Passive Cooling to Keep an AV Receiver from Overheating


My AV Shelf Passive Cooling Setup (or how it’s supposed to work at least)

The short answer to this is, turn it off when you’re not using it.  Here’s the long answer, if you’re interested.

After trying to watch the Watchmen movie recently, my Sony DG-720 receiver kept saying “Protect” and shutting off every time the assassin knocks the Comedian’s door hinge off early in the movie.  After some research, it seems that this can be due to a short in the wiring, but the reason for my receiver doing this was apparently that it was overheated.

I unplugged the receiver for several minutes, then did a hard reset by holding the power button.  This worked, but I suspect that all I really needed to do was turn it off then walk away for a while.  I’d been leaving the receiver on all the time, but maybe this isn’t a good idea as it does get a bit hot.

Naturally (for me at least), that solution wasn’t good enough.  I decided to enhance the cooling capability of my Target entertainment center hutch thing by drilling some holes above where the receiver sits.  I used a 1 1/2 inch hole saw and cut the pattern as seen in the photos and drawing below.  These holes were then sanded with a file and sprayed with blue spray-paint.  I wiped it off as best I could on the uncut part.

My hope is that the warm air above the receiver will go out of the holes, thus “sucking” air in from the front where the receiver sits.  After watching the last hour or so of Watchmen (the next day after keeping it off), the back of the receiver was warm, but the space above the drilled shelf was hot too.  Some hot air seems to be going through the holes, which should cause the air flow situation (illustrated below) that I wanted.  How much air flow is the question.

Results: After leaving the receiver on for an hour or so, roughly 20 minutes of which it was being actively used, I put in the Watchmen movie again.  It went through the first fight scene turned up fairly high with no problem.  I wouldn’t call this a scientific test; the receiver was probably on much longer before, but for what it’s worth, the receiver did not overheat.  Did it make a difference?  Maybe a little, but it looks cool and definitely won’t hurt.


  1. I tell you what if this becomes and issue again I have a DC squirrel cage fan that I took from an AV hutch that was used to pull heat out. I can take a picture of it if you want it. I was going to use it as a ventilation fan for a CNC project, but never got around to using it. Would be very simple to make a thermal speed controller.

    • Wow, didn’t realize that some AV hutches had fans on them (unless that’s a custom job). That’s a very generous offer. I’m hoping though that between the holes and turning the receiver off more, passive cooling will be good enough!

  2. I’ve tried a similar idea for “passive heating” by lining the outward facing side of one of our curtains with thin black plastic sheeting. I wanted to take temperature readings but my thermometer broke so I don’t know how successful the experiment was.

  3. Good article, nice work on solving the problem on your own also. You must be very handy to be able to come up with that type of solution. Cheers!

  4. It’s called providing adequate ventilation. Never stuff an amp into a cubby hole. Leave at least 2 inches at sides and top. I would raise the feet on the amp an inch or more as well. The top shelf should just be cut off at the rear a few inches, unless it loads to the back. Lower temps, longer life on all components.

    • Yeah, probably so. It’s got some space on the back, but they way my center channel is I can’t really move the shelf up. I’ve been turning it off more, and whether or not my “cooling holes” have made much of a difference, I haven’t seen it cut off again.