No one is immune to problems or breakdowns, especially when it comes to electronic devices that we have to plug into the power grid. Electricity does not work exactly like a constant flow, but it varies extremely quickly, and therefore any device connected to it can have problems.
Why are source protections important?
Surely this has happened to you or you know the case of someone who, after an electrical problem, damaged the power supply and took other components, potentially the motherboard as it is the first affected and maybe even processor, RAM or graphics card. This can happen if the power supply to the equipment did not have the necessary protections to maintain the integrity of the rest of the equipment (or when the power supply was of poor quality and the protection circuits did not function as it should).
The hardware components are designed to operate on direct current, and obviously the power supply is in charge of transforming the alternating current flowing through the wall outlet into the direct current which the components need, in addition to reducing the voltage to which it is needed. The problem is that the components are designed to operate with a very small voltage range, but the amperage range at which they are able to operate is even smaller, so proper regulation and protection of the power supply is crucial to achieve this. its proper functioning.
In addition to this, we have already mentioned the fact that failures, accidents or instabilities can occur in the power supply, and this is where the power supply protections play such an important role that if it doesn’t. had not, we could literally spoil the entire PC. Imagine, for comparison, a seat belt or an airbag in a car: normally you don’t need it, but if you have an accident, wouldn’t you prefer to have it?
What do power protections do
As we have already mentioned, all the electricity that is then supplied to each component of the equipment goes through the power supply, and for this reason it is very important that it incorporates protection circuits: if during the purchase of a power supply, you see that the manufacturer does not indicate any, the advice is not to buy this power supply because, following the comparison that we made a moment ago, it would be like buy a car without seat belts and airbags.
Of course, normally the manufacturer specifies the protections as acronyms, so we’ll remove all the protections and see what each one does.
OCP, OVP and UPV, protection against power grid problems
These three protections are obviously different but we have included them in the same section because they are closely related:
- OCP means over-current protection or over-voltage protection. This is probably the most important protection, because, as we explained before, the components have a certain margin in terms of voltage variations but not in the face of variations in current (amperage). This protection circuit detects increases in current intensity and corrects them at the source itself so that they do not reach the components; The bad part is that this extra current is released as heat, which is why the OTP circuit often has a dedicated heat sink.
- Original packaging stands for Surge Protection or Surge Protection. Like the previous one, it is a protection system that detects surges and corrects them before sending the signal to the components of the PC. This is also important because, for example, in the event of an electrical storm, surges in the electrical network are frequent.
- UVP stands for Undervoltage protection or voltage drop protection. It is extremely rare that there are drops in current and that is why the sources generally do not integrate protection systems against it, but it is frequent that in the electrical network there may be drops in voltage. especially if the electrical substation in your area is overloaded. . This protection system is responsible for compensating for that.
SCP, short circuit protection
As you know, any electrical device has two poles: phase and neutral (in addition to grounding). This is called a short circuit at the failure or breakdown of a device or the power line itself through which the current passes from the active conductor or phase directly to neutral or to the Earth. In other words, this is what would happen if you took the two cables of a power line and joined them, but it can also happen in a PC if a cable is damaged or if one is not well insulated and touches the plate of the PC. case.
The SCP or short circuit protection is a power supply safety system that detects this fact and in this case, instead of compensating for anything since it cannot be compensated, it cuts the current. and turns off to prevent breakdowns. Therefore, if a short circuit occurs in your PC, this system will make it shut down suddenly to prevent damage, and you will need to detect where the short circuit occurred so that the system can turn back on, because it won’t. again as long as this problem is still present.
OTP and OPP, due to problems in the equipment itself
Finally, we have the protection systems OTP (Over Temperature Protection) and OPP (Over Power Protection), although the latter can also be called OLP (Over Load Protection).
OTP, as the name suggests, consists of a temperature sensor which, when it detects that it exceeds a certain limit set by the manufacturer, causes the system to shut down to prevent damage. The OPP / OLP system will also shut down the PC, but in this case, when it detects that the consumption of the equipment is greater than what the power supply is capable of providing.
In this second case, imagine that you have hardware components that consume 500 watts and the power supply is 400. At the beginning the equipment will work and start because at rest the consumption will be less than that, but at the start of a game or program that causes the equipment to consume more than 400 watts, the source will shut down otherwise low voltage and low current problems will occur which may damage the hardware components.