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The Saint

Power conditioners / Surge protectors...

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Hi

I need some advice on the best way to protect my gear.

We did a gig on Saturday and just on half time, there was an almighty popping and crackling from the PA. I looked across at my mixers and FX board and they were flashing like a Christmas tree.
[size=4]Before I had chance to bring the levels down everything went dead, including stage amps, Roland drums, the lot.[/size]

[size=4]I disconnected everything from the mains, whilst a tech guy from the venue investigated. We then took our supply from another source (a back room) and [/size]continued[size=4] with the gig without incident. [/size]

[size=4]I didn't think too much of it at the time but later realised that everything could have been fried, leaving me with a hefty repair bill. I suppose we could have been fried as well, but at least I wouldn't have had the repair bill...[/size]

[size=4]So, my question is this. Does a surge protector have the same qualities as a power conditioner? Should I have both or will one cover all basses?[/size]

[size=4]​I'm rather [/size]ignorant[size=4] of these things, but the incident has focussed my attention somewhat....[/size]

[size=4]What do you guys use?[/size]

[size=4]Cheers[/size]

[size=4]Graham[/size]

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I wish I could ask a question in such a humorous way :D
I'd like to know the answer as well, although the only thing I actually have plugged is the amp (which is obviously connected to the cab and bass).

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I would recommend using a UPS or Uninterruptible power supply,basically a powered battery,you take all your power from that and if there are spikes or cutouts in the supply the battery provides a smooth regular supply which protects your gear.
There are different sizes, there are rack mount versions used for servers but you wont need a big one, just something that would power you for 30 seconds or so.
Also useful for combatting the evil decibel meter power cutout.

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The UK mains power supply is relatively good (compared to other countries). The main problems are power surges (short spikes of power that can be caused by, for example, a lightning strike somewhere in the power lines) and short power cuts (where the power goes off and then back on again within a very short time).

A short power cut isn't a problem in itself but when everything suddenly switches back on at the same time you can sometimes blow fuses.

A "power conditioner" is generally considered unnecessary in the UK. It won't do any harm to have one but it won't prevent either of the above issues (unless it also has "surge protection" built-in).

A "surge protector" will stop power surges from reaching your equipment and can be considered useful.

But neither of these will do anything to smooth out power off/'on problems.

A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is a battery powered device that keeps power going to connected devices when the mains power goes off. It will protect against power off/on problems but these are HEAVY !! They contain small lead-acid batteries so adding one to your rig is going to be like carrying a car battery around with you. You'll also have to keep it connected and powered up regularly to ensure that the battery is fully charged (you can't just leave it in the van for a couple of weeks and expect it to work next time you use it).

There's no simple solution that will fix all of these issues. Very few people will use a UPS in a gig situation but having a few surge protectors is probably a good move.

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Hi Karlfer

I suppose it's a bit of black humour! At the time it was no big deal, but my wife made me only too aware of the possibilities after the gig. Seriously though, it could have been a whole lot worse. Hence the decision to ensure we don't get a repeat.

Monckyman..

Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to go about finding the right system for me. What should I be looking for in a UPS? I looked on e-Bay, but could only find stuff that seemed suitable for computer use. I want something to protect my PA, mixers and FX boards.

A Google search took me to a site that spoke about 'single-phase line-interactivation' systems..!! We're on a different planet there...

Could you provide me with a link to something suitable? Do Thomann sell something that would do, bearing in mind I live in France? I guess that similar systems are available across Europe.

Thanks

Graham

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Hi BOD2

Thanks, you posted while I was typing my reply...

I really don't want to add weight to my set up, having just bought a lightweight PA. I suppose I really want something that will just stop my gear getting damaged, as so nearly happened the other night. The ability to play on for a few seconds would be nice, but it's certainly not a priority. I just want a device that will cut in before anything goes bang.

Are the surge protectors you see in B&Q suitable? I assume that anything that takes a 13 amp socket will do, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Really wish I knew more about this new fangled electricity stuff....

Graham

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If you don't want to add weight then a UPS is not an option.

A "B&Q" (or similar) surge protector should do the job. You can buy them as "power strips" (4-way., 6-way etc.) with surge protection built-in so you can replace any existing power strips with surge protected ones. It's generally recommended that you don't daisy-chain surge protectors (i.e plug one into another) so its best to replace each existing power strip with a surge protected one.

Note that a surge protector will simply stop power surges reaching your equipment. They do NOT give you any protection against electric shock in the event of a wiring fault.

For protection against electric shock you need something called a RCD (Residual Current Device). This will trip out and cut off he power within milliseconds if it detected a potentially harmful fault in the mains supply.

Everyone should use RCDs. You can buy an RCD that will plug into the wall socket, then you plug a surge protected power strip into the RCD and your gear into that. This combination will give you protection against mains faults and surge protection too.

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Hi BOD2

Brilliant, that's exactly what I (and my gear) need.

Neither should be too expensive, a bonus.

Thanks

Graham

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Forget the UPS.
For your average gigging musician an RCD on the plug in the wall followed by an extension lead with Surge protection will cover the most dangerous of eventualities.

We've done gigs in lots of places with dodgy power, some with blackouts. The thing to worry about if the power goes off is the valve amps - they can fry pretty easily if it comes back on and they are not in standby. First thing we do if the lights go out is put the valve amps on standby. The rest should be fine with the RCD and Surge Protection.

Beware of the Serge:

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Thanks Brensabre

I think that's the way to go. A UPS would be problem for me as I have no knowledge of them and I'd have to take advice from a dealer. My French is ok for most things but when I don't even understand the English words associated with what I'm buying, I'm on a hiding to nothing from a dealer....

Cheers

Graham

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The sort of UPSs that are even remotely portable generally clip the top of the AC wave form off.
That's fine in an IT environment where everything you hang off the back of a UPS is digital, but hanging analogue gear off the back of it is likely to be an unpleasant experience.

Surge protectors offer some basic protection and are as cheap as chips.

IMO, the single most important piece of kit if you're worried about electric supplies is something like this:

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Thanks for all the advice.

I think I've settled on a RCD with surge protectors. Simple and fairly cheap...

I think the item above will tell you if the live and neutral are reversed. Used to have in in my caravan when touring. We don't need them here as the switching is different, but thanks anyway.

Graham

Edited by The Saint

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Not just L-N reversal but also other wiring faults. I carry one in my gig bag to check what I'm plugging into. Not everything-proof but a useful reassurance for a few pennies. I also plug in using an RCD - again, not everything-proof and probably redundant with modern wiring systems, but also pennies really so why not?

As for UPS, that's getting into the realms of quite specialised gear and I'd share icastle's point about the power quality. I've heard of 'true sinewave' units so I'm sure it would be possible, but at what cost?

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[quote name='flyfisher' timestamp='1399764461' post='2447519']
As for UPS, that's getting into the realms of quite specialised gear and I'd share icastle's point about the power quality. I've heard of 'true sinewave' units so I'm sure it would be possible, but at what cost?
[/quote]

About £250 for a basic 'no name' one, but that'll only buy you 500VA for about 6 minutes as there's an extra overhead involved in providing an unclipped sinewave.

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Aps surge protectors from amazon. Guarantee. Equipment. Also a rcd is must. About twenty pounds all in also a good sturdy hi fi mains cable

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Aps surge protectors from amazon. Guarantee. Equipment. Also a rcd is must. About twenty pounds all in also a good sturdy hi fi mains cable

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Aps surge protectors from amazon. Guarantee. Equipment. Also a rcd is must. About twenty pounds all in also a good sturdy hi fi mains cable whoops apc they are called

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