APC BGE90M-CA UPS Tear-Down

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Daniel Sauvageau

Daniel Sauvageau is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He’s known for his feature tear-downs of components and peripherals.

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  • gamebrigada
    For 30 bucks I'm not super concerned about the capacitors. The soldering job is decent and not done by a shmuck, and the board is nicely designed and doesn't look like it was designed by a 5 year old. Low quality capacitors scare me less than a potential fire.
  • nukemaster
    Another good read.

    Thanks.

    I looked at this(something from the same family at least) for a cordless phone backup/router/ect, but slightly larger units did not cost much more. I did not see these for 30 dollars in my area.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    35532 said:
    Another good read. Thanks.

    You're welcome!

    35532 said:
    I looked at this(something from the same family at least) for a cordless phone backup/router/ect, but slightly larger units did not cost much more. I did not see these for 30 dollars in my area.

    $30 was a clearance sale price. These units were manufactured in 2014, someone must have discovered pallets worth of these in the back of a warehouse somewhere and wanted to get rid of stale stock. At $30, these were almost worth getting just to scavenge the battery. The regular retail price is $47. While I was proofreading Chris' edits, I noticed the Newegg(.com) banner advertising a BGE90 for $80. I don't see stuff being so much cheaper in Canada than the USA very often. At such a large price discrepancy, it is almost worth it for US residents to order these units from Canada even before accounting for the exchange rate.

    New 600-650VA variants of this unit (BE600M1 and BN650M1) were launched last month (June 2016) and are only a few centimeters longer. They do cost $90-100 CAN though and at that price, it may make more sense on my side of the border to buy a pair of BGE90Ms and split the load.

    BTW, there was an 8h long power outage at my mother's place due to trees shorting power lines out during a severe thunderstorm last week. The BE550G held out for about 2h30, twice as long as I was expecting it to based on its packaging's runtime chart. I'm glad it held up so much longer than planned since my mother waited until about 1h30 into the outage before calling me. The battery should have been dead by then based on the chart. Apparently, I hadn't made it clear enough the first time around before I set her up with VoIP to save her $40/month on phone bills that one key disadvantage of a VoIP setup is that dead UPS battery = no internet = no phone so if she waits to call, she may no longer be able to do so by the time she decides to. Maybe I should replace the 550 with a Frankenstein BGE90 connected to an external 12AH battery, should last over 10 hours. If voip.ms has a feature to send an email or call a number when an account fails to register for more than 15 minutes, I need to set that up.
  • razor512
    Why aren't they giving these devices li-ion batteries? The whole thing is lower drain, thus no super high end battery is needed to handle a very high current.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    129458 said:
    Why aren't they giving these devices li-ion batteries?

    Lead-acid batteries are cheaper and can safely tolerate a whole lot more abuse than lithium cells do.
  • alextheblue
    35532 said:
    BTW, there was an 8h long power outage at my mother's place due to trees shorting power lines out during a severe thunderstorm last week. The BE550G held out for about 2h30, twice as long as I was expecting it to based on its packaging's runtime chart. I'm glad it held up so much longer than planned since my mother waited until about 1h30 into the outage before calling me. The battery should have been dead by then based on the chart. Apparently, I hadn't made it clear enough the first time around before I set her up with VoIP to save her $40/month on phone bills that one key disadvantage of a VoIP setup is that dead UPS battery = no internet = no phone so if she waits to call, she may no longer be able to do so by the time she decides to. Maybe I should replace the 550 with a Frankenstein BGE90 connected to an external 12AH battery, should last over 10 hours. If voip.ms has a feature to send an email or call a number when an account fails to register for more than 15 minutes, I need to set that up.


    It would be so much more efficient to be able to use a DC UPS though. Maybe get a 12V DC UPS and a couple of DC-DC adapters? :P
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    5190 said:
    It would be so much more efficient to be able to use a DC UPS though. Maybe get a 12V DC UPS and a couple of DC-DC adapters? :P

    I have entertained that idea a few times. The biggest hassle is getting the correct barrel connectors for everything you might want to connect to such an UPS and make sure you don't get leads mixed up between voltages and devices if you have devices that cannot tolerate 14V on their power input: if you have multiple 5x1.6mm barrel connector leads split between 5V devices and 12V devices, it would be quite easy to accidentally use the wrong lead on a 5V device and blow it up. I suspect this is the main reason why proper DC UPSes aren't widely available despite enabling much higher overall efficiency.

