Home theater protection for blackouts - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 01:10 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm currently in the process of acquiring equipment needed to set up the home theater and i've been doing some research on power conditioners, surge suppressors/protectors, UPS's, etc. We have an average of 2-4 blackouts per year in my area and in 1 particular instance, our desktop PC was killed (the motherboard stopped functioning.) The PC was pretty old and plugged directly into the wall, so i'm not sure if a typical $20 surge protector would of saved it.

Spending thousands of dollars on audio and video equipment, I want to make sure everything is protected. I've been looking into several options and not quite sure what exactly is sufficient (and what is unnecessary) as many people have recommended a variety of different solutions in the threads I have scoured. Would a "power conditioner" like this APC H15 or Belkin PF60 work or would a cheaper solution such as this Tripp Lite Surge Protector suffice? I'm not quite sure if surge suppressors aid against blackouts, but i've also ran across several recommendations for having the power company install a whole-house surge suppressor.

Also, would it be okay to plug in a powerful subwoofer (with a 2400 watt amp.) into one of these things?

I'd appreciate advice for a practical solution, preferably under $300.


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post #2 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 04:07 AM
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House or apartment? Own or rent?

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post #3 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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post #4 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 05:48 AM
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I use a battery backup unit for my stereo and also one for my computer.

I don't think any surge protector offers comparable protection, and it is just a matter of time before a lightning surge or other problem damages something or screws up the computer without one.

Plus, in my case, my TV is a Mitsubishi projection unit, and the battery backup is needed to keep the lamp cooling fan going when there is a power outage, or the lamp will be damaged.

The units I use are the APC Backup Pro 1500. It has enough capacity to keep things going for 10-20 minutes of power loss, which gives me plenty of time to do an orderly shutdown,

They are not real cheap, but I think they are well worth it to protect my computer and expensive audio gear. I think I paid around $200 each.

I don't plug my subwoofer or large power amplifier into it; too much current draw for backup to be practical there.
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post #5 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 06:07 AM
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Backup power unit is useful for something that needs to be shutdown gracefully. Those are PVR, computer and projector. Sometimes network media player too -if it has its own storage. For the rest of HT components surge protectors should be enough.
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post #6 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by loopaddiction View Post

House
Two simultaneous approaches are effective here. First look into what's called whole house surge protection. That deals with mitigating surges before they enter your home. Your local utility company just might be able to install one for a nominal monthly fee - say $10 - $15 a month. After all, while you've spent thousands on your HT equipment, it's not the only thing in your house with sensitive microprocessors in it. You've got garage door openers, your heating system, fridges, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, etc. If your utility company doesn't offer it, try calling several electricians and ask them to price what it would cost to buy and install such a system.

Secondly you would also want to install some point of use devices. If you actually need back up power also, then units by APC may fit the bill. Otherwise a wide variety of relatively inexpensive options are available.

Lastly, look at your homeowner's policy. It may already have provisions for damage caused by electrical surges. What you want is a provision (you may need to have your agent modify your existing one and possibly add a rider) for full replacement value. What that means is if your 5 year old receiver that you dropped $2K on dies from a surge, you won't get pro-rated value. Instead, you'll get $2K to get a brand new one.

Following the above is the most effective approach to take. Look at it as wearing 2 bullet proof vests along with a get out of jail card.

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post #7 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

Two simultaneous approaches are effective here. First look into what's called whole house surge protection. That deals with mitigating surges before they enter your home. Your local utility company just might be able to install one for a nominal monthly fee - say $10 - $15 a month. After all, while you've spent thousands on your HT equipment, it's not the only thing in your house with sensitive microprocessors in it. You've got garage door openers, your heating system, fridges, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, etc. If your utility company doesn't offer it, try calling several electricians and ask them to price what it would cost to buy and install such a system.
Secondly you would also want to install some point of use devices. If you actually need back up power also, then units by APC may fit the bill. Otherwise a wide variety of relatively inexpensive options are available.
Lastly, look at your homeowner's policy. It may already have provisions for damage caused by electrical surges. What you want is a provision (you may need to have your agent modify your existing one and possibly add a rider) for full replacement value. What that means is if your 5 year old receiver that you dropped $2K on dies from a surge, you won't get pro-rated value. Instead, you'll get $2K to get a brand new one.
Following the above is the most effective approach to take. Look at it as wearing 2 bullet proof vests along with a get out of jail card.

