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Lights dimming to the music

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've just set up my home theater room with speakers, subs and built in amps. It sounds great, I'm planning on adding another large amp soon but already I am noticing the lights dimming to the beat. Is there a way to correct that with a power conditioner or some sort of large farad cap like you'd use in a car?
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by CleatusCat View Post

I've just set up my home theater room with speakers, subs and built in amps. It sounds great, I'm planning on adding another large amp soon but already I am noticing the lights dimming to the beat. Is there a way to correct that with a power conditioner or some sort of large farad cap like you'd use in a car?

Power conditioners are band aids.

Your existing circuit could be defective, or possibly you need one or more new circuits pulled.

What amps are you currently using?

I have some friends who have very large subs with 4 Behringer EP4000's driving either 2 ohm subwoofer voice coils who have a special 230 volt circuit for them.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Power conditioners are band aids.

Your existing circuit could be defective, or possibly you need one or more new circuits pulled.

What amps are you currently using?

I have some friends who have very large subs with 4 Behringer EP4000's driving either 2 ohm subwoofer voice coils who have a special 230 volt circuit for them.

It only dims on the when its at very loud levels. By amps I meant def tech speakers with built in amps. 2 3000tl, 2 2002 and 3000center along with pioneer receiver. Just had the electrical gone through before I bought the house. The only thing that was found was reverse polarity in a few outlets in the garage.
post #4 of 12
There may well be nothing wrong with your wiring. Sounds like you have incandescent lamps. The dimming is caused by voltage drop. Voltage drop is normal. Anytime you draw current through a wire there will be a voltage drop. The greater the current, the greater the drop. Unfortunately, even a small voltage drop is noticeable with incandescent lamps.

You can reduce the voltage drop by using larger wire, but you will still have a voltage drop. The best solution is to not have your gear on a circuit shared with lighting. It will minimize the voltage drop see by the lamps. Ultimately, how effective it will be in eliminating the dimming will depend on the size of the drop from the utility to your panel. Fluorescent lighting with electronic ballasts might be another approach.
Edited by Colm - 1/13/13 at 8:27pm
post #5 of 12
A common complaint when AC systems were first being retrofitted to homes that did not originally have them is that lights dimmed when the AC came on.

The issue is from sharing a wire near its capacity.

The answer is pulling new wire from the panel on a different "leg" of the main power to the house, or upgrading the service to the panel from the electric provider.

An electrician should be able to sort it out, and pull the new circuit for your HiFi stuff exclusively, but I would start by buying a Killawatt power meter and putting it in the mode of tracking min and max line voltage.
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by CleatusCat View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Power conditioners are band aids.

Your existing circuit could be defective, or possibly you need one or more new circuits pulled.

What amps are you currently using?

I have some friends who have very large subs with 4 Behringer EP4000's driving either 2 ohm subwoofer voice coils who have a special 230 volt circuit for them.

It only dims on the when its at very loud levels. By amps I meant def tech speakers with built in amps. 2 3000tl, 2 2002 and 3000center along with pioneer receiver. Just had the electrical gone through before I bought the house. The only thing that was found was reverse polarity in a few outlets in the garage.

Are the lights on dimmers?

Some dimmers can be sensitive to relatively small disturbances to the power caused by other loads.

Which Pioneer receiver?
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by CleatusCat View Post

I've just set up my home theater room with speakers, subs and built in amps. It sounds great, I'm planning on adding another large amp soon but already I am noticing the lights dimming to the beat. Is there a way to correct that with a power conditioner or some sort of large farad cap like you'd use in a car?

If you check the power consumption specs on your equipment (in watts..like a hair dryer), and add it all up, you'll see that you are perhaps overloading the circuits. Too many receptacles wired to a breaker. I had an electrician wire dedicated circuits to an area in my living room for my gear. It was very inexpensive. Your powered towers most likely consume about 700 watts each. A large power amp could consume upwards of 1400 watts of juice. Add subs and have everything cranked up, and you get what you are describing. Do you have a modern circuit breaker box. Have they been tripping?
Most equipment's power consumption specs are posted on the rear plate.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Espo77 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by CleatusCat View Post

I've just set up my home theater room with speakers, subs and built in amps. It sounds great, I'm planning on adding another large amp soon but already I am noticing the lights dimming to the beat. Is there a way to correct that with a power conditioner or some sort of large farad cap like you'd use in a car?

