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Do you have surge protection?
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A battery backup eliminates all of these problems when configured properly. It's more expensive than a surge protector, but in the end it can be well worth the extra money.

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Owners of tube-based, analog or high-definition TVs, or HD monitors, however, will not necessarily have to opt for an expensive UPS in order to be protected and to have an enjoyable viewing experience. Cathode-ray tubes, or CRTs, are among the most robust of display technologies, and they can be safeguarded adequately by a quality AV-specific surge protector. It's only when you add a TiVo, a multimedia PC, a multimedia server or a DLP projection TV to the equation that you really have to start thinking about increased protection and UPS.

Don't overlook the minutiae
Buyers will want to ensure that the surge protection capabilities of an AV-specific UPS will deal effectively with real-world electrical problems. But Donovan reminds users to focus attention on features and capabilities beyond basic AC power protection when choosing a battery backup.

"You need to make sure your unit will have a protected telephone jack if you're using a TiVo or a satellite receiver. You will need to protect the Ethernet connection to make sure that you can safely hook up to your home's network, which is increasingly becoming a popular way to share movies between a Media Center PC and TV. And you will also need to protect the cable TV's coaxial cable because, if it runs above ground, it can be especially susceptible to surges."

He advises consumers to study the small print of device warranties, too, especially coverage for surge and lightning damage. Not all manufacturers offer it. "Some of our competitors, for example, will tell you in their manual, straight out, to turn off the equipment if there is a lightning storm nearby, which defeats the purpose. And if the equipment is damaged, some of the competition claims that that's the job of the unit -- to sacrifice itself -- and this sort of damage is not covered under warranty, and you're left holding the bag and having to buy a new one."

For added peace of mind, Donovan recommends that consumers seek out equipment that offers lifetime equipment repair or replacement guarantees covering the AV components connected to the device.

"What consumers do need to remember, though, is that a surge suppressor is not lightning protection," says Drengenberg. "If your house is struck directly by lightning, your equipment's going to be vaporized -- whether you've got a surge suppressor or not."

The biggest no-no
Frugal consumers might find the cost of AV-specific UPS devices a bit high. They retail from $299 up to $1,200-plus, depending on features, integration with home automation technology and battery backup runtime -- and they might be sorely tempted to purchase an inexpensive PC battery backup for use with AV equipment.

That is a big no-no.

The power requirement of AV equipment is very different than it is for a computer, says Donovan. "When you first turn on a computer, it draws about 70 amps for a few milliseconds. When you first turn on your larger amplifiers and your bigger TVs, we've found that these draw 400 amps for almost as long as a full second, and when you try to connect a PC-specific battery backup unit to AV equipment, it'll literally overload and shut off." In fact, he says, it's fairly easy to break a PC-specific UPS by using it with audio-visual equipment, since there's a high likelihood that you'll damage its inverter.

So, don't pinch pennies when buying surge or UPS protection for expensive AV equipment. Protect that investment with the right gear for the job.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy-- Posted: Sept. 28, 2005
 
 
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