Panamax MX5102 UPS Review
Weight : 27 lbs.
Product Warranty : 3 Years
Dimensions : 17”W x 13”D x 4”H
Undervoltage Shutoff : 90 ± 5V
Total Current Capacity : 12 A
Thermal Fusing : Yes
Overvoltage Shutoff, slow rise : 132 ± 5V
Overvoltage Shutoff, fast rise : 150 ± 5V
Line Voltage : 120V, 60Hz
Energy Dissipation : 1800 Joules
Catastrophic Surge Circuit : Yes
EMI/RFI Noise Filtration
Bank 4 EMI Filtration : 66dB Max, 100kHz-2Mz
Bank 3 High Current Outlet : 40dB Max, 100kHz-2Mz
Bank 2 EMI Filtration : 66dB Max, 100kHz-2Mz
Bank 1 EMI Filtration : 66dB Max, 100kHz-2Mz
Voltage : 120 ± 5% Simulated Sine Wave
UPS Transfer Time : < 10ms
UPS Output Capacity : 600VA 360W @ 0.6 pf
UPS Backup Time : 3 minutes at full load
Frequency : 60 Hz ± 1%
DC Trigger Input
Voltage and Polarity : 3 - 18V DC, bidirectional
Jacks : 3.5mm (1/8”) mono mini-plug
Current Requirement : 4.6 mA @ 3V, 58 mA @ 24V
Wires Protected : 8-Wires
Jacks : RJ-45
Clamping Level : 50V
Wires Protected : 2-Wires, Pins 4 & 5
Suppression Modes : Metallic & Longitudinal
Jacks : RJ-11
Fuseless/Auto-Resetting : Yes
Clamping Level : 270V
Cable and Satellite Circuits
Shielded : Yes
Insertion Loss : < 0.5 dB
HD 1080 i/p Ready : Yes
Frequency Range : 0MHz - 2.2 GHz
Connections : Female ”F”, Gold Plated
Clamping Level : 75V
Bidirectional : Yes
- IR Control
- Battery backup works flawlessly
- Fantastic aesthetics
- Easy to read display
- No detachable power cord
- Only two outlets are backed up by the battery
MX5102 Full Review
When we decided to convert Reference System 3 from a flat screen to a front projection system, there was no doubt in our minds that we needed a UPS battery backup. It is a well known fact that improper shutdown of your front (or rear) projector can seriously affect your bulb life. We've actually experienced bulbs dying prematurely and even heard horror stories from installers about bulbs exploding. The newer projectors don't have a huge cool down time but that time in very important. If you don't allow for it, you may be replacing your less than cheap projector bulbs twice as often or more. You don't need a degree in mathematics to know that a UPS can easily pay for itself if you live in a blackout prone area. Since Reference System 3 is in Florida, it easily qualifies.
But projector users aren't the only ones who can benefit from a UPS. How many times have you lost part of a recording because of a power flicker or temporary outage? How long does it take for your cable/satellite box to re-download all the programming guide information? A UPS can keep those devices up and running while the power rights itself. For some, small power fluctuations have created big headaches. For them, a UPS makes sense as well.
One thing we have found (and heard from a number of sources) is that the battery backups used for computer or classroom applications don't always work for home theater. We've found that projectors, in particular, won't always play nice with battery backups designed for computers. While we don't know why that would be, it has held true on a number of occasions. If you want to be sure that your projector will be protected, buying a UPS designed for the job rather than hoping the computer UPS will work is probably preferable.
It isn't hard to know that the Panamax MX5102 UPS is a quality piece of equipment. You just have to pick it up. At 27 pounds, its diminutive case belies its weight. With a piece of gear as heavy as the MX5102 (27 pounds), you're going to need some serious packaging and Panamax hasn't skimped here. The MX5102 comes surrounded in thick foam. The unit is also covered in plastic for protection from the elements. There are a number of cables included which are (for the most part) individually wrapped. Short coax and Ethernet jumpers are included as well as telephone cords (does anyone use these anymore?) and a pair of adapters for rack mounting. Basically, anything that you might have attached to your home theater system is included so that a surge can be arrested from any source.
The back of the unit includes 10 outlets in 4 different banks. Each of the banks is isolated from the others so that any noise from one component can't contaminate the power going to the other banks. The most important in this case is Bank 4 with the 2 UPS outlets. These two outlets receive power from the batteries (at a 10ms delay when the power goes out). Bank 1 is always on which is good for gear that you never want to power down (aside from power outages). Bank 2 is the switched bank that provides a shutdown delay. Bank 3 is for high current devices like amps and subwoofers and includes a startup delay. This means that your amps turn on last and off first. Both of these delays are designed to reduce speaker "thumps" that occur when the amplifier amplifies another piece of gear that is turning on.
Also included on the back of the unit are 6 coax terminals (three bi-directional pairs) and a pair each LAN and telephone jacks. There is a 12 volt trigger for receiver/preamp control, circuit breaker reset buttons, and a pair of IR outputs. The IR outputs are for dual IR control. If you wish the MX5102 to send an signal to a device, it can. You merely use the IR receiver on the back (near the buttons) and the appropriate remote. The MX5102 can learn a total of two IR command or a 2 step macro. The IR codes are transmitted over both outputs simultaneously so you can, in theory, control two devices at once.
Probably one of the most disappointing things about the MX5102 was the lack of a detachable power cord. In many home theater applications, you'll find that you are constricted by aesthetics for placement. With a piece of gear as nice looking as the Panamax MX5102, you're not going to be worried about placing it front and center. It has a brushed black aluminum finish and is tastefully understated. But with a six 10foot attached power cord, you may find you have to attach an extension cord (probably not a problem but most manufacturers don't recommend it) or rethink your décor.
