it’s a bit like comparing Usain Bolt’s rocket-like legs with his heart – without a strong and reliable ticker, those legs aren’t going anywhere fast.
When you’re doing your PSU shopping, you’ll need to get the peak wattage right, ensure voltage stability, don’t skimp on the cabling and connectors, and never forget: you tend to get exactly what you pay for. Go for a “cheapie”, and you’ll also get cheap capacitors and other internals that fail, damage your systems, ramp up your downtime – and perhaps even give you a nasty shock when you least expect it. To be sure you’re protecting yourself, your systems, your staff and your operations, only ever buy from a reputable supply and watch out for those approval codes and regulatory compliance masks, which indicate that they’re fully up to spec here in Australia. Fortunately, you can find quality supplies at many respectable global distributors, for example, RS Components.
But what exactly do you get when you buy a high-quality power supply PC and other devices require:
The live components on-board your PSU are protected with up to five levels of insulation – to keep your other components, circuits and people safe. Operational insulation (1) simply keeps the equipment working, while basic insulation (2) provides minimal protection against electric shock. Supplementary insulation (3) adds another layer on top of that, while double and reinforced insulation (4 and 5) provides true peace of mind for critical systems.
2. Protective earth
Quality PSUs will not only be tested to minimise earth leakage, they will also have a protective earth conductor – normally coloured green and yellow. The earth conductor’s job is to connect the metal housing to the earth, meaning that if something goes wrong, the fault current will flow through the conductor and shut down rather than shock the systems and people around it. Typically, earth conductors are tested by a current 1.5 times the capacity of the power supply.
A safe power supply will be designed for minimum air clearances between conductors, to eliminate the risk of creating an ‘arc’ between them that can be extremely hazardous for your systems and people. For insulation, between 2 and 4mm of air clearance is required, but if the space itself is going to be an insulating barrier between the voltage and the enclosure, that minimum jumps to 10mm.
Quality, compliant PSUs are designed with low-flammable materials to minimise temperatures, separate anything that is flammable from anything that will necessarily generate significant heat, and feature fire enclosures to keep any fires contained.
The final word: Safety first!
The greater availability of places to get the power supply PC and other electronic systems require for your critical operations is a double edged sword, because while competition is always great, it also raises potential red-flags about the quality of the product you’re getting. To be sure, always ask about regulatory compliance when you buy your components from the most reputable suppliers – because more than just your business may depend on it.