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  Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam? 
 
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binar Aug 21, 2011, 01:19am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 21, 2011, 01:27am EDT

Replies: 26 - Views: 21720
Fellow Forum Members,
My third UPS has failed and now I have to what amounts as an expensive $200 brick. What aggravates me is that the batteries are in good condition. They are fully charged and showing proper voltage. The problem is with the electronic guts of the UPS itself since a buzzer alarm keeps on sounding without turning off.

With my last two UPS devices it was the same thing. And with my third UPS failure now I'm asking myself if I am being scammed by UPS manufacturers like APC and others? Why cant't these UPS manufacturers make a UPS that can be fixed if it takes a power surge hit? Why don't UPS devices have a heavy duty FUSE, that can be swopped out if it blows on the count of taking a big power surge hit?

The technician that analyzed my broken UPS says that it sacrificed itself by taking on a big power surge hit however the batteries are still in good condtion. I left wondering about his use of the words "sacrificed itself". Are we to accept that anytime a UPS takes a big power surge hit, it is suppose to break and then tossed in the trash? I'm not an electronics expert, but my thinking is that a UPS should have heavy duty fuses that can be changed anytime they pop from a big power surge hit. Why don't UPS devices rely on using heavy duty FUSES to protect against big power surge hits?

I have researched this matter and the page below does not provide a straight answer as to why UPS devices break and become unusable:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uninterruptible_power_supply


Any opinions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


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john albrich Aug 21, 2011, 11:53am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 21, 2011, 12:13pm EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
.
Not necessarily a scam.

It IS definitely preferable that your UPS/surge-suppressor sacrifice itself in an attempt to protect your system.

I do tend to trust APC and TrippLite. Over more than 15 years on multiple systems I have found those to be reliable and dependable, while I've tried to save money and had numerous CyberPower and Belkin UPS units fail after less than 1 year in place. (I have no personal or financial interest in any of them).

I think the failures you are talking about wouldn't be avoided by a standard "fuse", and I would bet the failures are generally speaking due to intrinsic hardware failure rather than failure caused by external spikes/surges...unless either your AC supply is just INCREDIBLY bad, or you have had lightning strikes within a mile or two of your location. And if that's the case, then again it's better the unit sacrificed itself.

In fact, something that is not commonly known is that non-UPS surge suppressors also do not last forever. They too can be damaged instantly or over time by routine AC line spikes and surges. They rely on a component called a "MOV" (metallic oxide varistor) and MOVs DO wear out/degrade over time. They are only about as big as a nickel to a quarter. They may still protect from average spikes/surges your equipment to some degree, but their ability to protect from peak specified levels is definitely degraded over time. And these MOVs also cannot protect from a direct lightning strike.

I've seen some units use a single MOV, while others use at least 3 (minimum needed) and others use even more. Commercial units designed to provide a LITTLE more protection from non-direct lightning strkes may even include Gas Discharge Tubes (GDTs) in addition to MOVs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surge_protector

They can also "look" perfectly OK (if you open them up you won't see any "burned-out" parts), and their little "protection status" indicator lights may show their "protection" is still viable...when in fact they provide little or no significant computer protection anymore.

On critical systems I routinely replace the "surge" protectors and UPS units every few years (or I replace the individual MOVs in the circuits). Unfortunately, UPS units don't have a "MOV" unit the customer can pull out and replace separately. After examining many of these "protection status" circuits, I do not trust the "go/no-go" indicator lights for the unit's "protection status" regardless of which company makes them. The "protection status" circuits are far too simplistic to properly gauge whether a protection circuit is still performing up to spec.


edit to add:
I just looked up and added some wikipedia entries for reference.
"MOVs degrade from repeated exposure to surges and generally have a higher "clamping voltage" so that leakage does not degrade the MOV...MOVs tend to be more suitable for higher voltages, because they can conduct the higher associated energies at less cost."-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varistor

binar Aug 21, 2011, 11:22pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
john albrich said:
.
Not necessarily a scam.

It IS definitely preferable that your UPS/surge-suppressor sacrifice itself in an attempt to protect your system.

I do tend to trust APC and TrippLite. Over more than 15 years on multiple systems I have found those to be reliable and dependable, while I've tried to save money and had numerous CyberPower and Belkin UPS units fail after less than 1 year in place. (I have no personal or financial interest in any of them).

