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Small Business Battery Backup: Eaton's 3,000VA PW5130

Small Business Battery Backup: Eaton's 3,000VA PW5130

We looked at various mainstream uninterruptible power supply (UPS) devices more than a year ago. While this sounds like a long time, it is important to realize that product cycles are much longer in this market than they are in the component segment. The devices we reviewed then were designed for workstations and entry level servers, so we made the next step and looked at a more flexible device for small and medium businesses: the Powerware PW5130.

To Protect and Supply

It is important to keep in mind that, although UPS units are made to sustain power in the case the main power fails, they typically aren’t designed to bridge a longer power outage. Rather than trying to serve that role, UPS devices have become more efficient and smarter when it comes to handling power emergencies.

They include surge suppressors and filtering functionality for electric power. Depending on how much battery capacity you add, you can indeed last through a certain period of downtime. Or you can implement a smarter system that determines which devices can be shut down after a defined period of time to stretch the battery. Advanced UPS units come with options to manage several sub-systems in your network and shut them down according to a custom strategy in the case of a failure.

Managing the Power Units

The Powerware PW5130 accesses several sub-systems through a master system, which it connects to via USB 2.0, a serial RS232 port, or an optional network connection. Once the management software is installed, you’ll have access to an impressive power supply management solution, which exceeds the feature ranges people typically associate with these devices.

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  • 4 Hide
    tjhva , May 8, 2009 1:35 PM
    Whats up with the recap first comment these days? Google archive?
  • 3 Hide
    gwolfman , May 8, 2009 3:27 PM
    so annoying, right? I agree ^^^^

    Btw, is this simulated sine or true sine?
  • 5 Hide
    puddleglum , May 8, 2009 7:00 PM
    tjhvaWhats up with the recap first comment these days? Google archive?

    I guess Tom want's to get first post credit for everything. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    etrnl_frost , May 8, 2009 9:06 PM
    Simulated. The 5130 is a line interactive unit, and as such uses an approximate sine wave - most likely stepped (I don't know for sure though). You need to step up to the online/dual conversion units to get the true sine wave power.

    Also, I, too, am annoyed at the recap comment :) 

    FINALLY > if any one ever has questions about UPS's, let me know. It's my job.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , May 9, 2009 3:05 AM

    Since you ask, How bad is stepped sine waves for a computer system(So far, it has not hurt anything, 3 computers, router, screen, speakers, phone base, cfl light[this does restart{flash like its just been turned on} during a power out])?

    Good article....
  • 0 Hide
    starryman , May 9, 2009 1:40 PM
    Every small business should have at least one of these.
  • 1 Hide
    pdjh1960 , May 9, 2009 2:16 PM
    etrnl_frostSimulated. The 5130 is a line interactive unit, and as such uses an approximate sine wave - most likely stepped (I don't know for sure though). You need to step up to the online/dual conversion units to get the true sine wave power. Also, I, too, am annoyed at the recap comment FINALLY > if any one ever has questions about UPS's, let me know. It's my job.

    This is a pure sine wave unit, and that has nothing to do with being line interactive. This is your job?!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 10, 2009 2:10 AM
    Exactly. Being a line interactive doesn't determine if the UPS uses a True Sinewave. APC in one of their three SMART series has line interactive with true sine.
  • 0 Hide
    ralltir , May 11, 2009 1:53 AM
    Am I missing something special about this unit? How is it any different than APC, Tripplite, Minuteman 3000VA UPS models?
  • 2 Hide
    etrnl_frost , May 11, 2009 2:02 PM
    It's really not that important, all things considered. PSU's nowadays can handle a stepped sine wave quite fine. However, certain things like VoIP switches can experience QoS issues with an approximated output.

    pdjh1960, mutantmagnet:
    Let me clarify - my job is specifically TrippLite technologies. I'm not as familiar with Eaton technologies, and had to look up this unit. The site I chose said it was a line interactive unit. I checked again today, saw somewhere that said it was an online... etc. So, I did some learning of myself, and found that Eaton's nomenclature is as follows - 3-series are standby, 5-series (this one) are line-interactive, and 9-series are on-line. Here's the catch; you're partially right.

