What power conditioner is best in ~$100 range?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ZestyOne, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. ZestyOne macrumors member


    Oct 18, 2009
    I have a new macbook pro, new klipsch speakers as well as a brand new 27" mac cinema display.

    The power isn't very good, because I can tell my speakers "pop" for no reason quite loudly sometimes, and I already had an outlet in the wall go out from power failure.

    Electrician came to fix our outlets and all our wiring but I still don't trust it entirely. Im a designer so the last thing I need is my equipment getting raped.

    I was looking at this:


    But I'm not quite sure if thats the "right" thing I need. I dont know the difference between voltage regulator, power conditioner, UPS, power strip, and all this other ****. I just want to make sure my stuff is safe.

    Someone else recommended a UPS instead, "anything by APC" but honestly there are so many on amazon I have no idea how they're different (theres like 15 different models all within the $40-80 price range that all vary and are like dollars difference..)

    Any recommendations? Exact links would be extremely helpful

  2. ZestyOne thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 18, 2009
  3. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    I don't know everything about line conditioners and the like (not as much as any qualified architect of high availability/mission critical systems)

    but I don't think a surge suppressor will offer you what you want. I think the hierarchy is (in terms of protection) Surge Protection -> Line Conditioning -> UPS.

    If you get moderate brownouts or maybe even the voltage is too hot then the line conditioner should be able to attenuate or boost the voltage to the desired level.

    If you can afford it i'd get a decent UPS to cover much scarier situations or where the conditions are extremely bad (like old electrical equipment).

    Again i'm not qualified and hopefully someone in the know will correct me , but go with any decent UPS that offers protection for all your gadgets. Though I'd go with a higher quality line conditioner than a cheap quality UPS (if the price was similar).
  4. ChloeC. macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2010
    I would also recommend a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) by APC. We have one for each computer in the house, plus a specialized unit for our home theater. A UPS will prevent problems from brown outs, surges, etc. because it uses a battery to supply consistent power to your electronics.

    The only tricky thing about a UPS is to make sure it supplies more watts or volt amps than your equipment requires. If the UPS is undersized, it will not supply enough power to keep your equipment running in the event of a power failure. Try searching for "how to size a UPS" in Google.
  5. ZestyOne thread starter macrumors member


    Oct 18, 2009
    Thank you eddy!

    Also chloe, that is the most helpful google term ever. I found this which is ****in perfect:

    Thanks so much
  6. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    Just an FYI, read the manufacturers spec on any UPS that you choose as not all are also conditioners. It has to do with Sine wave propagation and damping while suppressing the spikes and maintaining correct voltage patterns. Some only protect against power outtages and do nothing for line conditioning.
  7. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    Someone's been reading a little too much line conditioner BS.

    ZestyOne, the product you originally linked to won't do much. If you are picking up radio or TV interference or get frequent voltage spikes (lightning, or large electric motors operating near by, for example) then maybe. It will protect your equipment, but a cheaper surge protector will also do that just as well. Get one with a connected equipment guarantee, make sure you connect you equipment in a way that meets that guarantee (may require surge suppression on the communications lines for example) and save any documentation it requires you to save (receipt, proof of purchase, etc).

    Something like this
    may or may not help. It claims to regulate the voltage of the line, which isn't really necessary for most equipment with a good power supply, and when regulation kicks in you are more likely to get more noise and pops in the speakers.

    There are some surge protectors out there that are basically big inductors in a box. They claim to be better than standard surge protectors, and they may be worth a look.

    Most UPSes will not solve your noise problem, and won't protect your stuff any better than a $20 surge protector. Essentially all the consumer grade UPSes out there only switch to backup power when they detect a loss of power, which takes some time. Connected devices may see a loss of power for a few milliseconds. Once you are running on backup power, the quality might be much worse than wall power. A lot of cheap inverters, like those built into UPSes, put out a modified sine wave, which is misleading as it is really a stepped wave that very roughly approximates a sine wave and has the same RMS voltage. Switching power supplies (like a Magsafe or PC power supply) have to work harder to clean up modified sine power and tend to get warmer and make more noise. But that doesn't even matter much as the purpose of those UPSes is only to keep you from losing data in a power failure, which isn't even a problem if you have a MBP since you have a built-in online UPS.

    More expensive UPSes are known as online UPSes. They are always running in the same mode, so they never have to switch over. They are immune to tiny variations in power and do a good job blocking almost anything that might come in the line. They basically work by continuously converting line power to DC to charge a battery, and at the same time run an inverter from the battery to power your stuff. Batteries are very good filters, and additional filtering in the step-down stage should block anything else. You should be able to find an online UPS with a pure sine inverter, which is what it sounds like- an inverter that puts out pure sine wave voltage with low noise and no major artifacts. This kind of UPS is expensive, almost certainly out of your price range, but it is the best you can get.
    Expect to pay around $1000 for an online UPS.

    In short, a regular UPS won't do much for you except keep stuff running in a power outage. A voltage regulator or line conditioner might or might not do anything. If you just want to protect equipment, get a good surge protector with a connected equipment guarantee.
  8. oldschool006 macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2009
    About how long will an average UPS unit remain reliable?
  9. kjos8035 macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2011
    I have faced the same issues you're describing in my apartment. I ended up buying a Monster HTS1000, and I could not be happier with the results. It regulates power, cleans it, does all that good stuff. People can call bs all they want, but the thing actually works. My monitor no longer flickers every once in a while like it did, no popping from my high end home theater system (M&K 5.1 surround with a Denon AVR1911), and surprisingly a large boost in sound quality and clarity from the home theater setup. There is literally no static or any noise from the speakers, even when cranked to 11. I'm an audiophile, so I can definitely tell a difference.

    Any kind of backup power supply isn't necessarily going to achieve the same results.

  10. RedReplicant macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2010
    Sure that pop isn't from the system disabling the sound output to save power? I can tell every time mine turns on/off from a pop and I can hear very, very quiet static through the headphones when nothing is playing but the sound is still on.
    Fix here: http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/29024/antipop
  11. NeedMoreVideo macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2011
    +1 on what m85476585 said.

    A surge suppressor is essentially just a circuit breaker. If too much voltage tries to flow through the switch, it cuts off the power. This won't do anything at all if your issue is "crappy power" which is just power that isn't a nice smooth sine wave. Crappy power causes speaker pops. There really isn't anything an electrician can do about it on the line itself as the power travels many miles before it gets to your house.

    A UPS is designed to keep your machine on in the even of a power outage. Like m85476585 said, an offline UPS wont do anything for "crappy power" while an online ($$$$$$) one will.

    A line conditioner is yet another device different from a surge suppressor and a UPS. A line conditioner is supposed to "smooth out" the power coming out of the wall into a nice regular pattern. These are actually pretty new-to-market devices as most people have not had devices that care at all about the quality of the power until after the year 2000's. 10 years seems like a lot in computing, but its nothing in the power industry since its been around a long time.

    Unfortunately I don't know the current market for these things. I used to live way out in the boonies and what I remember is that Audiophile companies made stuff that ripped you off, and ebay had copies that did nothing. I just moved away from there to not deal with it and I now get nice crisp clean power out of the wall without needing anything.
  12. kukrisna macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2011

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