I think the failures you are talking about wouldn't be avoided by a standard "fuse", and I would bet the failures are generally speaking due to intrinsic hardware failure rather than failure caused by external spikes/surges...unless either your AC supply is just INCREDIBLY bad, or you have had lightning strikes within a mile or two of your location. And if that's the case, then again it's better the unit sacrificed itself.

In fact, something that is not commonly known is that non-UPS surge suppressors also do not last forever. They too can be damaged instantly or over time by routine AC line spikes and surges. They rely on a component called a "MOV" (metallic oxide varistor) and MOVs DO wear out/degrade over time. They are only about as big as a nickel to a quarter. They may still protect from average spikes/surges your equipment to some degree, but their ability to protect from peak specified levels is definitely degraded over time. And these MOVs also cannot protect from a direct lightning strike.

I've seen some units use a single MOV, while others use at least 3 (minimum needed) and others use even more. Commercial units designed to provide a LITTLE more protection from non-direct lightning strkes may even include Gas Discharge Tubes (GDTs) in addition to MOVs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surge_protector

They can also "look" perfectly OK (if you open them up you won't see any "burned-out" parts), and their little "protection status" indicator lights may show their "protection" is still viable...when in fact they provide little or no significant computer protection anymore.

On critical systems I routinely replace the "surge" protectors and UPS units every few years (or I replace the individual MOVs in the circuits). Unfortunately, UPS units don't have a "MOV" unit the customer can pull out and replace separately. After examining many of these "protection status" circuits, I do not trust the "go/no-go" indicator lights for the unit's "protection status" regardless of which company makes them. The "protection status" circuits are far too simplistic to properly gauge whether a protection circuit is still performing up to spec.


edit to add:
I just looked up and added some wikipedia entries for reference.
"MOVs degrade from repeated exposure to surges and generally have a higher "clamping voltage" so that leakage does not degrade the MOV...MOVs tend to be more suitable for higher voltages, because they can conduct the higher associated energies at less cost."-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varistor



Thanks John for your post. It was very informative and helpful.

Like you, I have no personal or financial interest in any of the UPS devices sold by the various UPS manufacturers. In the past several years I have owned an APC, Belkin and Aptiva UPS (which is a relabeled APC). All of them have not lasted more than two years and all have ended up in the trash bin since none were repairable.

To me the idea that the UPS "sacrifices itself" to protect ones connected computer from a power surge is still hard for me to accept. I think it's something that most UPS manufacturers want us to believe so that they can sell more UPS devices. Hence, why I think of it's a big scam. If UPS manufacturers were on the level, it should be possible for us to buy repair parts for our broken UPS devices instead of throwing them away in the trash bin.

Nevertheless, today I purchased a TrippLite 1000VA UPS system. The model number is G1010USB. I got it at Costco for $80. I have never owned a TrippLite UPS but since you mentioned it's one of the better ones in your post I decided to go with a TrippLite this time. The warranty is for 2 years. I plan to keep my reciept and my warranty information for this UPS and make sure it last me for 2 years. What I find interesting is its small size and I think the LCD screen is a nice feature.

I would be happy if in two years time this UPS is still working. If it turns out that all I need to do in two years time is change the old batteries out with new ones, I wouldn't have a problem doing that.

Again, thanks for your post.





john albrich Aug 22, 2011, 01:54am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 22, 2011, 07:15pm EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
.
You're welcome. Hope the TrippLite works out for you.

$80 (if US) is an excellent price for a 1000VA unit. Be sure to check the max watts supported, as that changes from model to model, even with the same manufacturer. In other words, 1000VA doesn't always equal X watts. I've seen UPS units labeled as 1000VA that support from 500Watts up to as high as 850Watts.

They may use specification trickery to get higher values. For example, a unit that claims it supports 850 peak watts (e.g. for 1 or 2 seconds) in big bold letters is usually a lot different than what it will support for the amount of time it takes to drain the battery (e.g. for 5-20 minutes). And the longer it runs, the lower the continuous Watts it may support. For example, a unit that supports 850Watts peak may support 700Watts for 5 minutes, and only 500Watts continuously for 10 minutes. And while that MAY coincide with battery capacity, it is ALSO affected by the parts getting a lot hotter during longer run-times.

And most UPS units are designed to minimum cost needed to properly cool the internal components for ONLY as long as the specified battery lasts.

