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UPS questions, for use with a Seasonic 850 watt Platinum power supply.

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a b ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 12:14:55 AM

I live in the middle of tornado alley (Oklahoma). There are many lightning strikes, power surges, and outages. I use surge suppressors, but I want the protection of an appropriate UPS.
A 1500VA/1000 WATT pure sine wave UPS from APC is over $400. A similar APC UPS without this feature is about $175. I've read that an active PFC power supply like mine is likely to shut off when a typical UPS switches to battery. Seasonic recommended the pure sine wave version for my power supply, but they may be just covering their behind.

What is the "expert" opinion concerning the need for a UPS (pure sine wave or otherwise)?
a c 115 ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 1:01:47 AM

Firstly, how much load do you have on that PSU? Is it anywhere near the full 850W, or is it thoroughly overspecced? 1kW is likely to be thoroughly overkill.

I expect you're fine - my NAS is on a modified sine wave UPS, and I'm fairly sure it's got a APFC PSU. Not sure though. I'll see if I can find out.
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a b ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 2:17:11 PM

I purchased this 850 watt to power multiple video cards and for it's quality and efficiency. I am leaning now towards a single high end GPU. I'm waiting now to see the release of the non-refernce AMD R9-290 video cards before buying a new GPU by the end of December. So, no it isn't "it thoroughly overspecced". It is performing exactly as I intended. It is inaudible, and it has wattage headroom to stay that way.

But that wasn't the point of my posting. There is no category specifically for power protection. I have a lot invested in this system, and I would prefer that it doesn't fry like some of my audio equipment already has. I prefer APC to Cyberpower, but their pure sine wave version 1500VA UPS is also an option.
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a c 115 ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 5:00:51 PM

Generally stuff won't fry if the power is cut of. The most that happens is that windows gets corrupt and you have to run startup repair. A good surge protector should do that, and if not then a UPS probably won't do much more to help. Until they detect a drop in voltage, they just pass through the power.

The main reason for having a UPS is to protect against data loss and allow you to continue to use it in the event of power cuts/brownouts.

Also, 850W is overkill for single GPU and more than necessary for dual.
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a b ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 6:50:47 PM

"Generally stuff won't fry if the power is cut of. The most that happens is that windows gets corrupt and you have to run startup repair. A good surge protector should do that, and if not then a UPS probably won't do much more to help. Until they detect a drop in voltage, they just pass through the power.

The main reason for having a UPS is to protect against data loss and allow you to continue to use it in the event of power cuts/brownouts.

Also, 850W is overkill for single GPU and more than necessary for dual. " isn't helpful in any way.
It was a waste time.

No one in the world has ever thought of unplugging the computer in a storm. Just imagine the world shaking ramifications of your posting!
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a c 115 ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 7:18:24 PM

Sorry. I guess I misread your post. But I think you misread/misinterpreted mine too.

I thought that the "and I would prefer that it doesn't fry like some of my audio equipment already has" meant that you thought that the UPS would help stop your stuff from frying, not just save data. A UPS does very little for your hardware's safety. It's about being able to save your work and shut down gracefully.

My point was that the difference between having a surge protector or insufficient UPS and having a good UPS is only data protection - if it fries your hardware through a surge protector, it'll do the same through a UPS.

Plus, you only need to spec the UPS for the load it will have, and not the full 850W + ~10%(inefficiencies) of the PSU. If your PC is only going to draw ~400W, you don't need a 1kW UPS.
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a b ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 10:28:23 PM

I have used UPS's at work to both shut down computers safely during power outages, and to prevent momentary power outages from shutting down computers. I am familiar with typical UPS's. I am not familiar with pure sine wave units; and until I built this last PC, I wasn't aware of the issue with active PFC power supplies.

The audio equipment that fried were on a surge suppressor. But I didn't know that the power surges will eventually destroy the surge suppressor circuitry.
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a c 115 ) Power supply
November 30, 2013 10:55:28 PM

Pure sine wave simply means that the voltage waveform is a perfect curve like what comes out of a spinning generator, instead of being all jagged. Some stuff doesn't handle imperfect waveforms that well.

Quote:
I have used UPS's at work to both shut down computers safely during power outages, and to prevent momentary power outages from shutting down computers.


That's what UPSs are for. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I said anything else.

And yeah, the MOVs in surge protectors can only handle so much energy before they die.
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January 28, 2014 11:21:17 AM

This is the first I've hear of the sine wave issue for active PFC power supplies. What I can tell you is this. I have 8 computers in my house that I built. All have active PFC power supplies, and all are plugged into UPS's. I highly doubt any of my UPSs are pure sine wave for what I paid for them. I have several APC 1500 Back-UPS RS. They are old. I've replaced the batteries, so they still work just fine, and I've never had an issue with them not working during a power outage or brown out. I'm sure the pure sine wave UPSs are better, but for the average (and even the not so average overclocked multi-GPU) PC, I'd have to say a standard high quality (there are lots of crappy ones out there) UPS is fine.

