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Using a UPS in a home theater envoirnment

Discussion in Universal Transfer Switch started by David , 7/11/2008 11:04 AM
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Using a UPS in a home theater envoirnment

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  • dalhectar

    Hello, I wanted to know if it was ok to use a UPS in a Home Theater environment? What is the difference between having a UPS (local retailers carry the APC BACK-UPS RS 1500VA) vs a more traditional Home Theater power conditioner. While I have a Home Theater PC that I'd like to give a UPS to, I'd also like to ensure my receiver and HDTV also have clean power. I don't forsee the need to power TV if power is down, but it would be great if I could plug in that equipment to ensure that it gets clean power.

  • JoeMomma
    This discussion is marked as answered

    Hi dalhectar,

    It's a great idea to use a UPS in a home theater environment! With a UPS providing clean power to your HT equipment, you can rest assured that power fluctuations and anomalies from the utility company will not harm or interrupt your system.

    First, you should be aware that a power conditioner will provide full time "conditioning" of input power, meaning it can clean up "noise" on the line and also improve the accuracy of the voltage reaching your equipment. So if you live in an area known to have short term brownouts or "dirty" power, a conditioner will make sure that the power it provides is cleaned up and the voltage is as close to 120v as possible.

    A UPS like the [Back-UPS RS 1500 LCD|http://www.apc.com/resource/include/techspec_index.cfm?base_sku=BR1500LCD] does everything a standard line conditioner does, but it also has another valuable feature: battery back-up. With a UPS powering your HT equipment, you would never be suddenly interrupted by a power outage. Many HDTVs and receivers do not enjoy being suddenly powered off, especially projection based televisions (DLP, LCD projection, LCoS, etc) where there is a very hot arc lamp that must be cooled by a fan at all times. A power outage while watching one of these TVs would likely destroy the $100+ lamp or certainly cut into its service life.

    In addition to the Back-UPS series, APC also offers a line of specialized [AV power filters, conditioners, and battery-backups|http://www.apc.com/products/category.cfm?id=15&segmentID=1]. These products offer outstanding surge protection and filtering for both power and data lines, such as the coaxial cables that provide the TV signal. It's imperative that these data lines be also surge protected since they often will provide an easy path for dangerous electrical events to damage sensitive home theater equipment.

    Any Back-UPS or APC AV power protection device also carries the APC Equipment Protection Policy, which protects you against the very rare instance when connected equipment is damaged during a power event, rather than being protected by the APC product. You would be protected up to $100,000 or more for market value of the equipment damaged.

    Perhaps you could tell us a bit about your home theater, such as the type of TV, receiver, etc and perhaps also the power rating of those devices in terms of watts or VA or amps. This would help us guide you to a few options to protect your valuable equipment.

  • dalhectar

    I appreciate the detailed response. Sorry I couldn't get back sooner.

    1 Server with a 650W Antec power supply
    1 Dell XPS 420 with a 375W Power supply
    Pioneer TSX-1014TX - in the back it says 480W 630VA
    Panasonic TH-50PZ800U Cnet tested the TV I plan to buy consuming between 191.44W and 286.25W
    B&W ASW 650 Sub - in the back it says it 280W

    There are a lot of peripherals and other small equipment too, I don't know the power rating for any of them:

    Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player
    X-Box 360
    Vantac External Hard Drive
    slim PS2
    3 External CableCard Tuners - each is a self powered USB TV Tuner for the Dell 420
    Netgear 8 port mini network switch
    Monoprice HDMI switch

    Also 5 of the devices have transformer plugs that need extra space.

  • JoeMomma

    Excellent! That Kill-A-Watt is quite useful.

  • Cap1


    You've got yourself one nice setup, however, sizing a UPS might be an issue due to the large amounts of electricity your Home Theater system will draw.

    I total up over 2000 watts just between the stuff you do know for sure (the Xbox 360 is the largest unit in the unknown list, it draws about 165 watts, the others would total up to another 200ish).

    That puts us around 2400 watts. Our largest 15amp NEMA 5-15 UPS is rated at 865 watts. I'm speaking about the BR1500LCD or the J15. I personally use the BR1500LCD in my setup and love it, but I have a much smaller consumption.