I've seen models that provide NO heatsink, others that provide a TINY heatsink (hardly bigger than the MOSFET itself) for the MOSFETS while others provide a vastly superior heatsink (usually the models that allow for the longer run-times). Yet they still don't use cooling fans...weird. I'd gladly pay $10 more for a consumer-grade UPS with a high-volume fan. Remember, this doesn't even have to be an expensive fan. The fan usage is incredibly low...ONLY when the UPS battery is supplying power. Given my opinion of sleeve-bearing fans I can't believe I'm saying this...but in this application a cheapo sleeve-bearing fan actually would be OK.

If you add a higher AmpHour rated battery (e.g. a 12Ah battery instead of the supplied 8Ah battery) you run the risk of destroying the UPS because it runs too long and critical parts overheat...usually the MOSFETS. And some models use 1 MOSFET while others use 4...which generally means they can handle more power and/or for a longer time period). P55NE06 (60V55A) MOSFETs are commonly used in virtually all these moderate power consumer-grade UPS brands. Higher power models might use something like IRF3205 (55V110A) MOSFETs.

It amazes me that consumer grade higher capacity UPS units don't include a little 3Watt fan and better ventilation. Some UPS cases have virtually ZERO ventilation...which makes no sense.

edit to add:
I've not bought an APC unit in a few years, so I can't say anything about possible quality degradation in new models based on personal experience. Quality can of course degrade for any manufacturer due to changes in manufacturing locations, processes, and parts sourcing to reduce manufacturing costs.

edit:
added another comment about using fan

binar Aug 22, 2011, 09:47pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 22, 2011, 10:01pm EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
John,
Thanks a lot again for your post. You touched upon a topic that didn't even cross my mind. I mean it was no where near my radar, and the info you have shared has probably helped me in avoiding future equipment damage.

I just finished building a brand new 1200Watt monster workstation / fileserver PC and thanks to your last posting I have realized that this new Tripp Lite UPS (Model G1010USB) is probably not going to cut the mustard. The label on the backside shows the following specs:

OUTPUT - 115V, 60Hz, 8.3A, 1000VA, 500W
INPUT - 120V, 60Hz, 12A

Since this new PC of mine utilizes a 1200 Watt power supply I don't think it would be a good idea to connect it to a UPS that peaks out at 500 watts. Am I correct in assuming that using such a small 500 Watt UPS could starve the 1200 Watt PC power supply from getting access to the full power it needs?

I have been researching UPS devices that are rated at 1200 WATT and below are several links I hope you can take a look at:

http://www.mwave.com/mwave/SKUSearch.asp?scriteria=4416193&...w%20online

http://www.provantage.com/rocstor-rpt2000t~7ROCS039.htm

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000512LA/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_s...3XVN5ZQRX9

http://www.amazon.com/Ultra-ULT33046-2000-1200-Backup/dp/B000GC98H8


These are just several options I'm considering. I would really appreciate it if you can recommend a couple of UPS devices you think are adequate for a PC that is pretty close to using the entire 1200 Watts my CoolerMaster 1200 Watt PC powersupply provides.

The Tripp Lite SU1500XL is probably the one I am most interested in. However, the $570 price tag is outrageous! For that kind of money I would definitely expect Tripp Lite to give me at least a 4 or 5 year warranty. Evenmore, I would expect that this SU1500XL UPS has the fans you talk about and quality components that will not burn out in a couple of years.

I would greatly welcome from you any further opinion you may have regarding UPS devices designed to support a 1200 Watt power supply. Thanks.









john albrich Aug 22, 2011, 11:24pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?

I'll take a look.

I hope others here on HWA will do the same and help with a broader sampling of info.

In the meantime, I'd check the "usual" hardware (like tomshardware) and manufacturer websites for reviews. Don't forget gaming websites too.

binar Aug 23, 2011, 11:44am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
john albrich said:

I'll take a look.

I hope others here on HWA will do the same and help with a broader sampling of info.

In the meantime, I'd check the "usual" hardware (like tomshardware) and manufacturer websites for reviews. Don't forget gaming websites too.



Hi John,
Just an update. I spoke to Tripp Lite Tech Support and explained to them the situation relating to connecting a 1200 Watt Power Supply to a UPS that is rated at 500 Watts. He says you definitely don't want to do that. It will mess up the inverter module inside the UPS.

