Power Conditioning: Red Headed Stepchild

3d1Today’s blog post is an excerpt from my new book Home Theater for the Internet Age,  available on Amazon Kindle. The following is pulled from Chapter 3: Components.

In 2014, more people than ever own a home theater, regardless of the cost or sophistication. Whether it’s just a cable TV set-top box and game console attached to a small TV with two small speakers or a full complement of expensive components feeding their output to a 70-inch display and eight or 10 big surround sound units, we love our home theaters. And curse them when they don’t work or suffer a failure.

What most of us don’t do is properly protect our relatively delicate components. Enter power conditioners. They’re no mere power strip. Read on to learn how to protect all of your expensive home theater gear.

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Curt Robbins

Power Conditioning

The most neglected—as in not installed—component of home theater is a good power conditioner. The power delivered to the average home is relatively dirty, thus requiring this “conditioning.” Unlike surge protectors (power strips), power conditioners (sometimes called “line conditioners”) regulate the voltage of the power they receive. In short, these devices take dirty power and make it clean, removing spikes and noise, the elements that slowly kill electronic devices such as home theater equipment. Think of the purchase of a power conditioner as an insurance policy that helps prevent power-related problems, which typically cause small levels of damage that accumulate over time. Most consumers have no clue that long-term dirty power is the culprit behind many electronic malfunctions and failures.

apc_line-rA good example of an inexpensive power conditioner, and the model I use throughout both of my home theaters, is the APC Line-R. Available in both 600- and 1200-volt varieties, the higher-capacity model can be had for as little as $48 on Amazon.

If you have a high-end home theater and want an equally high-end power conditioner, check out Canadian Torus Power. Their top-shelf units, which incorporate high-quality Toroidal transformers, can’t be beat—and will set you back a couple of thousand dollars. But this is the Rolls Royce of power conditioning. If you want the best and have the coin, these units are the bomb.

It’s a good idea to use power conditioners on all of your expensive electronic equipment, including computers.

Protecting Wall-mounted TVs

If you have a wall-mounted TV that’s too far from your receiver to plug into the receiver’s power conditioner, there’s a good chance that space limitations will prevent you from installing a conditioner in the wall behind the panel. However, there is room for a basic surge suppressor. While not as good as a power conditioner, a surge suppressor will help prevent spikes and brown outs from damaging your beautiful TV. I personally use the $30 Rocketfish 4-outlet model on both of my TVs, which tucks safely and discretely behind wall-mounted panels. You’ll completely forget it’s even there—but it won’t forget to protect your expensive TV.

Curt Robbins is author of the following books from Amazon Kindle:

You can follow him on Twitter at @CurtRobbins, read his AV-related blog posts at rAVe Publications, and view his photos on Flickr.

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