No matter how advanced AV equipment becomes, it is useless if the electricity powering it is erratic and surge-ridden, resulting in inconsistent performance and even outright failure if the sensitive circuits within get fried. This is why power conditioning products such as Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSes) are so central to building reliable AV infrastructure operations—especially when it comes to sustaining mission-critical environments.
AV Technology spoke with leading manufacturers of power conditioning products to learn how their latest breed of connected solutions are helping to increase the uptime and longevity of AV equipment—and making tech managers’ lives easier, too.
The Latest Trends
According to the experts, remotely monitoring/controlling power supply quality, extending power conditioning to every space that uses AV equipment, and managing electrical voltages in all aspects are the big trends influencing power conditioning products today.
"The latest trends are IP monitoring, control, and network pings," said Christos Desalernos, product manager, power, at Nortek Security & Control. "The ability to monitor the integrity of the power can help the tech managers be proactive if they see a voltage abnormality. With cloud-based monitoring systems such as Panamax’s BlueBOLT, you have power history that you can take to your client and in turn possibly take it to the utility company so they can rectify the situation.”
"The rise of telecommuting and remote offices/workers has placed increased emphasis on conference spaces, and AV and collaboration systems," added Lauren Simmer, director of marketing for AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection’s SurgeX. Essentially, every single space that uses AV equipment requires power conditioning to keep it safe—no matter how small.
“Within the commercial AV industry, there’s increasing concern not only for over-voltage but under-voltage as well,” said Nyron Kahrim, applications specialist for Middle Atlantic Products’ Legrand AV Division. “This is a trend that’s born from the industry’s evolution from analog to digital devices, which are very sensitive to power variations and require extremely clean power.”
What Tech Managers Are Asking For
Just as important as the trends driving power conditioning technology are the needs of the AV technical directors who use this equipment. So what are they asking for?
“Middle Atlantic is seeing more growth in our UPS line due to tech managers wanting the benefit of not only backup during power outages but also a clean power supply and, subsequently, a longer device life cycle,” Kahrim said. “They also want a system that can log and deliver data on power anomalies and system responses, so they can stay informed about the health of their AV systems.”
Tech managers are also interested in “power foundations.” These are electrical supply systems to AV equipment that have power conditioning already built in, ensuring that everything that gets plugged is protected from voltage issues. "To protect their equipment and avoid system downtime, tech managers are prioritizing power foundations,” Simmer said.
Remote power monitoring is proving popular with tech managers, who find that “the ability to ping devices on a network and tie that into a conditional reboot is invaluable," Desalernos said. "They can contact their client letting them know that there was a network issue and that it has been resolved; although, in most cases the client was not aware there was an issue. Now the tech manager has the client on the phone and they can ask if there are any other services that they need at that time—thus, a soft sales pitch."
Products That Stand Out
The companies who spoke to AVT for this article all sell power conditioning products for AV. So we asked them what features made their offerings stand out from the competition.
“Middle Atlantic’s patented Series Protection power distribution solution uses a sophisticated microprocessor that more closely monitors voltage,” Kahrim said. “If a power anomaly occurs, it will turn the device off when voltage exceeds plus or minus 1 percent of the predefined threshold and turn it back on only when it’s within that very limited voltage window.”
“Middle Atlantic is also a pioneer in automatic power restoration, saving the AV tech manager the extra task of manually turning on systems that were shut down,” he added. “Our intelligent power capabilities are also an option in our UPS units, which are being used more frequently for power conditioning.”
According to Nortek Security & Control’s Desalernos, "Panamax and Furman are the leaders in mission-critical surge suppression and design comprehensive filters that filter out all AC line noise that comes from the utility companies and noise from devices within the system. What sets us apart is that our devices are also compatible with LAN (Local Area Network) control. This allows our products to be specified in high-security applications where cloud-based systems are unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection’s SurgeX products “combine true surge elimination, EMI/RFI filtration, and unsurpassed diagnostic intelligence to help tech managers diagnose, monitor, and protect the sensitive and critical systems of their business,” Simmer said. “SurgeX’s patented Advanced Series Mode technology eliminates surges, rather than suppressing surge energy, so that no harmful spikes are let through to devices. The multi-stage technology never degrades, as it doesn’t rely on self-sacrificial Metal Oxide Varistor (MOV) technology.”
Making Life Easier
AV tech managers like power conditioning products that make their working lives easier. After all, there’s more than enough problems for them to cope with in managing audio and video, without having to worry about power too.
Middle Atlantic said it eases tech managers’ lives by including Internet of Things (IoT) network connectivity in its power conditioning products.
“IoT solutions are game changers for AV tech managers,” Kahrim said. “Not only can they monitor and control AV systems from anywhere, but they can do so more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Our products are also engineered with tomorrow in mind, allowing organizations to expand the capabilities of their power protection system as their needs grow or to unlock new ones as technology continues to evolve—all without purchasing, installing, or managing additional hardware.
AMETEK Electronic Systems Protection points to enhanced customer contact as its way of de-stressing tech managers."SurgeX stays in tune with market needs through communication and support for AV integrators and tech managers in the space to continually support smooth facility operation," Simmer said. "Our current product portfolio and technologies can support a wide variety of installations, and our team supports integrators with design help and education to create adequate power foundations.”
Finally, Nortek Security & Control power conditioning products allow tech managers to be more efficient, cost effective, and proactive, “which increases their value to their customers while increasing profitability for the firm," Desalernos said. "The real magic happens with our ELAN Management Cloud coupled with Panamax and Furman devices, [which gives users one point of access] to the network and all the items that reside on said network.”
The Bottom Line
Today’s power conditioning products are meant to make power management systems more far-reaching, protective, and easier to reset. There’s no reason for AV equipment to fail due to power spikes any more—the solutions are out there.