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UPS Advice Sought; Recommendations Welcome

2832 Views 18 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  ScaryBob
I'm mid-transition into my move to a full VoIP setup and would like some advice on getting a UPS.

I would like to be able to have my phone service run for 4-6 hours during a power failure. Here is a list of the devices I need to keep up and their power consumption;

DSL Modem SpeedStream 4200
Power Consumption about 700ma max.

Router Buffalo WHR-HP-G54 running dd-wrt w/ Wireless Disabled
Power Consumption about 6.5 Watts (Max) - I suspect this number includes wireless which I have disabled.

Gigaset S675IP Wireless Phone Base Station
Power Consumption about 1.3 Watts (Max)

Is my 4-6 hour uptime unrealistic?

What kind of specs should I be looking for in a UPS?

Anyone have any brands/models to recommend?

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Many UPS threads around so please search for advice on brands.

If your total power consumption is only about ten watts then perhaps the biggest draw on your UPS is the operation of its DC (battery) to AC converter (the inverter).

My guess is that most small to moderate sized home UPS' wouldn't last more than a few hours even if nothing was plugged in.
Also remember that most unites beep when power goes out so even if you find a suitable UPS, do you really want it to issue a loud beep every few seconds for 4 to 6 hours?
4 to 6 hours run time may be unrealistic. Most UPS units have a certain amount of overhead that limits run time even with no load. I'd recommend the APC Power-Saving Back-UPS Pro 1000. It claims about 2.5 hours run time at 50w. Larger units don't get any more so that may be the maximum. I have a couple of the 700Ah units from this line and they are excellent. Note that they have cold start capabilities so it is possible to shut down and restart the units to conserve battery life. To get longer run times, it may be necessary to go to much more expensive business server units.
Thank you ScaryBob.

The last time the power went out for longer than 2.5 hours was during that massive ice storm we got hit with many years ago so I think I may be safe with this kind of size (knocking on wood).

Would you happen to know if you can disable the audible alarm after a short period of time (what Hugh mentioned)? My home alarm does beep during a power failure but I can manually turn that off during extended outages.

My UPS allows you to configure it via PC to disable the alarm so it won't beep at all. I'm not sure which current brands and models have this option.
APC UPS units can be configured to be silent using the supplied PC software.
Furthermore, once the APC UPS unit is configured to be silent by a PC, it can be disconnected from the PC, and used for a non-PC device like a PVR for example (it will stay silent).
If it were me, I would build my own system, which powers the devices directly from a 12V 6 to 12 Ah battery, and have a float charger on the battery (for kicks, I would use a solar panel).

I have one of those Noma portable outlets, which is a box that sits in a dock, plugged into AC. The box is basically a UPS that you can take with you. I have the 150W model, and it ran my 13W CFL work light for around 4 hours. It runs our cordless phone base. It is also where we charge stuff, as the dock has outlets a bit easier to get at than the wall outlet beside the charger table.

Otherwise a UPS such as an APC BE-325 likely is adequate. It has a 12Ah 12V cell, which means 100 or so watt-hours running.

I will say that most computer type UPSes use an Iron transformer, which is part of their ineffiecency. My Noma UPS device has a ferrite inverter (like a car inverter you can get), which is more efficient, and quiet (although has a temperature activated cooling fan).

I will also say, that during a planned power outage, I used my normal computer UPS (Nexxtech 6118507, from The Source), to power my modem and router for the few hours of that outage, and my netbook computer with a 12V battery and inverter, with no issues.
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Very interesting classicsat, thanks for that.
I will say that most computer type UPSes use an Iron transformer
Most use switching power supplies these days, like a PC power supply but designed to transform 12VDC to 120VAC.

The idea of powering small devices directly is an interesting idea. It's more efficient and potentially more cost effective. It's too bad that there is no standard for doing so. Powering a PC, for example, directly from 12VDC would avoid two inefficient power conversions that waste about 40%-60% of the UPS battery power. The main drawback is the high current involved for higher power devices. For smaller devices, that's not an issue. Since there is no standard, the issue is providing the correct voltage and polarity. Not doing so can easily damage the devices. A related concern is safety since a wiring fault could result in overheating and fire if no circuit protection is present.
I just purchased an APC BR1000G. It is likely overkill for my needs but the price was right.

Anyone know how accurate the estimated time should be? With my routers/modem/phone plugged in it is claiming 287 minutes of runtime... is this very optimistic on the UPS' part? :) It says the load is 15W or 2%.

I own an APC 1500 VA (bought from DELL a few years ago). DELL used to have at least twice a year a sale of those for 199 (normal price is something like 500). Free shipping included.Maybe they still have check their periodic days of deals.
Works fine. One resone I got it is because is a true-sine UPS. It was a lot a discussion (not sure if still is) about how a cheaper simulated sine wave UPS can damage a modern High efficiency PC power supply (some manufacturers even specifye NOT to use simulated sine ones). I'm sure that for non PC devices like audio-video you allways need to use a true-sine one, but for a PC you may take the risk and use a cheaper simulated sine one.
Anyone know how accurate the estimated time should be?
Under heavy load the runtime is quite accurate (PC load usage is not linear) on my APC 1500VA.
If you really want a find out on your system unplug the unit. Make the test, you will find out how long it stand and you'll also find out if there is any trouble with the unit or the load.
Thanks Bob.

I plan on doing just that in the next week or so. Just want to make sure the battery is fully charged.
The run time is not as accurate at very low loads. That's due to UPS overhead and varying efficiency at different loads. If you look at the APC run time chart for the product, it stops at 50w and 147min. Anything over that is a bonus but 287min might be possible.

Other issues are noise and power dissipation. As the size of the UPS increases, these also increase. Noise is not usually an issue at idle. However, larger UPS units typically dissipate more heat at idle and cost more to run. The "power saving" UPS units are very nice though. They are more efficient and have longer run times than older models. I have a couple of 700VA units. The automatic switching option is also useful for turning off peripherals that are not needed when the PC is off.
Ran a not so quick test on the unit yesterday - I literally pulled the plug on it.

I plugged it back in after 300 minutes and it still showed 9 minutes left. This included 2 macs doing wireless backups every hour to a timecapsule also connected to the UPS.

So, it seems this unit is erring on the low side for it's estimate. Colour me very impressed.

If the battery lasts 3-6 years, as advertised, this will make for very cheap insurance.
I have my APC UPS for over 2 years now and the battery is still good. What is nice with these unit is that you can only replace the battery pack compare to other UPS where the wires are soldered to the unit.

A UPS is a good investment as it protect your equipment of any electric surcharge. My unit record about 150 to 200 events per year, most are minor but some of them could probably be dommaging to my computers.
I plugged it back in after 300 minutes and it still showed 9 minutes left.
Very impressive. Until the new 'power saving' UPS units arrived, the most that could be expected was about an hour. APC has done a fine job of improving the efficiency of their product.
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