Agree with everything said above. That is the way I do it in lightning laden Florida. Caveat , I use, for my largest den system that includes a home computer, the Ultra 1200 watt UPS. It is heavy, uses sealed lead acid bateries and is very robust. No problems with this set up. Good luck.

Cheers
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post #8 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai View Post

Two simultaneous approaches are effective here. First look into what's called whole house surge protection. That deals with mitigating surges before they enter your home. Your local utility company just might be able to install one for a nominal monthly fee - say $10 - $15 a month. After all, while you've spent thousands on your HT equipment, it's not the only thing in your house with sensitive microprocessors in it. You've got garage door openers, your heating system, fridges, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, etc. If your utility company doesn't offer it, try calling several electricians and ask them to price what it would cost to buy and install such a system.
Secondly you would also want to install some point of use devices. If you actually need back up power also, then units by APC may fit the bill. Otherwise a wide variety of relatively inexpensive options are available.
Lastly, look at your homeowner's policy. It may already have provisions for damage caused by electrical surges. What you want is a provision (you may need to have your agent modify your existing one and possibly add a rider) for full replacement value. What that means is if your 5 year old receiver that you dropped $2K on dies from a surge, you won't get pro-rated value. Instead, you'll get $2K to get a brand new one.
Following the above is the most effective approach to take. Look at it as wearing 2 bullet proof vests along with a get out of jail card.

Thanks for the sound advice, I think i'm fine without a battery backup (the ones i've found also seem to be a little pricey.) I will call the power company soon to ask about whole house surge protection. Once I can get this implemented, by "point of use" devices, do you mean something like this Tripp Lite?


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post #9 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 02:53 PM
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Sure. One thing I did a long time ago was to also buy some single use devices. Home dDepot happened to have a wheelbarrow full of Intermatics for a buck each so I filled a bag with them. Those I put like on the microwave, washing machine, dishwasher, etc. Nothing special but some digging around might find something similar. In, general, the more joules the better because they tend to last longer bu I wouldn't obsess over a coupe of hundred joules difference.

Give some thought though to your home theater. Maybe things like 12V triggers or sequenced turn ons is important. But the first order of business is to stop or slow down the surge before it enters the house. Make sense?

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post #10 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Very much so, i'll look into triggers as well, appreciate all the info. smile.gif


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post #11 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 03:22 PM
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A note on battery backups - be sure to change the batteries every couple years. I've owned a couple battery backups, and I usually find out the battery has gone bad after it fails to keep my computer turned on during a blackout. Not even for a second. Replacing the battery fixes the problem, but ideally one would replace the battery BEFORE it goes bad...

The trick is remembering to replace it.

Still confused? Read "
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post #12 of 79 Old 06-18-2012, 03:33 PM
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Very much so, i'll look into triggers as well, appreciate all the info. smile.gif
We'll deal with your problems/needs one at a time which will keep it simpler and less confusing.

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post #13 of 79 Old 06-19-2012, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loopaddiction View Post

Thanks for the sound advice, I think i'm fine without a battery backup (the ones i've found also seem to be a little pricey.) I will call the power company soon to ask about whole house surge protection. Once I can get this implemented, by "point of use" devices, do you mean something like this Tripp Lite?

I'd also call an electrician and ask about the cost of purchasing and installing the whole house surge protection. Then you can decide if it's worth paying the one time cost or better for your situation to pay the monthly fee from the electric company.

The purchase and installation typically costs $200 - $300.
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post #14 of 79 Old 06-20-2012, 12:31 AM
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For those that have used the home owners insurance route. How many times can you claim lighting strikes before a typical insurance company will push back, raise rates, etc.

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post #15 of 79 Old 06-20-2012, 06:30 AM
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For those that have used the home owners insurance route. How many times can you claim lighting strikes before a typical insurance company will push back, raise rates, etc.


Unless you have a massive amount of money lost by a lightening strike then it is not worth it to claim on your home owners insurance. To answer your question, 99% of home owners insurance companies, (ie Allstate, State Farm, Farmers, Nationwide, ect...) will raise your rates everytime you have a claim. Most will cancel your policy after 2 (sometimes 3) claims. If that happens, good luck getting another insurance company to insure your home. If you file one claim, your policy might go up 15% to 20%, if you file 2 claims, you can expect a 30%+ rate hike. If you get canceled due to multiple claims, then you will most likely be looking at paying 80%+ more on a policy through a "high risk" company.
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post #16 of 79 Old 06-20-2012, 06:42 AM
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^^^

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my build thread - updated 8-20-12 - new seating installed and projector isolation solution

 


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post #17 of 79 Old 06-20-2012, 12:42 PM
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Most 'blackouts' are simply the voltage being removed, the same as if you turned off the mains switch in your breaker panel. Projectors are usually the only items that need UPS backup to allow the bulbs to cool correctly. Other devices connected to an outlet should be fine and no damage occur.

