UPS for home theater system - what to look for?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by emaja, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. macrumors 68000

    This is the closest forum that I could find, so please feel free to move it if I posted in the wrong place.

    I want to buy a UPS for my home theater system. I just want to be able to shut things down the right way in the event of a power outage and am not in any way interested in watching TV while power is out so run time is not an issue.

    I am looking at APC's Smart App Sinewave series, but see that the Smart App Intelligent series is cheaper since it uses their "adaptive" sinewave instead of a pure sinewave. Will that make a difference?

    The other question is that the UPSs designed specifically for HT have "high bandwidth RF protection" whatever that is. These have EMI/RFI filters. Do those serve the same purpose?

    I also do not want to pass any additional noise - or introduce new noise - into the system. I know "power conditioners" are a controversial topic in the audio world and don't want this to turn into one of those threads, but do these units I mention also serve that purpose?

    Thanks in advance from someone who knows nothing about electricity except how to plug things in and flip a switch - LOL!
  2. macrumors 68000

    I should mention that I am not looking for a high-priced home theater specific UPS unit if one for a computer would work just as well. I do also want it to look more like a stereo component that a computer since it is going into my home theater stand.
  3. macrumors regular

    scan the Mac Pro forum

    Check the Mac Pro forum for UPS threads. People often want UPSes for "servers".
  4. macrumors 6502a

    I cant speak for the UPS part, but I have a power conditioner on my home theater system, granted its very old at this point. I can certainly tell a difference in the sound quality with and without it. Not so much here in the US, but when I first bought it, I was living in japan. The power where I lived was very noisey 50hz power, and it made a huge impact.

    so I suppose depending on age of wiring in the home, and also the power infastructure quality and age could also impact noise in the current even before you add refrigerators, microwaves, clothes dryers and such....
  5. macrumors 65816


    Unless you're protecting some sort of home theater PC, I don't think I'd be too concerned about power beyond guarding against surges and spikes. Your home theater gear isn't stateful in the way a computer is, so shutting it down suddenly isn't going to result in data loss or corruption. Computers are a different story.

    I have two UPSes protecting two servers I am running. They are configured to send the servers into hibernation after a couple of minutes without power, then bring them back online once power is restored.
  6. macrumors member

    People here won't be as helpful as....

    Look, you want to go to and search for UPS. There are lots of threads about it. That said, the highlights...

    Don't waste your money on an expensive UPS, just get one with a big enough rating to handle the gear you have. APC makes some of the nicest most expensive UPS's on the market, if having the best is for you, get one, otherwise look at other brands too.

    For your setup:

    • if you have an htpc, connect the usb port on it to the ups and set it to shutdown after a certain time on powerloss.
    • I keep my cable box in the ups so a quick blink wont cause a reboot (cause time warner uses crappy equipment that needs 10 minutes to reboot).
    • Feel free to plug your avr into the UPS, but you may be better off putting it on the surge only outlets, no worries in letting it shut down (unless you have separate amps and pre-pros and such)
    • You TV can be the same as the avr, though if you have a projector, you might want a UPS for the lamp, however this is going to suck some major power, so could make for an expensive investment.
    • Xbox, gaming consoles, etc, you decide how you want them to shut down, i can see arguments for both sides

    Now, most power conditioners, are simply glorified surge protectors, and the vast majority aren't going to make any difference in how your system sounds unless you pay a whole lot of money for them, in which case your brain will think it sounds better so you don't feel bad for paying a huge some of money for a powerstrip with lights - in actuality there will be no perceivable difference in sound. Most conditioners use some sort of cheap filtering and the nice ones have isolation transformers. Most equipment in your living room already runs on dc and has a powersupply (read transformer in it), so the power gets cleaned up by each individual devices power supply. Isolation transformers are only handy when you have exceedingly dirty neutrals and you are creating balanced power (+60v, -60v) as opposed to 0, +120v that we have regularly coming out of the wall. That said unless you live inside an industrial plant that uses a lot of nasty motors, you should be fine.

    That said the ONE situation where I could see it being usefull is in the above posters example, in Japan their mains are 100v, with US equipment, thats a little too low for things to be happy, especially switching power supplies in some amplifiers (unless your gear has an autoswitching powersupply that adjusts to the mains voltage - like for your apple product does), . If your conditioner has a multitap transformer or other voltage compensator, then you would be well served to use one to ensure that your equipment is receiving the correct voltage - if you live in japan, or have abnormally low voltage (below 115 is some cause for concern, below 110, you got issues)

    Good luck, and remember, Nothing will go further towards improving you sound like having quality speakers, and source material.
  7. macrumors 68000

    I didn't think about posting there until I already had this one set up. Silly me. :p

    I have an Onkyo TX-SR608. It's integrated with the pre- and power amp all in the same box. It draws 620w according to Onkyo, so I was going to leave that out of the equation since that puts me into serious "big boy" territory for cost.

    Is leaving that out OK?

    I don't have a projector, but a 50" Sony DLP rear projection TV. Does that count as a projector? I think so, but asking anyway.

    Since those won't all be in use at the same time, I was going to use the highest - the PS3 at 200w - as the one I used to figure out which one I needed. Good idea?