Therefore, it looks like I need to return my Tripp Lite to Costco and get myself teh SU1500XL Tripp Lite UPS. It's rated at 1200 Watts and should be able to cut the mustard. What I'm not happy about is the $803 MSRP price and the 2 year warranty. For that amount of money Tripp Lite should in my opinion be offering a 4 or 5 year warranty.

I have found it for $540, however I need to find a vendor that will sell me an extended warranty to cover it for 5 years. A humungous thanks for sharing your knowledge regarding UPS devices. As I mentioned the WATTS compatibility issue between the UPS and the Power Supply did not even cross my mind. But thanks to you I am buying the correct UPS that should be able to handle a 1200 Watt power supply. Thanks again.

binar Aug 23, 2011, 05:53pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
To everybody following this thread I am changing my decision to go with the Tripp Lite SU1500XL.. Mainly because Tripp Lite only offers a Two Year Warranty.

Through some online research I learned that APC and Ultra offer a 3 Year Warranty. So my two final choices for a UPS that is able to support a 1200 Watt PC powersupply are shown below:

APC SMX1500RM2U
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16842101379

Ultra ULT33046
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-detai...;CatId=234

APC is at $710 and the Ultra is at $200. Both offer a 3 year wanranty and both are designed to support a 1200 Watt PC powersupply. Is anyone out there using the ULTRA brand? Is it a relabeled Tripp Lite? Is the ULTRA unit in the same league as the APC unit?

Any info welcome that will help me come to a final SMART decision.



Peter Jones Aug 30, 2011, 07:29pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 30, 2011, 07:39pm EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
Binar,

What are trying to accomplish? Are you sure you need a UPS?

Reason I ask is I have never used a UPS in many, many years of computing and it has never been a problem. Windows NTFS handles unexpected shutdowns quite well. In fact, I've never had a file system become unrecoverably corrupted by an unexpected shutdown. (I have by unrelated HD failures, but not power failures.)

More recently I moved to Puerto Rico where the power grid is not very reliable or clean (at all), so I bought a UPS (first a APC, then returned and replaced with the same one you got at Costco, BTW) for my PC and one for my TV/DVR. It's been a disaster. My PC crashes and reboots every time I take a power hit, and this is -- get this -- CAUSED by the UPS. When I connect the PC direct to the mains, it glides right through these power hits, no problem. So apparently the switch lag in the UPS is enough that the PC power supply can't hold. When the power actually goes off, it does fine, but power hits cause a crash/reboot almost every time.

I also work in a center with a lot of electronics and computers. My experience here is the the only UPS's that are reliable and don't cause the same problems I've described above (The APC UPS in my office does the same thing to my work PC as I've experienced at home) are the big industrial ones that cost more than a car.

So my suggestion to you is get a really good surge suppressor, which is definitely a good idea, and don't waste money on the UPS, which I think are really both not necessary and not effective. (I guess viewed this way, the answer to your original question might be yes, they are a scam.)

Just my $0.02. :-)

GR

P.S. If you do decide to go with a UPS, let me know and I'll make some points about the power rating and what's actually important.

john albrich Aug 30, 2011, 09:36pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 30, 2011, 10:22pm EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
.
Peter,

If what you say is accurate, then you are INCREDIBLY lucky. Either that, or you simply haven't yet discovered any file content that has been corrupted.

The bottom line is that NTFS does not guarantee protection of user data in the event of a system crash.

NTFS helps reduce the chance of user data corruption, but it does not eliminate it...nor is it even designed to try.

Below is more information on NTFS and its limitations from "Microsoft Windows Internals", but I'm going to set the stage a bit beforehand.

In the discussion below, "metadata" refers to the organization and structure of a filesystem...not the actual "user" content of a given file. Think of "user" content as the information stored inside the file: the letters, numbers, etc. that a human or a program/OS stores in the file. For a simple way to view this I'll use handwritten letters that are created and stored in a file cabinet.

Think of "user" content as the words on paper pages written in water-soluble ink. The "metadata" are the envelopes, the typewritten "to" and "from" addresses on the envelope, and file cabinets the pages may be stored in.

These "pages" may be written (in ink) by the end-user, a program, or the OS itself...but the "pages" are ALL content...NOT metadata.

