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Power Surge vs. Cell Phone

  1. Nov 30, 2009 #1


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    Pacing in my office this afternoon, talking with my dear old mother on my cell phone; I happened to observe a brief power outage. A bump, or surge, if you will. It was a loud buzz (no transformer around me that I know of), lights went out, and strangely enough it knocked out my cell phone. I couldn't get a signal on it until I reset the phone...

    Now what on earth could have caused this? Everything came right back on afterwards, and all is back to normal, but I have never heard of cell phone interference from a power outage before.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2009 #2
    It's hard to say without knowing more variables that could have accounted for the cell phone disruption under the circumstance.

    One possibility is a transition of a high voltage spike being transmitted to the surroundings, and then through your body to the cell phone. If the phone was plugged in to a charger then chance of that would be greater.

    Another possibility is that an EM spike could have overloaded the AGC (automatic gain control) low noise amplifier in the cell phone. But such an AGC should recover quickly from any EM transients. So perhaps it's just poor shielding in the cell phone.

    I used to have a cell phone that would occasionally freeze once in a while. Had to reboot it every time it froze.
  4. Nov 30, 2009 #3


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    No, it wasn't plugged in when I was talking on it. And that's really a creepy thought, having a voltage spike surging through my body.

    First time I've ever had to restart this phone. Only had it for a few months though. Plus the fact that all the lights went out at the same time.

    I haven't checked yet, but I believe there may be a transformer on a power pole just a few yards away from my office wall. (I'm on the second floor) I am thinking that could have blown... But not sure yet.

    Edit: Nope, no transformer, but as I suspected there is a power pole maybe 5 yards away from the wall I share.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2009
  5. Nov 30, 2009 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    The power spike could have affected the nearby cell phone tower that you were connected to. How far away is the nearest tower? I can see the nearest tower from my office window...
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