Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Guest
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.


236 posts

Master Geek


Topic # 92475 30-Oct-2011 15:00
Send private message

I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy the "Belkin Surge Protection 600VA UPS Battery Backup", but I'm not sure if I'm wasting money and should get the 400VA*, or if maybe I'm being cheap and should pay twice as much for the 800VA that has Automatic Voltage Regulation.

*Ideally it would be for one PC, LED monitor (max 40W?), and an external drive rarely running (max 3W?).--component calculators estimating Watts for the PC vary around 180-220, does that sound right?

I've had a good handful of black or brown outs this year, so I don't know if it's just street-wide power cuts, or also some post-earthquake fluctuations in voltage (should fluctuations ever be so major that a PC reboots itself, rather than just switching off and staying off, or is that just a very very brief total power cut?)

should I look to buy a little device to measure watts and voltage consistency before choosing a UPS? is there any you'd recommend? (I don't remember much about electricity from high school, can pretty much any of these little powermeter devices tell me what I need to know to figure out how many watts a few devices are using?)

any advice appreciated.

View this topic in a long page with up to 500 replies per page Create new topic
 1 | 2
3267 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 77

Trusted

  Reply # 539358 30-Oct-2011 21:10
Send private message

Any cheap UPS will do. With an older power-hungry monitor and PC you would look at about 10 minutes run time (running 'till the batteries are flat is bad for batteries). The active voltage regulation is BS, your PC power supply does not care if the mains is 10% out. My cheap UPS is setup to kick in when the mains goes about 10% under or over (rather than regulating the mains itself).

If you want to run on UPS power for half an hour or more, then you need to spend lots of money for a proper UPS which has many batteries (typical is only 1 or 2 x 12V 7AH). Each battery gives you about 70 Wh after inefficiencies which at 200W power consumption equals about 15 minutes usable run time per battery.

The VA rating for a UPS is just the maximum power it can deliver to the load, which depends on the size of the power transistors (or how many in parallel) and somewhat how many batteries is used (to get lower battery losses). With greater VA you usually get more batteries, but not necessarily.

Keep in mind a high VA UPS is designed to deliver high power, and is not necessarily best for light loads.

Batteries make up most of the weight of a UPS, so if you compare the weight of two you should be able to tell if it has more batteries or not.

Don't bother with the phone line or network surge protection features, it will stuff up your ADSL and network performance. Modems and network devices are thoroughly EMC/EMI tested for surges on the ports and adding "protectors" will not protect it any more than it already is. But do run you modem/router power off the UPS.




You can never have enough Volvos!




236 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 539399 31-Oct-2011 00:28
Send private message

Niel: Any cheap UPS will do.


ok.
well, since some models have those PC type power sockets (which would require an adapter), and others have NZ sockets, I guess I'll just choose a model/brand based on how it suits me in that regard?

Niel:
My cheap UPS is setup to kick in when the mains goes about 10% under or over (rather than regulating the mains itself).


aahh.
Is that part of the 'shutdown software' these typically come with? (it's not clear to me how the software/setup side of things works -- do you maintain a USB connection from the UPS to the PC at all times?)

is that the common way to set it up, to take-over if it drops below 10%?
why also if it goes over 10%, is that hoping to switch over nanoseconds before a surge or something?

Niel:
If you want to run on UPS power for half an hour or more, then you need to spend lots of money for a proper UPS which has many batteries (typical is only 1 or 2 x 12V 7AH).


yea, naa, I just want to protect my equipment and files from unexpected cuts. the main thing for me is not time (I see PBTech has more info than some sites -- one of their products says '3 minutes power at full capacity, 10-15 at half'), but it would definitely be nice to know whether or not my PC would be guzzling the full capacity or a lot less. Suppose I should be safe and go for a 300W instead of 200W model, just to get a couple more minutes out of it, if not because the PC might need it.


cheers for your help.

3267 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 77

Trusted

  Reply # 539403 31-Oct-2011 05:59
Send private message

There is a USB cable to the PC, old models use RS232. Windows has some basic support for a UPS, but there is software that comes with a UPS which allow you to configure settings and monitor status. The PC does not have to be on for the UPS limits to work. The UPS can signal the PC (if so configured) to shut down when an issue occurs.

It is worth looking at the manufacturer web site to see if you are buying a recent model or a 10 year old model, there are advancements in components available for the design as well as higher standards to design new products to. Also Google for reviews to see what the software options are like.

Switchover is within 1 mains cycle, which is 20ms. The issue is not the first spike, it is the ringing that goes on after the spike that kills electronics.

Max power is consumed when playing 3D games etc., and is probably around 300W or less. Your CPU uses about 100W when under load, plus about 150W for the video card under load, plus some for the monitor and hard drive. Some power supplies are up to 1000W rated. If the PC was consuming that much then you would need an aircon to cool it down. When a PC is at idle it uses around 100W maybe.