NTFS helps protect the file cabinets, the envelopes, and even the "to" and "from" addresses in case of a "flood" (an uncontrolled shutdown). But the NTFS does NOT guarantee that the ink on the pages of the letters will be readable.

In other words in the event of a "flood", you'll have a perfectly preserved set of files, envelopes, and addresses....but you won't be able to read some or all of the hand-written words (user data) on the pages. It may be only 1 word among billions that is unreadable, or it could be millions of words that are smeared/corrupted by the water. It varies substantially.

From Microsoft Windows Internals:
NTFS logs changes to metadata in a transactional manner so that file system structures can be repaired to a consistent state with no loss of file or directory structure information.

FILE DATA CONTENT CAN BE LOST, HOWEVER.

NTFS Design Goals and Features
High-End File System Requirements
From the start, NTFS was designed to include features required of an enterprise-class file system. To minimize data loss in the face of an unexpected system outage or crash, a file system must ensure that the integrity of its Metadata is guaranteed at all times.

The NTFS recovery capabilities do ensure that the file system on a volume remains accessible, but they make NO GUARANTEES for complete recovery of USER files.

<What that means is that the media will still be usable, but your data can be toast--john>


john albrich Aug 30, 2011, 10:07pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Aug 30, 2011, 10:40pm EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
.
Here's a decent overview on UPS systems. It covers the 3 primary types:

Off-line Stand By System UPS (4ms-25ms switch-over)
Line Interactive Stand By System UPS (4ms-25ms switch-over)
On-line UPS (0ms switch-over)

http://www.falconups.com/pdf-04-2004/sbs_ups_tutorial.pdf


When looking at UPS specs, I make sure the "switch-over" time is at MOST 50% of the specified "hold-up" time of my PSU. For example, if my PSU has a minimum "hold-up" time of 20ms, I make sure the UPS has a maximum "switch-over" time of 10ms.

You also have to be careful that the PSU's specified "hold" time is meaningful (e.g. spec'd at 80% load or higher) and take that into consideration in your assessments. I also try to make sure that the PSU has at least a 20% buffer in how much power it has to supply to the computer. For example, if the computer consumes 500Watts, then the PSU has to supply at least 600Watts continuous. Among other things, this 20% buffer can help protect you against manufacturers who are a bit over-optimistic in their specifications.


Dirt cheap UPSs will have longer "switch-over" times
Dirt cheap PSUs will have shorter "hold-up" times (often disastrously short)

You always read the detailed specifications on PSU/UPS units. That includes things like temperatures and power loading conditions for which the specs were written. If detailed specs aren't available, you don't buy it. For example, there's a huge difference between a PSU rated at 100K-hours MTBF at 25C ambient and one rated 100K-hours at 40C ambient. Some manufacturers don't even test to determine the MTBF. They base MTBF on a formula that uses the theoretical failure rates of each part used to assemble the PSU...which has virtually nothing to do with reality.

You don't "go cheap" on a PSU or UPS, especially if you don't have a data/system backup protocol appropriate for your full operational recovery needs.

john albrich Sep 03, 2011, 01:39am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Sep 03, 2011, 01:40am EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
.
Something I've pretty much said but it's spread-out in other UPS discussions...

Using More Than One UPS
You can also use more than one UPS to either reduce the cost of and/or reduce the load on the "primary" UPS used to backup your computer. This can also improve the power requirements buffer of the primary UPS as well...a good advantage both in terms of letting the UPS run cooler...and providing a longer run-time as well.

For example, I use a separate UPS to power the displays and some of the HDDs on a system.

Display(s)
The UPS that powers a display for example, doesn't have to have a super-fast "switch-over" time so you can use a relatively cheaper UPS for that task. With a large display, and/or display with multiple-power-eating features (e.g. integrated network, Wi-Fi, etc), and/or multiple displays, it can also take a fairly significant load off the primary UPS used to backup the computer tower itself.

For example, on my system I can immediately offload about 100Watts to a cheaper (<$60) UPS just for the displays alone (but never use a dirt-cheap "square-wave" or "modified square-wave" output UPS. Read UPS articles to understand the differences in output waveforms). I can even add a couple of decently bright LED or CFL lamps to the second UPS with power to spare.