    Now, in actuality, you won't be drawing close to the 2400 watt figure, however, especially in a HT setup, you must be aware of the inrush current (when you turn everything on). This will pull more wattage and could potentially overload an undersized UPS.

    I think you have some options:
    1. You could measure what your actual draw is, and also test the inrush scenario to find out your real watt consumption, and base a UPS purchase on that. You'd have to find an Ammeter
    2. If you want to purchase a larger, appropriately sized UPS, we're probably talking about a SUA3000RM2U (or without the RM2U for the non-racked floor model). This is capable of 2700 watts, however it requires a 30 amp circuit and L5-30 twist locking plug, so that might be a big prohibiting factor.
    3. Plug only the critical gear into a BR1500LCD or J15 (staying below 865 watts) and get a surge protector for the rest.

    Keep us posted.

  • dalhectar

    That's pretty helpful. I'll look for an ammeter at a hardware store and try to look for the actual usage of the big equipment vs the listed max. I hope the different is significant. Looking at actual performance, off loading the smaller equipment, and splitting the work between 2 LCD1500VAs might be the trick, but I'll be able to tell once I get the ammeter.

  • JoeMomma

    Thanks to Cap1 for stepping in there for me.

    I agree that you'd want to measure actual watt usage of your setup.

    I would recommend a nice gadget called the [Kill-A-Watt ($20 at Amazon.com)|http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=kill+a+watt&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=1142796341&ref=pd_sl_91tvj6353g_e]. This is probably the most user-friendly device to help you determine energy use at your home or office.

    You simply plug the Kill-A-Watt into the wall outlet, and then plug your stuff into the Kill-A-Watt. It's LCD display will show you instantly what kind of wattage use you're using.

    Another question for you: since you have a lot of equipment with a high maximum wattage potential, have you ever tripped your room's circuit breaker? If you have a standard 15A breaker in that room, and you've never tripped it with your normal usage habits, that's at least promising in that you may not need a very large UPS. You might be able to use a UPS such as the [SmartUPS 1500 XLM|http://www.apc.com/resource/include/techspec_index.cfm?base_sku=SUM1500RMXL2U], which happens to be the most efficient 1500VA UPS in its family: 1425 Watts for 1500VA.

    You might also like some of the other features in this UPS, such as controllable outlets and a network management card complete with temp probe. You can also add additional external battery packs if you really need to finish that movie during a long outage, etc.

  • dalhectar

    It's never been tripped, but one of the computers is a new addition to the room so the power draw might be different.

    It's not really my intention at all to run any of the AV equipment during a blackout. If something happens while I'm away, it wouldn't be on to begin with, and if I am home and power goes out, I'll probably cut off the equipment asap. As such, should I be concerned with overloading the UPS to begin with? When the battery has to kick in to provide power, chances are the AV equipment is off to begin with, but I'd like to have a UPS to power off the computers gracefully, especially if I'm not home.

  • Cap1

    I agree with your last post.

    You probably only need to battery backup the servers, and perhaps the video game systems (don't want to lose those gamesaves)

    You can put your LCD on the UPS as well, but LCD's can fare well in terms of power outage (they don't have that expensive bulb that requires cool down).

    The problem is backups (like the BR1500LCD I mentioned earlier) can only shutdown one connected server. To gracefully shutdown multiple servers you would need a Smartups with either a network management card (ap9617) or interface expander card (AP9607CB).

    The SUM unit Joe Momma suggested might be a good fit, as it comes with the card already. Or you can look at splitting the load between two backups, like you mentioned.

    Message was edited by: Cap1

  • dalhectar

    I plugged the Kill-A-Watt into a surge protector that had the mini-switch, server with Antec PS, Backup Drive, Reciever, and Sub, and cranked up the reciever. Wattage didn't break 500W. I tried another surge protector with the CableCard Tuners, HDMI switch, Media Center Box, and a small LCD screen, and it stayed below 300W. The big TV is being shipped to me now, but if it maxes out at what C-Net says it maxes out at, it'll stay under 600W. Seems like 2 UPSes will meet my load requirements and give me the safe power down measures I need.

    Thank you all for your help. You guys were quite helpful.

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