Power Protection - AC Power Conditioners and System Performance
Updated: December 10, 2012

Use of Line Protection and
AC Power Conditioners in the Home Theater

Why is there the need to invest in Power Protection?

The use of AC power conditioners and appropriate line protection for your phone line and coax TV inputs has somehow became a mandatory requirement with today’s sensitive and expensive electronic gear.

This is essential if you want to protect your gear from a premature death as a result of sudden fluctuations on the AC line and possible surges on external system inputs. But as we will further explain in this article, there is more to power protection than to protect your gear; the use of line conditioners also help ensure that your expensive home theater equipment will perform the way it has been designed to. Discover more in this guide.

Monster Power PRO AVS2000 Voltage Stabilizer

Monster PRO AVS 2000 Rack Mountable Voltage Stabilizer and Power Conditioner

Designed to provide a stabilized 120V output for power line fluctuations ranging from 80-140 volts, thus protecting expensive equipment for both under-voltage and over-voltage conditions.

Power Clean-up but...

There are two main reasons that would push you towards spending 'extra' money on line protection devices and power conditioners:

Protect your gear from dangerous power surges and indirect lightning strikes.

Remove noise, correct waveform distortions, and voltage fluctuations on the AC line to ensure that your gear will be performing at its best.

Spending money to protect equipment from voltage surges is somewhat easily accepted by many system owners, yet spending money simply to clean those external inputs feeding your home theater gear is hardly understandable.

To appreciate the benefits associated with the use of power conditioners and line protection devices, one must first have an understanding of what constitutes the real problem.

AC Power

The AC power flowing into our homes feeding sensitive and expensive electronic gear is dirty and dangerous. Surely, it is fine for lamps, drills, heater, etc., but not for your delicate home theater audio and video systems.

Anything that shares your power line back to the power company's main junction—industrial equipment, streetlights, transformers, elevators, or a neighbor's home appliance—can distort the AC waveform and pollute the AC supply.

In addition, power spikes on the AC line as a result of power usage patterns around the neighborhood, may have a damaging effect on audio and video gear.

Voltage Surges and Lightning Strikes:

AC power is not the only source of high voltage surges. Anything that connects your gear with the outside world can carry surges into your system.

In particular, lightning strikes hitting overhead power cables, cable TV, satellite and outdoor TV antennas, and telephone lines, can result in dangerous surges down the interconnecting cables both through a direct hit and through induced current; the resultant surge will surely spell disaster in an instant.

Yet, there is more when it comes to over-voltages...

The devastating effects of a voltage spike or surge depend mainly on:

Peak voltage reached during the surge

Energy level contained within the surge

The duration of the over-voltage - typically this may last up to a few milliseconds.

Rise-time, i.e. the time it takes for the surge voltage to reach its peak.

Engineers usually divide brief but extremely dangerous over-voltages in two main categories:

Spikes or transients where the surge duration is a maximum of up to one microsecond (one millionth of a second), and

Surges when the duration lasts for up to a few milliseconds (one millisecond is equal to one thousandth of a second).

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI):

Added to all this is even more distortion as a result of radio frequency interference caused by home appliances, nearby industrial equipment, and  radio and TV stations.

Every copper line in your house can act like an antenna, picking up radio and TV signals from the air and adding them to the AC line current. Seen on a laboratory oscilloscope, the AC line current would appear clogged with noise and electronic pollution that degrades audio and video gear used in home entertainment systems.

An initial attempt to solve the problem

In an attempt to minimize the voltage fluctuations as a result of in-house electrical appliances, many home theater enthusiasts install separate power lines from their mains consumer unit/circuit breaker panel, to drive sensitive entertainment equipment. This helps keep large current-drawing items like furnaces, air conditioners, refrigerators, etc. from stealing power from your electronics.

Nevertheless, this is not the most effective solution!

Still, it will not prevent power line distortions from coming into the house, nor will it block noise from motors, switches, etc., within the home. Even more so, it will not provide the required protection against dangerous power surges on the AC line.

The best way to stop power surges and power distortions is to make use of appropriate power conditioners and line protection gear designed specifically to meet the needs and power demands of your audio and video systems. 

Power Protection Solutions at amazon.com

Amazon.com offers a vast range of power protection gear for audio and video applications.

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 Article Content

Issues discussed in this article:

Blue bullet  Introduction: Power clean-up: It is more than just for your system protection

Blue bullet  AC Power: Fluctuations in AC power and power spikes

Blue bullet  Voltage surges and lightning strikes: Sources of high voltage surges

Blue bullet  Radio Frequency Interference for more distortion!

Blue bullet  An initial attempt to solve the problem

Blue bullet  Power Protection Solutions: Recommended buying options

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