    In principle, all you'd need to put one together for 30W worth of loads is a 3A 13V power supply to act as a float charger for the SLA battery with all the 12V loads connected to the battery and 5V USB adapters with sufficient output current for all the 5V stuff.
  • alidan
    1736083 said:
    35532 said:
    Another good read. Thanks.
    You're welcome!
    35532 said:
    I looked at this(something from the same family at least) for a cordless phone backup/router/ect, but slightly larger units did not cost much more. I did not see these for 30 dollars in my area.
    $30 was a clearance sale price. These units were manufactured in 2014, someone must have discovered pallets worth of these in the back of a warehouse somewhere and wanted to get rid of stale stock. At $30, these were almost worth getting just to scavenge the battery. The regular retail price is $47. While I was proofreading Chris' edits, I noticed the Newegg(.com) banner advertising a BGE90 for $80. I don't see stuff being so much cheaper in Canada than the USA very often. At such a large price discrepancy, it is almost worth it for US residents to order these units from Canada even before accounting for the exchange rate. New 600-650VA variants of this unit (BE600M1 and BN650M1) were launched last month (June 2016) and are only a few centimeters longer. They do cost $90-100 CAN though and at that price, it may make more sense on my side of the border to buy a pair of BGE90Ms and split the load. BTW, there was an 8h long power outage at my mother's place due to trees shorting power lines out during a severe thunderstorm last week. The BE550G held out for about 2h30, twice as long as I was expecting it to based on its packaging's runtime chart. I'm glad it held up so much longer than planned since my mother waited until about 1h30 into the outage before calling me. The battery should have been dead by then based on the chart. Apparently, I hadn't made it clear enough the first time around before I set her up with VoIP to save her $40/month on phone bills that one key disadvantage of a VoIP setup is that dead UPS battery = no internet = no phone so if she waits to call, she may no longer be able to do so by the time she decides to. Maybe I should replace the 550 with a Frankenstein BGE90 connected to an external 12AH battery, should last over 10 hours. If voip.ms has a feature to send an email or call a number when an account fails to register for more than 15 minutes, I need to set that up.


    have a costco where i live, they have 810 watt upses there for 100$ forget the brand name but remember them being good. if this costs 80 and the 810 costs 100, may as well get the significantly better one.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    269694 said:
    have a costco where i live, they have 810 watt upses there for 100$ forget the brand name but remember them being good. if this costs 80 and the 810 costs 100, may as well get the significantly better one.

    If your objective is very long runtime, getting a massively higher VA rating UPS may not necessarily do you any good: in a traditional transformer-based inverter (every UPS I have shown here so far other than the BGE90 and BX1000), a larger transformer core means higher magnetizing current and other related losses which bleed off battery power. When I measured the CP1000AVRLCD, BX1000 and BGE90's no-load battery current draw, I got ~25W for the CP, ~7W for the BX1000 and ~2.5W for the BGE.

    If your 810W UPS uses a traditional transformer-based inverter like the 1000AVRLCD does, it will need a battery about twice the size of the BGE90's to beat it at endurance on 10-15W loads due to wasting more power walking its large transformer core through its hysteresis loop than actually powering the loads.

    Sometimes, less is more. The typical use-case for the BGE90 should be one of those cases when compared against UPSes using traditional inverters.
  • alextheblue
    1736083 said:
    5190 said:
    It would be so much more efficient to be able to use a DC UPS though. Maybe get a 12V DC UPS and a couple of DC-DC adapters? :P
    I have entertained that idea a few times. The biggest hassle is getting the correct barrel connectors for everything you might want to connect to such an UPS and make sure you don't get leads mixed up between voltages and devices if you have devices that cannot tolerate 14V on their power input: if you have multiple 5x1.6mm barrel connector leads split between 5V devices and 12V devices, it would be quite easy to accidentally use the wrong lead on a 5V device and blow it up. I suspect this is the main reason why proper DC UPSes aren't widely available despite enabling much higher overall efficiency. In principle, all you'd need to put one together for 30W worth of loads is a 3A 13V power supply to act as a float charger for the SLA battery with all the 12V loads connected to the battery and 5V USB adapters with sufficient output current for all the 5V stuff.


    Change the connectors on the units in question or glue them in and cut the cord, adding a second connector (something akin to a breakaway connector on an Xbox 360) that's different and incompatible for each device :P

    Really I think that all small widgets and whatsits should just go USB Type C. :D Then it would be not only viable, but really easy. Heck at that point you'd basically be building a really high-class USB power bank.
  • mikeebb
    Can I power a UPS from a UPS? My Uverse gateway has a little Belkin UPS that holds it through short (up to maybe 1/2 hour) power outages (probably needs a battery soon). Can I hook it up to a surplus UPS (only one working desktop still in the house and it has a 1500 - surplus is a 900) for longer runtime? Or is the cruddy waveform of a UPS bad for a downstream UPS?
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    5190 said:
    Really I think that all small widgets and whatsits should just go USB Type C. :D Then it would be not only viable, but really easy. Heck at that point you'd basically be building a really high-class USB power bank.

    Personally, I am really disliking how convoluted the USB specification has become: it was originally introduced as an inexpensive interface to replace RS232, the parallel port and proprietary interfaces for relatively low speed devices using a simple cable with two power and two data wires. Then USB3 came along and added dedicated shielded pairs for high speed RX and TX, making USB cables more complex than ieee1394a was. Now we have the new power delivery and Type-C specs which add a second RX and TX pairs, a bunch of auxiliary signals and a protocol to negotiate 5V/12V/20V power and a current limit.

