About grounding and shielding
 Jac van de Walle, June 9th. 2004
Here are just a few lines I wanted to write about the advantages of the LUNDAHL mains transformers, and why I think they are a near-perfect product to choose.   

Today, there are many reasons for the mains voltages to have a DC voltage added to it. 1..4 Volts can happen. Where does the DC voltage come from and what is the result of it? Please note that houses are normally connected to a three-phases cable, and each phase is used to build a so-called "group" in your house. Each group is connected to a series of AC outlets. So, the basement is connected to one group, and the first floor to another, etc. The good part is that if one group has a blown fuse, the lights won't turn off in the whole house. You must have noticed that. Now.... what is the bad part of this? You will never have the same load on each group. If your washing machine is running on one group, using a LOT of current, and your stereo equipment on another group, just using A LITTE BIT, the groups are unevenly loaded. Your ^ is doing some electric welding, and the small factory near by is just running some heavy machines on two groups. The result is, all houses in the block have their own uneven load of the three phases. Additional to this come the many electronically loads, builded by PC's switched power supplies, electronically regulated power supplies from washing machines, airconditioners etc. These draw artificially some DC current out of the AC network. The result of this is a big MESS on the mains line, coming into your house. These "phase cutting" electronics will load the mains with a DC current when the electronics is not so perfect. ( and that's just what they are - not so perfect) So.... Most mains outlets in your house will have a small DC Voltage on it, depending on the hour of the day. It is also depending on what the your neighbour is doing at that moment - he may not even know. How much you "think" this is, and how much you think this matters, is one thing. Only, by thinking you can't measure it. What is reality in your house, and what happens in your stereo equipment is another thing. Take a normal voltmeter, and measure the mains voltage. Put in on DC, and if the number you see now is 0,000 then your mains is not DC loaded. So you won't need a DC-proof mains transformer, and you can forget about this page. HOWEVER.... when you see some DC, please read the rest.

What happens to HiFi Equipment when connecting to a mains voltage with a few volts DC on the AC line? Most mains transformers use a low cost E-Core, because they're cheap to make. These do NOT like DC voltage at all because they have no air gap. Just put a few Volt DC on a transformer like this, and try it, and you will see how much DC current will flow!  It is amazing, it can be a few amperes. So, you can understand now that a small DC componenent on your mains voltage can not be just neglected. This DC current will pre-magnetize the core, because they're just not made for DC current. The AC voltage peak values will lead the core into saturation, causing mechanical, audible hum. There are bad waveshape with lots of harmonics on it, adding 100Hz, 150Hz, 200Hz, etc to the signal. Hopefully there is a special mains filter for this in your amplifier. When not, you will hear a sound best described as "hummmmmm". Of course you will check up all audio cables, but never find where it comes from.

What can you do against it? Upper limits don't excist in HiFi. You can buy special DC- filtering equipment, that start from 1000 Euro. These create an artifical DC voltage, which is opposite polarity of the unwanted voltage, add it up, and remove it like this. Technically this method is called "compensation".  There is a company who has patented this, but to my opinion this patent is worth nothing, since it is an application of a standard method. You can only patent inventions, and the compensation method is as old as Methusalem. (There are basic ways in electronics to deal with bad signals, one is compensation the other is feedback).

Here is an imteresting great product from the well known company Burmester. Please visit their website, and read their technical explanations. They are very right about what they say. It is explained very nice. Still we have a feedback issue here, so first let it go wrong, then measure the error, and feed-back something of the same amount and it adds up to zero. Theoretically it is all correct.

Is there a more practical better way for DIY? I think yes! The most elegant way is to use an air-gapped mains transformer. These by nature have a certain DC capabilty, and simply filter out the DC voltage as if it was never there. So you see, this piece of iron has the same function as the complex electronics some are using. All Lundahl mains transformers have a core air gap, and can deal with the DC voltage on the AC line.




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