Surge protection

July 21, 2005

lightningAlright I’ll try not to make this some long boring spiel about how important surge protection is, but I’m sitting here in the middle of my “collection” of A/V gear and it dawned on me, 90% of this stuff hasn’t had a warranty since Bush Senior was in office, what would I do if lightning took out a few pieces? This might sound like an odd thing to be sitting around thinking about in the middle of the afternoon, but if you lived in the land of 10 thunderstorms a month (Georgia) it might cross your mind as well.

To be honest with you I’ve never been a big fan of surge protectors, partly due to really good luck (knock on wood) and partly due to the fact that most of them are junk and choke amperage out of the line often times with the picture or sound getting choked along with it. But there are a few pieces of gear I’d really hate to lose, so I’ll likely pick up a few surge protectors soon. I’m often asked what I recommend for surge protection, and while they may not be the creme de le crème of line voltage protection devices, more often than not Panamax does just fine. Furman and Minuteman also make excellent power quality products but their out of most people’s budget (mine included).

Oh and about all those “line conditioners” “line filters” and alike, if I ever found one of those monstrosities attached to any of my gear I’d rip it out by the plug, swing it over my head and launch it into the back yard. A surge protector is designed to do just that, protect your gear from power surges or in the case of some of the better ones, protect form brownouts. However “line conditioners” are by and large snake oil, yeah I know I probably just got ixnayed off Richard Gray’s Christmas card list, but trust me for every appreciable difference you can see or hear with the use of a line conditioner in your system, I can remove it and show you another one it was masking. Use em if you must, but know that the internal power supply in the device plays a lot larger role in how something looks or sounds than band-aiding it with a “line conditioner”.

Also don’t confuse line conditioners and line regulators/stabilizers; some of the later from companies like Furman actually can improve the quality of the AC coming from the wall socket, but like anything else in life, good ones don’t come cheap. Whoa did I get off on a tangent, oh yeah I was supposed to run out and get some for some surge protectors for my home theater.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater Equipment


Comments

  • Chris

    Greenway, you’re spot on with how important protecting those communication lines is too. So many surge protective devices only deal with guarding power lines, and as a result, a whole slew of sensitive appliances are being neglected.

    I was actually interested in what you had to say about HDTV, so didn’t exactly expect this topic. Really pleased to find you talked about surge!

  • Chris

    Greenway, you’re spot on with how important protecting those communication lines is too. So many surge protective devices only deal with guarding power lines, and as a result, a whole slew of sensitive appliances are being neglected.

    I was actually interested in what you had to say about HDTV, so didn’t exactly expect this topic. Really pleased to find you talked about surge!

  • B.Greenway

    Absolutely true that no surge protector is going to survive a direct lightning strike, the majority of the time that lightning does “take out” equipment its a static-charge through the telephone line, cable or sat feeds, which is why I really recommend surge protectors that include those connections.

  • B.Greenway

    Absolutely true that no surge protector is going to survive a direct lightning strike, the majority of the time that lightning does “take out” equipment its a static-charge through the telephone line, cable or sat feeds, which is why I really recommend surge protectors that include those connections.

  • Peter

    No surge protector is going to survive a direct lightening strike, but a good one can protect against many power anomolies.
    A few years ago we had some work done on our house which resulted in the secondary electrical ground being severed. Unknown to everyone, the primary ground had already been broken leaving the whole house ungrounded. Lights surged and voltages swung wildly until the power was shut off. My computer was plugged into a power strip that now had a very bad smell and smoke coming out of it. The unit did its job and the computer was fine, while many other small appliances in the house got fried. The manufacturer stood behind their warranty and replaced the unit for free. A decent surge protector is cheap insurance for expensive electronic equipment. If you buy one from a reputable manufacturer, it will be the last one you buy since they will replace it if it fails.

  • Peter

    No surge protector is going to survive a direct lightening strike, but a good one can protect against many power anomolies.
    A few years ago we had some work done on our house which resulted in the secondary electrical ground being severed. Unknown to everyone, the primary ground had already been broken leaving the whole house ungrounded. Lights surged and voltages swung wildly until the power was shut off. My computer was plugged into a power strip that now had a very bad smell and smoke coming out of it. The unit did its job and the computer was fine, while many other small appliances in the house got fried. The manufacturer stood behind their warranty and replaced the unit for free. A decent surge protector is cheap insurance for expensive electronic equipment. If you buy one from a reputable manufacturer, it will be the last one you buy since they will replace it if it fails.