Are power spikes/incorrect voltage ruining my hardware

I have noticed a problem with my TV and computer which I think is related to the power suppy in my house.

Every now and then the (brand new) TV will flicker and the speakers on my computer will make a sort of crackly-pop sound. It never resets the PC but I have just lost a hard drive and it was only 7 months old.

A friend lent me a power-supply-checker thingy which you plug into the wall socket and it checks the voltage. It registered almost 260V instead of the normal 240V (Australia).

I have surge protectors on everything valuable (even the couch :wink: ).

Now the questions.

  1. Does having a slightly higher voltage mean anything in terms of long term damage to equipment?

  2. Is is most likely a spike in the power causing the weird TV-PC problems?

  3. Does a surge protector protect against these spikes?

  4. If not what else can I use to protect my hardware?

  5. Is this most likely a suburb wide problem or dodgy wiring in my (cheap rented) house.

  6. When did we get this one? :smack:

Unclean power, or power that isn’t to spec can certainly damage your hardware. Surge Protectors will only protect you against large spikes, not normal variation in power to your stuff. I wouldn’t worry about the TV too much, but the computer should probably be hooked up to a UPS with Automatic Voltage Regulation. It’ll take in your ‘unclean’ power and produce a perfect output for you…plus it protects against surges (like lightning) and will keep your PC up if the power fails (and shut it down if it’s out for a while.)


One of the ‘real’ ones? The older ones or cheap multimeters get confused by the line voltage not having a perfect sine shape. When did you measure? Your voltage varies over the day. IANAE (I am not an electrician), but 8% seems high but still within normal range. It affects the lifespan of lightbulbs, other appliances should do fine with a higher but stable voltage. Start worrying at permanently having 264V (10%). Then you should call your power company, I think that’s the point where they start worrying, too.

Most PC speaker power supplies are very sensitive to line noise (read: crappy). Do the speakers pop when you turn on the TV or other appliances? If so, and if nothing else acts weird, I suspect your TV supply to hiccup and pulling the speakers down along with it when it draws more current while re-starting. The speaker popping looks more like a secondary effect. You still don’t know if the TV is source or victim of the unstable power, though.

It’s brand new! :slight_smile: Did you miss the voting?

I had problems with hot voltage in a small town I lived in. I was cooking about 135-140v out of an outlet that should’ve been doing 120.

I did two things:

  1. called the power company - they’ve got pole-mounted voltage regulators and they can be adjusted. That dropped it about 5v. They really weren’t interested in getting it much better than that.

  2. I got a “line conditioner” from Tripplite. Basically it’s a multi-tap transformer with an automatic switch in it. It’ll take anything in from about +/- 20% rated voltage and get you a lot closer to desired voltage. It’ll autoswitch in case of slow surges or brownouts. It has a secondary function as a surge surpressor.

Normal surge surpressors are only good to remove spikes (high frequencies) from line voltage and do not regulate average voltage. Tripplite’s web site shows they make a “complete line of 230v line conditioners” too.


Thanks for the answers guys.

femtosecond: I think the multimeter is OK because I got it off an electricians son. Ill check it throughout the day though.

Looks like a power conditioner/UPS is the way to go.