Classroom Audio Systems

What exactly does plenum rated mean for amplifiers?

Here at Roemtech we have talked to many people who are not completely clear on what it means to be have a plenum rated amplifier.

In general it means that you can legally put the amplifier above a ceiling that may be used for a plenum air return. Some ceilings have no specific ducting for return air, rather they use the general air space above the ceiling to draw air in and then deliver the conditioned air through sealed ducts. So when you put a device in that area called the “plenum” it needs to meet certain specifications, in this case UL2043.

Without getting too technical, the code does not want you to exceed a certain level of thermal energy or smoke density at any given time. So old tires above the ceiling – bad, cups of water – good. This makes sense because you don’t want to be choked out by blinding smoke in case of a fire and you certainly don’t want to add fuel to it either.

During the testing process all of this is measured very precisely by a federally approve lab. They burn the product and make sure it meets code.

So if a plenum rated amplifier is connected with plenum rated cable and installed above the ceiling, then you are in compliance with even the strictest of guidelines. No expensive plenum box needed.

At Roemtech, all of our amplifiers are plenum rated and have been tested to meet the UL2043 standard. We take great pride in the fact that we have always led the industry in plenum rated amplifier/mixers and will continue to come out with products that meet this specification.

Plenum Rated Amplifiers – Why Plenum Rated?

When most people are thinking about installing a small audio system into a classroom or a conference room, space is almost always an issue. Having visited hundreds of classrooms, it seems that space is tough to find. Teachers desks completely covered with technology, teaching materials and personal memorabilia, cabinets completely stuffed with the same. Where do you put an amplifier? That’s one issue, the other is tampering. What classroom does not have its share of pranksters? “Hey, lets unplug the amplifier and see how long it takes the teacher to figure it out.” Also, there is the theft issue. There have been cases where classroom technology has disappeared within 24hrs of being installed.

So why plenum rated?

Reasons 1-3: You can legally put the amplifier above the ceiling of the classroom where tampering and theft are almost completely eliminated and you don’t need the extra expense of an additional plenum box.

Reason 4: You don’t have to hunt for a place to put it. Classrooms and conference rooms are notorious for being fairly small with few options for amplifier placement. Throw it up in the ceiling and forget about it.

Reason 5: When the cleaning crew comes in during the summer months and unplugs everything, they won’t mess up your wires. That’s a big deal. It keeps maintenance calls to a minimum. Maintenance calls are expensive.

But you might say – “We live in Texas and the plenum area gets really hot!” It’s OK, we thought of that. All of our amplifiers are built with components that can operate properly at crazy high temperatures, like over 200F. Many manufacturers use lower rated parts that max out at 185F or lower.

Plenum rated? Yes, for classroom audio systems it makes sense.