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What is your thoughts on power conditioners vs. surge protectors?  Are they better if you want to protect components such as computers and a flat panel tv/home theater components?  I have a nice Panasonic plasma plugged into a surge protector along with some other home theater components.  Just recently, the tv has been shutting off (it apparently probably has some circuit shutdown protection in it).  I unplugged the tv and plugged it directly into the wall (I know, this is not recommeded by any means).  No more of it shutting off.  I have a lot of things plugged into an adjacent circuit on another wall where the computer is plugged into.  I have a surge protector there with all 8 outlets taken, along with the 4 outlets on the wall filled.  Maybe this overloaded the circuit and caused the tv to shut off randomly.  I did't even think they were connected to the same circuit as the circuit breaker doesn't show this.  The circuit breaker never tripped though.  My other guess was that the surge protector is bad, but the lights on it are well lit.  It is about 10-15 years old.  Since this was a scary scenario with the tv, I was thinking about getting a power conditioner for it , instead of a good surge protector.  Would this be better?  I see many power conditioners don't list the Joules rating, which in surge protector's can be pretty high.  I thought this was a critical feature to have.  Someone on one sight said power conditioners are nothing more than glorified surge protectors.  Thanks.

Answer
Power conditioners are nothing I'd generally suggest, for two reasons:

- Manufacturers are notoriously vague with what the device actually does. In a lot of cases they play fast and loose with words like "conditioning" or "cleaning" or whatever just to drive high prices.

- They aren't required for anything. Your devices have power supplies with whatever filtering the manufacturer has deemed necessary for the device to function, and to meet FCC compliance, so as long as the device is protected from surges it should continue to function properly.

A decent surge protector is all you should need (there's nothing wrong going straight to the wall, unless you have a large power surge, in which case the device is at more risk), and they should be replaced periodically (I don't want to say "every few years" and cause you to panic and run out and purchase new surge protectors for the entire house, but after 10-15 years the one your TV was using is probably kaput (and the lights still lighting isn't surprising)). I suggest TrippLite or Belkin generally - TrippLite makes some nice models that have metal enclosures, which makes them somewhat more fire resistant, but they cost more than standard plastic boxed models (both from TrippLite, and from Belkin). You shouldn't have to spend more than around $50 on a decent surge protector.

As far as the Joules rating - give this a glance: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/surge-protector7.htm

-bob

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Bobbert

Expertise

Questions regarding HTPC integration to home theaters, and general purchasing advice regarding home theater and audio systems, including headphones. Please no car audio or over the top PA systems.

Experience

General enthusiast, ~10 years as an audio and electronics hobbyist

Education/Credentials
Engineering student, various DIY experiences, personal hobby

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