In some cases offloading power requirements from the primary UPS can mean the difference between being able to use a cheaper consumer "1000VA" UPS for the computer itself, or having to go for an disproportionately much more expensive single monolithic 1200VA (or higher) or an enterprise level UPS. Offloading the display(s) and other devices (as possible) can easily save over $100 even factoring in the cost of the cheaper second UPS.

HDD/peripherals Power Offloading
And, with the advent of USB3.0 it is now a trivial exercise to offload your HDDs from the main computer case while retaining decent I/O (when not on backup power) without having to worry much about ground-loops (eSATA signal quality can be more sensitive to PSU and grounding issues, and of course there are also major cable length restrictions with eSATA).

Taking into account several factors like variability between HDDs, possibly using older HDDs, and your computer's power losses due to PSU efficiency (assume ~80%), one can estimate that for each HDD you offload from the primary UPS, you are offloading perhaps 12-18Watts for each 3.5" HDD. In my case, this strategy offloads another possible peak-usage 100Watts from the primary UPS! So now I've offloaded about 200Watts of power from the primary UPS and I have a bright lamp on backup power as well.

Note: I don't recommend N.A.S. drives here as an JUST for "offloading the primary UPS" solution, mostly because if you want to retain decent performance when not running on backup power, NAS drives remain a somewhat costly and highly variable performance element even in a gigabit LAN. However, NAS drives can be easily placed on a separate UPS as well...along with the other network support hardware. So, if optimum performance isn't an issue from NAS drives when running on "normal" AC power, then they too could be used to offload power from the primary UPS.

The main disadvantages of using 2 UPS units, are that your scheduled manual testing of the backup systems takes a few more minutes, and when it comes time to replace the UPS battery, you now have 2 batteries that generally speaking should be replaced at the same time (however if needed you can stagger them by a few months to spread out the cost).

Daphne Perry Sep 03, 2011, 04:11pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> answer
freelance writer

binar Sep 19, 2011, 11:03am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Sep 19, 2011, 11:10am EDT

 
>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
John and Peter,
Thanks for the postings which I found very eye opening.

I need to point out that I live in Florida and itís known for heavy lightning activity. Itís not uncommon to hear in the local news stories about people getting hit by lighting or houses that have been hit by lighting and now have a hole in the roof. Iím sure itís the same way in Puerto Rico.

In short, I agree with John that a UPS is necessary. Johnís very well written post which compares hard drive recorded data to information written on paper using water soluble ink I think is a good metaphor. A flood can easily blurry up the water soluble ink even though the File Cabinet and the folders remain intact exactly in the same way a power surge can corrupt data on a hard drive.

However, there are three things I donít like about the UPS industry:
1. One is how the UPS industry wants consumers to look at a UPS as being a DISPOSABLE device.

2. The other is the concept that when a UPS breaks itís because it sacrificed itself to protect your PC.

3. Lastly, the warranty most UPS manufacturers offer is not worth much since breakage due to power surges is not covered.

As for my final decision, I ended up buying an Ultra 1200 Watt UPS mainly based on the following basic logic. The only two UPS manufacturers I was able to find that offered a 3 year warranty was APC and Ultra. The 1200 Watt UPS made by APC sells for around $800. In contrast, the Ultra sells for $200. Obviously, the APC unit had more bells and whistles. It had the Sine Wave power output feature and a lot of the other features John touched upon in his previous quotes.

However, I look at it this way. I live in what is considered by many the lightning capital of the USA. Neither the APC or the Ultra 3 year warranty covers a broken UPS device due to lighting surge hit. Therefore, why spend the extra $600? If both devices are designed to be disposable in the event of a lightning surge hit (which I still view as a scam), my wallet will feel a lot less pain with a $200 hit compared to a $800 hit. Just my two cents.

john albrich Oct 27, 2011, 07:13am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Oct 27, 2011, 07:18am EDT

 
>> UPS Not Working On PSU's With PFC (power factor correction)
.
Important Information re: UPS units NOT working with PSU's with PFC (power factor correction). PSU manufacturer's seem to be increasingly including PFC in their power supplies as a selling point.

This hasn't been dealt with very much, but another element to consider in UPS decisions is whether or not the UPS supports the specific PSU if it uses active Power Factor Correction.

Some UPS units cannot properly handle some PSUs that use Power Factor Correction.

