IP Adds Control To Surge Protection
Surge protection is a sector of the AV industry that may often be overlooked, despite its essential nature. There is little else that can destroy an entire system of gear like a surge of rogue energy (besides perhaps dropping it off a truck), which is why manufacturers of surge protectors approach the situation with zero tolerance.
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Surge technology has progressed to the point of almost eliminating the problem altogether. However, as the chips in AV components shrink, systems may still be at risk. “The current generation of our products has a zerolet- through technology that can stand an unlimited amount of worst-case surges. So the way we see it, this type of filter has solved the problem,” explained Michael McCook, founder of SurgeX. “This technology was extremely important to us to achieve because we have a 10-year warranty on our products and we have to constantly be looking 10 years down the road. The microprocessors in integrated system components are getting smaller, more dense and more susceptible to power line anomalies, so we have to react to that accordingly.”
Surges will always be issues because of the unstable power grid. “We’re dealing with a 100-year-old power grid that was designed for lighting and motors, which can handle large voltage swings and surges, but our sensitive AV equipment cannot,” said Furman’s domestic sales manager, Christos Desalernos.
Since the power grid will always be an issue, manufacturers have decided to focus their attention on giving users more control over their surge protectors. “What we’ve seen with recent trends in the last five years is more demand for voltage regulation in products and more need for battery backup,” Desalernos noted. “We’re also seeing people wanting to control their power conditioners through the internet via IP control. Our IP interface, Blue Bolt, can be controlled with your iPhone anywhere in the world, and it’s free to our contractors, which could be a good margin-making opportunity.”
IP control seems to be a feature that will be required in all future products. “Our new product development has moved into IP-addressable products,” McCook said. “These products can be controlled from PCs and laptops anywhere. Control of various system functions can be monitored, as well as events like outages and power consumption, allowing for much greener systems. The product can actually email users from the system to alert them of issues.”
With new features and old, surge protectors are essential to integrators’ bottom line, and their absence could spell disaster for a system. “Whatever the system design is, regardless of what’s built on top of the AC power platform, a surge protector makes the system that much more robust, so you’re not suffering from downtime,” McCook noted. “Once you remove all of the power line anomalies from the system, you’ve got a happy customer, and that tends to propagate repeat business.”