Surge and filtering protection amkes/models

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by WaltC, Oct 25, 2003.

  1. WaltC

    WaltC Agent

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    Hi,

    Looking at the Monster HTS3600, Panamax 5300, Brickwalls and Surgex's. I have read the MOV debate. But which one would you purchase and why. I have 2 amps 7 channels at 200W each, pre/pro, Elite TV and a few other toys. I was thinking of a Brickwall 2 Plug AUD for amps and maybe Monster for the rest. I'm confused on what be the best combination. I also see that Surgex has an Empower line coming? HELP
     
  2. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    got your own house? then install a whole house unit that'll protect all incoming lines. then you can use modest point of use devices. Vastly superior approach.
     
  3. WaltC

    WaltC Agent

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    Yes I have my own house. I was looking to get some filering in addition to the surge protection. Not sure how good the Monster, Panamax or any of the none MOV based surge units are for filtering.
     
  4. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I've been trying to think how to reply to this.
    In ways you're trying to make a decision, and I might add a fairly expensive one and one that's not well grounded from the point of view of providing solid protection, if that is indeed an important consideration. Now this might not matter a whit depending upon where you live and a bit of luck. However, if you live in certain parts of the US with a large amount of cloud to ground lightning such as Florida, parts of the midwest, Texas, etc. then the odds shift a bit.
    Perhaps this is because you're also looking for a unit that's going to provide some switching or power distribution capabilities with switched/unswitched outlets, sequenced starts, etc. It's pretty unclear to me the factors that you're using to base your decision upon.

    You're asking the question which I paraphrase as which one has the best filtering? Well in ways that's like asking which is the best pain reliever? It depends on the situation. Aspirin might be fine but if you've got cancer then you're looking for a morphine IV drip. For starters you don't know (and I might add that neither do most of us) if...
    1) you've got any noise to begin with
    2) what the frequency characteristics and magnitude of that noise are
    3) if your equipment is even susceptible to it
    4) the attenuation characteristics of any of the units you suggested

    I've probably missed a few.

    Manufacturers or vendors specify the amount of EMI/RFI reduction in different ways. Some arbitrarily pick a frequency...say 10 or 40 MHz and give you a percentage or a dB value. What you don't know is whether that's the maximum value, where it starts, where it ends, and all that.

    Now your equipment, especially if it's mainstream which some may call mid-fi, is probably well designed from the point of view of both rejecting RFI or generating it. Within the equipment are circuits containing capacitors, inductors, single chip solutions that're responsible for this task. The choice of implementation is of course predicated on the task at hand, economics, and meeting various FCC or European requirements with regards to RFI emissions, the latter being particularly stringent according to my understanding. In my opinion, high end stuff has a much more checkered record in this regard possibly due the lack of comprehensive testing facilities. Pro audio may even be better than both. But I digress. The point is that your equipment does and should have appropriate circuitry to deal with the normal world. Nonetheless, from time to time, issues of hum and noise arise.

    There are some prophylactic measures that you can and should take in this regard which can greatly facilitate maximizing the performance of your system.
    1) try to keep it on it's own line.
    2) dimmers, flourescents, halogens can be problematical.
    3) consider replacing your outlets with industrial grade varieties. BrianOK has posted relatively economical sources for these. They're sturdier and grip better.
    4) consider wrapping the romex around the screws instead of stabbing it into those convenient, I just can't be bothered using a screwdriver cause I'm an electrician damn it, holes. Clean the wire before wrapping it.
    5) use care inserting and removing your cables as well as handling them. No they're not like old pottery from the Mayan civilisation but you can inadvertently cause a shield on a coax to separate and all that.
    6) get a circuit tester at Home Depot. They're under $5. Verify your connections are correct and not reversed or that there's no ground.

    One possible way you can check to see if you'd benefit from EMI/RFI filtration is to purchase something like the Belkin Isolator. Those can be had inexpensively at Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, all of which have excellent return policies. This particular product has EMI/RFI filtration between adjacent pairs of outlets. Hence the further away you are from the power cord, the greater the filtration. Put your amp or receiver in the first pair along with your DVD and experiment with placing your TV in the first adjacent pair, then the next, and so on. Critically examine your picture. No difference? Then it's a moot point how much filtration you have isn't it? If there is, then maybe you've found your answer. Also, Belkin sells an A/V version that runs somewhere around $100 give or take. That provides protection for your cable also.

    Now with the exception of sophisticated switching power management capabilities, you could get something like a Panamax Max or even cheaper, a Stratitec (under $20 at Sam's Club). Both have a fair amount of joules for longevity as well as EMI/RFI filtering for whatever that may be worth. OTOH for a rack mount type device, many of the Furman's would meet your requirements. You see, I absolutely detest spending other people's money and in general prefer solutions that are robust and economical. That is why I suggest a whole house unit to meet your primary concerns regarding surge protection. You see, what Panamax, Monster, etc. don't tell you is that surge protection depends upon one primary thing. Earth ground. Not the ground on your outlet. That's too far away from Earth ground. Proximity to that grounding rod is the key and that can only be done by installing a unit either at the breakers or at the meter. After that, some inexpensive units strategically placed will easily deal with just about anything.
     
  5. WaltC

    WaltC Agent

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    If you think you had a problem with my 3 line question think I've my problem with your reply! Thanks for the thoughtful reply..... Some quick facts and feedback.
    I live in Southern Ontario Canada (The place where the power went out after Ohio? turned the lights out. I have about $15,000 worth of gear not including speakers so I guess that is mid-fi.

