In the US we are in thunderstorm season. Summertime brings storms with lots of rain, thunder and lightening. Those storms can also cause power outages. It is important to protect precious electrical equipment (like our longarm machines) from power surges. It would also be helpful to be able to finish quilting a block design, or finish out a row of an edge-to-edge design when using Pro-Stitcher. Then properly shut down the Pro-Stitcher to wait out the storm. So a surge protector and/or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a desired accessory for your machine. The question is: how do you find the right surge protector? What specifications should you look for in a UPS?
Thankfully the engineers at Handi Quilter have written a great article explaining it all and posted it on our web site. To make it easier for you, I am posting it here on the blog.
Here are all the details you need and a chart where you can find your machine and know exactly what to purchase.
Surge Protector vs Power Strip vs UPS
Most quilters will want to protect their investment from unforeseen electrical surges that could cause damage to their machine, such as lightning strikes. A good quality surge protector (or surge suppressor) can accomplish this for you.
The first thing to understand is that a power strip is not the same thing as a surge protector. A basic power strip does not have any surge protection unless it is advertised as a surge protector. It is just an extension cord with multiple outlets. If it does not have a JOULE rating, it is probably not a surge protector. The higher the Joule rating, the greater surge protection you get for your quilting machine. We recommend a minimum 2000 Joules to protect your quilting machine.
An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is a battery backup device that is intended to provide power for your device during a power outage. Most UPS systems also include surge suppression as well as multiple outlets. Check the Joule rating to determine the quality of surge suppression. While a UPS is not necessary to protect your quilting machine, some quilters find it convenient to have one when using the Pro-Stitcher to allow the computerized system to finish quilting the current section while the main power is out. It also allows you enough power to shut down your Pro-Stitcher and machine properly.
How to Select the Proper Surge Protector or UPS
Most surge protectors will give you the Joules rating, but may not tell you a maximum Watt, Amp or VA value. This is because they are typically designed to be used on a standard household outlet and should be sufficient to handle the load of your quilting machine. Remember, the Joule rating will tell you the amount of protection you will get.
For a UPS, you will have to determine the proper Watts or VA (depending on how the manufacturer advertises their product). The table below should be helpful in determining how many Watts or VA you should look for. The higher the value, the more devices you can plug into your UPS and the longer it will power your system when there is a power failure. The table below is intended for selecting the proper equipment and does not necessarily indicate how much power your quilting machine is using at any given time. That will vary depending upon usage.
Handi Quilter machines use Brushless DC motors that are powered by a switching DC power supply*. Because of this, UPS devices generally perform very well with these quilting machines as compared to machines that use AC motors. Generally UPS manufacturers will not guarantee their products to work on motorized equipment. You might be concerned about whether your UPS manufacturer will honor any claims due to product failure. Please contact the UPS manufacturer before making a purchase.
*The HQ Sixteen and the original HQ Simply Sixteen machines have DC brushless motors. But use a linear power supply rather than a switching power supply.
I hope this helps you find the right surge protector and UPS for your beloved machine. Please remember, it is always recommended to unplug your machine when not in use.
Quilt every day!
Do we need a whole house surge suppressor, installed by a qualified electrician in addition to a power supply? I’m looking at the Amara computerized system. Hopefully, it is in my very near future. Working with my local dealer. Thank you.
A whole house surge suppressor is certainly very nice! But not necessary.
Thanks for sharing this information, Mary Beth!
A couple of things to add, from the engineering side:
1. If you have thunderstorms in your area quite often, it would be a great idea to replace your surge suppressor every year or two. The Metal Oxide Varistor used as the primary protection device in most surge suppressors gets a hole punched in it with each surge event. It will eventually become like Swiss cheese and will not provide sufficient protection anymore. You can still use the product to provide multiple outlets, just don’t expect it to protect anything.
2. The original HQ Sixteen machine has a DC brush-less motor as stated, but it is not powered through a switching power supply as newer machines are. It is effectively connected to the AC plug through diodes. Any power disturbance on the AC line could damage the motor permanently, so it’s imperative that owners of this machine connect it to mains through a surge suppressor or UPS.
Note: The HQ Sixteen replacement/upgrade power and control pods have protection added through a current-limiting, self-healing fuse and a transient voltage suppression diode. We still recommend that customers use a surge suppressor to protect all our mains-powered products.
Thanks for the additional information Gary! Folks, Gary is a long-time engineer for Handi Quilter, so listen up!
Thank you for the information. Can you have a UPS or Surge Protector that is too big? Does the Surge Protector have the Watts or VA information on the strips? What extension cords should be used from the wall to the surge protector? Mine is a ways from the wall outlet. Can the extension cord be too heavy duty for the job? I have a Fusion with Pro-Stitcher about 12 feet from the outlet.
HI Janet! Thanks for sharing your questions. Executive Summary: No, there is no such thing as too big a UPS or too much surge protection but cost must also be considered. And a three-pronged extension cord rated for 10 Amperes or better is sufficient for your needs.
A UPS that has a larger capacity means it will keep your machine powered for a longer period during an outage. It has a larger battery to draw from, but may be heavier to move into your home. They are obviously going to be more expensive. A person running a business might opt for a larger model to assure they can finish a row on a customer’s quilt before shutting their Pro-Stitcher down. BTW, we don’t recommend ever leaving your Pro-Stitcher unattended.
Quality surge protectors do have the rating listed on the box. Having a higher rating means it protects your equipment from stronger surge events. Most list a warranty, but review the conditions. If you live in an area with lots of lightning strikes, definitely spend the money for a higher rating. Even if your home is not hit, a strike nearby can cause a disruption that will affect your home. (Interesting fact: the power system in the overhead wires to your home only carry the power from the power plant. To complete the circuit, the energy returns to the power plant via the earth. So lightning hitting the earth adds energy to that return path – and also back to your home!)
Finally, a heavy duty extension cord means the wire diameter is larger. This equates to less power wasted over the length of the cord. Too small of a wire in an extension cord means it can heat up under a large current load and could catch fire.
Household wiring is generally rated for 15 Amperes, so you don’t need more than that unless you are going 100 feet and using power tools. I found a tasteful, white, 15-foot, three-prong power cord on the Lowes website rated at 13 Amperes. I use a similar one connected to all my AV equipment at home.
Always use a power cord with the three prongs with our machines and Pro-Stitcher. Never plug your machine into a two-prong outlet.
Thank you for your answers. I will be sure to use a quality surge protector and an extension cord with 3 prongs. I didn’t know surge protectors punched holes and could be working but not protecting anymore. How nice if they could be made with a counter…so I could know when it’s numbers are up and time for a new one.
[…] posted back in the summer about this topic and you can read the entire post here. It explains how to choose the proper surge protector or UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) for your […]