Should I Get a Surge Protector, Power Conditioner, or UPS? Ask the Editors - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 06-04-2018, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Should I Get a Surge Protector, Power Conditioner, or UPS? Ask the Editors

Q: I'm upgrading my AV system for the first time in 10 years, and I want to do it right. I like the aesthetics of the power conditioners I've seen, but they all cost a good deal more than a quality surge protector. I understand (first-hand) the importance of surge protection, but I'm not so clear on the value of power conditioning or how to tell if it is needed.

When does a power conditioner add value over a good surge protector? Does a battery back-up UPS also function as a power conditioner? Does a good power conditioner need to be replaced any more (or less) frequently than a quality surge protector or UPS? 

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post #2 of 21 Old 06-04-2018, 04:03 PM
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This has always been of high interest to me since I've lost equipment before due to power outages and alike. If you guys could do a recommendation article that would be tremendous!!!!

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post #3 of 21 Old 06-04-2018, 05:25 PM
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Another item of note is that not all UPSes are equal. Cheaper ones will output a "modified sinewave" which really looks like a square wave. Better ones will output an actual sinewave.

Here's a review I did of an ups I use for my home theater. Suprisingly, it is able to power my entire home theater, even during an intense scene from Interstallar.

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post #4 of 21 Old 06-04-2018, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danlw2 View Post
Another item of note is that not all UPSes are equal. Cheaper ones will output a "modified sinewave" which really looks like a square wave. Better ones will output an actual sinewave.

Here's a review I did of an ups I use for my home theater. Suprisingly, it is able to power my entire home theater, even during an intense scene from Interstallar.

https://youtu.be/KysBEnZUcaw
That’s something I’ve wondered about UPS units. I figured they’d have plenty of juice for things like TVs and projectors, but I wondered if they’d be able to deliver enough current quickly enough to keep high power draw components like amplifiers and subwoofers fed to their maximum potential. Are there home-theater oriented UPS units that can output 20+ amps as quickly as a wall outlet and keep it going for a bit?

As far as surge suppressors go, I recommend going with non-sacrificial units. Furman, Brickwall, Zerosurge, SurgeX, etc make units that theoretically wouldn’t ever need to be replaced and won’t lose their ability to prevent a surge.

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post #5 of 21 Old 06-04-2018, 06:48 PM
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Last year I suspected that I was getting brown outs so I installed the monitoring software for my computer UPS, it logged 2 brownouts with voltage at 94 and 70. I refurbished some UPSs I had setting around from some jobs I worked and put them on my theater system. The power in my neighborhood used to be great, very stable at 120. Now it's typically 115 to 110 (still fine) with occasional dips below 100 (not so fine). I've also experienced a number of quick power outages lasting less then 10 seconds.

In general I wouldn't suggest a UPS for Home Theater use. They take extra power to keep the batteries charged, they need maintenance, if unused the batteries still need recharged each month or they'll go bad. But if you are experiencing symptoms like me they it would be good to use a UPS.

I suspect that my neighborhood's wiring is just getting old, I've noticed that neighbors have had their yards dug up and their power cables replaced. Also the entire neighborhood got it's main power replaced.

Cheers,

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post #6 of 21 Old 06-04-2018, 08:36 PM
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I only have my projector on a UPS to cool the bulb down, If you buy your UPS at a store that has a lifetime return policy, if the battery goes bad, you return it and get the newest model off the shelf, I'm on my third.
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-05-2018, 02:41 AM
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The following is my educated opinion so take it with a grain of salt. Some background as I have a degree in Electrical Engineering, have been a Field Service Engineer for 40+ years and have serviced many customers with power issues. First surge suppressors offer a small level of protection and generally aren't a necessity in countries with good power but are cheap enough to offer some level of projection. Power conditioners are pure smoke and mirrors and are generally useless accept possibly the management of switching and power monitoring. UPS are good for backup power but are a hassle to maintain as the batteries deteriorate too fast and will cause more issues than they solve. They can start to have issues in as little as 1 year old and rarely last longer then 3 years so upkeep can get expensive. As far as near lightning strikes your only protection is a good insurance policy. All damage from lightning in every case I worked on were to the low voltage side of equipment like modems, phones, faxes, routers, alarm system, and switches. You would need to physically disconnect all cables from equipment of course impractical to protect it from static discharge. Only fiber optic cables are safe as they don't conduct electricity. I never had any damage to the AC power supplies.

