Home office – electric equipment and safety

Now that my new office is painted and nearly ready to move into, I have started to consider the electrics. Electricity is the lifeblood of the home office – computer, printer, scanner, and other equipment all rely on it, and I rely on the equipment. When it fails, business fails;time is wasted, data is lost, schedules are missed, and invoices aren’t mailed.

I need to move pc, telephone, printer and scanner. A wireless router has already been installed, this will remain in the ‘old’ office which has a connection to telephone and internet. Also fax – but I really do not think that the fax machine will move with me into the new office – it is so rarely used that I don’t think it worthwhile to use space on it. Most documents can be scanned in and sent as attached files, and if a fax really is needed, it is easy enough to reconnect.

Lightning is really important – it has to be good. As the pc or laptop is my main tool it has to be placed to have optimum light. Experts recommend that it be placed so that when one is seated, the natural light from the window comes in over the left shoulder.

A good strong light on the on the tabletop is required, preventing eyestrain. But this light should be placed so that the reflections do not come up from the keyboard. To check that the light is at right angle, put something shiny (a piece of plastic is ideal) over the keyboard and check for reflections. The office will also need some sort of central light and a good strong work light on or over any other workplaces.

A look on the Net came up with lots of good advice, mainly concerning the safety of electric wiring. I have selected the following –tips which, although all well known, could probably do with re-reading, as they are equally relevant for general daily life.

· Make sure there are sufficient wall outlets in the office so you don’t have to use extension cords. If you have to use an extension cord, make sure it is rated for the products to be plugged in.

· Never keep an extension cord plugged in when not in use. The cord will still conduct electricity until it is unplugged from the outlet.

· Use correctly wired three-prong electrical outlets. This assures the equipment is grounded.

· Do not overload the electrical circuits. Check your breaker/fuse box to determine which outlets are on the same circuit. Never plug in electrical products that, when their wattage use is combined, draw more than 1,500 watts from the same circuit.

· Use a voltage surge suppressor to protect against hardware damage or loss of data from electrical surges. In a lightning storm, unplug your computer directly from the wall outlet. A surge suppressor will not protect an electrical product from a lightning strike.

· If there is a blackout while you are working on your computer, turn the computer off. Otherwise, when the power goes back on, a voltage spike could damage your equipment.

Remember, following the above precautions will not only protect your home office equipment but also might save your life.