Power Protection

Do You Need Battery Backup for your Home Theater

We don’t take the word “need” lightly. When we tell you that you NEED something, we consider it essential. You need a subwoofer, we would recommend you get two. You need a display, we would recommend that you get the right size for your seating distance. But, do you need a battery backup for your home theater?

What is a Battery Backup

A battery backup is often referred to as UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply. You may have one for your computer (you should, really). Battery backups essentially have a battery on hand to kick in if your power cuts out or fluctuates beyond acceptable levels. If you have sensitive equipment, or equipment that you would like to keep working even if the power cuts out, a UPS is an invaluable asset.

How Does a Battery Backup Help

Your first question should be, “Do I have anything I don’t want to cut out during a power failure?” Do you have a DVR connected to a traditional cable/satellite service? Because when the power cuts out, that doesn’t mean the cable is no longer working. A battery backup in your home theater can keep that DVR running when the power cuts so you never miss your favorite shows.

What about your router? If the power cuts, you’ll want a UPS to keep that running so that you can keep streaming your favorite shows. In our home, we have a T-Mobile signal booster because our local service is so bad. This connects to the router and uses the Internet so that we can make and receive calls. Having that gear up and running when the power cuts, is pretty important to us.

Who NEEDS a Battery Backup for their Home Theater

All the above situations are fairly situational. You may have cut the cord a long time ago and may not need to keep your DVR running. You may have great service and no need to have access to the Internet when the power is out. But there are people that NEED a battery backup for their home theaters.

Do you own a projector? You NEED a battery backup. Projectors have bulbs that get very hot. When you power them off, you’ll hear a fan blowing for a short while. This is so that the bulb can properly cool down. If you skip the cooling cycle, you will seriously reduce the life of your bulb. Projector blubs that get too hot and can’t cool down fast enough may explode then and there.

If you have any other gear that runs through a cooling cycle when powered down, you need a battery backup. One of the worst things you can do to your home theater gear is to let it get too hot for a long period of time. No matter what the gear is, it will shorten the lifespan.

What You Should NOT Plug Into Your Battery Backup

There is gear in your home theater you should not plug into your shiny new battery backup. You can usually tell which gear this is by their manuals. Many will suggest you not use a surge protector. This sort of gear draws a lot of power and often have their own built-in protection mechanisms (usually a fuse). Most subwoofers and other amplified gear fall into this category. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

If you REALLY want to plug your high-draw gear into your battery backup, make sure you use the right outlets. Depending on the battery backup, it may have one or more outlets that are labeled as letting through the full 15 amps. Those outlets should be safe for even subwoofers. That said, you should consult the gear manufacturer before you do anything in opposition to the instructions in their manuals.

Battery Backup Suggestions for Your Home Theater

APC (American Power Conversion Corporation) has been our go-to for power protection for years. Unfortunately, most of their home theater-specific products are currently out of stock. We think they are going through a line-refresh to change their power output to pure sinewaves (from the stepped approximation to a sinewave their previous gear used). For now, we are recommending their Back-UPS offerings that are built with gamers in mind. These don’t have the form factor we would prefer for our home theaters, but they are the best bang for your buck.

Our current favorite is the APC Back-UPS Pro BR1350MS. This is a good, all-purpose battery backup for your home theater. It has 10 outlets (six battery backup, four surge only) plus protection for your data and coaxial connections. Remember, you don’t just have to protect from surges coming in from the power lines. Any cable that goes into your theater from outside must be protected. Coaxial connections from your service provider is a commonly overlooked surge path.

While 1350VA / 810W backup battery power supply isn’t the largest, it is more than enough to run your home theater projector until it finishes its cooling cycle. If you are hooking it up to your DVR or a router, it should run for hours. For now, it is our go-to recommendation. But, honestly, any of the APC Sinewave offerings should be good. Just make sure it has enough outlets and the additional connections you need. When APC releases new battery backups that are designed for home theater, we’ll update this article.

Alternatively, IOGEAR has released their Online UPS Battery Back Up GBB1000N. This 1000VA/1000 Watt unit has the form factor we want for home theater and can be rack-mounted. You can daisy-chain multiple units together to expand its capabilities. It is priced more for the custom installer at $750 a pop. Check out IOGEAR.com for more information.

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