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post #8 of 21 Old 06-05-2018, 08:03 AM
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A good UPS has replaceable batteries, so you can swap them out, and then the fun part is disposing of the old batteries, but that's an issue with any battery. Luckily around here, we have a waste collection facility that sorts and disposes of all sorts of stuff that's hard to get rid of. A UPS is great for other momentary outages to avoid rebooting everything, or for the gap time between a power outage and when an automatic transfer switch kicks in. Eventually, both UPSes and generators may become obsolete as the Tesla Powerwall and similar products combined with solar panels effectively create a whole-house UPS that can disconnect from and reconnect to the gird seamlessly.
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-05-2018, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
I only have my projector on a UPS to cool the bulb down, If you buy your UPS at a store that has a lifetime return policy, if the battery goes bad, you return it and get the newest model off the shelf, I'm on my third.
A bit off topic, but I do this with robot vacuums from Best Buy. They offer a (3 year I think?) Geek Squad warranty on Roombas and Neato bot vacs, but I cant seem to make the units last more than a couple years without catastrophic failure. So far Best Buy has completely replaced three of them, with me getting the newer better model each time.

I'm not running these things harder than anyone else would, so I'd imagine there are a lot of other people doing the same thing. At some point, they'll wizen up to them only lasting a couple years and stop offering such protection. Until then, I have a shiny new robot.

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post #10 of 21 Old 06-06-2018, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by dnoonie View Post
Last year I suspected that I was getting brown outs so I installed the monitoring software for my computer UPS...
Thank you, Scott. As noted by others a review/recommendation/best practices article would certainly be welcomed.

@dnoonie ... What did you use for your power monitoring? I recently moved into a neighborhood built out in the 1950s and can't speak to the stability or quality of the power here yet so setting a baseline with some monitoring would be useful. We have had a handful of power outages in the last 12 months and while most were storm related on 2 or 3 other occasions power was interrupted long enough to reset the clocks on my stove & microwave.

As a side note don't have a PJ and don't have plans for one so UPS isn't such a critical thing. That said, it would be nice to keep the FIOS head unit, router & access point running when the power does go out.

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post #11 of 21 Old 06-06-2018, 03:58 PM
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@dnoonie ... What did you use for your power monitoring?.
I used what was built into my UPS, a Tripp Lite SMART2200VS Smart Pro (good but I'm not sure I'd buy it again) and it's software Trip Lite PowerAlert. As far as standalone units, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRLH24...v_ov_lig_dp_it, is the most reasonably priced I've been able to find. For that price you can get a small UPS that has the same monitoring capability.

This little UPS for instance, https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...82E16842111015, Tripp Lite SMART500RT1U Smart Pro (nice UPS that I'd buy again) The "Pro" units have more capability for logging and monitoring than the ones designed for home use, this UPS is attractive for home theater use because it has no fan, although it doesn't provide a lot of backup power either, it would likely work great for your FIOS head unit, router & access point .

My house was built in 1967. I've talked to the folks replacing the power in the neighborhood and they've told me it wasn't originally installed to code. I've had the power to my house repaired and the person doing the repair said that the run from the street was not installed to code. This is likely the reason I'm having problems...I'm not sure how long underground power is supposed to last but 50 years may very well be standard end of life for technology of that time.

Cheers,

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Last edited by dnoonie; 06-06-2018 at 04:56 PM.
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post #12 of 21 Old 06-06-2018, 04:35 PM
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That’s something I’ve wondered about UPS units. I figured they’d have plenty of juice for things like TVs and projectors, but I wondered if they’d be able to deliver enough current quickly enough to keep high power draw components like amplifiers and subwoofers fed to their maximum potential. Are there home-theater oriented UPS units that can output 20+ amps as quickly as a wall outlet and keep it going for a bit?

As far as surge suppressors go, I recommend going with non-sacrificial units. Furman, Brickwall, Zerosurge, SurgeX, etc make units that theoretically wouldn’t ever need to be replaced and won’t lose their ability to prevent a surge.
I break up my home theater. I have a UPS dedicated to,the AVR and the other is dedicated to everything else except the subs. I put each sub (PSA V1800J on a dedicated Tripp lite line voltage regulator.

I would not use a UPS with any high powered sub as the large varying demands can cause the UPS to fail prematurely. Most UPSes are not designed for the loads to vary dramatically on a frequent basis.

As for stepped wave vs. sine wave is don’t get hung up in that since people underestimate how power supplies in consumer electronics are designed to deal with imperfections and use a constant stepped wave is not good, but for a few minutes it is not going to hurt anything. The purpose of the UPS for me is to protect from momentary power loss and in more sustained loss of power to give me enough time to power every down clean.

To me I think people get over hung up in power conditioning and to me this is the same as the Monster Cable vs. zip cord debate. Or the specialty power cord va. What comes with the gear.

I have decent power at my home panel, I have a whole house surge protector on the panel and then have 4 clean 20 amp dedicated circuits to my home theater, one for each sub and 2 additional.

