Technology systems

Convenient power solutions for today’s home technology systems

Water and electricity are considered two necessities of life. Here in North America, we often take access to clean water for granted. Once this basic need is met, we can focus on the other dispositions that help us live, work and play. For many of us, that includes smart home technology, electronic devices, and the electricity that powers them.

Just as our bodies need clean water to function at their best, our electronic devices need clean energy to function at their maximum capacity. The dirty energy that comes from the power grid and powers our devices can damage sensitive equipment, shorten the life of sophisticated AV components, and wreak havoc with sound and picture quality when we sit down to enjoy our favorite media. In short, inconsistent power can diminish the tech experience, and the more tech you have in your home, the more of an effect you will feel.

“I’ve been involved with homes that have installed over $2 million worth of sensitive equipment,” said Arthur Kelm, CEO of Ground One AV Inc., a consulting/engineering firm that offers power solutions and grounding for professional recording setups and high-end homes. facilities. “The sad reality is that electrical power, generator power and solar power are not adequate for critical load applications like these.”

Behind Today’s Power Grid Struggles

Just as many parts of the world today struggle with the supply of potable water, power grids here in North America are struggling to meet the growing demand for electricity. Today’s electrical demands exceed existing electrical infrastructure as new residential and commercial buildings place increasing pressure on the system.

The number of households in the United States alone has increased from 52.8 million in 1960 to 127.59 million in 2018, according to Statista, while the number of appliances and electronic devices requiring electricity in these homes has also increased exponentially, with multiple televisions, laptops, smart devices, sophisticated lighting systems, home automation, etc., all powered by the existing power supply.

Just as industrialization has polluted drinking water supplies, just as population growth has created more people who need clean drinking water, increasing demands on the electrical grid are causing inconsistent and unstable power leading to brownouts, voltage sags and overvoltages.

Fortunately, for homeowners willing to invest time and money in research, or hire a qualified electronics integrator to help them, there are solutions to today’s energy challenges.

“The best way to counter the effects of inconsistent power created by a variable grid is to regulate the voltage going into your electronics and isolate the equipment from any problems on the grid,” explained Ken Erdmann, co -founder and co-owner of Erdmann Electric, Inc., based in Springville, Utah, and co-author of Fundamentals of Home Electronics, a CEDIA publication.

“To control power quality,” Kelm added, “one must first look at the source of the power and how it is distributed through the system. Ideally, all loads should be divided into categories and isolated each other.

Three types of electrical loads in today’s smart home

Today’s household electronics fall into three categories:

• Motor loads, which include refrigeration and air conditioning, which are certainly critical in the home but do not depend on clean, constant power for optimal operation

• Lighting and appliances, such as dimming circuits, microwaves, toasters, etc.

• Sensitive electronic loads, including audio video equipment and control systems, which require stable, clean and consistent power for optimum performance

The third category is the most sensitive to power spikes, surges, brownouts, and transients, which can be harmful or fatal to these electronic components.

“Failing to isolate the power supply can lead to performance issues that users will see in video systems, hear in audio equipment, and experience in digital control and home automation systems,” Erdmann said. “Fortunately, today’s technology provides solutions to the power issues plaguing homes today and by following best practices for sensitive electronic loads, users can protect their equipment from sudden and catastrophic and damage caused by prolonged exposure to unregulated power and improve the performance of their systems.

Using power isolation and voltage regulation to protect AV equipment and improve performance

Isolating power to sensitive loads is the first step in protecting expensive equipment and improving the performance of audio, video and control systems. Toroidal isolation transformers specifically designed for AV applications provide complete isolation of primary and secondary loads, clean power supply for electronic systems, and power line noise attenuation from 2 kHz to over 1 MHz. Low impedance provides instant, consistent power, with reduced noise and interference for better visual fidelity and a clearer, cleaner soundstage. Simply put, audio has better dynamics, image and bass, while video is noticeably sharper with more vivid colors, deeper blacks, better contrast and a more captivating overall image. Perhaps the most significant benefit of using isolation comes from the removal of voltage supply artifacts and harmonics that cause ongoing reliability issues for sophisticated modern home technology systems.

In addition to power supply isolation, voltage regulation plays a key role in AV system protection and performance. “In a typical North American system, line voltage can range from less than 90 volts to over 130 volts,” Erdmann said. “Getting this variance to a stable 120 volt, ±5 volt output is critical.” There are several ways to regulate voltage in sensitive electronic systems, including a complete online UPS system, which adds battery backup to the inverter/regenerator design, providing pure sine wave output even when the AC power is lost.

“A battery backup system is important for microprocessor-based components, but it shouldn’t be the only method of voltage regulation in a sensitive system,” Erdmann added. Multi-tap isolation transformers that monitor and control output voltage are able to seamlessly step to the correct output voltage, providing clean, uninterrupted power without surges, sags, or spikes.

Power and protect your home technology systems like a pro

Recording and post-production studios have relied on power supply isolation and voltage regulation technology to separate sensitive electronic loads for decades, with Kelm playing a part in designing a part of this technology. Today’s smart home technology systems require the same level of attention to ensure clean power reaches critical components, improving reliability and enhancing the overall technology experience.

“Power and grounding are at the heart of any electronic system,” Kelm noted. “Keeping voltage distortion, current harmonics, normal mode noise, and common mode noise to a minimum in a power distribution system is absolutely necessary for reliable operation.

Best Practices for Powering and Protecting Sensitive Electronic Loads

Choosing the right equipment for power protection and management is the first step in cleaning up the “dirty” electricity that passes through power grids to homes today.

Following documented best practices when choosing and installing power protection can mean the difference between an improved technology experience that includes fully immersive audio and video and malfunctioning equipment, frustration, and unexpected costs. when equipment fails due to inconsistent power supply.

In addition to ensuring electrical loads entering the home’s most sensitive systems are protected and regulated, here are the top eight considerations when installing power management systems in a high-end home technology system. :

• A properly designed and installed grounding system

• Components must be connected to an electrostatic shielded isolation transformer

• Power protection device must include low-pass filtering to mitigate EMI, RFI, and harmonics

• Surge protection should be non-sacrificial to protect against power spikes and surges

• Proper gauge twisted wiring must be used to power the outlets.

• The distance between the isolation transformer and the outlets must not exceed 15 meters or 45 feet

• The isolation transformer must use hospital grade plugs or equivalent

• Battery backup power (UPS) must be available for components equipped with microprocessors

Brand Legrand Mid-Atlantic products offers its High Power DC Power Distribution series, specifically for managing power on the AV rack. Available in 200W and 300W models, both units offer high current capability for up to 24 devices – maximizing the same voltage in a single unit, 5V, 12V or 24V, or splitting 12/24V.

Torus power isolation transformers – not to be confused with power conditioners or surge suppressors – decouple and isolate electronic components from the power source to eliminate transients and improve audio quality by dramatically reducing noise from background while improving dynamics, imaging and bass.

Panamax’s single rack unit, 20 AMP 8 BlueBOLT, offers programmable outlets with auto-reset capability.g

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