If you check the power consumption specs on your equipment (in watts..like a hair dryer), and add it all up, you'll see that you are perhaps overloading the circuits. Too many receptacles wired to a breaker. I had an electrician wire dedicated circuits to an area in my living room for my gear. It was very inexpensive. Your powered towers most likely consume about 700 watts each.

I don't think that the power amps in the AVR can come anywhere close to that.

While some subwoofers make some pretty expansive claims about power, I suspect that the vendors are taking advantage of the fact that FTC rules may not apply.

On balance, the now-discontinued BP3000 may be a good example of how "They don't make them like they did". Hiding an 18" sub with decent bass extension into the relatively tiny narrow box suggests a very inefficient system, so the power levels may escallate. If we take the specs at face value these may be the explanation for the observed problem. The OP should unplug them and see if the lights still flash. It is quite possible that putting them on their own circuit(s) may be the fix.
Quote:
A large power amp could consume upwards of 1400 watts of juice. Add subs and have everything cranked up, and you get what you are describing. Do you have a modern circuit breaker box. Have they been tripping?
Most equipment's power consumption specs are posted on the rear plate.

The nameplate numbers on AVRs and the like generally fall well short of the maximum that can be observed under worst case circumstances. The Underwriter's labs have a slightly complex way to come up with what goes on the nameplate. At least in theory an AVR can for a short time (long enough to dim the lights) exceed the nameplate numbers by quite a bit.

A more relevant way to monitor power use is to obtain something like a Kill-A-Watt and see what it says. Because of the digital display it still won't show short term peaks, but it will probably give numbers that are closer to reality.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882715001


Edited by arnyk - 1/15/13 at 5:42am
post #9 of 12
If you get a Kill-A-Watt you'll be surprised at how little average power your massive setup consumes. But, as Arne said, it won't show peaks and that's what's contributing to the voltage drop.

Also, to get noticeable dimming of incandescent bulbs doesn't really take that much. I think 5% voltage drop causes something on the order of 15% reduction in light output.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post

If you get a Kill-A-Watt you'll be surprised at how little average power your massive setup consumes. But, as Arne said, it won't show peaks and that's what's contributing to the voltage drop.

Point being that line voltage monitors capable of showing short-term changes cost serious money.

Back in the day, the old RCA True RMS meter had a very undamped pointer that even exaggerated short-term changes:



I see several on eBay for attractive prices.

The tool of choice would be a line voltage data logger but they tend to be up in the 3-4 figures.
Quote:
Also, to get noticeable dimming of incandescent bulbs doesn't really take that much. I think 5% voltage drop causes something on the order of 15% reduction in light output.

Maybe this is nature's way of suggesting to the OP that he should switch over to CFLs! ;-)
post #11 of 12
I think if the OP turns the breaker off that powers his gear, he will perhaps discover other receptacles, lights and or appliances that are running off of the same breaker. If he doesn't want to pay for a dedicated circuit, he might be able to isolate some things by plugging them in other receptacles.

Sometimes this problem is outside...before the circuit breaker box, and the local power company should check this for safety. If it checks out okay then he could have a loose wire at the box, which should be checked out by an electrician. If the box appears okay, including a loose breaker check, the electrician can go further into and throughout the home.

I hope the OP responds after turning off the subject breaker to see what other things are running along with it. Sometimes during the peak hot summer season, I get a slight and quick dimming of a couple lights as the heat pump kicks in. I always thought this was reasonably normal.
post #12 of 12
Play the game in reverse. Switch the lights to power efficient LED or Fluorescent bulbs. That way, they will leave more juice for your audio gear. It will heck of a lot cheaper than running new wiring.
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