Whether it's your gaming consoles, audio receiver, DVR, or 4K disc player, heat is the most significant risk to your electronic components' functionality, reliability, and—ultimately—life-expectancy.

This risk is especially true as we've become more reliant on home electronics for distraction and entertainment. Naturally, the more A/V components are in use, the greater the risk of overheating and burning themselves out. 

Here are some tips on how to maintain your home theater and gaming systems for the best efficiency and longer-lasting performance.

Staying power

Many electronics can require a considerable amount of wattage to stay powered on and perform at their best, such as powerful home theater receivers and amplifiers.

Without proper ventilation, these components can produce high temperatures that can cause harm to electronics and damage the cabinet that houses them.

Most electronics rely on the natural motion of air in the room around them to dissipate heat build-up. But for systems enclosed in a non-ventilated media cabinet or stacked on top of each other, the lack of any natural air circulation will generate pockets of hot air around the components. When this occurs, the temperature will keep rising if not ventilated, resulting in expensive damage over time.

Electronics begin to break down and fry at temperatures above 120 degrees. Most systems tend to run 10 to 20 degrees hotter than room temperature, so anything you can do to reduce the build-up of heat will help to protect your investment better. However, the hotter the temperature, the less functional the machine will become. 

The following techniques will help reduce heat, increase ventilation and ensure that your components remain cool and run smoothly. 

Use as Directed

Be sure to install your electronics as outlined in the user manual, as most manufacturers will provide placement guidelines and point out essential heat vents or exhaust fans.

Most electronics are designed to ventilate heat through the top, given that—as science tells us—hot air rises and cold air sinks, therefore avoid stacking components on top of one another. Instead, if possible, place items on separate shelves and allow at least one inch of space around each side to create minimal channels in which air can flow naturally.

Lastly, although positioning a component sideways might make better use of your space, it can also accelerate the overheating process because most components don't have ventilation built into the device's side. Instead of the hot air rising, it can become trapped and problematic. You could also install a small fan to help promote airflow, but these can be unsightly, generate unwanted noise, and become relatively pointless if the heated air cannot escape an enclosed cabinet.

Go with the Flow

A key factor to consider in caring for your electronics is airflow. If components are encased within a closed media unit without proper ventilation, this can cause the heat to build steadily, creating hot pockets around each component. This heat can damage not only your electronics but also warp the entertainment console itself.

Consider media furniture with built-in ventilation to promote steady airflow. Ventilated doors, shelves, base, or rear panels allow heat to escape and help keep your components running cool and efficiently.

Play it Cool

Electronics operate at their best when kept at a temperature of 85°F or lower. Operating at higher temperatures has been proven to reduce the life expectancy of equipment by 40%.

Be sure to install your gear away from other sources of heat in your home, such as vents, radiators, and pipes. Even avoiding exposure to direct sunlight will help to reduce the risk of overheating.

Keep it Clean

Accumulations of dust and debris can also negatively impact the performance of electronics. Using an air duster once a week will prevent your device's air vents from clogging or suffocating internal motors and processors, sending them to an early demise.

While you're at it, taking the time to wipe down your electronics, shelves, and drawers will go a long way towards making sure dust never has a chance to build up.

Beat the Heat

Heat damage to electronics is often irreversible, and the diminished performance typically results in having to replace or upgrade entire home theater or gaming systems. 

By maintaining proper airflow and ventilation, positioning your components correctly, and selecting media furniture that is both functional and well-designed, the show will go on, and you can stay in the game while extending the lifespan of all of your audio/visual equipment.