To make it even more complicated, they do NOT necessarily tell you this in the specifications, features, FAQs, supported PSUs list, etc. If your PSU has PFC, you have to ASK their tech support if the UPS has a problem with your specific model of PSU. If they say no, that it will NOT have a problem, I'd get it in writing.

For example;
The CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD does NOT support the PSU in the PC I'm currently using, an OCZ 700W StealthXtreme model# OCZ700SXS that has PFC. (but also note that the CP1000AVRLCD does have AVR)

That's unfortunate, because they had a very good sale on that model UPS. However, If I want the equivalent UPS that does support that PSU, I'd have to buy the $145 UPS that costs $60 more at this time.

Of course, an alternative is to make sure any PSU I buy does NOT feature PFC...assuming I can find one that still meets all other requirements (connectors, power, etc). If the UPS does not have AVR, then because the PSU does not have PFC there could be decreases in the efficiency of the PSU and it might cost more to operate over time.

$90 CyberPower Intelligent LCD Series GreenPower UPS CP1000AVRLCD
1000VA 600 Watt
(sale price with promo code. $100 normal price)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1684210208...1000AVRLCD

$145 CyberPower CP1000PFCLCD UPS 1000VA / 600W PFC compatible Pure sine wave
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1684210213...1000PFCLCD

<a class= Oct 27, 2011, 03:16pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
They're not a scam, but unless you're running racks or blades, they're not necessary for home use.

Every good branded PSU now can provide a safe shutoff of all computer parts even in the event of immediate power loss. And even adjust to variations of the electric current.

Plus you don't have to deal with replacing batteries and etc of the APCs.

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Dublin_Gunner Oct 28, 2011, 11:37am EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
Could you not use a surge protector socket / plug for the UPS?

This should give you the best of both worlds - protection of ALL equipment from power surges, plus the extra time from the from the UPS to properly shut down your machine in the event of a power failure.

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BoT Oct 29, 2011, 03:42pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
i have a CyberPower unit and it saved my a$$ and equipment a few times
http://www.cyberpowersystems.com/products/ups-systems/smart-ap...DRM2U.html

i wouldn't trade it. i had a couple of inexpensive ultra units before which worked well but did not last long. i have the cyberpower unit going on 3 years now and it runs like a charm.
the management software is ok and does what it needs to do.

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j h Feb 23, 2012, 02:38pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
So here's a thought on how to "de-scam" the UPS 'scam' ... Does anyone have advice / thoughts on using old UPS's to essentially charge a bank of batteries that power a pure sine-wave inverter? In the event of a power spike / outage / fluctuation, the UPS charging circuits would simply turn off, but the inverter would still be powered by the battery bank. Then when the power came back on, the charging circuits would both charge the batteries and supply power to the inverter....

Any thoughts?

Thanks

Arsene Lupin May 12, 2012, 03:05pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
Hello all, I found this thread via a google search, and thought I would add my 2 cents to this discussion, as I have a bit of knowledge on the subject.

binar said:
Fellow Forum Members,
My third UPS has failed and now I have to what amounts as an expensive $200 brick. ......
Why cant't these UPS manufacturers make a UPS that can be fixed if it takes a power surge hit?

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is not really intended as a surge protector. Surge protection ratings are measured in Joules. The higher the Joules rating, the more surge protection the device can provide.

Look at the Joules rating of some various UPS models. Even expensive UPS products offer only a few hundred Joules of surge protection.

Now look a cheap $30 surge strip. Inexpensive surge strips can offer as much as 3600 Joules of surge protection - significantly higher than a UPS.

My point being that a UPS is not an all-inclusive power miracle in a box. If you want great surge protection and you also want a battery/inverter to protect against outages, you need two devices.

Personally, I use a BrickWall brand surge protector, with a TrippLite SU1500XL attached to it. The BrickWall provides surge protection with a resettable circuit breaker, and protects both the TrippLite UPS, and the attached computer equipment.

john albrich said:
.
I've not bought an APC unit in a few years, so I can't say anything about possible quality degradation in new models based on personal experience. Quality can of course degrade for any manufacturer due to changes in manufacturing locations, processes, and parts sourcing to reduce manufacturing costs.

My personal experience with APC, is that they set the float voltage too high on their battery charging circuit. Too high float voltage kills the batteries quickly. I've owned 4 APC's, and all have had their batteries die in less than 3 years. My UPS systems from other manufacturers have all lasted ~5 years.

