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. Don’t let overheating issues cost you time and money because of 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 almost as much electricity as your refrigerator, so it generates a lot of heat which has to go somewhere.

Without enough air flow, your electronics can overheat to the point of permanent damage or fire. Overheating also stifles the efficiency of  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.

One of the best ways to protect your electronics is to keep them separated from other sources of heat. Potential sources of heat include heating ducts, radiators, baseboard heaters, space heaters, and kitchen appliances. Also, direct sunlight from windows can act a source of heat.

2. Install your audio/video equipment in the position the manufacturer recommends.

Installing your electronics as the manufacturer recommends is another big way to protect them from overheating. Home theater and stereo electronics ventilate heat through the top to take advantage of the fact that hot air rises and cold air sinks. Setting up this type of equipment sideways (unless otherwise noted) can cause overheating because there is usually no ventilation on the sides. This traps hot air and makes it difficult to leave. Always consult the manual for the best way to position your electronics.

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

The closet, cabinet, or other piece of furniture that contain your home theaters and surround sound systems can make a huge impact. Wherever you install your electronics needs good ventilation, preferably at the top and bottom. This lets the air flow around your equipment which keeps it cool.

When there’s little airflow in a confined space, hot air has nowhere to go causing the temperature to rise. This stifles electronics’ abilities to function efficiently. Make sure the hot air has somewhere to go, such as leaving extra head room or using a fan system like technique #6.

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

Leave a few inches of empty space between your components so they have room to breathe and cool air can flow all around. Installing your equipment in a tight space means getting a lot of the same hot air instead of cool, fresh air.

5. Keep your equipment separated and never stack your components directly on top of each other.

Stacking electronics directly on top of another can cause overheating. 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 stacking can leave less space than the manufacturer recommends for ventilation. This results in the lower piece of equipment ventilating its hot air into the upper piece when the upper piece expects cool air to ventilate itself.

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

Fans provide great ventilation for your A/V equipment. Fans move lots of air and when it comes to keeping your equipment cool, more air equals better ventilation. This actively cools your electronics, whereas the other techniques I discussed passively cool your electronics.

A good strategy when using fans to ventilate electronics is to have 2 fans: 1 fan at the bottom to pull cool air into the enclosure, and 1 fan at the top to push the hot air out. This takes the cycle of hot air rising and speeds up the process.

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

Over time, dust builds up around your home theater or stereo systems. Try to dust and clean your system components about once per month or more frequently as you prefer.

Dust really well around the top and bottom vents to keep air traveling freely. Also, use a can of air duster to clear fans and vents easily. A few quick bursts of air should blast away most of the dust. If possible, open the outer case to get complete access to thoroughly clean everything inside. This also benefits you by making the fans quieter. Note: Opening the case may void the warranty. Please see the manual for the recommended way of cleaning your electronics.

After dusting, you can clean the exterior with a cloth (microfiber is recommended to prevent surface scratching) dampened with water and mild dish soap.

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.

14 Responses to How To Prevent A/V Equipment From Overheating

  1. Joshua Eirman September 23, 2018 at 1:31 PM #

    Hi Nick. My small boombox is no longer working. I play it all day long, so I guess it overheated. I now have two make-shift cd players: a VCR/CD to a TV audio, and a portable cd player hooked up to the boombox by an Audio In. I was wondering what the smartest amount of time you would recommend for each device before swapping to the other. I am trying to avoid overheating. I play the music all day long. The portable CD player runs off rechargeable batteries.

    Thank you,


    Please Respond!

    • Janet Hatcher October 9, 2018 at 7:30 AM #

      Our suggestion would be to swap them out every other day.

  2. Sam Li February 7, 2019 at 4:16 PM #

    I was unaware that you need a few inches of space between pieces of sound equipment. I think it’s best to hire a reputable audiovisual team in order to ensure your sound system is properly installed. I want to install a sound system in my basement, so I’ll be sure to work with a reliable audiovisual company.

  3. Lexusbola February 20, 2019 at 1:57 PM #

    It’s an awesome paragraph in favor of all the
    web users; they will obtain benefit from it I am sure.

  4. greg k April 14, 2019 at 9:10 PM #

    Sometimes i just think in the new stuff they just try to cram to many electronics in to small of a space. Im a hard rock metal fan so i play music very loud that is made to play loud (on a WELL ventilated reciever(s)) and after little more than half hour it trip into overheat mode and shuts down,…..that the last 2 recievers ive had, this never used to happen on the old “audio only” recievers made to play music exclusively, but now it does on all these feature crammed home A/v receivers.

  5. steven April 18, 2020 at 11:12 AM #

    hi and thank you in advance for your service.
    i have a SONY DA555ES receiver. it has been functioning nicely for years- but recently a “protector” indication blinks on & off rapidly when the unit goes on and the system speakers closes down.
    can you suggest an quick repair or troubleshooting technique?

  6. Bill February 23, 2021 at 5:26 AM #

    I have also had many problems with newer receivers overheating or burning out completely Yamaha, Marantz, Onkyo, Denon I had to take back 6 of these devices all overheated and burned out followed manufacturers advise to the letter added cooling fans nothing helped. That was a couple years ago now I’m extremely reluctant to purchase another . Can anyone recommend a say 2021 receiver manufacturer that has fixed this problem ? Its ridiculous you turn the damn thing up and silence brand new out of the box two three times than all your left with is a door stop.

    • Dave March 19, 2021 at 4:56 PM #

      Yep I know what you mean that’s why I’m on here trying to find something that I can crank up I like it loud

  7. Alva March 23, 2021 at 11:44 AM #

    Is it possible when my receiver overheats it can knock the wifi off of my TV? When we use the surround sound we can watch TV for a while then the TV shuts down. When trying to reset the TV its says we lost connection to the wifi and we have to jump through hoops to get back on. All other TVs in the house still up a running. Its just the one that is connected to the surround sound that this happens to. I think the receiver is too hot when this happens. As we speak I have the cabinet doors wide open to see if it is a circulation problem. So far it hasn’t shut down. I think we might have to cut a bigger whole in the back of the cabinet we have the receiver in.

  8. john Pollock December 21, 2021 at 10:35 AM #

    Hi, Great article, and interesting/informative Q&A. But I did not see this addressed:

    I have an old component stereo system, that when last used over 35 years ago, functioned well and did not overheat. Yes, the components are stacked over each other, but the highest heat source (the receiver/amp) is on top for that reason, and things like cassette deck (shows the vintage) and CD plater are below it, and off when not in use.

    My issue, is that the receiver runs VERY hot and either I do not remember very good, of it needs a cleaning. If opening the case (no worry about warrantee at this point) and blowing it out with compressed air does not solve the heat issue, are there any thoughts?

    Thanks !!!!! is in a custom enclosed cabinet, but that was designed with power fans and vents to bleed off the heat.

  9. Geoff Healey January 23, 2022 at 5:32 AM #

    I have a new Denon PMA600ne amp which I want to place on top of my Sony UBP X800 Blu Ray player. When in use, these components are in a shelf unit that is completely open at front and largely at the back; and if placed atop the Blu ray player – the amp would also have more than one-inch of clearance top and bottom.

    I would use the amp – at the very most for a few hours at a time several times a week, during which it doesn’t get more than a bit warm on top… and when not in use, everything is powered off.

    Does this sound ok?

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