UPS recommendation needed

PSUs: The source of DC power for all components in the PC & often a big noise source.

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pojanisu
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Location: Finland

UPS recommendation needed

Post by pojanisu » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:35 am

I'm not quite familiar with modern UPS, neither do I understand electricity. But after last powerout I spent half the day looking at fsck screen, so I guess I need an UPS. I'm in Finland with 230V. We rarely get powerouts and when they occur they don't usually last more than five minutes.

Here's the setup:
i5 670 3.46 GHz with integrated graphics
2 WD Green disks (1TB and 2TB)
Intel SSD
Nexus value 430 (Active PFC)
Linux OS

I guess that my setup doesn't really need that much power. There is also another PC with lower specs that we might hook up with the same UPS. Price is not a primary concern, mainly I just want solid quality without constant whining. Basically 10-15 minutes backup power and then shutdown is all that's needed.

I've been searching SPCR forums for threads about UPS, but still I find this a bit confusing. Couple of questions:
1. I'm thinking about 1000-1500 VA machines. Am I in the right category?
2. I like the fact that APC has Linux support in the form of apcupsd. Should I just stick with APC or is there something similar for other brands?
3. What's the deal with Active PFC PSU? When researching, should I be looking at waveform type or something else?
4. I don't get the differences with APC Back-UPS CS, RS or Smart-UPS. Which of these would be suitable for my situation?

Thanks,

Pasi

HFat
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Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by HFat » Sun Dec 19, 2010 4:20 am

I'm not knowledgeable about UPS either. So far as I know, the good UPS will last a lot more than 10-15 minute for a rig like yours. You might as well connect more gear to it than just that computer.
Note that APC have different product lines and that the cheap ones do not have all the features. The Linux software you have in mind may only work with the more expensive one. Ideally, you want a web or telnet server on the UPS to allow OS-independent management of the UPS (including remote reboots of the connected gear).
Regarding noise, I checked out a SUA750I and I think it had a slight whine but that's not an issue unless you put it next to your head. It is noisier when it runs on battery.

Half a day of fsck, eh? What filesystem do you use? What device was it on?
It's easy to lose data when consumer Intel SSDs lose power so, if there's anything important on it, running it on a UPS would be a good idea.

pyotr
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Location: the Netherlands

Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by pyotr » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:25 am

I have been using a APC Back-UPS CS 500 for the past 4 years and I would happily buy another one. It does not whine but it does occasionally make clicking sounds as if it is switching from main to ups power (but it is not).

The fact that there is solid Linux support made me buy this one. You need support to automatically shutdown Linux when the battery level reaches a certain threshold.

I'm just having a mobile-pentium III on it with 3 harddisks, but that will last about 30 minutes on the batteries. It should provide plenty Ah to get your i5 shutdown after a few minutes of waiting for the main power to come back. Best thing: at around 70 euro (Dutch price) it is very affordable.

CA_Steve
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Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by CA_Steve » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:39 pm

pojanisu wrote: 1. I'm thinking about 1000-1500 VA machines. Am I in the right category?
2. I like the fact that APC has Linux support in the form of apcupsd. Should I just stick with APC or is there something similar for other brands?
3. What's the deal with Active PFC PSU? When researching, should I be looking at waveform type or something else?
4. I don't get the differences with APC Back-UPS CS, RS or Smart-UPS. Which of these would be suitable for my situation?
I have an APC BE750G. There's only one 230V in/out model in that series and it's made for Korean use - don't know if the plugs are compatible. It's worked out well for me - my utility has a lot of noisy power/short low voltage problems.

1. Your PC idles at what, 100W or less? Add a 30W LCD and you are at 130W? Load at maybe 180W with the monitor... So, a 750VA UPS gives you ~15min at load power and ~30min at idle. The trade-off for a higher load UPS is:
- more than 750VA means replacing 2 batteries instead of 1 every ~3 years.
- more than 750VA usually means there is a cooling fan. I had a BX900R and it was the noisiest thing in the room.

2. I had the windows version of APC s/w installed for a while. I liked the ability to look at the log on occasion and the self-test is nice. I never used the auto-shutdown-on-power-loss feature as my PCs are never on when I'm not around. On a windows rebuild a while ago, I didn't re-install it. While I should, mostly for the self-test, I haven't missed it. YMMV.

