Have you noticed your AV receiver is running hotter recently? Are you concerned it may be on track to overheat? Without proper maintenance and preventative measures, overheating is possible.

Anything hotter than 85℉ (29.4℃) is too hot for an AV receiver. Every 10℉ (about 5.6℃) increase in temperature reduces a receiver’s lifespan by 40%. Receiver components, like amps or microprocessors, cause the generation of heat. Environments that assist ventilation will prevent overheating.

Read on to learn how AV receivers generate heat and what you can do to cool them down.

Why Do AV Receivers Get Hot?

AV receivers do a lot of work, not only do they manage all of the audio devices in your home theater, but they also amplify the speakers you use to listen to them. Additionally, AV receivers run a user interface that controls the whole experience. All of this work generates heat in your AV receiver.

What’s more, AV receivers use advanced components to perform these tasks. In short, multiple tasks run on advanced components equals more heat production.

Let’s take a look at a newcomer to AV components, the microprocessor. Microprocessors act as the brain of a computer system, it interprets data and follows mathematical solutions to perform tasks instructed by the user.

What we are saying is that your modern-day AV receiver is a computer, which proves how advanced home theater technology is becoming! Microprocessors generate a lot of heat. Ironically, microprocessors are highly sensitive to heat.

The other significant heat-generating component is the amplifier. AV receivers contain an integrated amplification system. In other words, it includes both a preamp and a power amp. The preamplifier receives weak audio signals and strengthens them for the power amplifier. Then, the power amplifier boosts these signals even more to suit the needs of the speaker system.

Unlike the microprocessor, the amplifier’s heat generation properties are proportionate to how much it is amplifying an audio signal. If your volume requirements use more wattage, the receiver will generate more heat.

Multiple factors impact heat generation. Wattage, or the amount of power the AV receiver consumes, is one of them and other factors are outside of the receiver. How you store an AV receiver affects heat significantly. Consider your electronics cabinet, for instance. How much space does it have, is there room for air turbulence to flow, and how densely packed with devices is it? All of these qualities influence heat buildup.

While you cannot control how much power your receiver needs to work, you can control how it is stored. When it comes to heat buildup, proper storage is essential. Otherwise, a cramped cabinet will trap the hot air in your receiver with nowhere to go.

How to Cool Down an AV Receiver

Cooling down an AV receiver is synonymous with establishing passages for its heat to escape. In other words, you need to facilitate convective heat travel away from the receiver. Convection dictates that light hot air rises while dense cold air sinks. There are multiple ways you can encourage and even jump-start this process. Give these tips a try, and you should have a cooled down AV receiver:

  • Install the AV receiver away from any heat sources: Placing your AV receiver near another source of heat is a bad idea considering how much heat the receiver produces in the first place. Avoid every heat source in the immediate area. These include heating ducts, heating units (i.e., radiators, baseboard heaters, space heaters), appliances, and even direct sunlight.
  • Install the AV receiver in the manufacturer’s recommended position: Most AV receivers contain heat vents up top, accounting for convection. That means heat typically gets trapped inside the unit when you place it sideways. However, this is not always the case. Refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual to confirm the proper placement of your AV receiver.
  • Install your AV receiver in a ventilated unit: Whatever piece of furniture you store your receiver in must have ventilation. Ventilated storage units ensure that the heat generated by your receiver will have somewhere to travel. Additionally, ventilated storage allows cold air in, which assists the movement of hot air. StudioTech cabinets provide excellent options in this case.
  • Include some space on each side and above the AV receiver: You should always accommodate a few extra inches (cm) of space when installing an AV receiver. Compact spaces trap the hot air that will damage your receiver. Alternatively, buying a larger cabinet than you think you need will guarantee enough space around the receiver for fresh cold air to come in.
  • Separate your AV equipment: Never stack your electronics on top of each other. Your electronics depend on cold air flowing below to vent hot air above. However, if a hot electronic is directly under your receiver, the receiver will get all of the hot air, preventing ventilation. Your best option is to place your receiver on the top shelf of your cabinet. This way, the hot air will have an easy escape without harming other devices.
  • Install a fan to ventilate your receiver: All of the previous methods mentioned are conduits of passive ventilation. However, you can use active ventilation to speed up the process of convection within your electronics. The best way to do this is by installing an AC ventilation fan. My sources recommend installing one unit at the bottom of your receiver to suck cool air in and one at the top to push hot air out.
  • Properly clean and maintain your receiver: Aspire to clean your AV receiver and surrounding storage system at least once a month. Regular cleaning and maintenance prevent dust buildup, which traps heat. Air dusting cans work well for cleaning out hard to reach spaces, like fans. For the outer casing, use a microfiber cloth. Hold off on any internal cleaning of your system until you confirm no warranty violations.

Can You Leave Your AV Receiver on All the Time?

If AV receivers generate heat while running, does that mean you cannot leave it on all the time? Not necessarily. Modern-day AV receivers are more energy-efficient than their predecessors. However, it is recommended to turn off the receiver when not in use. Besides cutting back on your energy costs, it may help extend the lifespan of your device.

If you use your AV receiver sparingly, you may opt to use the power-saving feature without the need to fully power it off.

We should also take the time to dispel a common myth: turning your receiver on and off will not damage it. This myth is a remnant of the early days of computing when old tube systems would cause massive surges in power that traveled to cold heater elements. Every resulting surge from turning on the power would immediately shorten the device’s lifespan. Luckily, today’s AV receivers have solid-state circuitry that is much more stable.

While heat can break down any electronic over time, leaving an AV receiver on will not affect it much at all. Modern receivers feature a standby circuit that shuts down the system after being unused for an extending period. When an AV receiver is on, it generates as much wattage as a light bulb. In standby mode, the receiver generates even less. Therefore, if you wish to leave it on, you can do so without significant damage.

Final Thoughts

In short, an AV receiver’s compartments, including the microprocessors and amplifiers, generate heat through the work they do. However, they maintain themselves through active and passive ventilation. Make sure to store your receiver correctly and abide by manufacturer instructions to prevent overheating. As long as you follow these guidelines, you should be able to leave your AV receiver on without any adverse effects.