What does a power conditioner do? Although some AV pros debate over the need for power conditioners, their true benefit comes from their intended use. To deliver the proper voltage to sensitive equipment and handle loads with multiple devices. Conditioners smooth out the AC and keep the voltage constant when the load varies. Power conditioners also can provide surge suppression and noise filtering depending on the model, but these features are not its main purpose.
Conditioning power means that the AC line signal from the power company is being filtered for stability and even delivery. A quality power conditioner uses internal filter banks to isolate the individual power outlets to eliminates any interference between the devices plugged in. This is known as “noise suppression” and the rating measured in decibels will be listed on the specifications of the power conditioner. What you’re looking for is a higher decibel rating. The higher it is, the better the noise suppression. If a device does not specify the db rating you may do better to look at another model.
Power conditioners also have a “joule” rating which you’ve no doubt seen on regular power strips at Home Depot. The joule is a measurement of energy needed to sustain one watt for one second. This measurement is important for knowing how large of an electrical spike the unit can absorb before it gets damaged. The higher the joule rating, the more protection being provided against sudden power surges.
In a perfect world, electric power with impedance of zero ohms on all frequencies would eliminate the need for power conditions. Since different environments will present additional challenges besides what the power company is providing, it is important to be aware of some common deviations. Typical power problems can be:
- “Undervoltage” when the voltage drops below 90% for over a minute;
- Spikes or surges which can be caused by lightning or changes in large inductive loads
- “Overvoltage” when the voltage goes over 110% for over a minute
- Variations in frequency or harmonics
There are many choices in power conditioners and AV pros need to decide which features are more critical in different environments. Some provide protection from multiple power quality problems while others are focused on the voltage regulation.
Herman Pro AV has a wide range of power conditioners for all your power management needs.