August 13, 2008
| by Simon Scotland
Q. Can a power surge still harm the electronics equipment that are plugged in but turned off? - Steve, Virginia
A. Oh yes! Most equipment doesn’t actually turn off, it simply goes into standby mode. This means there is still a physical connection between the main power and the equipment. Therefore, a surge can still hit your gear. We always install power protection with our projects. The simplest form of protection is the surge protection mains adaptor which you plug into your socket and then your gear into that. The next level is a power conditioner or UPS. Power conditioners are often used at the highest levels of HiFi. Their primary aim is to deliver constant clean power to your equipment. This can make a dramatic improvement in sound quality. While they smooth the power, they are not meant to deal with sudden spikes. A UPS is typically used with computer equipment to protect it from spikes. It also provides battery backup in the case of a power failure. I recommend line-interactive or (if you can afford it) an online UPS, these provide the best protection and battery power. Audio purists might have an issue with using a piece of computer equipment with high-end Hi-Fi but they do offer good protection. It is worth casting an eye in the direction of APC who are one of the best known names for UPS equipment and now have a range of power conditioners and battery backup systems especially designed for A/V use.
Simon spent eight years in the feature film production. Upon leaving the industry he formed Beyond the Invisible in London UK which specializes in high end whole house entertainment systems, home theaters and lighting control and currently has a staff on ten. He is a certified CEDIA designer and avid collector of Citroen automobiles.