Computer on split receptacle

Could someone tell me if it's okay to plug my computer stuff into a split receptacle if the other half has an air conditioner on it? I know I shouldn't use a receptacle on the same circuit as an air conditioner, but does this constitute a separate circuit? I don't want to wreck my pc from voltage swings.


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It should be fine. Actually a PC is not as sensitive to voltage swings as most other things in your house because of the switcher power supply.

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No a split outlet is not an separate circuit unless wired as such. (very rare in residential)

I would not use a switched outlet. Some one comes in and thinks your in the dark and toggles the switch....................crash.

I would not use the same circuit with any motored appliance. They some times lock rotor and then your power supply might toast.

As a general rule fixed appliances are supposed to be on a separate circuit. I would want some sort of separation from the motors and my computers. But then again I have tested my ground at my service, installed an surge arrestor on the service and have protection for all of my electronics locally.

Your situation could last for years with out any problems.

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Your home computer and monitor have mains transient protection built into their power systems. This is especially true if you are buying a computer from the likes of Dell, IBM or HP/Compaq. These major players hold their vendors' feet to the fire to provide both initial qualification testing and SPC data to ensure their procured components continue to meet spec.


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By "split receptacle", I meant it's on a double pole breaker with a shared neutral. The top and bottom slots both have their own 15 amp supply.

I was just wondering if sharing the neutral would cause the same sort of voltage drop as is caused by anything on a circuit when the AC kicks in.

Thanks for the help.

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In this case I guess you'd still get somewhere between 'half' and 'most' of the voltage drop. If the voltage fluctuation at the main panel is small, then you should see about half of the voltage drop on the non-AC half of the split rec. Picture just your air conditioner. When it comes on it causes large current leading to voltage drop in (a) the incoming circuit upstream of your main panel, (b) the branch circuit out to your AC unit, (c) the neutral back to the main panel, and (d) the return circuit upstream of your main panel. By having a split rec, the only bit of this voltage drop you are not subjected to is (b). (b) should be just about equal to (c). So, if the voltage drops in (a) and (d) were small, then each of (b) and (c) would be about half of the total voltage drop and you'd still experience (c) on the non-AC half of the rec. The way I see it.

How small are (a) and (d)? I'm not sure though I do have some guesses. Let's think about it this way. How much do 'all the lights in your house' dim as compared to 'all the lights on the circuit' when a big load kicks in? If local lights dim significantly and the rest of the lights in the house dim not even noticeably, then (a) and (d) probably are smallish.

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operator jay

With that type of circuit he's likely to see a small voltage SURGE when the A/C kicks on, not a drop. When wired on a 15A double breaker like that, the other circuit is out of phase with the computer outlet. The voltage drop across the neutral from the A/C starting will ADD to the 120V the computer sees. Plug an incandescent light into the proposed computer outlet and watch what happens when the A/C starts.

Anyway, computer switching power supplies are very tolerant, but perhaps other things plugged into the same outlet may not be so tolerant. But you're probably OK.

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Michael Moroney

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