Printed 2017/07/23 01:45AM

Gone Dark

By Tim Mitchell, 2009/03/25

This afternoon was quite interesting around the office.  A strong thunderstorm moved through the area, a common occurrence in Texas during the spring.  However, this storm took out a critical transformer nearby and knocked out the power grid for some time.  Our emergency generators roared to life without a hitch, and critical systems stayed online on supplemental power until electricity was restored an hour or so later.  One glitch was observed in cooling: the air in the NOC was running but the cooling unit was not.  Fortunately, the outage did not last long enough to increase the temperature to a critical level.

We run tests on these types of events – in fact, our facilities staff tests the generators on a semimonthly basis, and we actually fail over to the backup power during those tests.  It has been some time since we’ve run on backup power for more than a few minutes.

In my corner, I was particularly thankful for the desktop UPS unit I have running.  It’s small and aging, and doesn’t have the longevity it used to, but it allowed me more than 20 minutes to finish up what I was doing and shut down my computer properly.  I did notice that my speaker system and desk lamp are both connected to the UPS, which is an unnecessary drain on the battery.  Time to crawl in the floor and rewire.

Nobody likes to run power failure tests, and it’s even less enjoyable to run this drill for real.  But in times such as these, it’s good to know that your backup systems are regularly tested and sufficient to continue critical operations.

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