3. My UPS approximates a stepped sinewave. Some PSU have a problem with it. My Corsair (seasonic) gets noisy, but works when the UPS takes over power.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

pojanisu
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Location: Finland

Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by pojanisu » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:28 am

Thanks for the replies. HFat, I might have been exaggerating about the fsck time, but sure seemed like a long time. Problem was that I didn't have my 2 TB backup partition mounted read only like it should. SSD was fine it was those WD disks that did take fsck time. I'm using ext3 on those.

The web server or remote management seems like a good idea, but I only found mention about that on HS 500 VA model which was marketed as a solution for routers and network gear. What little I have read about apcupsd, it seems though that usb-models should be fine. I'm ok with having manually restart the pc after a long powerout.

Steve, I'm sure you're right. I've been looking at too large models. I think for now I will ditch the idea about hooking up another pc to this and just try to find a model that works with just my pc. For that I think 500 VA will be plenty.

APC lines still don't seem clear to me. For example I can get CS 500 VA (300W) for 98 euros. That has 24 months guarantee. It uses stepped approximation of sine wave. Then RS 550 VA (330W), the same stepped approximation and 123 euros, but only 12 months guarantee. Going into consumer category, I find ES 550 VA with stepped approximation and 36 months guarantee for 92 euros.

I'm not looking for lowest price, but I just have hard time understanding the differences here. Essentially those seem to have the same kind of specs. First APC ups that was readily available here and produces sine wave was Smart UPS 1000 VA LCD (670W). That's with 36 months guarantee and 332 euros.

Maybe I should just grab a CS 500 or RS 550 and see what happens.

Pasi

HFat
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Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by HFat » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:16 am

ext3 asks for regular fscks by default I think. So an UPS won't prevent them. And power loss ain't the only cause of unclean shutdowns anyway. If they take too long (maybe you don't have enough RAM and fsck is swapping?), ext4 shoulf fsck (much) faster.
I've never used ext3 on such large partitions myself but you're not the only one who's annoyed by its fsck times.

Network management for APC usually requires an add-on card. I don't think any model under 200 euros or so will support them but if you don't use your PC as a server, it's not very useful. The point isn't so much to wake the PC but to reboot it remotely if it's not reponding.
I'd be curious as well to know if the 100 euro APC models are any different than the more expensive models apart from the add-on card support. The only time I was stuck with an UPS that cost about 100 euros, it was pretty much useless (the battery apparently got depleted over time and the server ended up losing power during a short outage) but there's no technical reason why good models need to be expensive I guess. The fancier models make a show of self-testing their batteries and stuff regularly but maybe some cheap models do that as well.

CA_Steve
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Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by CA_Steve » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:45 am

The lowest grade consumer version APC sells has the s/w that does battery/unit self-testing - it's just remotely done through your PC rather than a button/display on the UPS. I'd get the ES for the 3yr warranty and no fan (Don't know if the other 2 models have fans). There is one feature I really like on the ES BE750G - master/slave sockets. When my PC is on, a set of accessory sockets are live. When the PC is turned off, the accessory sockets are switched off. I plug my external audio amp and other vampire loads into the accessory sockets. Also, look to see if the models have surge protection connectivity for your cable/dsl modem.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

NeilBlanchard
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Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by NeilBlanchard » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:41 am

My advice is to buy the largest battery capacity you can reasonably afford. They all use lead acid batteries, and after a few years they lose capacity; and so the more you start with, the longer it will last; both in years of service, and through longer brown/blackouts.
Sincerely, Neil
http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/

cmthomson
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Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by cmthomson » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:26 pm

I have a couple of APC 500's, one quite new, the other 10 years old. Had to replace the battery in the old one after about 6 years. The clicking (happens about once a day) is self-test; once it becomes marginal, you get a pop-up suggesting it's time to buy a new battery. Battery replacement is very easy, and APC does the recycling by paying the return shipping.

It connects to your system via USB, and does a hibernate with no extra configuration.

Six outlets, three UPS and three surge-protected non-UPS.

