TL; DR: Panamax, an innovator in the power protection, filtration, and control space, has worked to solve power management problems since 1975. The company’s wide range of solutions, from surge protection to remote energy management through BlueBOLT, benefit both home technology professionals and their clients. Panamax’s refreshed BlueBOLT user interface, now in beta, is the latest proof of the company’s commitment to continual development.
In 1974, Janet Furman founded Furman Sound, a profession audio manufacturing company. Many small businesses struggle to survive year one, but Janet’s talent and determination quickly propelled the company to success. In fact, it was only nine years later, in 1983, when Furman Sound pioneered the concept of power conditioning to improve the quality of power delivered to musical equipment.
Armed with innovative brainpower, it didn’t take long until the company became a trusted name as a supplier of AC conditioning, regulation, balanced isolation transformers, sequencing, and distribution for audio, video, and broadcast professionals.
Furman Sound was also where Christos Desalernos, who now works at Panamax as a Product Line Manager and Designer, began his career as a design engineer. “The history of Panamax and Furman goes back decades,” Christos said. “They both started in the mid-’70s and have a very similar timeline.”
Panamax was founded in 1975 by Henry Moody, an office machine technician who started the company to repair printers and fax machines damaged by power surges. In the ‘80s, Panamax Chief Engineer Jerry Hoopes purchased Furman’s Power Conditioner with LED Volt Meter for a home theater project.
“And it turns out that Panamax’s efficiency and manufacturer was so good, they were actually able to manufacture that voltmeter board for under Furman’s costs, and, in turn, started selling that voltmeter back to Furman,” Christos said.
Furman continued to focus on power management for the professional music industry and Panamax on surge protection products for industrial and commercial customers. Eventually, both companies moved into power management for home theater, which culminated with Panamax’s 2006 acquisition of Furman.
Today, Furman continues to focus on the commercial side of the industry, while Panamax offers comprehensive protection, management, and remote control for consumer electronics. From surge protection to cloud-based remote energy management platforms, Panamax offers benefits for both home technology professionals and their clients. Christos gave us the scoop on how the company is continuing to evolve, including information about its refreshed BlueBOLT user interface, now in beta.
Protection From The Thousands of Surges Hitting Equipment Daily
Power management is critical to the longevity of any electronic device, from appliances and computers to home theater systems. Christos groups the benefits inherent in Panamax products into the four legs of power management: Protection, performance reliability, and flexibility.
“The first one is performance: Our customers spend a lot of money on their audio and video systems, and we want to make sure they get every bit of performance out of those systems,” he said. “That means no radio frequency or video artifacts coming through.”
To that end, the company’s linear noise filtration increases audio and video performance by ensuring interference doesn’t compromise picture and sound quality.
Christos said protection is also crucial. Most devices are plugged into a wall outlet at some point or another, and between lightning and forces within the building, each outlet experiences dozens of electrical surges and spikes per day. Between its rackmount and component model and convenient compact floor mounts, Panamax has protected billions of dollars worth of electronic devices from spikes, surges, and faulty power conditions during its four decades of existence.
“When people think of a surge, they often think of lightning, but if you’ve ever turned on a vacuum or a blender and saw the light dim, you just had a surge,” he said. “Considering that, protection is one of the most important benefits we offer.”
The third leg, Christos said, is reliability, which Panamax achieves through voltage regulation and stabilization with a precise regulation topology and value-oriented regulation options to suit a variety of applications.
BlueBOLT: A Cloud-Based Remote Energy Management Platform
Panamax satisfies the fourth leg of power management, flexibility, through its remote monitoring and control platform, BlueBOLT. The technology allows users to reboot BlueBOLT-enabled devices quickly and easily using an intuitive cloud-based interface accessible from any device. In addition to remote reboots, BlueBOLT provides real-time monitoring of energy used by electronic devices directly from a device’s power source.
The technology also helps consumers manage power consumption to control energy costs and reduce environmental impact. Standby power, which is leached from devices when they’re turned off, is one of the leading causes of energy waste. BlueBOLT’s scheduled conservation feature allows consumers to mitigate this waste by automatically shutting off power to electronic devices during periods of nonuse.
From the installer’s perspective, BlueBOLT’s remote power control allows service issues to be diagnosed and often solved without sending a technician to the consumer’s home. “Remote capability is of primary concern for both our customer residential installers and commercial contractors on the Furman and Panamax side,” Christos said. “The main focus is being able to monitor — and more significantly, being able to control — the power management device from anywhere in the world.”
As the IoT evolves, Christos said there’s an increased expectation that installers and contractors fix problems before the customers realize they exist. “With our BlueBOLT technology, you’re able to do that,” he said.
To top it off, BlueBOLT is a breeze to set up. Just plug the device into a wall outlet and connect it to an Ethernet cable as well as the electronic device. The technology’s automatic device detection will register the device as active and so the user can begin monitoring and controlling it from a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Benefits for Home Technology Professionals and Their Clients
Panamax offers two warranties that installers can offer customers. There’s the standard, three- to five-year warranty, depending on the product, as well as a 24/7 service plan available through a small monthly fee. The latter, Christos said, allows installers to solve 95% of problems over the network. It also provides installers with a recurring revenue opportunity.
“We don’t charge them any monthly fee — it’s all built into the hardware, so it’s a great value proposition because most of our features are autohealing, such as our ping function,” he said. “You can ping a device, and if it does not respond to that ping, you’ll get an email notification.”
The installer can then simply cycle that outlet off and back to reboot. “Then you’ll get another email notification, and you have proof of performance that you can send to your customer and say, ‘Hey, I’m not sure if you ran into any issues, but we found something and wanted to let you know that we went ahead and took care of it,’” Christos said.
Panamax, now headquartered in Petaluma, California, also aims to provide superior customer service to both installers and end users. “Customers can reach out to me and I’m more happy to help them out with any issues,” Christos said. “We also have a team of eight people in Carlsbad, California, that help with customer service issues. We always ensure you get the help you need.”
Now in Beta: A Refreshed BlueBOLT User Interface
Christos said user feedback drives the majority of the company’s internal product development efforts. Panamax frequently sits down with dealers and installers of the products to identify their pain points before making updates, adding new features, or putting fresh ideas into production.
“We listen to the people who work with the product day in and day out,” he said. “Sure, we come up with interesting ideas internally, but at the end of the day, we’re not the ones on the front line installing the product.”
As for what’s coming down the product pipeline, Christos told us the company’s new BlueBOLT user interface is currently in beta. “We’ve added new features here and there over the years, but it essentially had the same look and feel for the past decade,” he said. “It was time for us to revamp it based on feedback from dealers and installers — telling us what they liked about the user interface and what they would change.”
The new and improved BlueBOLT user interface features a clean design with intuitive administration and improved search functionality, plus compatibility with an iOS and Android app. “We’re going to be rolling that out the first week of February at a trade show and then opening it up for the masses, at the end of February,” Christos said.