Surges from external events such as lightning strikes (rare unless you are in an area prone to them) or motor vehicle accidents such as a car striking a pole and a HV conductor connecting with an LV conductor (also rare for any given house) would best be served with a professionally installed whole house unit in the breaker panel.

With one of these installed and noted on your policy, should any damage occur insurance companies would be less likely to screw you over claims and rates than without.

Secondary powerboards can be installed for additional peace of mind if you like, especially if they provide additional features to justify cost such as staged outlets.
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post #18 of 79 Old 06-20-2012, 07:19 PM
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...'blackouts' are...the same as if you turned off the mains switch in your breaker panel.
Are they truly? In one case you are disconnecting the circuit from the grid that is still energized. In the other you are removing the voltage from the grid while the device is still connected, and still vulnerable to all the nastiness that can happen as the energy in the system is dumped. IIRC I read somewhere that the onset of blackouts can have major surges associated with them because of that. But I don't remember where. Any power quality engineers out there?
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Projectors are usually the only items that need UPS backup to allow the bulbs to cool correctly.
Highly over-hyped where a fixed projector is concerned IMHO. This has been discussed before if anyone wants to track own the threads.
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post #19 of 79 Old 06-20-2012, 07:25 PM
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...HV conductor connecting with an LV conductor (also rare for any given house)....
Does happen, though, and not just because of vehicle collisions. The crossarm supporting the conductors of a major HV transmission line failed a few miles from me. People for miles around had surge damage.

Don't forget utility switching transients. They happen throughout the day as generation and major loads are switched.
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post #20 of 79 Old 06-20-2012, 07:52 PM
 
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There are also the whole house, or whole panel battery backup solutions. That way, you can allow takeover until a genset powers up, or allow the equipment to be gracefully powered down. These systems are a lot more robust, but are better than the consumer grade garbage solutions that you find on majority of the home systems out there, whether they are a/v equipment or computer.

The pricing can range anywhere from $800 to over $3200, depending on the system and how much you want to have on the battery system.
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post #21 of 79 Old 06-21-2012, 12:56 AM
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Are they truly? In one case you are disconnecting the circuit from the grid that is still energized. In the other you are removing the voltage from the grid while the device is still connected, and still vulnerable to all the nastiness that can happen as the energy in the system is dumped.
Yes, they are the same. A breaker opening in a substation and de-energising a feeder, whether a deliberate switch or due to a protection operation looks exactly the same to the equipment in your house connected to the mains, as if you turned of the main switch in the breaker or turned off every piece of equipment in your system at once. No big deal.

What 'nastiness' in the system?
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IIRC I read somewhere that the onset of blackouts can have major surges associated with them because of that. But I don't remember where.
It depends on the cause of the blackout and how far you are from it - the impedance of the line will damp a lot of the transient effect depending on distance. A whole house surge arrstor will greatly limit what gets past the breaker board, unless you are very close or it is very HV.
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Any power quality engineers out there?
It's one aspect of what I do.
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Highly over-hyped where a fixed projector is concerned IMHO. This has been discussed before if anyone wants to track own the threads.
Pragmatic for me - I can get a UPS for my projector for less than a single bulb replacement, so an outage will not stop me using the system once power is restored, not the week or two wait for a replacement.
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post #22 of 79 Old 06-21-2012, 01:09 AM
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Does happen, though, and not just because of vehicle collisions. The crossarm supporting the conductors of a major HV transmission line failed a few miles from me. People for miles around had surge damage.
That's just poor maintenance, and would not happen here. It also depends upon what voltage the crossarm was carrying. Most >33kV is routed away from distribution HV, or at least should be. However, if you expect some powerbaord to absorb a HV/LV intermix and protect your gear, you're dreaming.

In several years in this game, I've seen one store damaged by an HV/LV intermix. It happened one bay from the store and to the best of my knowledge, no other customers reported issues.
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Don't forget utility switching transients. They happen throughout the day as generation and major loads are switched.
Much overrated in my experience, at least where utility maintenance and operation is good. Loads being switched in cause sags, not spikes, and large loads, such as motors should be slowed before de-energising. If not, it's the fault of the utility for not enforcing it. Most large customers here have their own direct HV feeds from zone subs and any transients will be spread across the other loads across the bar, and this also gives max line length and therefore impedance between the source of the spike and customers on other feeders.
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post #23 of 79 Old 06-21-2012, 05:31 AM
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Pragmatic for me - I can get a UPS for my projector for less than a single bulb replacement, so an outage will not stop me using the system once power is restored, not the week or two wait for a replacement.