    APC "claims" to have true sinewave with their line-interactive... However, as far as I know this is a conditional technicality (unless they came out with something recently that I don't know about).
    Essentially, the On-line units, by way of always running off their battery, are consistently outputting a preprogrammed sine wave. A line interactive unit can do a true sine wave from battery. By it's definition though, it's using an auto-voltage regulator to smooth out the input power when it's bypassing direct from utility. Auto voltage regulation is not exact (again, unless someone invented something I don't know about), and you will inevitably have harmonic distortion. Thus, you do not have a perfect sine wave. In other words, yeah you can get pure sine wave power, but only when the power's out. Otherwise, it's bypassing corrected utility power, which - unless someone can provide me a white paper - as far as I know it's not going to be as "nice" as an online unit's output.

    Really, in the end, until you are starting to look at anything above 5000VA, the units are pretty much the same. There are some lines that claim to be different (I know Tripp Lite claims to have the only hot-swappable line-interactive rackmountable 3000VA unit, but I believe APC has an equivalent, for example), but these are major exceptions to the rule (with regards to what I typically see leave a major reseller's doors).

    Final clarification: As stated before, I'm a TL rep. However, I'm not paid by TL, and my job is provided for the aforementioned major reseller. As such, I am immune to kool-aid. :)  Feel more than free to correct me as both you did earlier - it gives me reason to learn more about what I've been doing (only a year)....
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2009 3:30 PM
    > In addition to lithium-ion technology, they are safe, as they cannot catch fire.

    Lead acid batteries can and do burn. They are substantially resistant to thermal runnaway, and they are compared to lithium ion more stable, but there are limitations.

    Furthermore it is worth noting that it is possible to damage gel cells by discharging them to quickly, discharging them completely or allowing them to run excessively hot.
  • 0 Hide
    etrnl_frost , May 11, 2009 3:41 PM
    joelja: After reading some of the stuff Eaton's posted about this model on their website, I am questioning some of the bullet points they list... I'm assuming that's where you got that bit about the battery tech?

  • 0 Hide
    joebob2000 , May 11, 2009 8:41 PM
    Why even bother with all this nonsense? Real hardware gurus go straight for the 48VDC ATX power supplies and a string of 4 12v batteries with a high amperage inverter. Duh.
  • 0 Hide
    etrnl_frost , May 11, 2009 8:46 PM
    joebob2000Why even bother with all this nonsense? Real hardware gurus go straight for the 48VDC ATX power supplies and a string of 4 12v batteries with a high amperage inverter. Duh.

    Heh, like google did for their servers? Maybe not the same string of batteries, but...

    If only there were more hardware gurus out there, yah.
  • 1 Hide
    ossie , May 12, 2009 4:31 PM
    The 51xx series is Powerware's (formerly Exide Electronics, which aquired Deltec/Fiskars), it has nothing to do with MGE.
    The segmentation of outputs and LanSafe/FailSafe III are from Deltec's design and software legacy (UPScode II protocol).
    Powerware also acquired Best Power/Sola, and killed most of their product line.

