Are there problems with leaving an amp in storage for a while? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 07-14-2013, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a bunch of audio equipment that I've had sitting in their boxes since we moved a few years ago waiting for me to finally finish my basement. I'm just about there and ready to break the stuff out again. I was speaking with a speaker repair shop about having some speakers refoamed and the conversation just happened to drift to this fact. At that point the guy I was talking to said, "Oh, if you've had your amplifier and such sitting around not in use, then they are likely to fail when you power them up again due to the capacitors in them chemically deforming over time. You need to have them brought up slowly over time where we hook them up to a very low level current and slowly bring them back up to 120v over a couple of weeks to reform the capacitors." Of course this "service" was not inexpensive. I had never heard of such a thing and have spent some time searching the web to see if I could find any discussions of this. While I can find a little bit of discussion about the deforming of capacitors over time in storage, I haven't found anything about his proposed technique to bring stored audio equipment back online. I suspect if this was a serious concern, I would at least find some discussion of it. While a lot of my old equipment is somewhat obsolete now, I do at least want my power amp back in service. Did this guy see me coming and hoping for quick buck, or is there a legitimate issue here that warrants such a "service" as he proposes. Thanks.
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post #2 of 6 Old 07-14-2013, 10:44 AM
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"reforming" of capacitor is a potentially issue.... not sure if it applies to amps. In the photo world, flash units are cycled a number of times before they should be used for "good shoot". Of course, this is more for "outright storage capacity" (ie. energy) and at lower voltages. I have had a problem with a stored reel to reel with capacitors but it was because of the type / quality that were susceptible to issues over time. I think that ultimately, most amps have fuses somewhere related to power draw which would likely kick in if a capacitor draws extra "juice" during initial start up. Further if a capacitor is "weak" for any reason, ultimately it will continue to draw more energy than is normal and will fail over a short time either "popping" or "bulging".
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post #3 of 6 Old 07-14-2013, 10:48 AM
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As a person that has been on the constant move and had to place all of my equipment in storage on several occasion I never ran into an issue of any of my audio gear having any problems.
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post #4 of 6 Old 07-14-2013, 11:35 AM
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Having it sitting in a box unused will only prolong the life of the capacitors which will age more quickly in the heat of a powered on amplifier.

Slowly raising the mains voltage will not and could not help in any way. Most devices will have power supplies with voltage regulators that prevent the rest of the device getting any power at unless it can supply the required voltage. Anything with a remote control won't even turn on its main power supply until the voltage supplied at the plug is at a normal level. Worse, doing something like this only risks damaging your equipment since they're not designed to be operated at less than their specified voltage ratings.

I wouldn't be suprised if the guy you're were talking to doesn't even have equipment to do this and would just leave your equipment sitting on the self for a couple of weeks.
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post #5 of 6 Old 07-14-2013, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. Yes, I was very skeptical that "modern" solid state equipment would even run normally at less than designed operating voltage. I spent some more time googling "variac" and "power amplifier" and found some discussion on using a variac to bring up an amplifier that has been sitting idle, but apparently this procedure is usually applied to tube amplifiers, not solid state mosfet amplifiers, like I own. I think I'd be just as concerned that I might hurt something leaving the amp sit connected to low voltage as I would just powering it up. I'm still trying to figure out whether this procedure is reasonable to do to a mosfet amplifier that has been sitting, but if I decide it is reasonable, I can see now that I'm buying a variac on ebay and doing it myself for half of what he wanted to do it to a single piece of equipment.
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post #6 of 6 Old 07-14-2013, 02:59 PM
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I never had a problem with stored electronics as long as they were not in an attic subjected to heat and humidity.
As for a variac it was used when most of us were running tube gear because if you fired it up from dead cold you would not get great sound for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tubes reached optimun running temp, SS is ready to go and within a minute or two
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