You can never have enough Volvos!


14149 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 2546

Trusted
Subscriber

  Reply # 539444 31-Oct-2011 09:48
Send private message

I had an APC UPS for a couple of days, but because of an annoying high pitched noise it made I sent it back.




AWS Certified Solution Architect Professional, Sysop Administrator Associate, and Developer Associate
TOGAF certified enterprise architect
Professional photographer


18 posts

Geek
+1 received by user: 6


  Reply # 539507 31-Oct-2011 12:00
Send private message

Niel: Max power is consumed when playing 3D games etc., and is probably around 300W or less. Your CPU uses about 100W when under load, plus about 150W for the video card under load, plus some for the monitor and hard drive. Some power supplies are up to 1000W rated. ... When a PC is at idle it uses around 100W maybe.
 
Niel's post is extremely accurate.  What he has posted will often be denied by a majority due to popular urban myths.  If a computer was consuming anywhere near to 800 or 1000 watts, then it would by outputting heat like a four slice toaster.

  Appliances have a label that lists its power consumption next to each power cord .  Sum those watt numbers to learn your maximum power consumption.

 A UPS does not do hardware protection. In fact, some of the highest voltage spikes can be generated by a UPS when in battery backup mode.  UPS does not protect files.  Its purpose is to protect unsaved data from blackouts.

  A UPS typically has a life expectancy of 3 years. If your computer and monitor consume 300 watts, then a 500 watt UPS may be necessary.   So that a quickly degrading UPS battery can still output sufficient power in 3+ years.

593 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 95


  Reply # 539527 31-Oct-2011 12:28
Send private message

westom: A UPS does not do hardware protection. In fact, some of the highest voltage spikes can be generated by a UPS when in battery backup mode.  UPS does not protect files.  Its purpose is to protect unsaved data from blackouts.


My understanding is this is only true with Offline (Standby) UPS and to some extent Line Interactive UPS. Online UPS provide true hardware protection, however they are probably above the price point the OP is willing to spend.

18 posts

Geek
+1 received by user: 6


  Reply # 539545 31-Oct-2011 13:06
Send private message

Kraven: My understanding is this is only true with Offline (Standby) UPS and to some extent Line Interactive UPS.

  If you know something, then you can also post the manufacturer specification numbers that say so.  Most are informed by hearsay.  Most forget what is always required to know something - numbers.

 A UPS adjacent to electronics only does battery backup.  Provides temporary and 'dirty' power during a blackout.  Power can be extremely 'dirty' due to superior protection already inside electronics.  Even if a UPS did this 'clean' power, electronics undoes all cleaning.   Electronics converts that clean power into something far 'dirtier' than anything commonly seen on AC mains.  Creates a higher voltage radio frequency spikes.  Then electronic circuits convert that 'dirtiest' power into the cleanest and most stable DC.  Clean power on AC mains is recommended because so many do not even know this - what even existed inside the very first IBM PC>

  That is a second reason why a UPS only does one useful task - provide temporary power during a blackout.  But again, if a UPS does more, than manufacturer specifications are posted that make that claim.  Myths exist because so many believe urban myths and subjective claims.  Do not always demand the numbers.

  Niel's post is made with numbers.  Numbers say why his post contradicts what a majority believe.



236 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 539609 31-Oct-2011 15:36
Send private message

Niel: It is worth looking at the manufacturer web site to see if you are buying a recent model or a 10 year old model,


http://www.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=460629
I guess they still sell it? can't see any info on how old it is.


Max power is consumed when playing 3D games etc., and is probably around 300W or less. Your CPU uses about 100W when under load, plus about 150W for the video card under load, plus some for the monitor and hard drive.


mine's not a gaming PC. I only have the basic onboard sound/video that comes with the AMD Athlon dualcore (Device Manager only lists Realtek HD audio and Unimodem under 'Sound, Video and Game controllers')

does 'video card under load' include all playback and editing (DVDs/AVIs/etc.)?



236 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 539612 31-Oct-2011 15:41
Send private message

westom: A UPS does not do hardware protection. In fact, some of the highest voltage spikes can be generated by a UPS when in battery backup mode.  UPS does not protect files.  Its purpose is to protect unsaved data from blackouts.


my idea of 'hardware protection' is my PC not suffering any problems from improper shutdowns. Is this worry just a phantom?

westom: A UPS typically has a life expectancy of 3 years. If your computer and monitor consume 300 watts, then a 500 watt UPS may be necessary.   So that a quickly degrading UPS battery can still output sufficient power in 3+ years.


is that how it works? I would have hoped it would have the same reliable voltage?wattage?, but maybe for a shorter period of time, rather than the same time but a dubious supply.

