Very confused about power protection for AV gear - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-06-2013, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Surge protectors, power conditioners, output wave forms, UPSs...unfortunately I do not have an electrical engineering degree and the magnitude of conflicting information I have been reading is making me very frustrated.

Things I want to have some protection on:
LCD TV (Vizio 65")
Active studio monitor pair (Adam A7x)
custom HTPC
cable modem
router

I live in an apartment complex in Atlanta and recently there have been quite a few storms and it seems like power stability is not the greatest. I have never lost anything due to a surge, but I have managed to lose a bunch of hard drives over the past few years and have had to do a few bios resets to my desktops after a power outage to get them to turn back on. Nerve racking to say the least! I am not sure if the hard drives are just bad luck, but I'm putting it out there that it seems unlikely to have to replace all of my drives but 1 within 4 years (I own 7 drives).

I am a PhD student so, naturally, when it rains, I work from home which means all of my gear is often in use during storms. I know...not the best idea, but power goes out in the lab too and I need to get work done.

Of course I have the standard $20 surge protectors that everything is plugged into, but I am wondering if there is anything else I can do to try to extend the life of my computers and protect my speakers and television.

What I think I understand:
I have read that it is a bad idea to plug amplifiers into a (cheap) surge protector as they output a square wave and often limit current. However, my reading has also lead me to believe that any low current drawing devices such as AV components or computers should be attached to a surge protector. I have also read that there is no benefit to a UPS for most AV equipment except computers and projection systems with bulb fans.

1) If I am understanding this correctly, I should just plug my active monitors into the wall sockets? I have tried both and cant find a noticeable audible difference (room is untreated, multipurpose, multiple flooring type...an audio nightmare) but I would like to set it up to give me the best lifespan.
2) Assuming I need a UPS for my HTPC, do I need to connect the television to it as well?

I have a workstation that needs a UPS as well..not just for protection but to save my time from redoing things after power loss. I dont have much to spend, but can probably scrape together $300 for everything (UPS (workstation), UPS (HTPC), + ???)

Any help in understanding or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-06-2013, 05:16 PM
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This topic will always create a lot of arguments smile.gif. Safest advice I can offer is to get a "whole house" protector that gets installed at the service entrance. If you are not allowed to have a dedicated unit installed there, you can call your power company and they usually have a device that goes into the meter. They are not as properly built as external units but are far better than your power strips. And they are installed where they need to protect you from external surges: at the service entrance where you have the best ground to "shunt" (short) them into some other path than what is inside your house. They cost about $300 in our region to have them installed so within your budget.

UPS should be for your PC and whatever needs a soft shut-down in case of power failure. So no, you don't need to hook up the TV to it.

Beyond that you don't need much else.

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post #3 of 11 Old 07-06-2013, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

This topic will always create a lot of arguments
Not really; there's the correct and effective way to do it, which you've outlined well, and there's everyone one else just recommending what they bought irrespective of it's efficacy.

Smoth: in addition to what Amir suggested, if you have powerboards already with some form of protection, you might as well use them too. They won't hurt.
We don't have the meter surge arrestors here (Australia, where I am a qualified electrician), so if that is not a possibility, consider a 2 pole unit in the sub switchboard in your apartment. One pole in A-E and one N-E. Get the largest rated and approved device you can and get it installed to the current NEC rules by an appropriate qualified person.

For the UPS, buy a known reputable brand such as Eaton. They aren't much more expensive. For UPS capacity, if it's mainly the PC, go to one of the PSU manufacturer sites and use the PSU calculator. Here is Coolermasters. This will be a worst case with everything running at max, but use it as it will give you a bit of capacity to spare. Add in your monitor(s) power consumption and anything else you need to run off the UPS, eg cable modem. Specs will be in the manuals or spec sheets. Total them up and choose the model closest to your needs. If different manufacturers give ratings in W and some in VA, they will be close enough in this application to be considered the same.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth View Post

Surge protectors, power conditioners, output wave forms, UPSs...unfortunately I do not have an electrical engineering degree and the magnitude of conflicting information I have been reading is making me very frustrated.

Things I want to have some protection on:
LCD TV (Vizio 65")
Active studio monitor pair (Adam A7x)
custom HTPC
cable modem
router

I live in an apartment complex in Atlanta and recently there have been quite a few storms and it seems like power stability is not the greatest. I have never lost anything due to a surge, but I have managed to lose a bunch of hard drives over the past few years and have had to do a few bios resets to my desktops after a power outage to get them to turn back on. Nerve racking to say the least! I am not sure if the hard drives are just bad luck, but I'm putting it out there that it seems unlikely to have to replace all of my drives but 1 within 4 years (I own 7 drives).

What are you worried about - power stability or power surges? Two different problems, two different fixes.

I don't see anything on your equipment list that is like a video projector and would necessarily object to having power summarily and arbitrarily yanked.

