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Looking for help in finding the 'right' UPS for our needs

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September 15, 2006 8:53:29 PM

Greetings folks, I'm back for another bit of advice.

I've been watching some seriously heavy amount of flickering of power at my place over the last month, sometimes long enough to -just- manage to turn off the PC's in the house, and I'm very sure that cannot be good for them.
At this point, I'm pondering a minor UPS, something semi-cheap if possible, that can mainly just regulate the voltage going through to the systems, to avoid the issues of the lack of power for a second and the possible surges afterwards.
What I -need- is something that can handle likely running two computers and monitors, with probably a pair of 400-500 watt power supplies, and keep them from having more issues just from being connected to it.
What I do -not- need however is something that will keep them up in a full power outtage for some unnecessary length of time. Instead something with about 1-5 minutes worth of full battery is enough for my taste.

The problem is, I really don't know how the UPS's work, what points you have to look out for when buying them, and so on. How many things you can hook up to them, good ways to test how much voltage they'll be drawing, so on. I really don't have an upper limit planned on how much for the UPS.. I just don't want to throw money at the features I don't need, as it's possible we'll need up to three of them (for the friends place as well as here).

Advice and examples are welcome, if anyone has any to point at.

Thanks for the time!
- Shirra Whitefur

More about : finding ups

September 15, 2006 9:11:36 PM

Yea UPS's are great for smoothing out the power.

The way they work is simple. They are just a battery. like most battery's. Its a 115V battery.

Just get yourself a medium sized APC UPS or other well known brand. I bought a small APC 500 UPS and it'll keep my comp., monitor, modem, and printer on for about 4-5 minutes. Plenty of time to finish and shut down properly. Although the box says it will keep me going for like 18 minutes that BS. 4-5 minutes is all I get but I knew that going in. So for 2 comps I would have to speculate that maybe an 850 give or take will keep 2 comps up for a few minutes.

The thing to keep in mind is that not all the plugs are backup power plugs. On mine only half (one side) is backup. So I have 4 backup plugs and the rest are only surge protection and line conditioning. So figure out how many plugs your going to need as backup power. It might be cheaper to buy 2 small UPS's, one for each comp.
a c 104 ) Power supply
September 15, 2006 9:15:10 PM

APC makes some decent UPS units that aren't too expensive. I spent <$190 for the one in my .sig, and it would be adequate to power a couple of systems including monitors.

Do not ever plug a laser printer into a UPS (unless it is WAY bigger than you really need); they have heating elements and when those cycle "on" the instantaneous current demand will exceed the capacity of the UPS, possibly causing damage but certainly shutting it down.

It sounds like you want one with a feature called "line interactive" that monitors the input voltage and adjusts the output up or down if necessary.

Edit: clarify a poor choice of words.
Related resources
September 15, 2006 9:29:35 PM

Another grey area on the specs, is volts versus wattage of power supplies..

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...

That one for instance is 900VA, but 475 Watt, which makes me curious if it'll even handle one 500 watt power supply using computer.. let alone two. How would such things be handled? Finally, of course, does Tripp Lite fall under 'Generally good products' category of company? ;)  A lot cheaper than APC, thusly a lot more doable. The main thing that really has to be handled is keeping the energy flow stable.. As said before, the amount of time things need to have battery for would be at -most- one minute, as this is only for dealing with the flickering bad sags and surges of power around here.

Thanks again for the time, and the rapid responses!

- Shirra Whitefur
September 15, 2006 9:45:40 PM

Have had the same UPS for a couple of years, total of 3, one for each computer and would also agree it's better to have a separate one for each machine.
September 15, 2006 9:58:22 PM

Quote:
Have had the same UPS for a couple of years, total of 3, one for each computer and would also agree it's better to have a separate one for each machine.


I disagree, as long as the UPS is big enough to handle the load connected to it, one UPS is fine.

Keep in mind that, even though you may have a 500W power supply, you may not necessarily be using 500W of power.

