What's the difference between surge protector and line conditioner?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JimmyK, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. JimmyK

    JimmyK Second Unit

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    Jim
    I am expecting delivery of a Anthem AVM20 this week and read in the manual that it should not be plugged into a line conditioner. I've also read some posts that the Anthem AVM20 may have problems with Panamax line conditioners.

    My equipment is plugged into a "Panamax 8 DBS+3 Surge Protector". Is this different than a "Line Conditioner"?

    If "surge protectors" and "line conditioners" are different beasts, then should the Anthem AVM20 work fine plugged into my Panamax surge protector?

    Thanks!
    JimmyK
     
  2. Dick N

    Dick N Extra

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    I kinda got off the original intent of your question. So I'll add this to the top.

    Line conditioners typically produce a none standard sine wave which is adequate for many electronic devices but some don't like it. Look for something like "true sine wave" in the documentation.

    It sounds like you have a surge protector only and it should be fine as it doesn't affect the AC sine wave. However a line conditioner does.


    Jim, I'm not sure about the details of the "Panamax 8 DBS+3
    Surge Protector" but in reply to your question. A surge protector is a passive device which activates if the voltage levels exceed a certain amount. The type of filter will vary but would probably involve a device that starts to conduct once the voltage reaches a set level. The device sends the additional voltage down a ground path. Surge protectors are rather crude devices.

    While a line conditioner is an active device which actively conditions the line power.

    There are a wide variety of these line conditioner devices and each has its own specifications some offer all features and others don't. Check before you buy. Typically a line conditioner should protect you from surges and sages in line power ie brown outs. A surge protector will not protect you from sags which can damage your equipment.

    Line conditioners work by taking a variable input voltage and regulating it to a steadier one. Check the line conditioner input specs for its operating range. Your equipment expects a narrow variation in input voltage (check its specs) and the line conditioner allows you to operate over a wider range.

    A line conditioner in itself will not work if there is no power coming in. The line conditioner should if designed properly shut off the output cleanly if there is no input power.

    If you want something that gives you output power when there is no input power then you need a battery backed up unit.

    Hope this helps a bit. Dick
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    A true surge protector will protect the attached equipment from surges as one might expect from lightning. No, not a direct strike to your house, but something quite powerful. In the case of surge protectors, I advocate for those who've got their own house to install one at the point where the various lines entering your home (AC, phone, cable, etc.) are located. Located there, the surge protector will protect all the electronic components in your home at a cost/appliance of a couple of dollars. Far less expensive and far greater protection than can be obtained from a plug in unit. An installed cost is likely to be around a couple of hundred.
    Conditioners mean different things to different people and certainly they're sold in the same way. A large reason why it can be so confusing is because we've no idea what, if anything, is wrong with our power, or what if anything is unusual or possibly defective with our equipment that would make consideration of one a sensible choice. Power line conditioners have been around in one form or the other for decades. They are valuable tools when you need them, and absolutely worthless when you don't, which is most of the time for most people.
    There are sensible things that you can do to minimize or eliminate problems. Keeping your HT on a separate outlet or two, apart from other electrical devices in your home is possibly a first step. Not using dimmers or halogens on the same circuit is another. If you've got to use dimmers, consider using quality dimming devices such as certain models from Leviton. Occasionally one gets hum being induced in these situations and it's not always such an easy thing to get rid of.
    Your Panamax has some conditioning capabilities in the sense that it has some degree of EMI/RFI filtering.
    A common reason advanced by some manufacturers for not using conditioning devices is due in part to the way they're constructed (that holds true sometimes for wall based surge protectors too). There can be conditioning devices that are installed in such ways that they're called series or parallel. Some manufacturers consider that series based devices have the 'potential' to current limit the power to their amps which would compromise their performance. I'd imagine something like that might happen under particularly demanding conditions where the amp is called upon to consistently deliver large amounts of power for extended periods of time.
    Good luck on your purchase [​IMG]
     
  4. Bill Kane

    Bill Kane Screenwriter

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    Jimmy asks if his new Anthem AVM20 processor can be plugged in his existing Panamax MAX8 DBS+3. I would answer, yes.

    So why does Anthem say "no line conditioner" in the manual? As Dick touches on, to electrical engineers, a line conditioner may actively massage the AC feed (sine wave modification) that may not be helpful to the Anthem processor. So, as has been said, not all line conditioners are created equal. Anthem engineers take the safe approach in the recommendation.


    As Chu Gai notes: The "line conditioning" the Panamax provides (more confusion,thanks to MonsterPower's "clean power" marketing approach)is basically what all surge protectors offer: various filter/capacitors designed to eliminate much AC line noise from RF/EMI (which may not even exist in many set-ups).