    I think we are due for a cleaner and simpler interface for high-speed devices, perhaps something based on hot-plug PCIe over fiber for data with 12V at up to 5A for power with none of that 10-in-1 multi-standard cable bloat.

    1803820 said:
    Can I power a UPS from a UPS? My Uverse gateway has a little Belkin UPS that holds it through short (up to maybe 1/2 hour) power outages (probably needs a battery soon). Can I hook it up to a surplus UPS (only one working desktop still in the house and it has a 1500 - surplus is a 900) for longer runtime? Or is the cruddy waveform of a UPS bad for a downstream UPS?

    If the UPS does not like the waveform it is seeing, it will complain. Good UPS are designed to survive highly abnormal line and load waveforms, so trying it for curiosity's sake shouldn't harm anything. The worst thing that should happen is that the Belkin will refuse to remain on "AC power" using power from your other UPS.

    Ideally, you should simply get a bigger same-type battery for the Belkin (may require some hacking) or replace the Belkin altogether by a more efficient UPS with a larger battery. Or, as Alex suggested, bypass the UPS altogether and go for some sort of online DC system. That would be my preferred option if there were standards for doing so with consumer electronics.
  • mikeebb
    1736083 said:
    5190 said:
    Really I think that all small widgets and whatsits should just go USB Type C. :D Then it would be not only viable, but really easy. Heck at that point you'd basically be building a really high-class USB power bank.
    Personally, I am really disliking how convoluted the USB specification has become: it was originally introduced as an inexpensive interface to replace RS232, the parallel port and proprietary interfaces for relatively low speed devices using a simple cable with two power and two data wires. Then USB3 came along and added dedicated shielded pairs for high speed RX and TX, making USB cables more complex than ieee1394a was. Now we have the new power delivery and Type-C specs which add a second RX and TX pairs, a bunch of auxiliary signals and a protocol to negotiate 5V/12V/20V power and a current limit. I think we are due for a cleaner and simpler interface for high-speed devices, perhaps something based on hot-plug PCIe over fiber for data with 12V at up to 5A for power with none of that 10-in-1 multi-standard cable bloat.
    1803820 said:
    Can I power a UPS from a UPS? My Uverse gateway has a little Belkin UPS that holds it through short (up to maybe 1/2 hour) power outages (probably needs a battery soon). Can I hook it up to a surplus UPS (only one working desktop still in the house and it has a 1500 - surplus is a 900) for longer runtime? Or is the cruddy waveform of a UPS bad for a downstream UPS?
    If the UPS does not like the waveform it is seeing, it will complain. Good UPS are designed to survive highly abnormal line and load waveforms, so trying it for curiosity's sake shouldn't harm anything. The worst thing that should happen is that the Belkin will refuse to remain on "AC power" using power from your other UPS. Ideally, you should simply get a bigger same-type battery for the Belkin (may require some hacking) or replace the Belkin altogether by a more efficient UPS with a larger battery. Or, as Alex suggested, bypass the UPS altogether and go for some sort of online DC system. That would be my preferred option if there were standards for doing so with consumer electronics.

    I do agree regarding USB. It's being used for a lot of things it was never designed for. One thing that *was* useful with USB 1 through 3 was that they were physically and logically compatible: USB1 device in a USB3 plug would still work, and USB2-3 in a USB1 plug would work too at USB1 speed. That doesn't seem possible with the new specs, which require far too many wires to fit into the old-style plug/socket, so why are we still calling it USB? Hardly "universal" any more.

    As for the little Belkin, it's a strange beast. Looks like a midget version of the real Belkin (900VA) beast I once had. And it uses a proprietary DC connection to the gateway, so it's dedicated to that use. Yes, the gateway also has a AC plug so I could use a normal UPS with it; that's probably the better way to go in the long run. Repowering the Cyberpower perhaps, because batteries for it are actually less expensive than the miniature ones the Belkin uses.
  • Daniel Sauvageau
    1803820 said:
    As for the little Belkin, it's a strange beast. Looks like a midget version of the real Belkin (900VA) beast I once had. And it uses a proprietary DC connection to the gateway, so it's dedicated to that use. Yes, the gateway also has a AC plug so I could use a normal UPS with it; that's probably the better way to go in the long run. Repowering the Cyberpower perhaps, because batteries for it are actually less expensive than the miniature ones the Belkin uses.

    If the custom Belkin uses a VRLA/AGM battery, you can simply get a bigger same-type battery and make wires to connect it. I did that with my old APC BK650.

    For USB, Type-C is backward-compatible with previous standards: it has all of the same wires (1x USB2 data pair, 2x USB3 data pairs), plus a handful of extras (including a second pair of high-speed data pairs for USB3.1), you just need a physical plug adapter or the appropriate A/B-to-C cables.