Thailand’s Electricity Surges and Power Outages

1000VA UPS should give 5-10 minutes of battery life in case you lose power completely.
1000VA UPS should give 5-10 minutes of battery life in case you lose power completely.

I switched to a desktop computer a month back or so and I’ve become much more aware of the electricity outages here in Thailand as I go about working.

I’ve always been afraid to lose a computer due to power surges and lightening since I worked as a computer tech for GTE in the USA and I got to see all kinds of fried motherboards and even processor chips that had exploded – flew apart from lightening strikes. I vowed that would never be me and so far I’ve not been a victim.

If I hear thunder I unplug the computer. In the past when using a notebook it’s no problem because I could still work for 90 mins to 2 hours on battery before shutting down, usually the storm had passed and I could just plug in and go some more.

Changing to desktop computer has been a learning curve. I’ve not owned a desktop in 4 yrs. Now I’m painfully aware of how many times we lose power and have power surges in Thailand. I’ve used a surge protector (450baht) for years with all my notebooks and now this desktop, which is a must have.

Does it work in case of lightening? The guy at the computer store said – if lightening hits close by – it will still fry your computer. So, not a comforting thought. Most times I think it should work OK. Incidentally if you can, buy one overseas because I think all the electronics here in Thailand are made in China and the quality control is not what you’d get from a store like Sony or Panasonic.

I bought a UPS – uninterruptible power supply the other day in Thailand for 2300 baht. I was tired of power dying and losing whatever I was working on. Sometimes it happened 4 times in a day. Actually, that day is when I purchased the UPS. A UPS is a big battery. Probably Ni-Cad and it plugs directly into the wall and has two or 3 outlets that you can plug your computer, monitor, printer – and maybe even your phone modem line if it’s a good one. The UPS I bought has a ‘conditioner’ that smooths out the current before it reaches the computer. It smooths out the surges and lapses in power by running it through the battery I think – always giving the same steady power supply to the delicate electronics in the computer.

If your power goes out for a second – no matter – your screen won’t flicker and your computer won’t reboot. It’s business as usual. If the electricity dies for a while you have maybe up to 10 minutes to close everything, make essential changes and send your emails before the battery power dies in the UPS. For me – 10 minutes is a lifetime and I get more accomplished during that time than in 30 minutes. It’s like a timer that says, “GO! Get everything done in 10 minutes.”

As a last step I save everything I was working on to my USB drive so I can go to the internet cafe and use their computers in case my power is out for more than an hour or so.

Power surges and lightening are common in Thailand and the computer guy I use a lot told me each week he has 10 or so computers that have been destroyed by electricity. He has a good business going – ordering new motherboards and memory and things for these fried systems.

Get yourself a UPS system from Big C or Tesco if you have a desktop computer. Even if you have a notebook – it can probably power you for an hour on a notebook which has much less power consumption needs than a desktop and screen. Plus it conditions the electrical pulses so be more flat and steady – prolonging the life of your computer.

Oh – one more thing. I don’t know if this helps, I think it must, so I do it. I have a power surge protector – an electrical strip with 4 A/C plugs that I can plug things into. It’s supposed to protect from lightening and large electrical surges.

I do this:

  • Plug the UPS into the wall.
  • I plug the surge protector strip into the UPS.
  • I plug the computer, monitor, and phone charger into the strip.

This way I think I have double protection from surges and lightening strikes… because the lightening that comes through the wall socket will go to the transformer that powers the battery before traveling down my power cord to the power surge protector which has the lines to all my electronics equipment.

Less chance to fry my stuff because the power surge protector is in the loop and after the UPS system.


That’s my logic anyway. Probably to be really sure – could put another power surge protector in the series too!

UPDATE: I tested the battery with my 15″ flatscreen HP vp15s at lowest brightness setting and working on a few applications at a time – even with the mp3’s playing out of 2 external speakers for 15 minutes. I got a total of 37 minutes of power before the batteries died!

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

2 thoughts on “Thailand’s Electricity Surges and Power Outages”

  1. Wow, you’re saying you get 30 minutes? That’s nice… I wonder if that’s all I have in my UPS is a couple of 6V batteries. I do have an indicator on the front that tells me when I need to replace the batteries. Apparently they’re interchangeable – but the store has to do it or my warranty is void.

    Are you saying Korat is DEEP Isaan? To me that’s the beginning… Deep is somewhere like Det Udom or even Mukdahan. Or maybe you mean deep in the countryside? Korat’s a big place and I considered moving there for a time – but you know? Too many farangs! Unbelievable the farang population there – do you know what it is? I’ve not seen the rural Korat… yet.

    Thanks for writing – I just saw your forum. Good luck with that!

  2. I live in deep Isaan. Power here does black out extremely often, especially near the end of the month: people in the power company are said to switch on and off to increase the consumption. So I bought a UPS with stabilizer for about 6.000 Baht already seven years ago together with my PC. It has two fairly big 6 V sealed lead-acid batteries. It keeps my PC powered for about 30 minutes. The batteries need to be exchanged every two or three years, They’re available from various brands, costing between 200 and 400 Baht a piece. A must have!

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