How To Prevent A/V Equipment From Overheating

Protect Your Home Entertainment System with Proper Ventilation

McIntosh makes the best surround sound system ever

How does McIntosh keep the world’s best surround sound system so cool? Using these ventilation best practices.

I want to tell you how to use proper ventilation in order to protect your audio and video equipment from overheating.

Using these techniques will help you:

  • increase ventilation
  • decrease heat pockets
  • extend the life of your audio/video equipment

These techniques also help you by making installations easier.

Home audio and video technology benefits everyone by making life more enjoyable – except when this technology costs you time and money because of overheating due to bad ventilation.

The hottest offenders are cable boxes, amplifiers, A/V receivers, and video game consoles because they typically produce the most heat in any home theater or stereo system. Your cable box uses as much electricity as your refrigerator, so it generates a lot of heat which has to go somewhere.

Without enough air flow, someone could overheat these components to the point of damaging their system and even risking a fire. Overheating also stifles the efficiency of their electronics.

Follow these steps to insure your systems perform in top shape.

7 Techniques to Prevent Overheating

1. Install your audio/video equipment as far away from heat sources as possible.

Potential sources of heat include heating ducts, radiators, baseboard heaters, space heaters, and kitchen appliances. For example, I lived in an old apartment building which used radiator heat that was so hot. It was so hot, I had to keep my electronics on the other side of the room. This protected my electronics from receiving direct heat.

2. Install your audio/video equipment top side up.

I know, it seems like this is common sense and everyone would set up their equipment this way. However, some people will incorrectly install their systems by placing the electronics sideways instead of with the top side up. Home theater and stereo electronics ventilate heat through the top because hot air rises and cold air sinks. Usually, there is little to no ventilation on the sides. When these electronics stand vertically on their sides instead of sit horizontally, the heat gets trapped inside and has more difficulty leaving.

3. Install your audio/video equipment in a ventilated cabinet or closet.

This lets the air flow around your equipment which keeps it cool. When your equipment gets little to no airflow in a cabinet, the hot air has nowhere to go and the temperature rises. When the air gets too hot, your electronics perform less efficiently. Make sure wherever you install your home entertainment or stereo system, the hot air has somewhere to go like extra head room or with a fan system like technique #6.

4. Install your audio/video equipment with a few inches of empty space on each side and above.

This gives your system’s components room to breathe so that cool air can flow all around. Installing your equipment in a tight space is like trying to run a marathon with a heavy wool blanket over your face. You’ll just be breathing the same hot, recycled air instead of the cool, fresh air all around you.

5. Never stack your equipment on top of each other.

This leaves very little space for air to flow out of the top of your equipment. Again, you need a few inches of space between each piece of equipment and leaving them stacked could give each piece ½ inch or less of breathing room.

6. Install a ventilation fan with your audio/video equipment.

Using a fan moves lots of air and when it comes to keeping your equipment cool, more air equals better ventilation. Usually, you can mount a fan to the back or top of your cabinet. This actively cools your electronics, whereas the other techniques I discussed passively cool your electronics.

7. Keep your audio/video equipment clear of dust.

Over time, dust builds up around your home theater or stereo systems. Try to dust and clean your system components fairly often, about once per week or month. Dust really well around the top and bottom vents of each piece because this will prevent clogs. Also, keep fans and vents clean with a can of air duster. A few quick bursts of air should blast away most of the dust which blocks fans and vents. This also reduces fan noise since the fan won’t have to work as hard to spin the blades.

In Conclusion: Preventing Your Electronics From Overheating

You can prevent your audio/video system from overheating by installing equipment with the right ventilation to encourage air flow. This insures you get the most power, efficiency, and life-span from your electronics.

If you have any questions about properly ventilating your electronic equipment, feel free to ask in the comments section below.

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