Power to the People
AC Treatments are a Smart Sell
By Mark Fleischmann
The most colorful come-on for the latest in power-line accessories comes from Richard Gray's Power Company: "Have you ever been in the shower when a so-called 'loved one' flushes the toilet resulting in a few seconds of scalding hot water pouring from the showerhead?" Ouch.
A correctly installed home theater or networked audio system should do no harm to any part of the anatomy. But power-related problems — not all that different from Gray's water-based scenario — can still plague your customers' AV systems with uneven performance and disappointment. A new crop of AC power treatments has sprung up to help solve the problem. Simply put, no custom-installed home entertainment system should be without one.
Electric power is not a perfect product handed down from above. Homes are situated varying distances from local power stations; those farthest away may receive a range of chronically inadequate voltages. When the power company is experiencing peak demand — routine in summer or winter — or sustains any damage to a plant, it may deliberately reduce voltage across the board, resulting in brownouts.
Certain conditions closer to home create briefer power disruptions, known as sags. If the neighborhood is using a lot of electricity, which it invariably does during peak evening "prime-time," voltage sags are an everyday occurrence. Even the home itself isn't safe. If someone activates a power-sucking appliance on the same household circuit, it is not unusual for lights to dim, a visual clue as to what's going on with the rest of the household's electrical capabilities. While a carefully installed entertainment system may receive power from a dedicated circuit breaker or fuse, even that doesn't guarantee a perfect supply of power, especially on a hot night when all the neighbors are using their air conditioners. Of course the most catastrophic surges result when lightning strikes — which never really happens, right? Yeah, right.