The front of the unit includes a rather large readout, two buttons, and a few lights. The button to the left is the power On/Off. The button to the right is the Meter Dimmer/UPS Test button. With a quick press, the display will cycle through various levels of brightness until you find the one you like. If you press and hold the button, the UPS will run a test cycle. Between the two buttons are a number of lights. The first four from the left indicate the different outlet banks. When those lights are illuminated, the bank is receiving power. Next is an Unsafe Voltage Indicator that will glow red when you've got a voltage problem followed by a Wiring Fault Indicator. This last light will glow red if you've got a wiring problem - you never want to see this illuminated. The large readout will let you know the incoming voltage from the wall. If the line drops below 90VAC or above 132VAC, the Unsafe Voltage LED will flash.and the unit will shut off and the batteries will kick in. To the right of all this is a removable pane for access to the batteries if you need replacement.
Now, we think it is important to be clear here what the Panamax MX5102 is and what it is not. It is a power management product with surge protection, filtration, AVM and a battery backup. It is not a voltage regulator It will not boost or cut voltage based on set criteria. It will let you know what your incoming voltage (Automatic Voltage Monitoring) is and will protect your gear from over/under loads by cutting the power (or cutting in the battery) to the connected devices and turning it back on when safe voltage returns. It doesn't claim to have voltage regulation but we think a lot of people will assume so. Don't. If you want that kind of sophistication you'll need to look at some competing products.
Setting up the Panamax is just about one additional step from a normal power surge device. While it is not strictly necessary, Panamax suggests you charge the battery completely before you attach any devices. The batteries will charge as long as the unit is plugged in regardless if it is on. We were installing the projector the next day, so we plugged the MX5102 in and set it in a corner to charge. By the time the projector was installed and ready to be plugged in, the batteries were well charged and ready to go.
Since the unit is designed to minimize initial current draw by staggering the turn on/off times of the different banks, it will behoove you to pay attention to where you plug things in. Most importantly are the high current devices. There are only two outlets in this bank so make sure you use them for your sub/amps. After that, make sure you have the gear you most care about keeping running (projectors, cable boxes, HTPCs) on your battery bank. The rest can go between the 4 switched outlets and the 2 always on outlets. The MX5102 has a total of 10 outlets for use.
Next, you'll need to make sure that anything that is entering any piece of gear in your home theater runs through the MX5102 first. This includes your cable signal through the coax inputs, LAN, and telephone. We've run into problems before with signal attenuation with surge protectors but the MX5102 does a nice job of running the signal through without noticeable degradation. What you'll find with lesser devices is that suddenly you'll lose a few channels on your cable or your VOD or digital channels won't work properly. The MX5102 integrated nicely with both our cable signal and a LAN signal that is used to connect an Xbox 360 to the router. We noticed no loss of speed on the LAN or channels on the cable after integrating the MX5102
Ironically enough, the first test of the MX5102 came barely 30 minutes after turning it on for the first time. We had just finished installing the projector and screen and were taking a break after preliminary setup (locking in the picture) when the power went out. We saw the lights go out and ran to the home theater. The Panamax MX5102 was beeping (as it was supposed to) and the projector was still on. We switched the projector off and noted the amount of time left on the battery. According to the manual, the MX5102 should be able to maintain full power for 3 minutes at full load. While to the uninitiated that doesn’t sound like very much, most of the competition is in the same camp (similar APC models can run up to 6 minutes at full load). At the time, we had an SMS-1 plugged into the second UPS outlet. According to the readout, we could have run the SMS for another 60 minutes. Obviously, with most gear you're going to have plenty of time to shut everything down before the batteries die. We've had the power go out a number of times since then and the unit has never failed to maintain power to our projector so that we could cool down the bulb properly.
Comparison and Recommendations
We really have only two complaints about the MX5102. We'd really like to see a removable power cord rather than a fixed one. Secondly, we feel a little confused that only two of the outlets are UPS protected. The similarly priced APC J10 UPS has 12 (rather than 10) outlets and they are all UPS protected. It also has the same four isolated banks as the MX5102. On top of that, the APC J10 does voltage regulation (rather than just monitoring) and has a much more detailed (albeit much harder to read) display. The Panamax M5102, on the other hand, has LAN protection (the APC does not) and IR control. In our application, our power rarely varied much off of 120 (as low as 116 rarely above 120) so voltage regulation was not as needed as the additional LAN protection. The fact is that if you have one unprotected inlet for a surge, your entire system is compromised. With the MX5102, we are completely protected. We really would have liked the two additional outlets and having all the outlets connected to the battery.
The Panamax MX5102 delivers exactly what it claims - battery backup and voltage monitoring. While there are other choices out there, the Panamax has its own feature set that may make it perfect for your application. On looks alone the Panamax MX5102 is a winner. The black brushed aluminum case just begs to be shown off. For a projector a UPS is a must, for everyone else it is a very nice luxury. If you are looking for an upgrade, you could do a lot worse than a UPS. The Panamax MX5102 is a very nice example and would make a great addition to any home theater.
Panamax MX5102 UPS
Panamax ~ Furman
1690 Corporate Circle
Petaluma, CA. 94954
Toll Free: 800-472-5555
About Panamax ~ Furman
Panamax and Furman Sound have been international leaders in award-winning, innovative power management products for more than 30 years. Their products give audio/video systems the pure, noise-free power they need for superlative performance while protecting them from damage caused by power surges and lightning. Together as part of Panamax, Inc., these two brands address all major electronic markets, including home theater, professional audio and music, broadcasting, audio/video recording, OEM and office equipment. The company is based in Petaluma, Calif., and sells through an international dealer network and through select retail outlets. More information is available at www.furmansound.com and www.panamax.com. All trademarks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners.
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