Measurements for a dedicated line

The question of whether a homeowner should get a dedicated line is often like "should I get bangs." It’s a little complicated. Here are a couple of reasons to consider not:

I. My experience is that you won’t eliminate all the other noise coming from your home even if you do run a dedicated line. I still hear motors switching on and off despite being on completely different circuits.

II. A little resistance and a little inductance may actually be a good thing in keeping noise out of your line, so overkill on the wire gauge may not help this.

Why you definitely should get a dedicated line, with thicker wiring:


Less voltage sag.


Voltage sag means that under load the resistance in the line will cause the AC cabling int he wall itself to consume some of the AC voltage, giving your gear less volts to work with. This sag is proportional to current, so the more amps your gear is drawing the more sag.

This sag is something you can measure. There are two things you need to look: The hot to neutral voltage and the neutral to ground.

With nothing on the circuit your N-E (neutral to earth or ground) should be 2V or less. If it’s significantly higher than that stop and call an electrician. That’s true for any circuit in your home. High N-E values are indicators of a problem which may be in the circuit or in the service wiring from outside to the panel.

What happens when you turn your equipment on and play music is that the line will sag. The H-N (hot to neutral) voltage will drop, and the N-E will go up. Some sag as you turn on big amps is normal. So long as you are not tripping breakers you are fine. What you want to measure is the sag after your system has stabilized and while it’s playing music.

Keep an eye on the N-E value, as this will be a good indicator of the sag independent of the incoming line voltage. It may also point out where you may have issues. That is, if you measure an extra 2V of N-E, your sag is probably around 4V, so you went from 120V to 116V and you can be relatively comfortable it isn’t outside influences.

Of course, any good multimeter will work for this but I like plug in meters with built in N-E measurements. This one is cheap, and the N-E may not be hyper accurate, but it is the only device I’ve found on Amazon that will show you both the H-N and N-E voltages at the same time.

The nice thing about any plug-in type voltage meter is you can watch it over  a couple of days without hand holding probes in the socket.

If you find another which does both please post.




I have a dual gang countertop outlet that has a GFCI outlet in it. It is then connected to, and protects the outlet right next to it. The microwave is across the room, and isn’t within 6 feet of the kitchen sink. When I first moved in in 2001, I inspected and replaced all of the outlets in the house. When I changed out the pizza oven outlet, the insulation on the wires was cracking, and I told myself I hope I don’t have to replace this outlet for a long time after that - so I won’t be switching that outlet to a GFCI. Since we’re discussing this, I’ll probably change out the current AFCI circuit breaker for the microwave/pizza oven circuit with the combo CAFCI/GFCI type (I have a Siemens load center). Having been an apartment maintenance guy for over 10 years, we too never installed GFCI’s for refrigerators. 

@dpop Sounds good!!

GFCI outlets are cheaper ($20), but if it's not in a convenient location to reset when it trips then a new combination breaker is the way to go.

I also have Siemens.  My panel used 100% Siemens breakers, that were 15 years old when I moved in.  My neighbor had a weird assortment of breaker brands in hers.  I've replaced 100% of the single pole breakers and added a whole-house surge suppressor.  It makes me feel better, but I still lost a laptop in a storm that had no other surge protector on it.

I too have whole house surge suppression (never lost anything from storm damage the entire time I lived at this location - going on 23 years now), but since I have so much money wrapped up in audio, video and AC isolation and filtering gear, I sometimes contemplate spending the money on a higher quality surge protector. 

Sine Control Technology

@dpop The specs seem nice. One of the major issues with WHSP units is the high clamping voltage. The other is activation time. Another is the ability for a surge current to be induced by the AC wiring in the house.

For all these reasons, I still protect anything sensitive and/or expensive with a Furman or Tripp Lite at the outlets.

Still, I have sunk a lot of money into the advanced breakers, home automation, GFCI outlets and fire alarms in this house, so the WHSP unit in my panel is very worthwhile.

My dedicated line made a big difference in system sound quality, but still it sounds best after midnight and into the witching hours.