Why a Computer UPS Can’t Protect Theaters

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APC S10 UPS Power Conditioner with battery backup

Make sure to select a battery backup specifically designed for AV applications.


Mar. 24, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Power surges and transients occur in all 50 U.S. states. Blackouts, poorly filtered power, and dirty power can interrupt viewing, erase recordings and lose all of the system’s pre-sets. The recordings stored on your media server or DVR can be lost permanently if power is lost at just the wrong moment.

Satellite receivers and cable boxes can lockup, thereby interrupting service. Expensive light bulbs used in projectors and DLP TVs can be damaged when a blackout occurs.

The right battery backup can protect all of those troubles from happening. Many consumers look to their local mass retailer for one of those small, inexpensive battery backups designed for their home computer. While this might work out OK, there’s a good chance it simply won’t work.

Make sure to select a battery backup specifically designed for AV applications. Here are three reasons AV UPS (uninterruptible power supplies) systems offer better home theater protection.

Handling large components
One major difference is the ability to handle the unique power requirements of larger components. Network file servers and desktop computers typically have an in-rush current draw (the quick, but dramatic amount of current drawn when the device is turned on) of 60-80 Amps for a few milliseconds. Larger components can draw into the 100s of Amps (peak to peak) for several milliseconds on startup.

Computer UPS units are simply not designed to handle this large power draw. This can easily overwhelm the inverter of the UPS, causing it to shut down suddenly and unexpectedly. It is even quite possible for the UPS to be damaged by this overload condition. AV UPSs are designed to handle these large current draws common with big screen TVs and larger amplifiers.

Isolated Noise Filtration
Dedicated isolated noise filtration is another key aspect of AV equipment that is not typically available in computer UPS systems. Electrical Magnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) generally have little impact on computer gear unless its presence is extremely large (and/or the equipment is poorly shielded).  For this reason, traditional computer battery backup products contain very small EMI/RFI filters.

If severe enough, EMI/RFI can negatively impact sound and video quality. Properly designed filters, as found in higher-end AV power protection units, can reduce or eliminate this interference so that consumer’s receive the best home theater experience their system can provide. 

Too Noisy
Traditional computer UPS systems are too noisy, electrically and audibly, for AV equipment. Light emitting diodes (LED) and visual alarms that are typical of computer UPS systems can also detract from the viewing and listening experience. On the other hand, AV specific models are usually designed to be as quiet and visually unobtrusive as possible.

Audible alarms are “OFF” by default and LEDs can be dimmed or turned “OFF” altogether; similarly, liquid crystal displays (LCD) can be dimmed or turned “OFF”. AV cooling fans are micro-processor controlled with variable speed designed to run only when absolutely necessary.

Furthermore, the industrial design is ideal for placement in home entertainment centers (shelf or rackmount) or AV racks.  Also, the UPS batteries are accessible through the front panel so the unit does not need to be removed from the equipment stack.

A true AV-specific battery backup can be a great complement to your system. Knowing you are protected from all the dangers and hassles of today’s unpredictable power grid should give you peace of mind so you can enjoy your home theater experience without interruption.



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