My advice is to go to http://www.apcc.com/tools/ups_selector/ and follow through the prompts. It will give you exactly what you need for the amount of time you want the devices to run.
September 15, 2006 10:01:53 PM

UPS calculator

edit:

Quote:
Another grey area on the specs, is volts versus wattage of power supplies..


This is because

VA = watts / (power factor) or VA * (power factor) = watts

This is where your "active PFC" power supply function will help give you a longer run time or less VA needed.
September 15, 2006 11:46:27 PM

I did a lot of research on UPSs before deciding on a powerware 9125 3000VA. This thing is great. It has enough power to run one computer for around 30 min or 4 computer for about 6 min. This may be a little over kill for you but the 1250 or 1500VA models might do you well.

Most UPS, (all the cheap ones) including APC or anything you can get from best buy, use a switching power source. Normally they do little to filter the power and just pass through the power and add a trickle charge to the battery. When the power goes out they switch to the battery. If you have really bad power or a sensitive PSU these may not help at all.

I had a cheap one and it didn't have the wattage to power my power computer for even 1 sec. When I connected it to an older system it switched slow enough that computer would power cycle instantly during blackouts.

The better ones are a double conversion. They always run the power through the battery. This computer a level of separation from the grid. This makes you impervious to just about any power related problems. It fully filters the power and returns a true sine wave AC to your computer. When the power goes out all that happens is the battery stops being recharged. If it wasn't for the thing beeping and every thing else in the room turning off you wouldn't even know the power went out.

Kind of fun thing too is that these are considered an enterprise solution UPS. So the companies you deal with will treat you like you have are the head of a rich IT department. I got mine for steal and then they sent it next day air for free. I also got a 10 year warranty on the batteries free.

The only down side to it is that the thing is heavy. Don't expect your wife to move it. In fact it might out weigh her.
September 16, 2006 3:02:27 AM

Quote:
I did a lot of research on UPSs before deciding on a powerware 9125 3000VA. This thing is great. It has enough power to run one computer for around 30 min or 4 computer for about 6 min. This may be a little over kill for you but the 1250 or 1500VA models might do you well.


Just a -tad- overkill, yeah, unless I hook everything via extensions to it, and that seems sort of.. odd. Though I've been wondering how things line up for using a surge supressor before or after the UPS, if one ends up with a low rated surge suprressent UPS. Just seems like a not to good idea to hook such things together, for some reason.. yet with my luck, it'd be the commonly picked way. Oy. ;) 

Quote:
The only down side to it is that the thing is heavy. Don't expect your wife to move it. In fact it might out weigh her.

:chuckles: When I was helping.. how was it termed, 'Haul away the electronic waste' for a local business after thier upgrade (and thusly getting any parts that were still good), part of the stuff to haul was about 10 UPS', that all weighed at least 50 pounds each. Pity none of them worked.. but they made amazingly amazingly solid doorstops, heh.

Anyways, much oblidged for the info, everyone, I've learned a lot about these things. ^_^

- Shirra Whitefur
September 16, 2006 4:49:02 AM

Quote:
Most UPS, (all the cheap ones) including APC or anything you can get from best buy, use a switching power source. Normally they do little to filter the power and just pass through the power and add a trickle charge to the battery. When the power goes out they switch to the battery. If you have really bad power or a sensitive PSU these may not help at all.

I


dont let this guy fool you pretty much all APC units have at minimum Full time multi-pole noise filtering. If your power drops below a certain point the battery will let the juice flow to make up the voltage that is lagging. I have crappy dirty power......my lights flicker and drop out all togather all the time. I have brown outs about 2-3 times a week. And thats just the time I notice it. My computer never even has hiccup. My UPS cost about $50-60 at office depot. Works just fine. And yes a comps PSU with a high PFC will help also
September 16, 2006 7:13:16 AM

Another vote for APC....

their ability to 'crowbar' (at least I think that's the term) or cut off a surge from a lightening strike is legendary... Ie, microseconds. I personally have a apc 1000 smartups, and it will run my pc, monitor, and several other devices for up to four hours. I really don't know how long as I've never done a test to find out. Mind you that was four hrs when I was away from the house, the LCD monitor was in screensaver mode, and the only real activity was my drives saving a file that I was downloading... I'll try a full test one of these days when I'm either really bored or we have a pwr outage during a day when I'm at home...