    There have been some reports that AMPLIFIERS connected to a Panamax 5100 or 5300 surge/power center cause the unit's SurgeGate circuitry to activate. Panamax acknowledges this glitch. This isnt the same as using a processor in the unit.

    bill
     
  5. ChrisHeflen

    ChrisHeflen Supporting Actor

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    Actually, this was discussed a couple of times in the "upgraded Anthem" thread and this was the reason for the warning...

    (quoted from anther post)

    "That warning was put into the manual from Sonic Frontiers because early versions of the AVM-20 were being shipped with the 1A fast blow fuse. Using it with certain surge protectors/line conditioners was causing the fuse to blow.

    Now SF ships the unit with a 1A slow blow fuse, which is harder to trip (although it does happen from time to time). I have used my AVM-20 with a Brickwall surge protector for about 4 months now with not a single problem in sight.

    Ironically, I was tripping this fuse when running the AVM-20 straight into the wall in my prior location. I don't know if adding the Brickwall or moving residences has caused no further problems, but I think it's safe to assume using the Panamax shouldn't cause you any lost sleep."


    I use the Panamax 5100 and have had no problems.
     
  6. Aris A

    Aris A Stunt Coordinator

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    Chu,

    [I advocate for those who've got their own house to install one at the point where the various lines entering your home (AC, phone, cable, etc.) are located. Located there, the surge protector will protect all the electronic components in your home at a cost/appliance of a couple of dollars.]

    Do you know a brand name that I could check out? I'm adding a 2-story addition and currently the electrician is placing in rough electrical lines thru out the addition. Thnx.
     
  7. Ron Duca

    Ron Duca Stunt Coordinator

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    Fact 1: I have a Panamax Max 5300 surge protector, and although it has two "High Current" outlets, it sometimes shuts down when my Anthem MCA 50 amp powers up. (Panamax knows of this and is working on a solution, albeit slow).

    Fact 2: I just had an electrician install a whole house surge protection device. He installed a "Storm Trapper H.E. (High Energy) Low Voltage Distribution Class MOV Surge Arrester" from Cooper Power Systems, model 235-16-1, at the meter.

    Now for my question(s). I would like to get a beefier "high current" surge protector to plug my amplifier into. Since I have some protection in the whole house device, should I go for a "Brick Wall" type surge protection device or look more for a Line Conditioner w/surge protection? PS Audio's Ultimate Outlet comes to mind, but I think their prices are a bit much. Are there any other brands in the under $300 range?
     
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    in california, where you don't get a lot of lighting storms with a lot of cloud to ground strikes, something in the vicinity of a 1000 joule unit is probably more than adequate. there's a ton of brands out there. HD has whole house units by Siemens and Intermatic. You may also find them at a local electrical supply house. These units can cost under $100 plus of course the cost of installation. I find no particular reason to advocate one brand over another.
    Once you've got something like a whole house unit installed, you could certainly consider redundancy. The thing is now, you don't need to be concerned with surges, but could instead direct your concerns towards glitches and noise. With the probable exception of Panamax, I'm not a large fan of audiophile labled products mainly because the companies that push them are so intent on bs'ing people and quite frankly there's only so much crap you can step into before you've got to buy a new pair of white sneakers.
    The Brickwall unit is what's referred to as a series mode device. Although many plug their amps into it, companies such as Bryston don't like the idea because series mode devices can, under certain conditions limit the current supply to an amp. Although they're relatively rare, people tend to agonize over trivial matters. I don't know what to tell you about it.
    To address matters like glitches and noise, I'd be thinking about units that incorporate "sine wave tracking" (google search the term if you're interested) and or that contain Silicon Avalanche Diodes (PS Audio call em transzorbs...same thing) as well as some EMI/RFI filtering. Two companies that come to mind are Suttondesigns and Transtector. Cost is
     
  9. Ron Duca

    Ron Duca Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the information Chu. I'll do some research on the terms and brands you mentioned.

     
  10. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Sometimes Ron, it helps to run through scenarios with your agent. For example, say you've got a $6000 TV or something that's 2 years old. Two years it gets fried. Technology has moved on and to get the equivalent TV is now only?! going to cost you $4000. What's the insurance company going to give you? Think about it.
    The DPS Plus Series (SAD based) from Transtector is under 100 but you've got to order directly from the company. There's a fella there, August, who'll give you additional background. You want the one that also has the cable protection.
    SuttonDesigns has the ZX5000 series with models for coax, satellite and all that.
    Even that Panamax DBS is nice. Lot's of good choices. Good luck on your addition.
     

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