Power conditioning - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
Elliott Studio Arts
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 34
Power conditioning

There is lot's of hype and mis-information out there on 'surge suppressors' and 'power conditioners'. The truth is that most power conditioners that offer surge protection use MOV's in shunt to ground or neutral to direct the 'surge' of power away from the line. The problem with this approach is that this just puts dangerous voltage spikes on your ground and neutral conductors and can still cause equipment damage. Also, most MOV's only work once (if it's a big spike) then they're popped.

There of seveal methods to get around this problem.. Use an "on-line" UPS system where your power is not directly connected to the grid but rather constantly being re-generated via some kind of storage system (usually batteries and capacitors) and power inverter.. These systems are very expensive, and a big surge can still take out the generation side of the system.

Series-mode protection offers superior protection. Series-mode units employ a large torridial choke or inductor in series with the line conductor which will absorb the majority of excess voltage and then dissipates the excess energy into a load. The side benefit to series mode protection is that the huge choke required to absorb the transients also filters the AC better than anything I've encountered. (see my blog: http://adventuresinmodioland.blogspo...-and-hype.html)

There is one company out there that holds the patent to this technology and I think you all should know about this type of suppression since we're trying to protect our equipment, which for some is their livlihood. I have no vested interest in this company and am only endorsing this product because it is the only one out there that really does the job. (see their liturature on this: http://www.surgex.com/library/10001_...eriesMode.html)
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post #2 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 07:55 PM
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Re: Power conditioning

This is a great post. I suspect a lot of people look away from these devices, simply because (of course), we'd all rather have another piece of gear such as effects, compression, software, mics - almost anything rather than blowing money on a "boring" power backup system.

I work with a lot of clients (paying ones), and we do have power surges every now and then. What I discovered a few years back is that if your hard drive is in the process of writing to the disk when the power drops out, the risk of the needle gouging the hard drive is high, destroying much data. And if it happens to do so near the FAT sector, you could lose everything! I worked for a large company that had set up offices in a new area without backup. There was new construction going on in the building and we were losing power 2-3 times per day. And we went through about 8-10 hard drives per month!

My first piece of battery back-up was from APC - the "Back-UPS" models. I don't remember them having much competition in the late 1990's. Since then, I found some better prices on other brands. Anyway, I don't dare turn on the power switch for a session without one in line - my rear-end has been saved many times by the one I have!
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post #3 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 08:35 PM
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Re: Power conditioning

How are these Triplite isobars? I have 4 of them or similar in use at home. Are these really as good as I thought. Makes me wonder if spending the money on a decent APC battery backup wold be in the end much better. I just always thought that the APC units (unless you spent hundreds) were no better and in some cases worse.

Home theater:
Onkyo 805, Yamaha YDP2006EQ, Samson Servo 600 amp
3 EV Sentry 500 monitors across the front, 4 Mission 762i's Surrounds, SVS PB13U sub, Panasonic BDT220, Harmony 1100, Nintendo WiiU
Panasonic PT-AE8000 on a 120" 2,35:1 fixed screen

Living room system:
Sherwood/Newcastle R972, Mission 765's, SVS SBS02's, A/D/S MS3u sub, Yamaha YDG2030EQ
Yamaha KX-393 Tape deck, CDC 805 CD changer, Panasonic BD60, Sony turntable PS-T20
Panasonic TC-P50ST60, HD-PVR & WDTV Live, Harmony 900

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post #4 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
Elliott Studio Arts
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Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 34
Re: Power conditioning

The product I've suggested (Surgex) is not a UPS, just a surge suppressor - but the very best. What we've done in some installations is plug the UPS into the Surgex, which is a virtually bulletproof combo.

I've seen UPS backup systems blown-up from a power surge, the MOV's inside did a good job of diverting all that voltage and current to the neutral which took out the UPS and everything plugged into it.

Most power stips and even some 'pro' rack-mount 'power conditioners' just use a bunch of MOV's and some RFI filtering. I'm sure some are better than others, and lot's have fancy displays for current and voltage, etc. Some even shut down in an over-voltage situation, but no other power conditioner on the market uses the Series Mode surge suppression. Look at the link that I posted previoulsy to get the full picture.

Plug your favorite power-strip / distribution / UPS into one and protect everything!
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post #5 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
Elliott Studio Arts
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Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 34
Re: Power conditioning

I think that the Tripplite ISO-BAR uses similar technology. Looks pretty good.
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post #6 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
Elliott Studio Arts
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 34
Re: Power conditioning

But the Tripp-Lite still uses MOV's which are a problem.. again, read the white paper on Surgex's website.


There is also an interesting article about AV system power conditioning and grounding:
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post #7 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 10:44 PM
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Re: Power conditioning

So whats the verdict on the furman units then? I see them everywhere.
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post #8 of 22 Old 04-26-10, 10:56 PM
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Re: Power conditioning

Good info this

There is another discussion going on about power conditioning in the home studio forum, so I thought I'd cross reference the two posts for anyone interested.....the other thread is here:

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post #9 of 22 Old 04-27-10, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
Elliott Studio Arts
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 34
Re: Power conditioning

I have a Furman unit on my bench. It's about 10 years old and I've been through it to see what it's got. It has a handy voltage and current meter on the front panel and a circuit that will shut everything off if there is an over-voltage or over-current condition but I have no idea how it handles transient surges.. it also uses the dreaded MOV's.
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post #10 of 22 Old 04-28-10, 10:23 AM
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Re: Power conditioning

I like to use Furman units for sensitive gear, mostly because they have a voltage indicator LED strip which can pinpoint or eliminate power from any issues encountered.

I use UPSs for any computer, hard drive or recording equipment that might damage media from power transients or brownouts/outtages. I have a UPS built into my recording racks because they record multitrack to PATA hard drives -I have sat in my FOH tent with nothing but the glow from my recording racks at festivals where aux gear has tripped generator supplies
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