I can get th idea of some conditioning and such if you have known bad power, but a 1200-2400VA line conditioner can be had for well under $200 “home theater” branded power conditioners that run far more expensive. Also a CyberPower 1500A (yes stepped wave) with built in line voltage regulation runs yeyally around $150.

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post #13 of 21 Old 06-06-2018, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rekbones View Post
The following is my educated opinion so take it with a grain of salt. Some background as I have a degree in Electrical Engineering, have been a Field Service Engineer for 40+ years and have serviced many customers with power issues. First surge suppressors offer a small level of protection and generally aren't a necessity in countries with good power but are cheap enough to offer some level of projection. Power conditioners are pure smoke and mirrors and are generally useless accept possibly the management of switching and power monitoring. UPS are good for backup power but are a hassle to maintain as the batteries deteriorate too fast and will cause more issues than they solve. They can start to have issues in as little as 1 year old and rarely last longer then 3 years so upkeep can get expensive. As far as near lightning strikes your only protection is a good insurance policy. All damage from lightning in every case I worked on were to the low voltage side of equipment like modems, phones, faxes, routers, alarm system, and switches. You would need to physically disconnect all cables from equipment of course impractical to protect it from static discharge. Only fiber optic cables are safe as they don't conduct electricity. I never had any damage to the AC power supplies.
I don’t buy that UPSes failin 3 years. Yes the batteries last about 3-4 years and I have 8 UPSes throughout my home and 7 are 5+ years old and had their batteries replaced in the last year, the last one is a new addition. I have had great success with CyberPower UPSes. Before that I had APC and I find their consumer UPSes to be hit and miss.

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post #14 of 21 Old 06-06-2018, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dnoonie View Post
I used what was built into my UPS, a Tripp Lite SMART2200VS Smart Pro (good but I'm not sure I'd buy it again) and it's software Trip Lite PowerAlert. As far as standalone units, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AYRLH24...v_ov_lig_dp_it, is the most reasonably priced I've been able to find. For that price you can get a small UPS that has the same monitoring capability.

This little UPS for instance, https://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...82E16842111015, Tripp Lite SMART500RT1U Smart Pro (nice UPS that I'd buy again) The "Pro" units have more capability for logging and monitoring than the ones designed for home use, this UPS is attractive for home theater use because it has no fan, although it doesn't provide a lot of backup power either.

My house was built in 1967. I've talked to the folks replacing the power in the neighborhood and they've told me it wasn't originally installed to code. I've had the power to my house repaired and the person doing the repair said that the run from the street was not installed to code. This is likely the reason I'm having problems...I'm not sure how long underground power is supposed to last but 50 years may very well be standard end of life for technology of that time.

Cheers,
I feel your pain. When I moved into my home we had power glitches all the time even with days of perfect weather then they replaced all the underground wiring in the subdivision and to the houses and wow been perfect for over 15 years now. Seems the original installs,were not done right and and were causing issues. Ironically when they were replacing the wires at my home the sliced through and shorted the wire and took out over $1500 in gear that the power company wrote me a check for, everythat damages was as others have stated on the low voltage side or the power transformers themselves.

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post #15 of 21 Old 06-06-2018, 05:16 PM
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I use a UPS - but not for my HT. I actually use it for my CPAP device. I have, unfortunately, been woken up during a power outage gasping into a mask in terror. Ever since I got the UPS, it has at least provided the much-needed air to breathe!

come

For my HT and computer systems, I use APC surge protectors: https://www.amazon.ca/APC-P11VT3-11-...PC+SurgeArrest. They have 11 outlets - 6 of which allow room for wall warts - and come with both a warranty and insurance policy. If you take the time to fill out and submit the paperwork, you may be covered for more than your home insurance policy.
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post #16 of 21 Old 06-06-2018, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by kluken View Post
I don’t buy that UPSes failin 3 years. Yes the batteries last about 3-4 years and I have 8 UPSes throughout my home and 7 are 5+ years old and had their batteries replaced in the last year, the last one is a new addition. I have had great success with CyberPower UPSes. Before that I had APC and I find their consumer UPSes to be hit and miss.
Yes, most of the UPSs I've owned or maintained have had their batteries last 5+ years. A few have not, I suspect it's because they sat on the shelf too long without being recharged prior to sale. It's best to buy a UPS and replacement batteries from a seller with lots of turnover. And better not to have to mess with it at all.

Cheers,

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post #17 of 21 Old 06-07-2018, 01:53 PM
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I have UPSs on all my systems. There's nothing like having your equipment running, when all of a sudden you get those sudden 3 to 10 second power shut downs. Equipment being hot from use, the out going power, then meets the incoming power, and all of a sudden you get a bunch of popped capacitors.
When you're using $s worth of electrical equipment, a $100 + is cheap insurance.
I oft times wonder that those with panel failures, wouldn't have had them if they'd been using protective UPSs. (Note: and the equipment plugged into the battery side, NOT the surge side!)