    Short history:
    Deltec was purchased by Fiskars (FPS - Helsinki)
    FPS was purchased by Exide
    Exide was purchased by BTR (London) and the product line was re-named to "Powerware"
    BTR then merged with Seibe (London) to become "Invensys"
  • 0 Hide
    etrnl_frost , May 12, 2009 4:51 PM
    Interesting tidbit, there, ossie. I sit right next to the Eaton specialist where I work... and it surprises me how often he's yelling in frustration because of the many different kinds of outsourcing that is done by Powerware. One of those things where everything comes from everyone, so it's hard sometimes for him to determine who to go to, because it all seems unrelated :( 
  • 0 Hide
    ossie , May 13, 2009 9:10 AM
    Eaton is probably just another step... As management/shareholders are more interested in the money, since Exide days, rather than in the product, the usual pattern of buying/selling will continue.
    Deltec had one marvelous product line, both electronically and management SW wise (when APC still struggled to define their UPS product line) - at least the current line of Eaton low power UPS products, based mostly on it, managed to keep most of their qualities.
    Schneider bought Merlin Gerin (late '80s) and APC, a few years ago, but kept just the high power end of MGE (EU antitrust), the low power one ended at Eaton, and will probably be mostly discarded, as usual.
    Lets hope Eaton will keep Exide/Powerware's policies of, at least, offering technical information and SW for former product lines of the companies they bought, even without active support.
    Also, MGE had a tradition of supporting FOSS, unlike APC.

    I guess the Schneider rep is even more frustrated...

    @joelja "They are substantially resistant to thermal runnaway"
    Actually they are not, and have a quite large negative thermal coefficient (~ -3.9mV/C/cell), which, when neglected, can lead to shortened life, or even failure. Also, high and low temperatures have a detrimental effect on life time.
    APC was quite infamous for not using thermal compensation in their Smart interactive series, leading to premature battery failure - don't know if they fixed it in newer units, but they have a business in selling replacement packs...

    @joebob2000 -48V DC bus is established in the telecom industry, but is inefficient for high power systems, implying a lot more copper at the same power levels, than higher voltage AC (the old Edison/Tesla currents war). Most UPSs over 1000VA use internally 96V or even 192V DC, for higher efficiency.
    Also, to charge the batteries you need a rectifier, not inverter.
    As the transition from circuit-switched to packet-switched networks advances, this legacy of early telecom days will probably fade away.

    As a footnote, the THG dynamic duo should be kept away from all electrical energy matters, they still don't grasp it.

    "In addition to lithium-ion technology, they are safe, as they cannot catch fire."
    H2-02 gas mix in a closed recipient is not exactly "safe"...

    "The 3,000 VA unit provides a 12V, 9 Ah battery unit."
    That would be rather 6 12V units (or a 72V one).
    A worrying trend is emerging, newer units feature just limited internal capacity (~3 min at full load), leading to almost mandatory purchase of at least one EBM.

    "The PW5130 is a true behemoth, weighing in at 34 kg"
    It could be considered quite light, the Compaq R3000 (PW5119) clocked at 60kg, but it had a lot more storage capacity and was extremely sturdy. Still have a few ones working after a decade...

    "LanSafe seems to be the original Powerware product, while the PW5130 is based on MGE OPS technology."
    oops, actually both are... (cleared that up in the previous comment)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2009 9:54 AM
    Line Interactive, which APC made popular (although they make Double Conversion Online and Delta Conversion units as well now), is perfectly fine for IT equipment, which largely uses switching power supplies that are perfectly capable of handling the extremely short switchover moment when the unit goes to battery.

    Powerware UPS hardware isn't too bad but every Tripp Lite I've ever bought has died after only a year, I expect a UPS to last at least a few years.

    Powerware's software is a little on the cheesy side though, it's no PowerChute.

  • 0 Hide
    etrnl_frost , May 13, 2009 2:09 PM
    ossie: I hear you on the bit about decreasing run times on internal systems. It's truthfully getting harder and harder for me to find systems that can meet the customer req's with the internal batteries, without going to some ridiculously low load percentage. I know APC's got some "extended runtime" UPS's that have some better runtimes on the core units.

    Edward5731: One year? That should still fall under the 2 year standard warranty (unless you're getting the cheapy units). Which ones did you use, and under what kind of settings (what were you running), may I ask? I always try to take notes on these sorts of things. Customer testimonial, good or bad, is always useful.

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 26, 2009 4:15 AM
    Behemoth at 74 lbs? Ones I've used are around 300 lbs. And UPS are heavy because of of thick copper coil wrapped inside, not because of some battery.
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