Surge Protection for ARC Tube Amps


I have to admit the more I read about power conditioning, the more confused I get. I am looking for a recommendation on protecting my Audio Research Reference 110 from power surges, and my speakers which are of course cabled to the amp. I had an incident last summer which might have been related to a surge, perhaps from lightning in the area. I have a PS Audio Premier Regenerator for other components, which is said to provide surge protection. But the PS Audio unit doesn't seem to like being connected to the amp -- it becomes very hot when I do that. So....at the moment I just have the amp plugged into the wall, perhaps not the best idea. Anyone have any suggestions how to handle this?
scottwsmith
I've used a SurgeX (http://www.surgex.com/products/standalone-product-line.html) for my entire system for over a decade.

They license the technology from ZeroSurge (http://www.zerosurge.com/), as does, Torus Power (http://www.toruspower.com/) I believe.
Thanks for the recommendation. Do you think I could plug the PS Audio Premier Regenerator into this, given that it also supposedly has surge suppression, or should I use it only for the power amp?
I don't believe Audio Research recommends any power conditioners at this time. I might suggest you contact Kalvin in Customer Service at Audio Research and ask him directly.
Scott-

much of this will depend upon where you live. Are you living on the grid (major U.S. city)? I have heard ARC gear w/ protection, Transparent products, and no protection used. These systems were in 2 different states. If you are subject to black/brown-outs, then yes, it would be suggested to get some kind of surge protection. Keep me posted & happy listening! -JA
To protect from lightning surges, you might want to contact your power company and see if they offer surge suppression for the whole house. It normally costs about $4 per month, and they add a really large transorb device to your home's power box.

Most off-the-shelf surge suppressors have internal inductors that can play havoc with a high power amplifier, causing a ringing voltage effect on the AC power input of the amplifier. Also, they tend to be too aggressive in choking the input power when the amp draws high current like during boot up. This choking causes brown out and slow rise time problems with the primary power supply of the amp.

If you do want to experiment with off-the-shelf suppressors, choose one that is grossly over-rated. If your amp has listed draw of 30 amps, use a 100+ rated suppressor or higher. Amps have "rush current" that can be quite high, and those numbers of 30 amp and 100 amp are just the nominal current draw numbers. Rush peaks out to much higher current, and that's the problem.
Before I went with active speakers my system consisted of a pair of Bryston 7B SST monoblocks (900 watts into 4 ohms) and a Bryston BP-26 preamp. All, including a Sony CRT TV, were plugged into the SurgeX. The SurgeX isn't a power conditioner. I never noticed any of the things that people warn about when plugging an amp into anything other than the wall.

My understanding, which could be way out of date, is that many surge suppressors use MOVs. I don't think they are the fire hazard they used to be, but they still degrade over time.

I've emailed technical questions to ZeroSurge in the past and the founder/designer has replied within a day or so. You might want to send questions to them.

It's true that the surge suppressors that use only MOVs or transorb devices are very unlikely to cause problems. Those devices are totally passive until the voltage reaches too high a level, then they kick in and clip the high voltage down.

The more expensive suppressors use not only MOVs and transorbs, they also throw in noise filtering by using inductors. It's the reactance of the inductor that causes the problems I described above. So... the cheaper surge suppressors that don't have filtering are most likely to be best for this application.

But again, remember to over-rate the current capacity of the suppressor, as I mentioned above. If you use too skimpy of a suppressor bar then you might get a voltage drop on the wiring or burn out the On/Off switch contacts. It has to handle the high surge currents without causing a voltage droop.

The current capacity of the bar is not the same rating as the surge current handling rating of the device. So an example would be that the bar can handle 30 amps, but during the surge/spike it can clip off 350 amps. That 350 amps is just for a tenth of a second during the spike. The 30 amps is average current over long term. The spike clipping is normally given as an energy number (such as Watts or Joules), rather than a current handling number, but sometimes they will mention current and people confuse that number with the nominal current handling capacity.

And with a high current device like this, watch out for the ones that have a built in circuit breaker. The breaker can cause a voltage drop during surge demands from normal running of the amplifier. If you use one with a circuit breaker, over-rate it by 3X over requirements.
OK thanks everyone. I will start by checking with the utility company to see if they offer surge protection.
Scott,
I just picked up on this thread, and was wondering how you made out? I'm in the same place with my power amp, so Tom's power company recommendation sounds like a winner.
l was going to have an electrician install a whole-house surge protector such as the Eaton CHSPT2ULTRA or SquareD HEPD80. The negative, is that these self destruct by design when doing their job, so the power company solution sounds like a better alternative.
I don't know anything about these transorb devices, so I'm wondering if they are isolation transformers or similar to the Eaton and SquareD?
Kenny
OP-

update us.
Duke Energy Progress is our local power company. They have a disclaimer on the website that says the whole house protector does not safe guard electronic equipment such as computer.  They sell power strips to protect those.    Seems there is no single answer but a combination and then we are back to where we started  with the power impact on the amp.