Re power conditioners - have had my 3 Monster units for years - picked up up either on Black Friday, or Boxing Day 75% off specials. I have NOT had any equipment failures due to electrical issues over the years. Some of my panels are now going on 10 years old - LG 55LHXs.

Note: due to watching TV in the dark, I have had wife come in and ask if I knew the power was off. No, all the equipment was running on the UPS battery. Now, when told, I shut down the equipment. (Unless we're getting close to the ending of what I'm watching. Then I hope the UPS will hold out long enough.)

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post #18 of 21 Old 02-15-2020, 04:25 AM
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Just to update my local problem...

I called the power company about my brownouts and they installed a different meter so they could monitor the power in detail, that was 7 months ago. I'm still experiencing brown outs and they haven't called me back.

It's been about 3 years since I put new batteries in my UPSs and they are still running good (I pulled the power from the wall and let them run under load for 5 minutes or so)...although I'm sure that they won't run as long as when the batteries were new for my purposes (power conditioning during brown outs and short outages) they still work fine.

It's still a nuisance that I'm having brown outs and I should NOT have to run power conditioners. On the plus side I've not experienced a long outage in about 6 years.
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post #19 of 21 Old 05-13-2020, 03:01 PM
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Not nearly as experienced or have the awesome equipment as most of you. However, we recently got some storms and experienced some rapid power failures. The cheap surge protectors didn't do much good. It wiped out some appliances and various electronics. Some stuff still works but does weird stuff now.

Anyhow, working with my insurance company to replace a bunch of stuff.

One of the things on my list is a better surge protector or a UPS unit. I *think* I'd like something that also monitors the current power levels and regulates it.

We just recently moved here but it seems if you it even gets cloudy then the power will flicker on/off at some point. Usually it happens quickly, although there have been a few instances where there was a 4-8 hour period with no power.

Here is what I think I want:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...KIKX0DER&psc=1

I'm still chasing down power consumption of individual components, but here's what I've gathered so far:

1. 80" Sharp LEDTV, LC-80C6500U (will be replaced, undecided on what) = 111 watts
2. Yamaha Aventage RX-A780 7.2 AVR (think this will be future replacement piece) = 400 watts
3. XBox One X = varies, but max is 180 watts
4. Onkyo Powered Sub = 163 watts
5. Roku4 = 10 watts
6. Google Chromecast = still confirming, but assume about 10 watts like the Roku4
7. Cable Modem/Router = still confirming, but assume 150 watts is safe
8. Cox Contour Receiver = still confirming, but assume 150 watts is safe

Total = 1,174 watts

I have a few other misc items plugged up as well. Things like an IR extender and a couple of charging units for XB1 controllers.

Even with the uncertainty in the above data, I feel the 1,500 watt unit will be sufficient unless I am overlooking something. On the battery backup side I am thinking I want my TV, XB1, AVR, cable modem/router & cable DVR box on the battery + surge side of things. The other stuff I'd just have on surge protection only.

Question: Running the powered sub through as SURGE ONLY, will it have any issues? Or do I need to plug in separately from the UPS altogether rather powered + surge or just surge only?
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post #20 of 21 Old 05-20-2020, 06:12 AM
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That's the exact UPS I have for my projector and I really like it. I need to add another one for our router.


I haven't done it yet, but I'm starting to think that whole house surge protection is the way to go. It's not that expensive either, though you should probably have an electrician install it. I'd look into whole house options as I think it would be easier and cheaper than adding surge protection to everything in the house. We've been hit a couple of times - once where it absolutely fried my Panamax surge protector on my HT system at the time, it also fried our washing machine - which you normally wouldn't put on a surge protector, the next time it fried the power blocks to my son's X-Box and Wii U and a couple of TV's. They were all hooked up to inexpensive surge protectors. The last time, it oddly enough fried every HDMI port hooked up at the time on every TV, AVR, Blu-Ray player, etc in the house. That made some equipment useless, others I just abandoned that HDMI port and use another one.

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post #21 of 21 Old 05-28-2020, 06:00 AM
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Looking for some input. I already have a good UPS that all the main equipment is plugged into (except for subwoofers) even though its programmed to dump everything but the projector should the power go out. As far as i know it doesn't have any surge protection, or power conditioning capabilities but i could be wrong about that. Id like to add both to the system. I figure i can get something small and plug the UPS into it. Furman has their 215a model, which seems like it fits the bill but it says its 10amps, which im not too sure if thats in issue since its a dedicated 15 amp circuit. So if someone has some advice on the best way to go. Obviously the most important thing is protecting the gear so if just surge protection is the best option then im fine with that but i want to make sure that im not doing anyhing wrong by plugging the UPS into a surge protector with everything plugged into the UPS directly.

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