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Power Surges Come In All Sizes

pic 1You're probably aware that lightning strikes and blackouts can cause powerful surges. These surges can travel down your electric, telephone and cable lines, and severely damage or instantly destroy your AV electronics, computer equipment, and even appliances. But did you know that "hidden" power surges happen virtually every day?

Smaller everyday surges are caused by normal fluctuations in the electricity that comes directly from your utility company. While your power company may strive to deliver a consistent 120 volts, there's no guarantee that's what you'll get from your wall outlets.

In addition, household appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators can cause power fluctuations in your own home as they turn on and off. In fact, everyone in your neighborhood contributes to the problem. All of their appliances can put heavy strain on the electrical grid.

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You may see your lights dim or brighten, or you may not notice these invisible surges and spikes at all. However, they can cause serious damage over an extended period of time.

These smaller power surges and spikes won't instantly destroy your electronics, but they can gradually wear down the delicate circuitry in computers and AV equipment, shortening their life, and eventually causing them to fail.

The problem is, the manufacturer's warranty on your expensive AV equipment does not cover damage caused by lightning strikes or power surges. In fact, you'll often find it specifically listed in your owner's manual.

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pic 3Today's home theater electronics, from HDTVs to DVD players, AV receivers and more, all contain delicate, sophisticated microchips that are engineered in a laboratory to operate at a consistent 120 volts of electricity. Unfortunately, plugging your home theater equipment directly into a wall socket leaves it highly vulnerable to damage from common power surges and spikes.

To protect your valuable electronics, you need a power surge suppressor, not to be confused with an ordinary power strip. Surge suppressors have the ability to absorb and dissipate the power of a surge, or to cut off power to your home theater completely when a very powerful surge occurs.

How to tell if your power protection is good enough

You may see "Joule" ratings on power surge suppressors. The higher the Joule rating, the more powerful the surge it can safely dissipate. However, if a surge or spike exceeds the Joule rating of a surge suppressor, it may have to sacrifice itself in order to protect your equipment.

This not only means you'll need to buy a new surge suppressor, but even worse, there will often be subsequent surges after the initial spike. When an inexpensive surge protector is burned out by a spike, it will leave your equipment vulnerable to any additional surges.

Higher quality surge protection will be able to protect you even from a series of very powerful surges. Better surge protection devices will disconnect from the electricity when a powerful surge is detected, isolating connected equipment from potential damage. In addition, the protection circuitry in advanced power protection devices will protect the device itself from damage, so it will continue to work even after a series of very powerful surges. Some of them will also automatically reset and reconnect to power when conditions return to safe.

Damaging power surges can also travel down telephone, antenna, and cable lines. These connections that cable boxes, satellite receivers, DVRs, and other AV devices use can leave the entire home theater vulnerable to surge damage. Better surge protection devices will offer connections to protect your equipment that uses coax, phone, and ethernet lines.

The problems caused by electrical noise and interference

pic 7Beyond power surges, household electronics, even AV equipment, also cause electromagnetic noise and radio frequency interference. Everything from, cell phones, radios, appliances, and other electronics all contribute to electrical noise and interference. Even worse, the problem isn't limited to electronics in your home. Every home and business on the electrical grid that feeds your home contributes to the problem. Electrical noise and interference stresses the delicate circuitry inside AV electronics and diminish picture and sound performance.

Ordinary surge protectors do not filter out this electronic noise. Power conditioners feature special filters to remove noise and interference in the electricity. The better the power conditioner, the more it will isolate your AV components from outside electrical interference. Advanced power conditioners also isolate connected AV components from each other. This reduces the effects of any interference generated by equipment that's plugged into the same power conditioner.

Why Quality Power Protection and Conditioning is Important

Today's advanced electronics demand advanced surge protection and power conditioning to protect delicate digital microchips built into HDTVs, surround sound AV receivers and more. The more advanced the surge protection and the higher the level of power conditioning, the more you can be assured that your home theater will give you peak performance for the longest amount of time, giving you the peace of mind that you can enjoy your favorite movies, TV shows, music and more for years to come.