We also use APC's at work in remote locations, and they take tremendous environmental abuse. And they just work. We have a team that trades batteries out once a year and reconditions the batteries, we get about 4 years from a set.

Their commercial products are not cheap... But they have slightly less robust products in their consumer catalog, ones that I have recommended to friends and relatives. No complaints so far.

Did I mention that their output was also far smoother than many other units I've tested? There is very limited stair-stepping in the sine wave, you really have to crank your o-scope up to see it at all...

And I have looked at the output with inputs of <40 VAC up to over 300 VAC, (the limits of my rheostat) with a steady output of 220 VAC. (I also simulated a lightening strike of 100,000 VDC using a VERY large cap... and got a small spike of 2 VAC at the output, less than .5 microsecond...)

APC used to have a waveform test section in their product brochures, not sure if they still do. I didn't believe them, so I conducted my own. Never looked for those tests again...

My 2p worth.
September 16, 2006 3:22:01 PM

Quote:
Another vote for APC....

I really don't know how long as I've never done a test to find out. Mind you that was four hrs when I was away from the house, the LCD monitor was in screensaver mode, and the only real activity was my drives saving a file that I was downloading... I'll try a full test one of these days when I'm either really bored or we have a pwr outage during a day when I'm at home...



Just pull the APC's plug out of the wall and let the software tell you how much time you have.
September 16, 2006 7:37:45 PM

I guess I'm the only one to dislike APC. If you go with APC I would still swing for the comercial product. Its like the difference between a S-10 and a RAM 3500. One is for those that like the idea of a truck and the other is for those that need a truck.
September 16, 2006 8:42:41 PM

Quote:
I guess I'm the only one to dislike APC. If you go with APC I would still swing for the comercial product. Its like the difference between a S-10 and a RAM 3500. One is for those that like the idea of a truck and the other is for those that need a truck.


Yes but he doesnt want to spring for a DODGE!! When a small box Chevy will do the trick.
September 16, 2006 9:29:17 PM

Quote:
I guess I'm the only one to dislike APC. If you go with APC I would still swing for the comercial product. Its like the difference between a S-10 and a RAM 3500. One is for those that like the idea of a truck and the other is for those that need a truck.


Yes but he doesnt want to spring for a DODGE!! When a small box Chevy will do the trick.

:chuckles: A good example, that. As the more I look at it, the more it looks like one thing per computer, and I'm still debating between just something to clean up the electricity alone, or something that does that -and- gives me 'x' seconds of UPS as well. The more I've read here, and the more I've researched elsewhere, the more I've noticed I'll probably need both. The one that merely cleans up the electricity for over at my friend's place with the awful wiring and low rated circuit breakers (Go ahead, think about using the microwave the same time as your computer.. Afterwords, go think about finding a flashlight, heh!). And for my place, the UPS per computer setup would probably be a better thing, since our computers are higher end and going to cost more to replace parts on. Either way, I still don't need even a 10 minute battery. ^_^

Seems like everyone's swearing by APC, so they'll probably be the route a go for the UPS at least. I'm not sure if they do the mere current cleaner thing though.. Tripp Lite does howeever.

Gotta say, I've really appreciated the turnout of responses, it's fun learning more as I go.

- Shirra Whitefur
a c 104 ) Power supply
September 17, 2006 1:40:09 AM

I used to use a TrippLite LC-1200 unit. It did seem to do a good job cleaning up the power.
I had a TrippLite UPS too. I don't think its waveform is as good as APC's.

If you use both, put the surge protector or line conditioner in FRONT of the UPS, since the non-sine waveform of the UPS may cause unpredictable results going into a line conditioner.
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