    I live in an apartment and do not have control over the power quality, so I was really just looking for a real way to protect my stuff best I could. It is not high-end stuff by any means - the Onkyo and a set of Paradigm surround speakers and a HSU sub on the short list, but it is important to me.

    I know power conditioners are very controversial in the HT community. Many people see them as "snake oil" and a way for stores to pad profits. I am not really looking for a conditioner, but do not want to add any additional noise to the system. If a UPS adds a rudimentary conditioning as a by-product, so be it.

    Is CyberPower any good? I was looking at those and not APC as stated in the original post. The links are for the models I wanted to reference, but I called them APC instead of CyberPower. Sorry.
  8. macrumors regular

    I don't personally own this, but have heard great things about it. It is roughly the same as the lesser expensive APC backup but I think it has similar specs to the $400+ one.

    I order all my A/V cables and mounts etc from them and they are fantastic.

    This is what I use on my system. I got it off for about $50 with shipping and couldn't be happier. SPP4200WA17 Philips Ultimate Home Theater Surge Protector

    Also, when I had my Tivo Premiere installed, the guy said not to run the coax into the unit because it can scrub out signal that the DVR and the cable modem need to receive from your provider. I hadn't had issues before, but haven't had issues since disconnecting from the theater surge protector.
  9. macrumors 68000

    I saw that at Monoprice too, but unfortunately it does not have enough w/va capacity for my system. Bummer, as it seems like a nice unit. I love Monoprice for cables and stuff.
  10. macrumors regular

    Really? I have an Onkyo TX-SR806 with a Panasonic Blu Ray player, Apple Extreme Base Station, Cable Modem, Vizio 47' LCD, Tivo Premiere, XBOX 360 and Nintendo Wii hooked up to my Philips surge protector and have no problems at all. I am not an expert and don't know exactly what your limitations are within your system, but I can tell you that the Monoprice must be better than mine.
  11. macrumors member

    so here is what i would say - you really need to protect the dlp rp tv... and just long enough for you to turn it off. Everything else should be ok without battery, unless you want to be able to save your ps3 game or whatever... that said, this is a good price point:

    I use a cyber power for my mini server and it works great...

    On my home theater i have one of these:

    It acts like a UPS without the battery, if it senses the power fluctuating or the line browning out, it cuts power before the equipment is damaged. It won't reconnect until the power stabilizes.

    The combination of the two of these would meet your needs with room to expand.

    good luck! and let us know if you have more questions
  12. macrumors 68000

    According to Onkyo, my TX-SR608 draws 620w :eek:

    Add to that my 210w TV, 400w for 3 game systems, and 82w for my DVD, CD, ATV, and Tivo - that gets me to 1312w. If I build on 25% for overages and expansion I come to 1640w. For that wattage, I was told that I would need about 30% more in VA.

    That means I need to look for a pretty big UPS, or two smaller ones. I am looking at doing two smaller ones for size and weight considerations as well as cost.
  13. macrumors 68000

    Sorry for not using multi-quote as I was posting already before your post showed up.

    The DLP is my big concern and maybe I don't even need to worry about the receiver at all and am being paranoid. I am not sure how I want to go on that one.

    I did post over at Audioholics and there is one guy who only posts in power related threads and takes them over to the point that they become spitting contests. It just shuts down all rational discussion. He jumped in and the others are jumping all over him now, so that thread might just be dead now.

    Thanks for being so level headed here guys. The help is really appreciated.
  14. macrumors regular

    I see what you are saying, but wouldn't you only need that wattage if you were running everything at once? How often would you do that, or do you just have a master on/off so that everything is powered on or powered off at the same time? I only run the Onkyo and TV with one other peripheral at a time. Also are the figures that you are getting the max draw or the normal draw for each device? Just throwing that out there since your system seems very similar to mine. I did look up the specs and my power surge protector was rated to 1875 watts.
  15. macrumors 68000

    That's what I am not sure of. Do I need the capacity for all the devices, or just the devices that will be in use at any one time?

    If the latter is the case, then the TV, receiver, Tivo (always on) and one game system is the max that will be on at any one time. That gives me a total of 1056w with 25% overhead for a total of 1320w and 1716va. That means that I can use the CyberPower PR1500LCDRT2U found HERE that Amazon has for $460-ish.

    That would be great news!
  16. macrumors member

    To answer your first question, you only need enough capacity to power what might be on at any one time.

    Second, Don't take this the wrong way, as I am at work, so trying to do this quickly, but you seem stuck on having a pure sine wave inverter, and I'm not sure I understand why. You don't need one, you need power long enough to shut down your equipment safely. The unit you link to above, is a line interactive ups, this means that you are only running on the batteries if there is a total power loss or a brown out under 90v or above 140v. The rest of the time you are getting pure sinewave power from the power company. My point is this, all the fancy sinewave talk only applies when you are running off of batteries, which you aren't planning to do for a long time, and it wouldn't matter even if you did. Your equipment will not be damaged by a modified sine wave inverter found in less expensive UPSs, now here is why.

