Power Surges and Your Voice Over Studio
We were enjoying a nice pleasant Christmas day when all of a sudden lights and appliances started to flicker. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw sparks shooting out from a nearby outlet. The smell of burnt electronics filled the air. After a few moments of flickering, popping, and zapping, we still had power but it was limited. A few lights worked but faintly. A few items worked but not many. Our neighbors’ houses and outdoor Christmas lights were all shining bright while ours went dark. And what just got fried? Oh my God, what about my home studio and office?!
With more folks working from home offices these days, is this what you want to be asking yourself?
After a panic call to an on-call electrician and the power company, we discovered a neutral power line that runs from the utility pole to the house broke. The neutral line allows power sent to the house to return back to the power line. If it breaks, the circuit is broken, power cannot return, and all of that power is sent surging rampantly through the house frying everything in its path.
We lost our modem, router, stove, a few vent fans, security system, radon mitigation system, battery chargers, hot water heater, and furnace.
Oh no! What about my studio? My laptop, microphone, audio interface, and speakers? My voiceover work?! My website development work?! My livelihood?!
Panic set back in as I tried to start everything up. With a gush of relief and a prayer of thanks, it was all spared. Why? Most likely it was farthest down the line away from the surge with items upstream taking the brunt of it. Plus, the circuit breakers on that side of the house worked, and my studio and office gear were all on surge protectors. However, this was barely enough to save my studio. Had it been further upstream closer to the surge, it may have blown right through the circuit breakers and surge protectors, so this was a complete stroke of luck.
I didn’t care that we didn’t have heat in the middle of a New England winter – I’m ok layering up. I didn’t care that we didn’t have hot water – I can handle a cold shower. They are actually quite invigorating.
I was just thankful that I could still work! I was never more happy to record an audition or send a work email than I was then.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR VOICEOVER STUDIO AND OFFICE
Power surges are most likely during storms with high winds, heavy snow and ice, or thunderstorms. Lightning strikes occur quite often but you have time to take precautions before storms hit. However, surges are most common from downed power lines or other random surges without warning.
There is no way to predict a random power line break. And remember, power companies do NOT cover storm related surge damage. But there are steps to take to protect your voiceover studio, recording gear or home office equipment. Any one of these items alone may not be enough protection, but a combination of these steps will give you the peace of mind and protection for your voiceover home recording/office setup and to always be available for your clients.
- Install WHOLE home surge protectors
- Use power strip surge protectors and/or Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS)
- Unplug your studio/office equipment when not in use, especially during storms
- Inspect home wiring
- Have backup gear – an extra laptop, mic, interface (if possible)
- Back up your work data on external hard drives/flash drives/cloud services
As a New Englander, I love the home improvement show This Old House. Many episodes cover home electrical systems, but here is an article that covers more detailed power surge protection for your home.
This Old House – Electrical Protection
So enjoy your next holiday with the peace of mind that your pricey home recording studio, gear, and/or home office is protected and you can remain up and running for your clients at all times. Take some time to review your power setup so you don’t lose your livelihood in a flash.