As a rule, video projectors can tolerate having power pulled while they are fully warmed up, many, many times without damage. Not pretty, but not instant death.

I've never see a projector damaged by a one time occurrence, or even a reasonable number of times.
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post #24 of 79 Old 06-21-2012, 05:28 PM
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Since I get a new bulb every 2 Years, and have the last bulb on hand, that is my insurance policy smile.gif
Seriously, most people with pjs will do same and have a spare bulb on hand.

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post #25 of 79 Old 06-21-2012, 07:37 PM
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...at least where utility maintenance and operation is good.
Sounds like you have it good in Oz. Unfortunately, parts of the USA with aging infrastructure don't have it nearly as good when it comes to power.
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post #26 of 79 Old 06-22-2012, 05:35 AM
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Regarding projectors, years ago when I bought my InFocus 4805, there was a lot of discussion on how to shut down the pj. Finally, the design engineer from InFocus chimed in to say they best way was to simply switch off the projector, no bulb cooldown routine or anything. I have followed that advice and now years later, with approximately 5000 hours on the original bulb, it still is looking good.

That being said, my area is prone to brown-outs where the voltage fluctuates but power isn't completely lost. I have utilized APC UPS' on both my computers and pj/home theater and have not had any problems. I think these brownouts are more harmful than the actual blackouts.
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post #27 of 79 Old 06-22-2012, 05:57 AM
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A note on battery backups - be sure to change the batteries every couple years. I've owned a couple battery backups, and I usually find out the battery has gone bad after it fails to keep my computer turned on during a blackout. Not even for a second. Replacing the battery fixes the problem, but ideally one would replace the battery BEFORE it goes bad...
The trick is remembering to replace it.

That's good advice. I have several battery backups around the house and when I change the batteries, I place a sticker on the UPS with the date and year. I change the batteries every 3 or 4 years. The nationwide chain "Batteries Plus" usually have all the batteries I need. They usually run around $30 a piece. Not cheap but better than buying an entirely new UPS.

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post #28 of 79 Old 06-22-2012, 12:07 PM
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I thought that I had read in previous posts on this forum that there is an issue with many projectors and battery backups. That most UPS models do not put out a true sine wave signal, and this will shorten bulb life. So unless you are spending on a more pricey model, you can actually do more harm than good. Also, there is no problem with the projector going off suddenly without the fan running. The issue is what happens when the power comes back on. If the power is out for -say- 20 seconds, and then comes back on, you don't want to turn the projector on right away. That's what damages the bulb - turning it back on while it is still hot. My projector is plugged into a ceiling outlet, which is run via standard 12 gauge romex to an inlet in the equipment room, which is in turn plugged into a Belkin power conditioner. Only my HTPC, which is also my DVR is plugged into the UPS.
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post #29 of 79 Old 06-22-2012, 12:20 PM
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That most UPS models do not put out a true sine wave signal, and this will shorten bulb life

The incoming AC doesn't feed the bulb directly. The bulbs are short arc lamps, most operate on DC.

Also, the first thing the incoming AC sees is a switched mode power supply....these can handle stepped sine waves and almost anything else you throw at it.
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If the power is out for -say- 20 seconds, and then comes back on, you don't want to turn the projector on right away. That's what damages the bulb - turning it back on while it is still hot.

It's unlikely that the projector will power up by itself, and if the bulb is designed for hot restrike, it doesn't matter anyway.
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post #30 of 79 Old 06-22-2012, 03:17 PM
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I don't put a lot of faith in devices that claim to deliver "clean" power. One more thing to look for in a UPS is automatic voltage regulation. When I had my Mits DLP, it was connected to an inexpensive Cyberpower UPS with AVR. I still connect anything with a hard drive to this UPS. 1 DVR, 1 HTPC, and 2 Western Digital WDTV live hubs and my Sharp lc70le640u are all connected. The power in parts of SW Pa is notorious for occasional quick outages, the kind where your power goes off for a second then comes back on. That type of quick on/off cycle can kill a DLP based display because the fan does not have time to cool down the lamp properly during the shut down process - the UPS kept the power going to all the devices without a hitch.


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