    A UPS is essentially several small 12vdc batteries (like the big one in your car), with an inverter to make 120vac (like you plug into the lighter socket in your car). Motor speed and operation is controlled by the frequency of power(and thus the shape and rate of change of the sine wave). Its really important that AC motors get clean power with a nice sinewave - thats why you can't plug your laser printer into a modified sinewave inverter and expect good results - or any, this also applies to microwaves, fans, clocks (old ones use the frequency cycle of the power to maintain time). None of your equipment contains ac motors, a microwave, or any of the other gear that requires pure sine wave power. All of you gear has built in power supplies that convert the power to 5vdc or 12vdc, or sometimes 24vdc, but it is all dc current. When you are running on battery backup, DC power from the batteries is inverted into 120vac and then goes to your gear, which converts it back to DC. The AC is only a transmission method from one DC source to another DC source, so it doesn't matter if it is a pure sinewave or not. Some of the powersupplies will run more efficiently with pure sine wave power, but that just means they will generate a little extra heat (and i mean a real little). This is all fine, as you gear is going to run for 5 minutes? maybe 10 if you are on the toliet when the power goes out, and you gotta finish your business before turning everything off. 10 minutes of slightly dirty power isn't going to harm your gear.

    That said, if spending the extra money on sinewave makes you feel better than do it - ultimately you need to feel like your investment is protected. I have a home theater comparable to yours and I don't feel like i even need a ups, but thats just me.

    Good Luck and enjoy....
  17. macrumors 68000

    That is GREAT! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain that in such a clear manner.

    I guess what it comes down to is that I spent all this money on my HT that I feel that I should protect it with more than 2 $25 surge protectors. Maybe I am just looking for something to spend more money on - LOL!

    At this point it looks like I just have to decide if the benefits justify the cost and that is something that you guys cannot help me with. I do appreciate the efforts to educate this thick-headed electrical idiot.
  18. macrumors 6502

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    Never sold a UPS when selling audiophile equipment, but did sell surge protectors and line conditioners. I have an older Panamax M5300-EX. Granted I got it for a discount due to being in the business and primarily got it to deal with spikes and brown outs. Not concerned with line conditioning, but in my former place we did experience power fluctuations and this was nice to have to quickly kill the power to my AV equipment if there was a huge and quick swing. I recommend it and haven't had any issues with it running an Onkyo AV receiver, a Denon AV receiver, DVR, LCD TV, Apple TV, DVD player, & a Wii. Rather have this than a surge protector, but each his own.

    That's their current model which is the same series as mine. Would get one again if needed, but my EX has been running great for close to 7 years now.
  19. macrumors 603

    This is just an aside suggestion as something to look at depending on where you live.

    I deal with a lot of large UPSes at work, and I've realized that beefy older UPSes with tired batteries have an extremely low resale value, since big data centers tend to replace them on schedule and most people aren't interested in a 4U rackmountable 2KVA UPS with batteries that are probably going to need replacing.

    The advantages are that they've got a lot of output, and being "pro"/server UPSes, they're pure sine (which as said isn't likely to matter for consumer electronics that'll be on battery for all of a minute a couple of times a year, but why not), and generally high quality, plus you may not care that the runtime is drastically reduced due to older batteries. Being designed for a 19" equipment rack, they also would probably fit nicely into a home theater rack, so long as it can handle the EXTREME weight (seriously, heavy). Disadvantage, of course, is that they're massive for most home use, massively oversized for what you're likely to be using it for, are going to be somewhat inefficient in terms of wasting electricity to maintain the batteries, and they usually will need the batteries replaced eventually at a cost of ballpark a couple hundred dollars. Some of them can be noisy, if your HT rack is just open in your living room, but the ones I've used only get loud if they're actually on battery--the fans are off otherwise.

    Not necessarily saying this is what you want to do, but it's worth checking eBay or Craigslist for things with local pickup (the shipping will kill you otherwise) if you want to feel like you're super-elite-pro with your power protection.

    I, I should note, don't do this personally, although I almost always buy APC since I've had good luck with both consumer and pro hardware of theirs. TrippLite is also ok, but most of their stuff tends to be bigger, and they've slid a little in recent years. My few experiences with cheap brand CyberPower have been disappointing, though--underperform and half the usable life of an equivalent APC unit.
  20. macrumors 68030


    I have a pretty decent HTS and the only thing I have on a UPS is my HD DVR and the 2 TB drive attached to it. I mostly do this for brief brownouts/blackouts so I don't have to worry about he 10 minutes it takes to reacquire the satellite and come up again. I just use a cheap UPS I got for $40 from Newegg.
  21. macrumors 68000

    That's something I was looking at as well. At $500, I thought maybe I could get a UPS for not much more and have that additional protection. That's why I started thinking UPS instead.


    The APC unit that would work is $680-ish and the equivalent CyberPower is $150 less. If the Panamax is $500 and the CP UPS is $520, then I see no harm in spending the extra $20. EVERYONE says APC is far superior to CP and that is my impression too. At $200 more than the Panamax, then the cost of the APCs seem to outweigh the benefits for me.

    Now it just comes down to what I want to spend. Sorry to seem wishy-washy, but I can really see this either way. I just need to figure it out for myself now.

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