The Perils of Poor Power | AccountingWEB

The Perils of Poor Power

I’m in the midst of moving my office to some new space (larger, nicer, more comfortable, etc.), and the process of building and moving to this new space has brought up a big technology issue that many of us don’t consider on a regular basis – electric power. Unless you live in Hawaii, you’re probably used to having a plug-in heater underneath your desk to keep warm. You may also be using a nice laser printer at your desk, and even be using fluorescent light bulbs to be more environmentally friendly (at least on the electricity). Since it was 12 degrees (yes, Fahrenheit) when I headed out of my driveway this morning in Knoxville, Tennessee, I’m guessing that many of you are using those heaters today.
Please stop, and check your desk now. If the heater, laser printer/copier, microwave, or fluorescent lights are on the same breaker as the computer, talk to someone about getting a dedicated circuit for the computer equipment. My experience dealing with technology (including my own bricked five year old PC) suggests that the hardware failure rate for systems which are on the same circuit as any of these devices is higher than that for people who are not on the same circuit as these devices. While this is anecdotal evidence only, many users in small offices may not be familiar with the issues that can be caused by these devices. Here’s what happens:
1. Heater or Printer draws large amounts of current during its warm-up or operation.
2. This drop in current disrupts, or “browns out” the power to the electronic equipment. While these brown-outs may not seem like that big of a deal, they cause big problems on the circuitry of computers and other electronic devices (for that matter, static electricity is an issue as well).
3. After hundreds of these “brown outs”, the electronic equipment dies a painful death (and you and your people wonder why you seem to have so many issues with hardware).
Some solutions to these power problems include:
1. Dedicated breaker and separate outlets for all computer equipment. While this may be cost-prohibitive, this is the preferred solution. I had this done in my new space, and can’t wait to get all of my stuff over there so I can have my printers in the same room as my computers and my space heater.
2. Uninterruptable Power Supply. Filtered power with battery backup (e.g. a UPS) is a requirement for all server applications anyway, and a good idea for all workstations. Today I purchased a 1300VA/780 watt UPS for the low price of $165 (APC model BX1300LCD at Office Depot). Trust me – it’s cheap compared to the cost of downtime.
3. Surge protection for everything that touches the network. While it may seem paranoid to put surge protection on your cable TV wire, phone jack, electric power, and network cable, I’ve seen numerous situations where there was ONE device plugged into a network which wasn’t covered by surge protection, and a lightning strike used that unfiltered plug to push a huge surge through a network, taking everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) out.
While this isn’t a huge shock for most of you, I wanted to mention this today so you public practitioners can get your electronics separated out before the year-end surge hits (no pun intended) for 2008.

Until next time, Happy (audit) trails.
Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP

This blog

by The K2 Team - Look here for anything that involves technology and accounting. K2 Enterprises is the largest supplier of technology CPE (Continuing Professional Education) for CPAs, CGAs and CAs in North America. The K2 team routinely reviews software and hardware products from all major publishers and teaches accountants how to use these tools effectively. The entire K2 team has 10+ years of experience, many with 30+ years of technology and accounting experience.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.