The thing you have to remember is that a billboard will be using lamps more like in a theater than what you would be used to inside a building. They could have a large ballast to fill or many filiments to heat up. Remember a filiment has very little resistance until it gets hot. Electric motors use statges or capatitors to limit starting drop, but lamps may not. I agree the utility is probably cutting corners, but that is a constant problem and pretty much a fact of life.
Billboard lighting across the street should not be causing a voltage dip on the computer power circuit in the office sufficient to reboot the computer. Sounds like a utility issue. If it was a 200HP motor...
The reason the computers rebooted is that when you first turn on anything with a large capacity or has low resistance until it heats up, temporarily there is such a drop in voltage that it is equivalent to a power cycle.
The author didn't say that it was an electronic billboard. An electronic billboard would be illuminated all day (maybe shut down late at night when nobody will see it?). This was a good old fashioned billboard with lights so that it could be seen at night.
I am curious why the billboard lights coming on caused the computer to reboot. The author seems to know or suspect but didn't say.
Be careful. I have a very bad attitude about the unfortunately named Uninterruptable Power Supply. I've seen more failures in those things than in the "dirty" building power.
A proper UPS has a full time inverter running off of batteries with a completely independent charger. Not all UPS gear is like that. Some have standby inverters, some have synchronous inverters, and some are just plain bizarre.
If you expect the UPS to "clean up" your power, you'd better get a full time inverter and make certain that the circuit that you use doesn't go far and that ALL outlets are VERY clearly marked so that some cleaning crew doesn't plug in to them.
Dirty power is usually best fixed at the source: the building ground system. Make sure the neutrals are properly bonded in the correct places. If you don't know what I'm talking about, hire a master electrician and have them explain it to you.
This fix sounds to me like using a small bandage for a sucking chest wound of a problem.
We thought we were being careful and clever.. integrated UPS into wiring of our offices.. no box , common maintenance location for mulitple small UPS boxes.
The only indication of UPS was involved.. orange colored outlets indicating the power was supplied by UPS. Standard outlets had regular while/beige color.
Problem: the cleaning lady coming through in the evening didn't know the significance of the orange outlets.. yup, she put a high current draw device (vaccum cleaner) on the limited current UPS outlet.. causing the current limiting on the UPS to kick in .. and shutting down the workstation running simulations overnight.
What did I learn?... - communications to everyone is important (and is hard to maintain), and UPS is just one aspect of clean power.
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Noting that we now live in an era of “confusion and ill-conceived stuff,” Ammunition design studio founder Robert Brunner, speaking at Gigaom Roadmap, said that by adding connectivity to everything and its mother, we aren't necessarily doing ourselves any favors, with many ‘things’ just fine in their unconnected state.
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