Someone stated earlier that you don't need a higher power UPS. While that's true, you only need it to last long enough for the software to power down your computer, my experience is that the batteries lose maximum capacity over time, so if you only have barely enough to get your PC shut down, in a year or so it may not have enough power to get the system fully shut down. Other factors can make that worse, like installing software that takes longer to shut down, or just having many programs open to shut down when there is a power failure. It gets worse if you install another hard drive or especially another or an upgraded video card. If for instance you are in a graphics intensive game when the power goes out you will be drawing much more power than you would running word. Not to mention the fact that some games only save at specific points that you have to get to. It's really nice to have a high power UPS that lets you run at full load for 15-20 minutes before you have to shut down. Frequently the power is back on before you have to shut down! :-)

My wife an I have played many games together after the power goes out. We don't even consider starting to shut down for at least 15 minutes. We can usually get to the next save point in Borderlands for example before we have to decide whether to keep playing until the UPS starts fast beeping, which still gives us plenty of time to get shut down, or to go ahead and shut down immediately and go do something else that's fun when the power goes out...

The glow from your monitor can really come in handy when looking for a flashlight too!

Korxax
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a b ) Power supply
January 28, 2014 5:32:44 PM

CaptnKirk said:
This is the first I've hear of the sine wave issue for active PFC power supplies. What I can tell you is this. I have 8 computers in my house that I built. All have active PFC power supplies, and all are plugged into UPS's. I highly doubt any of my UPSs are pure sine wave for what I paid for them. I have several APC 1500 Back-UPS RS. They are old. I've replaced the batteries, so they still work just fine, and I've never had an issue with them not working during a power outage or brown out. I'm sure the pure sine wave UPSs are better, but for the average (and even the not so average overclocked multi-GPU) PC, I'd have to say a standard high quality (there are lots of crappy ones out there) UPS is fine.

Someone stated earlier that you don't need a higher power UPS. While that's true, you only need it to last long enough for the software to power down your computer, my experience is that the batteries lose maximum capacity over time, so if you only have barely enough to get your PC shut down, in a year or so it may not have enough power to get the system fully shut down. Other factors can make that worse, like installing software that takes longer to shut down, or just having many programs open to shut down when there is a power failure. It gets worse if you install another hard drive or especially another or an upgraded video card. If for instance you are in a graphics intensive game when the power goes out you will be drawing much more power than you would running word. Not to mention the fact that some games only save at specific points that you have to get to. It's really nice to have a high power UPS that lets you run at full load for 15-20 minutes before you have to shut down. Frequently the power is back on before you have to shut down! :-)

My wife an I have played many games together after the power goes out. We don't even consider starting to shut down for at least 15 minutes. We can usually get to the next save point in Borderlands for example before we have to decide whether to keep playing until the UPS starts fast beeping, which still gives us plenty of time to get shut down, or to go ahead and shut down immediately and go do something else that's fun when the power goes out...

The glow from your monitor can really come in handy when looking for a flashlight too!

Korxax

Hi,
I'm not sure when the better quality power supplies changed over to the active PFC power designs. I would guess that they began with the high efficiency silver and gold power supplies. Apparently the only problem occurs when the UPS switches to battery power, active PFC power supplies detect the simulated sine wave (of previous UPS models) as the beginning of a power interruption and shut off. If your particular UPS passes scrutiny, then you are probably fine. But there is the problem, you have to gamble with a "non-pure sine wave" UPS. It may be months before the UPS detects a power issue and switches to battery. Until then (and probably after the opportunity to return the UPS passes) you will not be sure that UPS is going to work. It probably accounts for a lot of the bad reviews of cheaper UPS's. Cyberpower offers one (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) for $200 but they don't have the reputation of APC.

I've used APC at work for years, and they work great.
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a c 115 ) Power supply
January 28, 2014 6:15:24 PM

To get any kind of 80Plus certification, it has to be APFC. APFC PSUs have been around longer than 80Plus, but mainly in server loads.

The easiest way to test is to turn off the switch at the wall or in the switchboard.

We did have a problem with our old NAS and a cheap Belkin UPS, but newer PSUs tend to be more forgiving of power fluctuations, IIRC. I don't have that NAS any more, and the battery in the UPS died.
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January 28, 2014 6:18:34 PM

There is a really easy way to test it... Just boot your machine up while plugged into the UPS, then pull the UPS plug out of the wall. Then you will know if it works or not. You could try it multiple times if needed. I do have a few cyberpower UPSes and have had no issues with them at all, so far they've been excellent, but they aren't as old as my APCs, we'll have to see how they last but I've had them for about 2.5-3 years and they are still working fine. They are a different model though. My bother was actually telling me a while ago that many of the APC UPSes have recently dropped in quality considerably, ymmv. I really don't know. I do have modern power supplies in my PCs, I'm really a power supply snob since bad power supplies caused me many headaches when I first started building PCs about 20 years ago. I probably don't get nearly as many power interruptions as you probably do though. I'm in the pacific northwest about 100 miles north of Seattle. We only get a few thunderstorms a year, but occasionally get wind related surges and outages.