Nice box.
i7 4790K CPU@4.6 GHz, ASUS Z97-PRO, 16GB G.Skill 2400C10, Intel 335 240GB SSD + WDC EFRX 1TB, Internal i7 graphics, Antec P180 case, Seasonic X-400 fanless PS, Megahalems CPU HS, Nexus 3-pin & AC PWM fans < 600 RPM, AcoustiPack foam, homemade ducts.

mastabog
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Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by mastabog » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:12 am

I used to have an APC Back-UPS CS 500 ... it used to run well but recently when doing its self test it was occasioanlly shutting down the machine. The battery was still going strong but it might have been the age (it was unused for quite a while).

However, instead of buying a new battery, I decided to go for a different UPS.

I got the new MGE/Eaton Ellipse ASR 750 VA. It's slightly more expensive than the APC CS 500 (90 GBP for the Ellipse, 75 GBP for the CS 500) but:
- it has a substantially higher capacity (450 W as opposed to 300 W),
- it is lighter (4.5 Kg as opposed to 6.2 Kg, different battery technology) and
- has network/modem (RJ45/RJ11) surge protection as opposed to only modem (RJ11)

I also discovered that the software is nicer (can record several events and plot graphs and historical data) ... i can now look back and see how many and when there were power outages or brown/black outs.

The Ellipse has been brilliant so far and it's also silent (no clicking or buzzing).

The ASR series has models up to 1500 VA (900 W) capacity.

pojanisu
Posts: 9
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Location: Finland

Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by pojanisu » Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:32 am

cmthomson, good info about battery replacement. If I understood correctly, it works similar to HP laserjet cartridges. I like their system a lot. Without that kind of system, closets would be full of cartridges/batteries which "will be dealt with later".

I guess I'll stop the research for now and just get an APC 500 -series device. This is time consuming and I really don't find the necessary info from web. Something like SPCR UPS shootout would be nice :-)

I think these are the plusses for APC 500 series in my case:
+linux support (software is an apt-get away)
+battery replacement logistics
+low price
+should be relatively quiet

Unknowns are about PSU and UPS compatibility. Also I don't know how long the batteries will keep my pc running, but I think it's best to just get something instead of dwelling on this for ages. And if it turns out that it's ok device, but I should have gotten a device one step bigger, I can just use that somewhere else, home maybe or with network gear. And if the device is not that good or the batteries don't last more than two years, at least it's not too much money spent.

Thanks for good information and recommendations. I'll let you know how this works out.

pojanisu
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:29 am
Location: Finland

Re: UPS recommendation needed

Post by pojanisu » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:42 am

Ok, I got APC Back-UPS RS 550VA. It's a model with lcd display. Pressing a button you can rotate the display and it tells watts used, how many minutes backup power, voltage, etc. Usb connection to pc. It also has slave sockets for speakers etc. Price was 118 euros. Three years guarantee in EU, two years elsewhere.

When doing nothing but surfing the web, ups shows that my computer uses around 45-55 w. And based on that, ups reports that backup battery lasts 31 minutes. I installed apcupsd from debian package and after going through apcupsd.conf it worked as supposed. Pull the plug from the wall and the computer kept running until apcupsd shut down the machine. Basically this just works.

Then the spcr view. I put the device on the floor under my desk, between computer and the wall. When the battery is full, the device is almost completely silent. Maybe you can hear some faint electrical buzzing when closer than half meter, but that's all. My pc is low noise, but even the slight humming from the fans drowns out the buzzing.

When working on battery power, ups makes some noise. Every 30 seconds it beeps couple of times and it buzzes and hums noticeably. I'm fine with that. A bit of a disappointment is the noise that ups makes when recharging. It's electrical buzzing or cricketlike sound that is not very loud, but one that cuts through the ambient sound in the office. You can still here the sound easily when sitting 4-5 meters away. And this is with radio and couple of pcs on. But when the batteries are full, the device again becomes almost silent. I believe this could work at home or in quieter environment also.

So my experience with the device is less than 24 hours and only time will tell how the batteries will hold up. This is definately not a 5-star machine with spcr criteria, but overall I'm quite satisfied especially considering the price.

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