    I do not know if I have noise so I will take your suggestion of testing into account. I do have 2 separate circuits. 1 for amps and 1 for the rest with Hubbell hospital grade plugs and they do GRIP. I use ProGold for my connections. I was trying to avoid the MOV earth ground stuff due to the problem you mentioned. The series mode surge protection makers have not quite got the switching and looks of a Monster yet. So I guess I want it all. Series Mode protection with filtering, conditioning and good looks. I know SurgeX is coming out with an Empower line that appears to be my ideal (my own mind)

    Thanks again

    Any other thoughts and experiences are welcome.
     
  6. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Walt,

    So what have you been using (model) for surge protection heretofore? Surely something, given your meticulous attn to duplex outlets and clean contacts.

    Do you buy into the above argument for installing a service entrance surge suppressor? I concur with Chu that it’s the smartest starting point. At smarthome.com they range from $80US for Intermatic to a nice Panamax for $110US and higher.

    Conceivably, protecting the incoming current wiring outside this way offers the ability to plug big amps directly to the wall outlet with some degree of confidence. The overly prudent, fearing lightning damage, may then go for a Series Mode unit inside, like the two-outlet BrickWall, for the amps especially if one subscribes to the “fear the current-limiting” school regarding the audio. Big amps are less susceptible to these radiofreq and electromagnetic interferences and can do their own filtering, I believe.

    Otherwise, it seems a little overkill and expensive to me to use a MonsterPower or Panamax unit in the 5XXX series levels behind a whole-house unit. Here is where Chu suggests that under $100 units, such as Panamax MAX or TrippLite ISOBAR DBS, even the $20 Stratitec if found, or the RadioShack $49.99U.S. surge protector become sufficient for:

    ·Typical RF/EMI filtering, nothing extraordinary here.
    ·Act as a convenient plug-in center for one’s components.
    ·Adds additional MOV joule protection to surges or spikes that sneak through.
    ·Specific F-type terminals to pass incoming cabletv or satellite coax for surge protection.

    In the end, if the idea all these features plus timed delay outlet(s), Series Mode protection and that RF/EMI filtering all in one box still appeals, take a look at the Adcom ACE-615 or it smaller cousin ACE-315 which sell online $200-$400U.S.

    What d’you think?

    bill
     
  7. WaltC

    WaltC Agent

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    Bill,

    I've been using a Triplite not sure of the model#. I'm in the process of decabling in prep for the new TV. I oticed the Triplite light for protection is no longer on......Likely got zapped during the various outages we had in Aug. The bar is not that easy to see and that is why I want to improve what I have. I forgot to mention after the Aug outages shortly after one channel of my amps went out and all the internal fuses had to be replaced.

    I think the whole house idea is good and I thought the costs were a lot higher than noted. Remember I'm from Canada so costs will be higher but still more than 1/2 of what I thought a whole house would be.

    Which whole house units do people use? Panamax, Leviton others?

    I think I will get the 2 plug Brickwall for the amps and another Panamax Max or something for the other components. I like the idea of the new Empower from SurgeX for the other components once they become available.

    If the whole house unit gets zapped do you replace of fix the unit?

    Thanks for the help.

    Walt
     
  8. WaltC

    WaltC Agent

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    Chu Gai,

    Sorry I missed you in the last note.

    Thanks
     
  9. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    The TrippLite really died on you, but not quickly enuf to save that amp channel, it appears. Wonder if it's worth asking TrippLite to replace it? I wudnt mess with a lower end-capacity model, tho.

    I cannot speak directly to which whole-house unit; some like Panamax allow external coax cable to pass thru it, but this supposes all the wire runs and earth grounds are handy to the service panel.

    The brand/model ought to dictate what happens if it fails from a catastrophic hit. I have not seen any reports online in the past two years about such failures.

    The rest of your plan sounds like good protection.

    bill
     
  10. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    As far as which model of whole-house, all I can say is that there's a ton on the market. Some from vendors as you suggested. Others from other big time players such as Cuttler-Hammer. Others from little guys. You could begin your search by perhaps contacting some local electrical supply houses to see if they stock such units. Remember that you're asking for all incoming lines to be protected...ac/phone/cable/anything else. They probably can even recommend an electrician who can install the unit. Conversely, you could begin your search by calling electricians and see what they say. You see, it's not so much who you buy as where it's installed. A bona fide surge is a high voltage, high current, high frequency event. As a result that long run of romex to your point of use protector is seen as a fairly large impedance. Closer to earth ground, lower impedance. Look at it as if you've got secured your house form illegal entry then you really don't need an elephant gun in every room. It's much easier and safer to keep the intruder out rather than leave the door open and deal with it once it's in.
    BTW, that was not a slight in the least by using the term mid-fi. I've got more respect for that then those fly by night overpriced and overweight hi end vendors that don't know squat about comprehensive testing.
     
  11. Neal_C

    Neal_C Second Unit

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    Chu gave me the suggestion of whole house protection several months ago (maybe even almost a year) and I had one installed. I found a company locally that had Intermatic and had them come out and install it and two dedicated 20 amp outlets into my living room. I think it cost me about $200 total (parts and labor), maybe a little less, I can't remember exactly.

    The Intermatic unit I got is flush mounted under my breaker box in the garage. I only got one to protect electricity, not phone and cable, but this was because I already had a Monster HTS 3600 that I ran cable and phone through (atleast in the living room...if a satellite box or phone or tv gets fried in a different room, i won't consider that to much of a loss).

    I had done the research on MOV's as well, but my wife got a local store to price match the Monster unit from an online retailer and she bought it for me for $350. I figured it could handle the job for that amount of money.

    Now with the whole house unit, I feel safe plugging my Rotel amp and SVS Pb2+ directly into the wall and plugging everything else into the Monster unit.

    As a lower cost solution, I think whole house is definitely a good place to start.


    Neal
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    I'm not sure where Keller, TX is but there are some parts of that state that have interesting weather for sure.
     

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