Another thing to consider is that most of the UPS makers offer a $ amount of protection for anything plugged into them, but I have no idea what you'd have to go through to actually collect on that promise.

You could try picking up one of the UPSs you think might work locally if you can find one, set up your system on it and pull the power on it a few times and see what happens. I know it's not the same as getting a surge from a lightning strike, but it should let you know if your PC will continue to operate when the power goes out. Just make a backup first or install a bare-ones system on a spare hard drive so if your OS gets corrupted it won't be a big deal to fix it.

Good luck!

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a c 115 ) Power supply
January 28, 2014 6:29:18 PM

By memory you're not really supposed to unplug it from the wall - that disconnects earth too.

The best option is to turn off the switch either at the wall (not all areas have a switch here), or turn off the power to your house in the switchboard.
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a b ) Power supply
January 28, 2014 6:54:21 PM

CaptnKirk said:
There is a really easy way to test it... Just boot your machine up while plugged into the UPS, then pull the UPS plug out of the wall. Then you will know if it works or not. You could try it multiple times if needed. I do have a few cyberpower UPSes and have had no issues with them at all, so far they've been excellent, but they aren't as old as my APCs, we'll have to see how they last but I've had them for about 2.5-3 years and they are still working fine. They are a different model though. My bother was actually telling me a while ago that many of the APC UPSes have recently dropped in quality considerably, ymmv. I really don't know. I do have modern power supplies in my PCs, I'm really a power supply snob since bad power supplies caused me many headaches when I first started building PCs about 20 years ago. I probably don't get nearly as many power interruptions as you probably do though. I'm in the pacific northwest about 100 miles north of Seattle. We only get a few thunderstorms a year, but occasionally get wind related surges and outages.

Another thing to consider is that most of the UPS makers offer a $ amount of protection for anything plugged into them, but I have no idea what you'd have to go through to actually collect on that promise.

You could try picking up one of the UPSs you think might work locally if you can find one, set up your system on it and pull the power on it a few times and see what happens. I know it's not the same as getting a surge from a lightning strike, but it should let you know if your PC will continue to operate when the power goes out. Just make a backup first or install a bare-ones system on a spare hard drive so if your OS gets corrupted it won't be a big deal to fix it.

Good luck!


Hi,
That sounds reasonable, I didn't think of that. I have the same concerns about APC. I assume they were bought out. This last build is all high end components. I want it to last, that is the reason for the UPS.
Thanks.
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January 28, 2014 8:59:00 PM

Someone Somewhere said:
By memory you're not really supposed to unplug it from the wall - that disconnects earth too.

The best option is to turn off the switch either at the wall (not all areas have a switch here), or turn off the power to your house in the switchboard.


True, though I've never had an issue doing it. I've done this to move my computer across the room without shutting down without issue. But I suppose you could use a cheap surge strip with an on/off switch. Just plug the UPS into the surge strip then switch the surge strip off. That will keep the ground connected.

CaptnKirk
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a c 115 ) Power supply
January 29, 2014 2:25:31 AM

Depends where you are. Here in NZ, every wall plug has a switch on it that interrupts phase only.
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January 29, 2014 10:39:12 AM

He's in the US like me, we don't have switches on the wall plates here. So the only way to add a switch is to use something like a surge strip. Either that or like you said, flip the breaker, but then you have to re-set all the clocks in the room. :-P The more I think about it though, I don't think disconnecting the ground would be that big of a deal since by unplugging from the wall you eliminate the possibility of a surge anyway. I'm no electrical engineer though so I could be wrong. Some UPSs and outlets also have screw plates where you can screw a wire to the UPS and to something that is grounded, like your plumbing pipes if you still have copper pipes, or just hook the other end of the wire to a nail and stick it in the dirt outside. That would give you a ground too and would work for testing.

I did look at the UPS from Cyberpower that was linked and from just what I saw there, 100+ reviews with 5 eggs, and from my experience with the 2 Cyberpower UPSes I have, I'd say I don't see a problem with getting that one if you ok with spending $200. The ones I have seem to work quite well even after 3 years. I haven't opened them up and looked at the circuit boards to see what kind of capacitors used, etc. though.

I did see a link to someone saying they had a problem with an active PFC power supply and a UPS, but from what I read in that one the problem may have been that the UPS and power supply were overloaded. It was a small power supply with a small UPS and if the power supply is at full load its capacitors can't keep the PC running for the fraction of a second it takes for the UPS to switch over to battery power. Most power supplies if under low to medium load actually supply power to the PC for a fraction of a second from their capacitors even after power is lost. If they are at full load, especially on a cheap power supply that skimps on capacitors, it doesn't have enough in the capacitors to supply even a millisecond of power to the system while the UPS switches to battery. Now matter how good the UPS there will be a very brief fluctuation in the power. That's where the capacitors come in, they hold enough power to keep the system running for the tiny amount of time it takes for power to normalize. So at least in the one example I read, the active PFC sine wave thing may not have been the problem. Other than that I really don't know much about it. I'm sure pure sine wave is probably better for your system, though I have no idea if that difference is significant enough to spend the extra money on consumer grade equipment.


CapnKirk
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