3267 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 77

Trusted

  Reply # 539694 31-Oct-2011 19:57
Send private message

Batteries last 2 years to about 80% of original spec, but you get a usable life of somewhere between 3 and 6.

Most UPS output a semi-sinusoidal AC (kind of square wave) instead of pure sinusoidal. It is fine for switch mode power supplies (like computer UPS), not good for linear power adapters (like older modem power packs, the heavy bricks). Linear power adapters will heat up.

In a switch mode power supply the first thing that happens is the mains is rectified into a dirty DC. There is little that a UPS can do to make it worse, in fact you will find less ripple since the UPS output does not stay low for as long as a pure sinusoidal mains.

Trust me, I've done this stuff since I was 13 and I'm now almost 40. It is not a job, it is a passion.

You will be fine with any nice looking unit that does not look 20 years old and that is rated around 400VA or 500VA. Do not go for a tiny model, look for something around A4 sheet size if you can. The tiny ones have only 1 battery. I think the small Belkin models look nice but might be a bit small so I don't know if it will dissipate heat well, etc. Batteries need to stay cook, larger with ventilation is better.

Batteries are easy to replace, just is (usually) the most common alarm system battery (12V 7Ah). Trade price is around $20 each.




You can never have enough Volvos!




236 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 539714 31-Oct-2011 20:52
Send private message


I think the small Belkin models look nice but might be a bit small so I don't know if it will dissipate heat well, etc.


the Belkin ones have 3 backed-up and 3 normal power sockets, would using all six sockets do anything to increase heat or impede dissipation? (should I use a separate 3-socket adapter for good measure (they would be frequently running a TV, VCR, and a lamp).)

Infrastructure Geek
4056 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 195

Trusted
Microsoft NZ
Subscriber

  Reply # 539747 31-Oct-2011 22:37
Send private message

timmmay: I had an APC UPS for a couple of days, but because of an annoying high pitched noise it made I sent it back.


i've had dozens of them, and none of them have done that... you must have had a bad egg. 




Technical Evangelist
Microsoft NZ
about.me/nzregs
Twitter: @nzregs


Infrastructure Geek
4056 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 195

Trusted
Microsoft NZ
Subscriber

  Reply # 539748 31-Oct-2011 22:41
Send private message

Niel: Any cheap UPS will do.


From a useability point of view I tend to prefer the APC units because they 'integrate' into window as a 'battery' and you get to set up sleep/suspend times much like you do on a laptop.  The 'cheap' ones tend to come with some pretty awful 3rd party software and a nasty user experience.

if you're just after a battery backup with no 'intelligence', then any cheap UPS will do.




Technical Evangelist
Microsoft NZ
about.me/nzregs
Twitter: @nzregs




236 posts

Master Geek


  Reply # 539751 31-Oct-2011 22:54
Send private message

Regs:
Niel: Any cheap UPS will do.


From a useability point of view I tend to prefer the APC units because they 'integrate' into window as a 'battery' and you get to set up sleep/suspend times much like you do on a laptop.  The 'cheap' ones tend to come with some pretty awful 3rd party software and a nasty user experience.

if you're just after a battery backup with no 'intelligence', then any cheap UPS will do.


well, I don't plan to do anything fancy (hibernate, sleep, wake, whatever) ...I mostly want to have something to prevent any damage to the PC from too many power cuts. If that's a non-issue, then I guess all I'd want it for is so I can save a file I'm in the middle of and shut down until power resumes.

401 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 90

Subscriber

  Reply # 539758 31-Oct-2011 23:22
Send private message

Niel: Any cheap UPS will do.



Until the batteries overheat and the unit "cooks" itself.  Has happed to me 2 or 3 times with cheap units, mainly from Dynamix.


Personally, I wouldn't touch a Belkin with a proverbial 10 foot bargepole.  APC are good but can be pricey and I don't like the Powerchute software much.


My personal favorite at the moment is the Eaton 5110.  They come in a range of VA ratings.  A 700VA will cost about $250.  They are good quality, have NZ outlets and good software.

 1 | 2
View this topic in a long page with up to 500 replies per page Create new topic

Twitter »

Follow us to receive Twitter updates when new discussions are posted in our forums:



Follow us to receive Twitter updates when news items and blogs are posted in our frontpage:



Follow us to receive Twitter updates when tech item prices are listed in our price comparison site:



Geekzone Live »

Try automatic live updates from Geekzone directly in your browser, without refreshing the page, with Geekzone Live now.



Are you subscribed to our RSS feed? You can download the latest headlines and summaries from our stories directly to your computer or smartphone by using a feed reader.

Alternatively, you can receive a daily email with Geekzone updates.