I have to believe that APC employs competent engineers, so I can only guess that APC has deliberately set their float voltage too high, in order to generate new battery and new UPS sales. After all, the lower cost APC models are only a few dollars more than a replacement battery, and I've known several folks who've simply bought a whole new UPS when their APC battery died after 3 years. I won't buy another APC.

Peter Jones said:

My PC crashes and reboots every time I take a power hit, and this is -- get this -- CAUSED by the UPS. When I connect the PC direct to the mains, it glides right through these power hits, no problem. So apparently the switch lag in the UPS is enough that the PC power supply can't hold.

The ATX standard for personal computer power supplies includes a hold-up time spec. The hold up time is the amount of time that the ATX power supply must continue to provide in-spec output voltage, at 100% load, when the input voltage is 0. That value is 1 cycle of 60 Hz A/C, or 16.6 milliseconds. All UPS systems intended for use with computer equipment have a switching time of less than 16.6 ms.

This hold-up time spec, is essentially a measure of the capacity of the ATX power supply's capacitors. I have tested more than a few low-cost ATX power supplies that do not meet the published standard! The ones that use cheap Chinese capacitors are the most problematic, instead of better products that use German or Japanese capacitors.

So in summary, your experience with PC reboots during UPS switchover is more likely due to a poor quality ATX power supply in your PC, that does not meet the ATX hold-up time specification.

Peter Jones said:

Reason I ask is I have never used a UPS in many, many years of computing and it has never been a problem. Windows NTFS handles unexpected shutdowns quite well. In fact, I've never had a file system become unrecoverably corrupted by an unexpected shutdown.

The NTFS filesystem is actually not that great of a filesystem. That's another discussion altogether though. The reason you have not experienced filesystem corruption is that NTFS, like all other modern filesystems, is a Journaling filesystem. (Google "Journaling filesystem" if you want to know more). That said, relying on the Journal is not an effective method of ensuring data integrity. Your NTFS volume reports that all is well, because it simply replayed the Journal. The Journal only guarantees filesystem consistency (i.e. the whole FS won't become corrupted) - it does not guarantee data integrity of your files however....

j h said:
So here's a thought on how to "de-scam" the UPS 'scam' ... Does anyone have advice / thoughts on using old UPS's to essentially charge a bank of batteries that power a pure sine-wave inverter? In the event of a power spike / outage / fluctuation, the UPS charging circuits would simply turn off, but the inverter would still be powered by the battery bank. Then when the power came back on, the charging circuits would both charge the batteries and supply power to the inverter....

You can certainly create a DIY UPS using a charger, battery bank, inverter, and a transfer switch. Using old cheap UPS's as the charger won't work though, as their chargers are sized only for their own small internal batteries.

You have to decide if you want a full-time double conversion UPS, or if you want to use a transfer switch to switch between mains power, and inverter power, as the need arises.

Full time double conversion will require more careful size-matching of the charger, battery bank, and inverter. The charger needs to be sized large enough to power the inverter directly, otherwise the batteries will constantly deplete and never charge up. The battery bank needs to be sized large enough to match the current rate of the charger. Batteries don't like to be charged too fast, there are formulas for different battery types to determine the ideal charging rate. Lastly, the inverter needs to be sized large enough for your load. Get out the calculator, because there's math involved with building a full time double-conversion UPS.

If you want to use a transfer switch, you have more flexibility in terms of mixing and matching different parts i.e. you do not need to match the charger capacity to the inverter capacity. You do still need to match the charger size to the battery bank size. This method may offer slightly more component flexibility than a full-time double conversion design, but you now have the added expense of the transfer switch.

Lastly, you have to decide whether to use a pure sine wave, or a PWM inverter. For me, this is a no brainer, pure sine wave only please. Some manufacturers call PWM a "modified sine wave" which is an outright lie. It's a modified square wave. And PWM square waves are hard on most kinds of equipment, and can cause unwanted buzzing and noise. I won't even look at a PWM "modified wave" inverter, no thanks.

Good luck

BoT May 13, 2012, 06:47pm EDT Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Are Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) a Scam?
there is a nice little video over at revision3 made by systm
http://revision3.com/systm/hackedups
that might explain a few things on how to go about hooking up a car battery to a ups

You can either be part of the problem or be part of the solution.
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