Lost some hard drives? In general that comes with having hard drives. IME SSDs are more reliable so if you are going spend money for hard drive stability, that seems like the best way to go.

BIOS resets are not IME a result of power outages but rather due to either dead CMOS batteries or software that reaches out and touches them.

Last summer we had uncountable power outages due to poor local infrastructure. What happened is that a local store became a pizzeria with large ovens that overtaxed the local power step-down infrastructure. All low voltage infrastructure was redone and the number of power transfomers went from 1 to 3. Pretty much end of problem. Throughout the whole siege of black out, half black out, and brown out no tech was harmed, not the DLP TV, not the A/V system, and not the 2 computers with a total of 6 1 TB drives among them.

I agree with Amir that if surges are an issue then whole-house protection is the way to go. That problem generally comes with a low population density and near lightening strikes. I have a friend who had that problem and eventually had a really near hit that creamed tons of tech, A/V, and regular appliances not to mention a few power strip surge protectors. He brought in a professional electrician who did the right thing and that about 10 years ago was that.
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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After talking with the property manager yesterday, it seems that power blips are pretty common. Unfortunately, he was not keen on installing a whole house surge suppression system citing the need for everything to be the same for the maintenance staff.

Taking that option off the table, I think I will purchase a UPS for my workstation and a smaller UPS for the HTPC and use the surge suppression outlets for the speakers and television.

Would I be causing damage to my speakers by feeding it a square wave out of the UPS?

Thanks for the help
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 12:59 PM
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Note that basic surge protectors do not output square waves. They still output a sinewave (or whatever is going into it). They are still not a good idea for large power amps because like you stated, they can limit peak current.

The "square wave problem" comes from low cost UPS units. However this is only an issue with linear power supplies like power maps and small audio gear. Most other gear, computers, TV's, CD/DVD/Bluray players, cable/satellite boxes, all have switchmode power supplies that are just fine with square power at 170 volts.

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post #7 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 04:23 PM
 
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What the ownership is doing, is using the excuse that they do not want to invest extra money in protecting their clients from problems that may occur. It is not that hard for their electricians to install in panel surge protection. The problems happen, when you have poor grounding at the entrance, where the meter pan is connected to the ground rod, or main & sub panels properly grounded, along with electrical systems maintained from having any corrosion on the bus bars, along with all screws in the panel kept tight, and outlets in good working order.

As long as you do not have any ground problems, I do not see a problem with you putting in surge strips, and on those items that you want to stay up for a bit when power goes out, on UPS systems. Just remember that the more you have plugged into the UPS, the less time you have to stay online.
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 05:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth View Post

After talking with the property manager yesterday, it seems that power blips are pretty common. Unfortunately, he was not keen on installing a whole house surge suppression system citing the need for everything to be the same for the maintenance staff.
I seriously doubt the meters are ever touched by the maintenance staff in the complex. I would be very surprised if they are NOT owned by the power supplier, eg Conn Edison (or whoever in your area) as they derive their income from them and would want to control them tightly.

Secondly, I already told you how to do it to protest your whole apartment from the sub board in your apartment. Adding one here will make zero difference to maintenance issues for the crew and if it did, they are morons that should be sacked.
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth View Post

I have read that it is a bad idea to plug amplifiers into a (cheap) surge protector as they output a square wave and often limit current.
A cheap MOV-based surge protective device will not significantly affect the wave form or limit current unless it is reacting to a surge. Perhaps you are thinking about a UPS.
Quote:
I have also read that there is no benefit to a UPS for most AV equipment except computers and projection systems with bulb fans.
Not even projection bulbs.
Quote:
1) If I am understanding this correctly, I should just plug my active monitors into the wall sockets
No, being active devices, they need surge protection. They need to be on the same surge protective device as the rest of the system, or all ports (not just AC) have to be protected by the surge protective device they are plugged into.
Quote:
2) Assuming I need a UPS for my HTPC, do I need to connect the television to it as well?
No, the purpose of a UPS is to keep a mission critical device running through an electrical disturbance. Unless you really do not want to miss a few minutes of a soap while you are studying, you don't need a UPS for the TV.
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I dont have much to spend, but can probably scrape together $300 for everything (UPS (workstation), UPS (HTPC), + ???)
You can get a standby UPS for that kind of money that will keep everything up until you have time to shut down gracefully. FWIW the disk drives shouldn't be damaged by the power loss, although you may lose data and need to clean up the file system if the system was writing at the time. The big reason for a UPS is to not lose any of your work.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

Note that basic surge protectors do not output square waves. They still output a sinewave (or whatever is going into it). They are still not a good idea for large power amps because like you stated, they can limit peak current.

Correction. I was thinking about power filters limiting current. Colm is correct, a surge protector does not limit normal operating current.

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post #11 of 11 Old 07-07-2013, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the information and clarification! I'll see if I can work on the whole house surge protector with the manager and in the meantime pick up a UPS for the PC and use the surge only outlets for monitors and TV.
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