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House Electical Problem, need advice to protect equipment

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Johnny_M, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. Johnny_M

    Johnny_M Second Unit

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    This might be the wrong forum, if it is feel free to move it. I just moved into a new house, well actually its about a 30 yr old house. I noticed yestarday while the AC was running the lights occasionally flickered. Is my theater equipt at risk of damage? I have a pretty heavy duty surge surpressor, is this enough? Or do I need something that will keep the voltage more constant and stable? I live in N. Cali so AC is a MUST! I am also a renter so I dont have the option of rewiring the house or anything.

    What should I do?


    Johnny
     
  2. Johnny_M

    Johnny_M Second Unit

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    bump...


    anybody?


    Johnny
     
  3. Shiu

    Shiu Second Unit

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    It is not unusual for the lights to flicker everytime the compressor kicks in.
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Well congratulations on the house. Add kids and you've got the ultimate discretionary income sucker known to man which only gets worse if you watch HGTV.

    There's a couple of issues as I see it.

    1) Apart from your questions, its a good idea to pick up a little AC circuit tester from a place like Home Depot (around $4) and just test all the outlets in your home to ensure they're not miswired in any way.

    2) Like Shiu said, some dimming is not unusual when the AC is running. You didn't specify whether this is a wall unit (and if so, is it running off 220 or 110?) or something like central air. If its the former, you might want to check if your HT is on the same circuit and if it is, just move it. For protection, seeing as you're renting, likely your surge suppressor will be adequate in terms of dealing with power glitches and start/stop transients caused by the compressor.

    3) You can check the voltage at the outlet with a multimeter. RS has some, as do other places, that will record highest and lowest voltages as well as models that you can plug into your pc to do long term recording. I think it'd be a good idea to get a handle on what your fluctuations are before you start thinking about things like constant voltage supply devices (APC for instance).
     
  5. George_W_K

    George_W_K Screenwriter

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    When motors first start, they draw 6 to 10 times their normal running current. So, everytime your compressor starts, it sucks up a lot of amps, and then stabilizes to its normal current draw. The initial draw will drop the available voltage to the rest of house, hence the dimming of the lights. The same thing happens with the compressor in a refrigerator too.

    I like Chu's recommendations, especially number 3 if possible. If your compressor turns on too frequently, the voltage fluctuatins may become a problem for your electrical equipment. But, if it is just the normal turn on, run for a long time routine, you are probably fine.

    I also noticed that you are in California. I remember there were a lot of brownouts over there last year, right? Does that happen every summer? That may be a concern. Your equipment won't be getting the voltage it needs in that situation and it may damage your equipment. But, I think another resident in California will better be able to talk about that situation.
     
  6. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    If all else fails have the electric company come out and do a load check. This will determine if its the power transformer on the pole or your service panel/wiring that is substandard.

    All of the suggestions above are outstanding.

    If it is a problem that will never be able to be fixed, you can get a 1100 watt UPS from SAMS, or ignore the problem. Generally electronic equipment transformers/power supples will allow a great deal of voltage flux and still deliver a consistent power to your equipment. Surges are another issue. Get a quality surge protector at SAMS/Walmart or combo UPS/Surge. Don't spend a great deal on this. You just need basic protection.
    PS/ I had the same problem at my house when it was new. After the power company installed a new transformer on the pole and a deep ground rod at the pole, my lights have never dimmed. Good luck and enjoy wiring projects in your new house.LOL
    Enjoy this post!
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...155#post573155

    earl the electrician
     
  7. Johnny_M

    Johnny_M Second Unit

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    Wow, thanks for all the great advice!! I decided to setup 1 of my TVs in the main room where the HT will be and turned on the AC, it did not seem to effect the TV at all. The lights dim breifly about every 5 mins while the AC is on. So many the lights are on the same curcuit? But everything is not so maybe I'm worried for nothing. I think I will try and get something that can meter the voltage coming out of the outlets so I know for sure. I have a belkin surge supressor which feels pretty heavy duty, how can you know if its a good one or not?


    Johnny
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Johnny,
    My experience/opinion is that undervoltages can damage electronics. I had some computer problems several years that I attribute to undervoltages: everytime the 'fridge kicked in the lights would dim. This led, I believe, to the failure of a monitor and video card. Your surge protector will guard against surges, obviously, but does nothing to guard against undervoltages (lights dimming).

    Perhaps that was a fluke, or current electronics are immune to modest voltage drops. But if I had expensive electronics and my lights dimmed every five minutes I'd consider getting a constant-voltage power source to protect against both dips and spikes.
     
  9. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    If you have a constant under voltage problem on certain circuits, you need to get an electrician to fix it by adding a circuit to even out the load on the individual circuits.If you have already had the power company out and they have done a load check and it checks good, then you may need some additional circuits in your house. If you flunk the load check by your power company you may need a service panel upgrade and service entrance cable upgrade from the power pole as well as another sub panel in the house. Usually the cable upgrade is free, but you pay for the new service panel. Again the 1100watt APC will give you the power you need for those momentary brown outs and black outs. Power regulators are not cheap but can be effective. Just don't cover up a design problem in your wiring. If it is an old house and central AC was added at a later time without an electrical upgrade, you may be in for some serious bucks for an electrician. Do the neighbors have the same problem? Is it a window unit? Most newer homes have a 200 amp service panel or larger. Most smaller older homes have a 100 amp or smaller service panel. 100 amps is not sufficient for modern day living by most people. If it is a large home you may have a 200amp panel. Again the power company is your first free stop!
    Good luck. Remember the call to your power company is free!The rest will clean you out! LOL[​IMG]
     

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